By Wilfred Bereswill
This morning I'm coming to you from the fabulous Lambert St. Louis International Airport where I'm waiting for yet another flight. I've been traveling a lot over the last month. I feel like George Clooney in Up In The Air, which was filmed right here. As it turns out, I am closing in on 1,000,000 miles on my American Frequent Flyer account. I just passed 970,000 miles and now I'm on a mission to get to a million. The reality of it is that all you have to do is add my American and United miles together and you have well over 1,500,000 miles. George got an actual platinum card for surpassing the mark, I think in reality, American gives you Gold or Platinum Elite status for life.
Well, enough about George Clooney.
I love halloween and I've enjoyed reading the scary themed posts this month and it got me to thinking about what really scares me. I've never been terrified by the horror genre or slasher movies. Stephen King was the author that really drew me into reading many years ago. But, as much as I enjoyed his works, I was never horrified by them. I do remember giving some deep thought about Freddy Kruger and his invasion into our dreams on the original Nightmare on Elm Street and I still have an early memory of the doors bowing inward during a scene of the original House On Haunted Hill with Vincent Price. But books and movies have never scared me.
So, what scares me? Well, reality does it for me.
I remember hearing an interview with Stephen King on TV many years ago where the reporter asked him how he could write such scary material. Stephen said that his writing didn't scare him at all. The scariest thing he could imagine was for a doctor to come into a room and say, "You have cancer."
I'm the same way.
Earlier this year. my wife and I were returning home from a night at the local casino. We were feeling pretty good because we won a couple hundred dollars. It was late. Close to midnight. We were on the highway about half way home. Traffic was light. The night was clear as a bell, but in the distance in front of us, the sky was lighting up pinkish hues by lightning flashing in some clouds. We talked about how odd it looked. It didn't look like a storm and not quite like "heat" lightning. Suddenly, (gratuitous use of an adverb) a bright light shone into our rear window. Now, keep in mind I'm traveling at least 60 miles per hour. I'm thinking, "Who is this inconsiderate Yahoo that is following me so close with his high beams on?" and "Where the lell did he come from?" Even my wife muttered, "What the hell?"
The light was brilliant white. It was so bright, we couldn't see anything in the rearview mirrors. I even remember thinking that no car had lights that bright. The light stayed with us for maybe 10 seconds and then seemed to flash before disappearing. I began slowing down, my wife urged me to go faster. She was scared, I was curious. When the light disappeared, I was ready to flip somebody off, but there was nobody around us. There wasn't any car even close to us (either direction) and no exit ramps in sight
I've tried to figure out what happened that night. My wife still brings it up. Especially when we travel that section of that highway. We have no logical explanation. We've never seen anything like it since. And while my wife is coming up with all the illogical things it could be, Angels, Demons, Little Green Men... I've tried to figure out if we were the victims of a prank or something logical.
So while that was weird, it didn't really scare me.
On December 10, 2008 I was scared. Probably more scared than I've ever been. It was the day I was released from my day job in a horrific economy. I had no prospects, and a family to take care of. True fear can be paralyzing. For weeks I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach and I could go to a corner and throw up. My mind would not rest. It dwelled on all those questions that I couldn't answer. I had trouble eating, sleeping, concentrating. I know I wasn't very much fun to be around. All that and I even knew I had a bit of a financial safety net under me.
I thought I'd get some writing done on my work in progress during my unemployment, but I couldn't get two words down on paper. Lucky for me, my vacation as my wife calls it, didn't last long and I found a good job.
In less than five months I'll be the same age as my father was when he died of colon cancer. That scares me. I've already had numerous colonoscopies and screenings. I take it very seriously. And yet, on occasion, I find my mind dwelling on it.
So there you have it. What scares me? Reality.