by W.P. Gerace
A young man confronts his childhood fear.
W. P. Gerace
Returning to Park Village in Northern Pennsylvania, Tommy’s old hometown, brought back many horrible memories he would have liked to leave here. The drunken stepfather treated him and his twin brother Andy like garbage, the town bullies like Bobby Harley, and the peering eyes of the town folk who would gape at him and his brother since they were outsiders as if they were infested with some contagious disease. If it were not for the sudden death of Andy, he would never have returned to this dreadful place.
As soon as he entered the mountainous area between the Poconos and the Pennsylvania border, his old fears began to creep inside him as they never left. Shaking terribly and trembling inside, his old anxieties about living here sprung up. Clutching the edge of his gray steering wheel, his wife Heidi stared at him with vast sea-blue eyes. The compassion and concern in her clear teal eyes were too much for Tommy to bear. This was asking a lot of his new wife, who had only been married to him for a month, maybe less, to take all this in.
“Honey, are you ok? I can drive, you know? Tommy, please let me help you. “ There went that soft-spoken therapist voice she probably used on thousands of her patients at her clinic, but he was not one of them. He wanted to tell her to let him be a man and handle this, but the scared little boy in him that never stopped being afraid gave in.
Pulling over on the side of county road 105, the main entrance into town still had those towering maple oaks, their burly dark brown branches, and heavy green foliage blocking out any sun, making it appear you were in the middle of nowhere. Whistling about, a gusty wind spiraled in from the skies above. Trembling gave into convulsions, his palms glazed with sweat he could barely hold onto the wheel.
“I think it is a great idea. “ Tommy said, unbuckling his seatbelt.
Trying to distract himself from his overactive imagination, Tommy could not understand why Andy stayed behind in this dreadful nightmare, especially after his mom died nearly ten years ago. She, too, was killed by the town. It was as if the city itself had a negative reality. Its presence harmed your well-being. There it went again, that chattering sound, that grinding of incisive teeth ready to torture and control. It was the very thing that ruled this place.
Sure enough, as he stepped out of the car swirling about a scarlet red airplane, a mini one just like the one that scared everyone when he was a kid and made folks do things flying about. Its dark eyes glared at Tommy, aiming straight for him. This time it spoke to him, demanding he gives his soul to it. It had a creepy voice reminding Tommy of one ancient gatekeeper that had been around for centuries. Tommy, I took your mother’s and brother’s soul. Now I want yours. You should have never come back, child. Now I will have you all to myself.
For the first time in his 30 years, Tommy’s adrenaline kicked in, his confidence boosted, and his inner strength heightened his senses. He was going to confront this creature airplane. He was going to use his own superpowers to defeat it. He had an important job to do. He yelled for Heidi to lock the door. Heidi, who looked at him in that dismayed expression she used when one of her patients told her a crazy story like the fellow who told her last week that his cereal was telling him to kill his wife, just sat there in the car expressionless. Waving his hands about for her to lock the door, her awe turned to fear as the color drained from her tanned cheeks. Quickly bolting all the doors, he could hear all the locks clicking.
Suddenly he was no longer the tall thin Tommy. He was now that little eight-year-old boy with curly red hair, freckles, and wild greenish-blue eyes. Jumping on top of the car, he challenged the creature plane to come to him. Standing in front of the airplane as it veered for him, the trusty magical sword he had used to pretend he was the master of the Universe appears. This time though, the blade had a heaviness, its pure white surface illuminated in a bright red glow. The sword forced Tommy to confront his fear.
“You want some of this, little boy! “ The plane’s nose became elongated and pointy, reminding him of a shark about to attack its prey. Parting its lips, the creature had pointed teeth whose tips glistened in the rays of his sword.
His heart pumped vigorously through his body. He could hear his blood pump and swish through his veins like an overflowing river. Aiming straight for him, he could listen to the growling of the creature, its dark eyes now glowing amber. Just as the plane began to make a steadfast dive towards Tommy, he aimed his sword straight at the beast and commanded his sword to kill it. Bolting out in a series of red pellets attacking the plane’s surface, he could hear the thing inside wailing in pain. Within seconds it exploded into a million pieces maroon dust flew everywhere.
“Park Village is now safe. “ Getting back into the car, he told Heidi he would be ok to drive. His worst fears were over.