During the late 80’s early 90’s there was a huge resurgence of alien movies and Joe, my ex-husband, was obsessed with most of them.
But, Communion freaked him out so badly, that he actually became terrified of extraterrestrial beings.
When alone, at night in our house, and our house was a big dark house… he would often let his imagination get the better of him and believe that around each corner these guys were lurking:
And that they would gang up on him and do this:
I can’t say that I did anything to reassure him otherwise.
Like the rest of the members of the Grisham family, I have quite a penchant for childish yet evil practical jokes and so… I often times would listen to Joe rant on, as he smoked a cigarette on the porch swing, his eyes sketchy, sure that he had just seen a little scary man eyeball him from behind one of the large neighborhood trees… before I would look over his shoulder and shout, “Joe! Watch out! He’s after you!” Taking great joy in watching him scream and squirm before running pell-mell into the house to hide.
I have to admit, there is something very pleasurable about watching a big, dangerous man that looks like the devil, scream in fear.
So much so…. that when Fire in the Sky came out on pay-per-view cable, and Joe wanted to stay up late night and watch it, I knew beyond a doubt that this would be the time to pull one of my best pranks ever.
I had already seen the movie, caught on a flight back from Nashville, and watching it on the airplane, mid-day, drunk on gin and tonics, made it seem almost comical more than terrifying.
But I could see that in the stillness of a great, dark house, how the mood and music of the film, could weigh heavy on your soul and lead you to believe that things were going bump in the night.
I told Joe I would be happy to stay up and watch it with him, even though I had already seen it, and so, we settled in, Joe in the blue recliner by the stairwell and me in the black recliner by the far wall.
I watched as Joe’s eyes grew large, his mouth turning into a small little terrified “O” shape.
The dark wood paneling of the room….. the large glass sliding doors reflecting images of pale white aliens all around us… the cold drafts of the old house blowing under the closed doors… the creaking of the beams… had Joe curled up tightly in his chair.
He was almost in the fetal position as he absorbed every moment of the film… his gaze barely lifting from the screen… only from time-to-time looking to me for some sort of maternal reassurance and still… he couldn’t stifle his weird “Oooooo! OOOOOOooooooos” a sound somewhat a combo of a siren and a guttural growl type of scream… each time a new and unique creepy little man appeared.
I tried not to giggle each time he reacted.
His dark hair spiked up wildly all about his head.
His heavily tattooed arms covered in skeletons, demons, and dragons.
A living oxymoron in my family room.
It was hard to keep a straight face.
I pretended to be just as terrified as him, by the idea of being captured by a small little man, saran wrapped and anally probed but it just somehow didn’t work for me.
I always wondered why Christopher Walken’s character in the film, didn’t just take a bat and “swing away” like Joaquin Phoenix in the film Signs.
They were little guys!
Christopher Walken, creepy in his own right, should have been able to take ’em!
We were about thirty minutes a way from the end of the film when I put my prank into play.
I yawned loudly several times before I got up from my chair, walked over to kiss Joe on the forehead, and told him that I was just too tired to finish the film.
He looked at me in total disgust.
“I know you’re gonna hide somewhere and scare me,” he said.
I smiled lovingly.
“Don’t be silly,” I kissed him on the head again and brushed back his hair. “I wouldn’t do that.”
He glared at me… he knew a fake when he saw one.
I walked away from the living room, and hid behind the kitchen bar, way back in the corner between two bar stools.
I knew that if I just stayed there, I would be able to trap him in the “gauntlet” of the small hallway and hopefully make it near impossible for him to open the hall door in time to get away.
I snickered to myself as I breathed quietly and waited.
“I KNOW YOU’RE HIDING!” I heard Joe yell from the living room.
I stifled a giggle and held my breath.
A few minutes later I heard him again.
“D.D.” he shouted. “Knock it off! I know you’re over there.”
I didn’t move.
I didn’t breath.
I waited and sure enough, the grandfather clock soon struck 11:45 and fifteen minutes had passed, and Joe had forgotten all about me.
By midnight, the film was over, and I heard Joe rise to turn off the TV.
I realized at that moment, there was only one light left on in the house: the laundry room light on the far side of the kitchen.
Joe would have to pass me to turn it off before going to bed and if he looked in my direction, my prank would be ruined.
I pressed my body deep into the shadow of the corner and watched as he walked bravely past me, head held high, to turn off the laundry room light and walk the very short distance from the kitchen to the front hall, alone… in the dark.
He made his way into the small room and I took the opportunity to creep out of my corner quietly and hide against the wall by the front door.
Once he turned off the light, I would be completely hidden in the darkness and Joe, his eyes not yet adjusted to the night, would be completely defenseless.
The house went black.
I dropped quietly to my knees and waited for his footsteps to approach.
Once he passed by the front door, I waited for him to be trapped in the small closed cult-de-sac that the front wall of the house, the closed hall door, and the small half-wall separating the passage way from the living room created, and knew that he was screwed.
I made a horrific high pitched gurgling noise… and grabbed at Joe’s legs.
He rushed forward and ran face first into the closed hallway door: It was a loud and terrible crash of a sound.
I reached for him again, this time barely nipping at his heels as I gurgled some more.
He shrieked in misery… it was a banshee of a howl.
He kicked and clawed at the closed hall door, crying out as he tried to basically climb the wall and find solace from the monsters, somewhere up high in the corner of the ceiling.
It didn’t work.
He screamed again and threw himself backwards into the wall, smashing a framed antique photograph of a long deceased family member before dropping like a lump, into the corner of the small space, as the upstairs stairwell light suddenly flashed on and my mom screamed, “YOU KIDS STOP THAT GOD DAMN RUCKUS DOWNSTAIRS!”
Now at this time, Joe and I were already way into our late 20’s but… the sound of my mother’s voice on the stairs stopped us COLD… as if we were two naughty little children.
For a moment, we stayed silent in our solidarity.
She stood at the top of the stairs, assessing the situation, deciding if she would come down the steps and berate us.
A few moments passed, before we heard my mother’s bedroom door slam shut and I began to laugh like a maniac as I slid down the front entrance way wall.
“I hate you.” Joe said as he got up, turned the hall door knob, hit the light switch, and stomped off towards the bedroom in a huff. “I fucking hate you.” He repeated.
I looked down at the floor and saw that he had broken the frame of the antique painting.
“Oooooooh!” I taunted. “You are in so much trouble now!”
He turned one more time and flipped me off before he barricaded himself in the bathroom and to this day… I don’t know if it was protection from me…. or protection from the aliens that lived in all the corners of our old family home.
I got up and readied myself for bed, not sure if my husband would be joining me.
Finally, I tapped gently on the bathroom door.
“Joe?” I said.
“Joe,” I repeated.
“What?” his response was sullen and somber.
“Are you coming to bed?” I asked sweetly.
“What about the broken frame?” he said. “What am I supposed to tell your mom about that?”
I tried not to giggle as I gave my response.
“Just tell her you were so afraid of aliens that you broke it in your mad rush to escape their carnage.”
“Fuck you!” he snapped.
I gurgled at him one more time and went off to bed.