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Inspirational Reads

Ooooh, Spooky!!!

October 15, 2009

While I heart LiLu with every part of my being possible, while trying to not let it get creepy, I'm going to take a small break from the TMI tales for the next few turns of the Thursday cycle. There's a wonderful lady from Minnesota named Pearl who is just magnificent. She's one of those sweet-faced, innocent-looking ladies who revels in her dirty mind and has many an adventure on the public transit systems of the Twin Cities. Pearl also happens to be hosting a little Story Sharing Event on Thursdays where we tell scary stories, and I've decided to join in. I've got two scary stories which are true, one frightening, the other amusing. And then I'm going to try my hand at a short bit of fiction.

Today, we're going to do the true-but-funny story.

This takes place in my college years. Now, you've already met my friend Will on several occasions. My senior year, he lived next to me and oh the adventures we had. There were many a night when we stayed up too late, drinking, talking or, sometimes, smoking a cigar.

However, there was a third member in our little party. If Will was the Phineas to my Ferb, then Steve was our Perry. Like a platypus, Steve just sort of laid around making growly noises in his throat. Yet, he was adorable, in that duck-billed sort of way. I lived with Steve for a semester, and while he was a good guy, he had a really strange personal schedule. He would stay up until two or three in the morning, and then sleep through all of his morning classes. He'd get behind on his work, which would force him to stay up later to catch up, which would cause him to sleep later and miss his classes. He came back to the dorm late one night, after the library had closed, and I heard him say, "I have so much work to do! Oh, hey, I think I have time for one game of Tetris."

Despite all this sort of nuttiness with his schedule, Steve was a virtuoso. With everything. If it was mildly musical, he could play it. And play it well. He was truly talented, which is why he was studying music in college. To this end, Steve would often stay up late at night--when he wasn't trying to get caught up on missed assignments--practicing the piano, or composing, or just playing to relieve some stress or quiet some nerves.

One night, Will and I decide to take one of our late-night walks around the campus, where we'd shoot the bull and discuss important world events. Our walk eventually took us to the chapel basement where, conveniently enough, you were allowed to smoke. It was an old cafeteria used primarily for the priests who lived on campus, and some of the students. Now, it was basically a free space for clubs to meet and for people to come and hang out in the middle of the night.

So, there Will and I are, sitting in the chapel basement, and we pull out a pair of Arturo Fuente cigars--remember, we were in college. Try not to judge. We blaze those things up and over the course of an hour or two, we smoke them down. The air is fucking blue with cigar smoke. It's hanging in layers like the curtains of the tabernacle. We're admiring our handywork when we hear piano music coming from above.

It's sometime around two o'clock in the morning. Will looks at me and smiles. "That's Steve," he says.

We sneak up through some of the by-ways of the church and peer into the sanctuary, and, sure enough, there's Steve at the piano, practicing and writing some music for one of his classes.

"We should scare the Little Purple Guy," I suggest.

Will agrees. But, we decide it's too much to try and stay quiet all the way down the aisles of the church. So, we go back down to the basement and come up through a different accessway. This one opens up right next to where the piano is stationed toward the front of the sanctuary. Conveniently, there's a column close by. I've sketched a rough drawing of the situation to try and help you visualize what's going on.

Will and I hide in the doorway, watching Steve. He plays for a little bit, then turns and looks over his shoulder toward the altar. Behind the altar is a door that leads to the back of the church and is connected to the hall where the priests live. Apparently, sometimes, one of the priests would sneak down and listen to Steve play the piano, and so he kept checking to see if someone was there. Each time he looked, no one was there. I guess it was creeping him out.

Finally, he reached down to get some pencils, and I slipped out of the doorway and stood behind the pillar, peeking out as I could. Steve kept playing, I kept watching, waiting, trying to plan my next move. Will, all three hundred pounds of his erin-go-fuckin'-braugh, hid in the doorway.

Ever seen 6'1", 300+ pounds of Irishman try to hide in a doorway? It's quite comical.

