I was five and it was the year prior to our move from this house, set just outside the downtown city of Pittsburgh, to the outer suburbs. It was this two-story house, built of brick on Colby Street, that provided my very first glimpse into what was seemingly assigned as the basin of how my life is cradled today.
It was early, I’m assuming 5:30, perhaps 6ish, when little five year olds wake up, wanting and waiting eagerly to watch their cartoons. For it was a Saturday, and my father was home to help me bare witness to what could be described as “my awakening.”
Let me first describe the demographics of our house. The first floor led to the second floor, just beyond the front door. Once the top of the stairs were reached, there were two choices, go left, into my parent’s room; or pass through a five-foot corridor that led into my room – there were no doors up here. My bed was against the far wall and if I was sitting up, I could see the corridor, or walkway, on the opposite side of my room that separated each other with curtains that was hung down from the arches to presuppose privacy, and they worked for that purpose.
On the left (as I was facing) there was a metal cabinet, a wardrobe, if you will, that was on the very edge of this doorway; this doorway that had no door, only a curtain before a set of stairs, and if going further, would eventually end in my parent’s room.
So I awoke and scrubbed the remnants of what was perhaps a pleasant childhood dream away from my eyes and looked forward, only to create some crooning infantile sound to announce the fact that I, have indeed woken up, and the Smurfs are summoning my attention. Unfortunately, it was not the Smurfs that gave me what I wished for; it was something else.
As I tried to refrain from what was mentally and vocally hypnotizing me, I managed to screech out the words “Dad…DAD…” I heard my father awaken and stir getting out of bed (after all, there was only sheets for doors.) Now my father recognized my fearful plight and came to the rescue but when he entered my room, and “walked through the shadows” it was clear that this man was either more powerful than I, or just had not the power to see what I saw.
Before me, reaching out from behind this metal closet and into the walkway that my father seemed to completely disregard and pass completely through, were three distinct arms, not in physical form, but shades – shadows of arms with detailed fingers and all, and they were there for me. Not him, but for me. They were beckoning for my eyes like you would do to a stranger who lost their way. Beckoning to take me somewhere, for me to follow them, for me to give up. Their fingers crooked and waiving, in a silhouette profile that demanded response before their dismissal.
“Don’t you see them, the arms…THE ARMS?”
“No, Jase I don’t see any arms.” He said shaking his head but lending a reassuring hand on my back.
But there they were, as clear as a shadow surrounded by morning light. I don’t remember anything of what followed or how the situation resolved, but the memory has, to this day been burned into my mind, and more than likely, I’ve been carrying its baggage ever since. Actually, now in retrospect, it appears I have quite indeed, followed those arms.