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Life in Northern Massachusetts was always quiet and laid back. Times were different back in the early 1980’s. Life was simpler to say the least. It was an average night in the Arsenault house, Dad was watching some cop show, Mom was enthralled in one of her romance novels and my brother and I were reenacting a great battle of some long-forgotten war with our GI Joe’s. Dad was one of those “o-o-h” and “a-a-h” type of tv spectators. There must have been a particularly wild scene flashing on the screen as Dad was heatedly screaming, “What are you stupid? The guy is behind the dumpster!” All the hullabaloo caught my brother’s attention and soon I was conquering rebel forces without proper ground support.


Seeing that the entire family was now engrossed in matters that offered me no entertainment value what so ever, I decided to slip away and headed out to the garage. Dad kept an old 8-trac player along with a plethora of classic rock music stashed away in his office. As I walked in I noticed some new tapes haphazardly piled in an old wooden milkcrate. Dad must have picked them up at the flea market earlier that day. I rummaged through the box and noticed a bright pink tape. “Led Zeppelin 2” was scribbled on the top as the label had obviously worn off from over use. “Never heard of them,” I said out loud as I popped in the tape.


With a thundering crash, the opening riff of “Whole Lotta Love” echoed through the garage. Quickly I turned down the volume as not to get caught. Dad was a stickler about his vintage music. If he found out I was touching his stuff I surely would have paid the piper. I remembered that time Lewy caught hell after touching some of Dad’s stuff. He was playing with Dad’s new Zebco and broke off the tip. He couldn’t sit down for two days after that incident.


As the blues driven rock concert permeated the office I sat down at Dad’s desk and flipped on the dingy old desk lamp. The lamp was bright enough to keep the darkness at bay, but dim enough to not draw attention to my impromptu musical odyssey.


The sun was setting as day turned into twilight. Twilight is that short space in time between the warmth of day and the bleak chill of night. The sky had an eerie deep purple glow as the sun slowly surrendered to the murky grip of the eventide.


Dad’s office was not much bigger than a coffin. The one small window was covered with cobwebs and carcasses of dead flies that the resident arachnid had devoured over the past decade or two. It smelled of ancient oil changes and stale cigar smoke. Dad enjoyed an occasional smoke, well cigar to be specific. Mother hated the smell and insisted Dad keep his “filthy habit” relegated to the garage.


As my eyes started to adjust to my dimly lit confines as I noticed half a cigar precariously hanging from the side of Dad’s ashtray. Feeling the need to rescue the half-smoked stogie, I reached over and grasped it with my visibly shaking right hand. A subliminal sense of fear must have set in as I was shaking like a leaf on a tree. I thought to myself, “Oh boy, if Mom catches me partaking in Dad’s “filthy habit” I’m a dead man.” Nothing scares the pants off a twelve-year-old more than the thought of ardent discipline dispensed by an enraged mother.


Being young and foolish, stupidity got the better of me. I clicked off the desk lamp and reached for Dad’s old lighter. Click, click I flipped the lighter with my thumb. Sparks flew as the room was soon illuminated by the small yellow flame. Slowly I raised the blazing torch towards the ash covered end of the forbidden snipe. The flame touched the end as wisps of smoke started to rise. Puff, puff, puff, poof I was in business as I stood up and glanced out the window. The Coast was still clear. Slowly I pulled the festering blunt up to my plump red lips. Hesitantly I opened my mouth and grasped the smoldering weed with my teeth. Feeling the warmth on my nose, I allowed my lips to wrap themselves around the glowing ember as I leaned my head back and proceeded to take a long, deep breath.


Instantly I felt my virgin lungs burning like a field of wheat during a wild-fire. My heart skipped a few beats as I tried to expel the toxic exhaust from my damaged lungs. The room started to uncontrollably spin as I gasped for life saving oxygen. My body started to convulse as I started to feel light-headed. At one point, I’m certain the earth stopped spinning as I my eyes became raging waterfalls and I fell to my knees. Coughing, wheezing and spitting up what I thought were pieces of my insides, I was convinced I was dying. What have I done?


As I sat on the floor contemplating my foolish choice to end my life at such a ripe young age, something caught my attention. OMG, did my father, or even worse my mother come out to check on me? Still woozy from my near-death experience I staggered to my feet. The room was spinning as I tied to take a breath. Before I could exhale a sensation of hot flashing nausea took over my body as I blew chunks. Pieces of half-digested meatballs and strings of red-tinged linguine now adorned the walls of my Dad’s office.


Slowly I wobbled into the garage. “Hello, Dad, Lewy, M-M-MMMom, is that you?” Nothing, not even the sound of a cricket. I wiped off my mouth and lifted my head as I saw a large featureless form step in from the darkness. Without making a sound the enormous Specter took two steps towards me. Silently I stood trembling with fear. Two more steps, slowly the entity veered closer. Cautiously I mustered up the courage to look directly into the Phantoms face. Horrified I realized the featureless form did not have a face. No mouth to speak hypnotic spells of haunted exhortation. No nose to inhale the foul stench of my unbridled fear. Only two fiery red eyes. Eyes that looked like the glowing red tip of the forbidden bidi that set this metaphysical nightmare into motion. They were not eyes that could see my petrified state of horror, rather eyes that could see into my soul. Eyes in the truest sense of ALL seeing.


One more step, the Phantom eased closer. Without a sound, it closed its fiery red eyes and faded into the darkness from which it came. Slowly I stepped back into Dad’s office and flopped into the decrepit desk chair. I felt chilled to the bone as I sat in disbelief. Silently I swallowed a lump of fear that clearly was a part of my reprieved soul.


The music continued as the soothing hum of “Ramble On” started to play. Clearly, that is what the entity felt it was time to do, time to ramble on. Quietly I sat shivering like someone just pulled from an icy grave. “Was that real? Or was it the ill effects of my foolhardy voyage into smoke induced manhood?” I said to myself as I rubbed my eyes.


I know what I saw, but how could it have been real? I tried to convince myself that what I saw could not have been real. “Ghosts aren’t real,” I said out loud. But I could not shake the notion that maybe, just maybe I really did see a Phantom. One minute it was there, the next it had faded back into the slippery world between man’s mortal coil and the afterlife’s vast unknown. Either way I saw something!


Realizing I may have truly just had a spectral visitation I started to laugh, not laughter of happiness, but laughter of relief. I survived a brush with death and lived to tell about. Quietly I cleaned up Dad’s office and returned to the house.


After a quick clean up I slithered back into the living room. Mom was still immersed in her novel. Dad and Lewy were still intently watching tv. Dad’s cop show had finished as he and Lewy were uncontrollably laughing at the antics of “Alf” and his terrestrial family. I slid in next to Lewy and picked up where I left off, domination of the world through the eyes of my favorite hero with the kung-Fu grip. Just as I grabbed Joe’s army Jeep Mom looked at my father with a serious scowl, “Arthur, were you smoking on the front porch?”


I laughed to myself as I said, “If they only knew!”




Good day, I'm BR.Giga, a 48 year old husband and father of six. I hail from central Florida by way of Massachusetts. I enjoy Sci-Fi, Horror and Action Mysteries


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