So, I stood there, planning my next move, watching Steve. He's playing quietly. I'm thinking about trying to crawl across the floor and grab his feet from under the piano, but I don't think I can pull it off. So, I watch and wait. The chapel is painfully quiet except for Steve's playing, and the rushing sound of my own breath in my ears.

Steve turns once more, and reaches for something in his bag, so I leap out from behind the pillar, and, as Steve is turning around, I slam my hands down on the piano and give a wordless shout.

Steve looks up at the sound with a wide-eyed, terrified look on his face. He, too, gives a wordless shout, and heaves his pencils at me.

"Oh!" he says, after collecting himself. "Oh, oh, God, you scared me." I am doubled-over with laughter at this point. So is Will. Steve holds up his hand, which is involuntarily trembling. His voice is a wreck. His breathing hard and labored.

"Oh, oh, wow. You guys did a good job," he says. "You really scared me. Look, I'm still shaking." And then, he gets weird in a way that only Steve can. "Oh wow. Thank you, guys. I needed that. Oh, oh, the cleansing power of fear." He takes a deep breath.

"What are you guys doing here?" he asked.

"We were in chapel basement and heard you playing," I said. "We decided to come up and see what was going on."

"Oh, wow. Thank you guys, again. Oh, the cleansing power of fear. I feel so alive!" And then, "What were doing in chapel basement?"

"Smoking cigars," I said.

"Cigars? Oh, I want a cigar!"

So, all three of us head back downstairs. Steve proceeds to smoke two cigars. The air is absolutely thick with our pollution. At this point, I'm pretty much exhausted, the adrenalin no longer coursing through my veins after frightening my buddy and former roomy out of his skin. I excuse myself and go home to the dorm where I brush my teeth and fall into bed.

The next day, I asked Will how long they were in chapel basement. He told me they were there for a couple more hours. Steve smoked two cigars, and then threw up. I guess that's how they knew it was time to call it a night.

I realize that telling the story is nowhere near as frightening--nor as funny--as it was when I was there, but it is one of my favorite memories. For other, probably better-told scary stories, check out Pearl's site and follow some of her links.


otherworldlyone said...

I smoked a cigar once. It was magical. Mostly because I was drunk and most things seem magical when you're drunk.

What a weird thing to say...Thank you. If someone snuck up on me, I'd probably throw in an f-bomb or two and start plotting my revenge.

Moooooog35 said...

I skimmed this.

Can you retell the part about Monica Lewinski?

Wait..nevermind. Wrong cigar story.

LiLu said...

Let it get creepy.


Sass said...

The cleansing power of fear...

Hmm...did you scare him so badly he shat himself?

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

Ohh, I like spooky story Thursday!

I worked at a movie theater when the Scream movies came out, and one of the other managers put on s black robe and the mask from the movie... shined a flashlight under his chin and people just about had heart attacks. I got to watch and laugh, and not be at all to blame for the massive coronaries.

Cora said...

The cleansing power of fear?! WTH?!

Chemgeek said...

First, I love me an Arturo Fuente cigar. But it sounds better if you say "Arturo Fuente" like Ricky Ricardo.

Second, I love that map. I totally know where the treasure is.

Thirdthusly, Leelee? nice. It's been a while.

Quaternarily, I'm a lot like Steve... minus the musical talent.

Bev said...

Hey man, cigars are scary! Love the story.

Frank said...

My college roommate had a sleep schedule like that - in that he was essentially nocturnal. The difference between him and Steve was that my roommate did not have any talents to make up for his laziness. Unless you consider Warcraft a talent.

BeckEye said...

"The cleansing power of fear..."

Wow, what a weird dude.

I really kept expecting you to admit that he had a heart attack and it was your fault. But the story was enjoyable even without that.

JenJen said...

I used to play the clarenet.

To tell the truth,I rather liked this post.

Raine said...

that Steve guy is funny!

carissajaded said...

"Oh the cleansing power of fear."

haha I have a feeling this is going to become one of my sayings. I can't get it out of my head!


justsomethoughts... said...

i actually tasted that beer!

just thought you needed to know that.

(over from pearl's place)