Like most kids, I had a monster living under my bed.
He was large with green metallic scales that shimmered in the dark and eyes that cast a ghostly yellow glow against the wall.
He liked to slowly rake his half-moon claws across the floor just remind me that he was there.
“Are you asleep yet?” he would hiss.
Which is why I never closed my eyes at night.
“Why don’t you eat one of my brothers instead?” I asked.
“Because they told me to eat YOU,” he cackled.
As time passed, I realized he probably would not eat me, so I learned to ignore his threats. But he merely shifted gears; instead of threatening me directly, he played on the fears I brought to bed with me.
“You didn’t do your homework, did you?”
“No,” I confessed.
“Sister Alice is going to shake you like a rat when she finds out.”
And he was right.
Over the years, his threats lost their sting. By my early twenties, I thought it was kind of psychedelic to have a monster under my bed and we became the best of friends. We partied together, traveled together and did things together that make me shudder when I think about them today..
One time when a couple of bikers invited us on a trip into the Utah desert, he told me not to ride with them.
“Why not?” I asked.
“They’re monsters,” he said.
“How do you know?”
“It takes one to know one.”
In time he went his way and I went mine but now after all these years, my old friend has moved back under my bed
He still doesn’t reveal much of himself – just the ghostly yellow glow of his eyes reflecting off the wall and the familiar rattle of his claws against the floor as he whispers to me.
“That tightness in your chest,” he hisses, “think about it.”
“I do,” I whisper.
“Do you know what it is?”
“No,” I say.
“It’s nothing,” he growls. “but that pain lower down, now that is something to worry about.”