And it happened to me. I was working as a youth pastor in Fredericton, NB. Though it was spring time, the air was a lot like it was today in that city. Crisp, cool….and foreboding. I was in my office in the church when I saw Cheryl, the office receptionist, come to my door looking quite startled. “Troy, can you go to the front door? There’s a man standing out there, just staring at the door and screaming.”
That sure seemed strange to me, and I felt bad for Cheryl. I mean, I was a bit alarmed to hear about this, but she was visibly shaken. However, my pity turned to a mix of bitterness and embarrassment when she followed up with, “I tried to get Karl or Ron (two other pastors), but they’re both gone.” Thanks Cheryl. Thanks a lot.
I walked down to the receptionist’s office and looked out the office door where I had a plain view of the church’s front entry way. Standing just outside those glass doors was a man in a black trench coat. Yes, you read that right. A long, black trench coat. He had dark unkempt hair that sported both a receding hairline and a menacing mini mullet. He also had matching unkempt eyebrows and Trebek-style moustache. I really didn’t want to go face him, but this was it. This was my time. I silently psyched myself up, gave each of my biceps a slap, cracked my knuckles and swaggered to the glass door he had been yelling at just moments earlier.
I pushed open the door and said, “Can I help you?” His gaze was up somewhere in an obscure corner of the building’s front fascia. But when I uttered these words his beady, piercing eyes came down and met mine. It was then that I noticed something I hadn’t when peeking out the office door. Just above his angry eyes was what looked like a letter X carved into his forehead. (I’m not adding drama here. All of these details are real.) I thought he might yell at me, judging by his behaviour of the last few minutes, so I was bracing myself. But what came out of his mouth was far scarier. With sharp, seething but calm aggravation he said to me, “Do you know who I am?!”
I realize that for most of you, the picture in your head of me is one of a strong, robust man’s man who isn’t afraid of anything. But I must confess that when this Jack-Torrence-meets-Joseph-Stalin maniac said this to me, I could feel the adrenaline beginning to pump in my veins. Or arteries. Not entirely sure how that stuff works. Either way, I felt flush. I could feel the beating of my heart in my temples. He spoke those words like it was the preface to a threat. I instinctively answered, “Uh, no.” But what I really felt like saying was, “The devil?”
That’s when he even more angrily said, “I’ve been standing outside this &@#$% door for the past ten &@#$%’n minutes and no one has come to let me in!” He kept talking, but I just shut the door. No worries, I thought. This door locks and he can’t get in. But then I noticed the crash bar on the door wasn’t jutting out, which means that it was unlocked. And to lock it I would have to go find an allen wrench. So I pretended to lock it with an invisible key, went inside the office and called the police.
Long story short, the guy was mentally disturbed and had been wondering around random locations of Fredericton. Shortly after I made my phone call he had disappeared. They found wondering a nearby neighbourhood and took care of him from there. Somehow on his way there he’d changed his clothes. (Gotta admire him for that actually.) Just before the police arrived Karl had showed up. He, a Tae-Kwon-Do black belt, wasn’t scared at all. He thought the whole thing was mildly amusing. He suggested we search the building to make sure he hadn’t gotten inside. As you can imagine, I wasn’t too crazy about searching a large building with many small dark closets for a creeper with a scabby swastika on his head ready to pounce at me and assault me with questions about his identity. But I have to say, as frightened as I was, I did enjoy getting that feeling of relief. It’s the one you get when safe and sound reality shows up. It’s like after watching a scary movie you look outside or turn on the news and you’re reminded that what you thought was a part of your reality (like venomous aliens or a cannibalistic prisoner) really is not at all. Some of us watch cartoons or crank up some Kelly Clarkson tunes to shake away the goosebumps. It’s a great feeling. And now I’ve got one killer of a story to tell!
Congratulations The Shining. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Sigourney Weaver in Alien.
Best Actor: Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
Best Quote: “Well, Clarice – have the lambs stopped screaming?” — Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.