Archive for July 27th, 2009

July 27, 2009

Goblins in my basement




I don’t recall anyone ever telling me there were goblins in our basement, but I knew they were there. Not that knowing this caused me any worry as long as the sun was shining. Our goblins only came out at night, and I doubt I ever went down there after dusk over all the years I lived in my childhood home. But goblins weren’t the only thing to worry about down there in our grungy dungeon of a cellar. Day or night, I was always terrified of the faceless beings that sat watching among the old suitcases heaped up under the creaky wooden basement steps. I never knew what they were or what they could do to me, but I could always feel them breathing and shifting beneath my feet, biding their time.


I never saw the goblins. But I did dream of them once, and the image has stuck with me ever since. They all looked exactly like the plaster copy of the famous chimère of Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral that my father kept on a shelf in his study. There were hundreds of them, all ranging in size from tiny thumb-sized figures on the basement shelves to eight-foot tall monsters sitting on the floor. They didn’t do anything to me, they simply stared… and that was enough to make me jump out of bed, screaming for my life.




My goblins looked a lot like this

The Midwest may seem pretty prosaic to people living on the two coasts, and yet my hometown was as spooky as medieval Prague when it came to spirits and scary things that were liable to snatch you away at the dead of night if you didn’t stay under the covers. My own bedroom was swarming with them. The worst of all was The Old Man, a short and entirely hairless greenish imp who lived under my bed and who would have reached up and yanked me down if I had ever let even a single toe stray over the edge of my mattress. This made things difficult if you had to get up in the middle of the night. In this case, the trick was to set your feet down together and then just keep moving…