Wednesday, September 08, 2010
My imagination is so wild that it doesn't just gallop like a runaway horse. It gallops like a zebra across a savanna. I guess that's a main ingredient of a writer's personality, but honestly, sometimes I wish I could find the off-switch.
For instance, about a month ago, a young man with a foreign accent showed up at my front door with some lame tale about wanting to talk about cultural exchange. I'd opened the front door after a hasty glance had me thinking that his vehicle was my dad's.
I stood there, listening to him trying to inveigle his way into my living room, and all I could think was: strange man with a weird story, no local connections, no contact information and a knapsack. Presto-change-o, I had the guy transformed into a serial killer with a murder kit in hand on my doorstep.
It turned out that he was just a guy after a quick buck (that I found out after I'd reported the strange incident to my local sheriff), but still. I was on full-alert for weeks, and whenever I'm by myself at home, I make sure that all the doors and windows are locked. This in a town where nothing of any great import has happened for the 20 years I've been here.
It's not just on my front porch. I can find sinister danger anywhere. This past weekend, I took a family friend to the ER. Imagine the prickles up and down my spine when a pair of corrections officers escorted an orange-suited jailbird in shackles (handcuffs and leg irons) into the neighboring treatment bay. With only a polyester curtain -- and one that didn't even stretch to the floor -- between me and Mr. Jailbird, I was most interested in the outcome of the guards' debate over whether they should double-shackle him to the bed. (Eventually they did.)
In my poor beleaguered brain, I already had the guy picking the locks, waiting for the opportune moment and then grabbing the handiest hostage (that would be yours truly) by an ankle and charging out the double doors to freedom.
I'm sure the poor inmate was sick with the stomach flu or just needed a break from the ennui of confinement. Probably the last thing on his mind was playing the villain in the drama unfolding between my ears.
At least it's all grist for the mill. I've filed these scares away in my brain along with dozens of others (who else can see a Wells Fargo truck in front of Wal-Mart and worry about being caught in the crossfire of an imaginary gun battle?). Who knows? One day maybe one of them will wind up being the seed for a best-seller. Now that's a zebra I'd LOVE to imagine.