OutLoud: Fear Itself

Was it Halloween . . . or the election?

Sally74By Sally Sheklaw

October was scary. Spooky jack-o-lanterns, front-door skeletons, haunted-house grape eyeballs. But the election made things even scarier. 

Fear-mongering attack ads frightened the bejeeziz out of voters, for sure. But it’s been a while since I’ve come upon anything ghastly enough to induce real stop-in-your-tracks, turn-tail-and-run horror. Until THAT night. 

Just so you know, insects don’t generally scare me. In our household, I’m the bug butch. I escort spiders out of the house, hand-pick beetles off garden plants, and comb fleas off Pussy (not her real name). 

I’m also in charge of the compost, which is why I was out in the dark that October night with only my teensy Coleman wristwatch flashlight to illuminate the path to our backyard compost bin. There I beheld something so bloodcurdling I could not complete my task of dumping the week’s melon rinds, onions skins, and other compostables. 

Normally I brush away spider webs, knock snails off the lid handle, then lift, dump, close, and trot back to the house—no big deal. But that night, that horrible night, the thin beam from my watch lit up the biggest, creepiest, winged insect the likes of which I haven’t seen since I lived in the SoCal desert, where any roach smaller than a Baby Ruth bar wouldn’t raise so much as an “eek.” 

But EEK I did. This thing, the size of a police taser, crouching on toothed hind legs, looked like it was about to spring at me and, and, I don’t know what—suck my blood? Raise my taxes? Make me vote Republican? 

I hauled ass back into the house. 

I barged into the kitchen where Wifey was chopping kale (and making more kitchen scraps). “A ginormous bug,” I panted, “come see.” 

Now, my gal is accustomed to her partner facing all manner of hideousness without flinching. So to see me totally creeped out, panicked even, piqued her attention. “Are you sure it’s real?” she asked, wiping her hands on a dish towel. 

Oh, like I’d be terrified if it weren’t? I don’t think so. I’m not afraid of the elite media. Marriage equality doesn’t make me fear God’s wrath. Obama’s middle name never threatened my homeland security. I know what’s real. 

Wifey and I paraded out the back door, me wielding our big honkin’ police-sized mag lite. There, still poised to pounce, sat that dreadful creature waving it’s ghoulish antennae. I stood back. 

Wifey, brave as I’ve never seen her, walked right up to it. Yes, my friends, my squeamish gal pal put her tender little hand on the back of that bug and picked it up. 

“It’s one of those rubber creepy crawlies you bought,” she said. 

Me and my penchant for humorous garden décor. I’d forgotten putting those bugs out there. 

Free-floating election season fear must’ve gotten to me. I guess I was a little jumpy. The hair-raising image of a chuckling, possum-grin John McCain and Sarah “WINK” Palin runnin’ the country would give anybody night terrors. For real. 

No point freaking over the fake stuff. 

Award-winning writer Sally Sheklow occasionally freaks over the fake stuff in Eugene, Oregon.


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