Florida continues to expand. You drive around Jacksonville and think the limits to growth will be reached soon, but according to the United States Census, that day's a long way off. The Census says Florida's population will climb above 30 million people by the year 2030, and the state claims that 1,000 people move here every day.
What does this have to do with closets, you might ask? Well, when I drive around Northeast Florida, I notice lots of homes in the process of construction. And when I think about those homes, I think of the relative innocence of the spaces that will soon become closets. Sure, right now they're exposed to the light of day. They spend the early part of their lives drenched in balmy Atlantic sunlight, nothing more than a skeletal frame.
So much potential, these closets.
Then they put up the drywall, and things start to change. They get a coat of paint, and then someone moves into the house, and they hang up their things.
Hopefully they don't hang up themselves.
And it's after they've been lived in a bit that the shadows begin to form. When the hiding spots reveal themselves. When the doorways open. When someone, or some thing, stops by for a spell--maybe decides to put down some roots. Read Stephen King's 1982 short story "The Boogeyman" for a particularly insidious example of this malevolent tenant.
When I was a kid, I was OCD about the damned closet. I checked and re-checked during that interminable time between brushing my choppers and turning out the lights. I remember one occasion, after just finishing an episode of Ripley's Believe It Or Not that featured a Chinese man with two faces (he had a second mouth, a hole for a nose and an eye that, I kid you not, he could blink on command--all on the side of his head) and a mummy.
That night I scrunched up in a ball and fixated on the closet door. Before long, I was sure it was the lid to the mummy's sarcophagus. The longer I looked, the more it began to vibrate--one of those strange effects of staring at something too long, when things move in and out of focus.
After that sleepless night, the policy changed in the room my sister and I shared in our home on Morrison Street in Pueblo, Colorado. We became a night-light district. Sad to admit, but the Fred Flintstone light we brought in really did its part to keep the beasties on the other side of the door.
Closets are portals. They're hiding spots. You never know what you'll find on the other side when you open one up.
And they scare pretty much all of us.
The only place that may hold as much sway over our pre-sleep psyches are the spaces beneath our beds. Me? I don't let my hand drift below the frame of our box spring--at least not while I'm awake.
No reason to tempt fate.
Ball's in your court, horror fans. Which places give you the willies?