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The Zone

At least, that’s what I like to call it. It’s that fleeting place we pass through between waking and sleeping, where our bodies are fully at rest and our minds are settling down, like the roller coaster slowly entering the platform area, ready to discharge the riders.

When I go to bed at night, my wife is already sleeping on her side, so I quietly stretch out on mine and let myself drift toward that zone. It usually takes a while, the mind still busy percolating over the business of the day, but I wait patiently to get there. That’s where the best ideas usually come, whispers of characters and places and the events that turn things on their heads for those folks.

Lately, though, there’s another zone. In the afternoon, when the house is quiet and I’ve got the recliner pushed back. TV off, either reading or thinking about something I’m working on, need to do, whatever. The point is, you start to drift into a zone and it’s OK, after all naps are perfectly fine, right?

Like earlier today, I’d finished lunch and was reading and the eyes were getting heavy, so I set down my reading and let them close so I could slip off for a bit. Once I hit the zone, two things happened. First, I heard the distinctive sound of the front door handle moving slightly. Now, that door is right behind me so I know there’s nothing on this side, and I never heard the noisy screen door opening… the one that, when closed, covers that handle from the outside.

OK, no biggie. Imagination, after all, is the fuel that drives the stories I write. Slipping back into the zone, a little deeper this time, just as I descend into nap land, the clear sound of footsteps walking behind me. A heavy tread, leather soles with hard heels on the hardwood floors by the sound of it. Like men’s dress oxford shoes, that kind of sound.

I don’t own oxfords. Now retired, I live in deck shoes, sandals or mostly bare feet.

I’m finding this interesting. It began about a month or so ago, one afternoon as I was sitting in my chair, laptop on my lap, working on a story. My wife was downstairs, recovering the cushions on the kitchen chairs in her craft area. She was bringing a chair up the stairs from the basement when we both heard an extremely loud crash. I turned quickly, thinking she might have caught the chair leg on something, as she raced into the living room to check on me.

We looked at each other, and went upstairs to discover that the globe on the hall landing light up there had dropped and exploded into wall to wall glass fragments on the floor. The globe and fixture each have a molded partial thread in them, the globe locking in via a quarter turn twist, almost like a bayonet mount, and yet… there it was.

I joked about having a ghost visiting, and that I’d advertised us as a Dead and Breakfast, my wife opting for the conclusion that the globe wasn’t seated properly during the last bulb replacement and time and vibration took it from there. No biggie, clean up and move on. No need to replace the globe as we were about to begin renovating the upstairs and the fixture was going to be replaced anyway, so…

I’ve always had a vivid imagination, and a healthy skepticism about things that go bump in the night. I tend to keep my terror and horrific events on the page as I write them, but I’m not necessarily ready to dismiss all this out of hand. Not yet, anyway.

No, I think I’ll ramp up my frequent flier miles in the zone instead, and see what I find…

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