When Monsters Come Out to Play

21 Oct

(A Halloween Tale by the Dalai Mama)

Do you know what I’ve discovered?   The monsters have returned and are living underneath my bed!  When I was a kid, I was convinced that monsters lived under my bed, in my closets, and down in the basement behind the furnace just waiting to gobble me up.  All it would take was a stray toe or a wayward hand to drift out from under the carefully wedged-in bed sheets and blankets tucked snuggly around my body and, without warning, I just knew that my little chubby self would become gourmet monster food.

It took me years to get beyond the feeling that something awful lurked beneath my bed, which is why to this day, I can’t sleep in a totally dark room or completely alone.  When my husband, WW, travels for business—I can barely sleep a wink, and things always seem to happen that make me lose my shit.  If he dies before me, I shall die shortly after from what my children will assume is a broken heart, but from what I will know is sleep deprivation.

WW (“White and Wonderful”) has been gone for five days.  The first two days were somewhat bearable—albeit I didn’t sleep more than three hours a night—but tonight I swear I can hear wolves howling at the moon (the neighbor’s “chi-wow-wow,” no doubt?).  I could have sworn that there was someone knocking at my home-office window (the wind and rain hitting the low-hanging tree branch, I hope?), and I thought I heard disembodied voices echoing through the hallways (the new Barbra Streisand album playing in the other room and she talks on it, I suspect?).   I also don’t cook when WW is not here, which means I’ve been trying to work all day, write six hours a night, and investigate every little suspicious sound that goes “bump in the night” after nervously munching on buckets of popcorn, bags of Jelly-Bellies, and packets of cheese sticks, while downing pots of coffee and gallons of Muscle Milk.   I’m so tired that my left eye is twitching as if to the beat of its own internal metronome—not to mention that I feel an overwhelming need to projectile vomit.

Wolf Howling at the Moon|image from

Right after turning on every light in the house to recreate the Home Alone fake-out scene in case madcap robbers are casing the house, the heavens opened up with a torrential downpour, the electricity flickered and went out as strains of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Night on Bald Mountain emanated from my cell phone—causing the bones in my body to dissolve into a pile of limp noodles in the now pitch black house.

ME:                        HELLO . . . hello, is that you honey?

PEE-WEE:            It is if the “honey” is your sister.  Called to see how you’re doin’ since WW’s been gone?

ME:                        Terrible!   I haven’t slept in days, the electricity just went kaput, and I could have sworn I felt something touch my toe the other night when my foot accidentally slipped over the edge of the bed.  I’ve been sleeping on the couch ever since with all of the lights on all through the night—including in all the bathrooms and over the pictures on the wall.  My electric bill is going to be thousands of dollars next month and WW is going to have my head.

PEE-WEE:            Say what?  Something touched your toe from underneath the bed?  Well, well, well, could it be the monster you said lived underneath my bed when we were little?  The one you told me was going to chew off my hands and feet while I slept, leaving me with bloody stumps for the rest of my life?  You know, the monster you claimed hung out with Count Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Boogey Man, and Frankenstein?  I didn’t sleep through a full night until I was eighteen because of your torture.  I’m thinking this is awfully sweet:  revenge on behalf of the baby sister.  He-he-he-he-he!

(IMP. NOTE:   Pee-wee is my only sibling—and she is shorter than I am—thus the name.  I love her more than life itself, but she gets on my ever-lovin’ nerves.  I will reluctantly admit [need to cover my ass, here: don’t know when the statute of limitations ends for sibling torture] that when we were growing up, I might have gone a little overboard in the performance of that universal torture duet known as “big sister vs. little sister.”  When Pee-wee was a little girl, she had ebony colored skin, was always half the weight and size she should have been, and she had eyes the size of duck eggs that seemed to morph together into one single eye when she was terrified by something I had said or done, which was often.  She rarely talked and her favorite expression was a high-pitched scream of terror about everything:  EEEEEEEK!  When you combined all those features about my sister, Pee-wee was the spitting image of the 1939 Buckwheat character from “Our Gang.”  Funny thing about my sister’s sibling grudges is that she remembers everything I ever did to her and I don’t recall one thing of this supposed abuse.)

Buckwheat from “Our Gang” (Little Rascals—William Thomas)

PEE-WEE:            Do you remember how you chose to “help me” get over my fear of the “monster that lived underneath the bed”?

ME:                        I plead the Fifth!

PEE-WEE:            You hopped up on my bed one Halloween night in the middle of a bad thunderstorm after I had had a horrendous nightmare about the monster underneath my bed and you said that you could cure me if I followed your instructions.  You claimed to have created a Monster Bible that was the end-all and be-all of monster knowledge.  You said:   “Listen Pee-wee.  There is nothing to this monster thing.  Monsters DO exist, and they DO live under beds of little kids that have really big eyes and very dark skin, but you just have to build up a resistance to them and then they will disappear.”  When I asked you, “how I do that Elno,” you said:   “Let me edumacate you with the Bed Monster’s relatives and they will eventually all disappear”!

I should have known better, but when I agreed to be “edumacated” by you, you quickly started your run-down of all the monsters you’d seen at the Saturday Movie Matinees with your friends, Rae-Rae and Charlene, and I rue the day I didn’t tell you to go away:

“Pee-wee,” you said, “here’s my Bible list of monsters that, once you know all about them, you’ll be able to kick the Bed Monster’s ass:

  1. The Boogey Man is the really scary guy that lives in the basement behind the furnace and eats bad little kids with big buggy eyes when he comes out of the basement in the middle of the night.
  2. The Wolf Man asshole is a man who looks just like our mailman, but he turns himself into a dog (like the ones next door), except he still keeps his man legs. He chases after people and tears them into pieces with his teeth when he catches them—especially little girls with HUGE eyes (I know because I seen this with my own eyes).
  3. Count Dracula wears a cape, only comes out at night, and drinks the blood of people until he sucks them dry and then leaves them looking like raisins. He is the father of ALL bed bugs, by the way.
  4. Frankenstein is really, really tall (taller than our house), and he was sewed together by a mad scientist with a giant needle and thread. He has a weird sounding voice, and he walks like a giant who drinks too much whiskey, like weird Uncle Oscar.  Not to worry so much about him. He only chases after white villagers, but we live in the ghetto and only Colored people live here.
  5. The fuckin’ Devil is the head-cheese of the monster group and he DOES live in our neighborhood. He’s the nigga’ who created all monsters, and he tells them where to go and who to kill.  He created all roaches and rats and you really gots to watch out for him, Pee-Wee, ‘cause he’ll try and fuck with you every minute of the day.
  6. The Monster underneath the Bed is a brother to ALL these other monsters and helps them with their dirty work of eating little kids with BIG EYES.  Don’t—whatever you do—close your eyes or let your feet dangle over the edge—not even a little bit—‘cause if the Monster underneath the bed gets hold of one of your feet, you’ll be sucked underneath the bed before you can even blink!”

Count Dracula (Christopher Lee)|image from

ME:                        Oh for God’s sake, why did you go through this litany of monsters!  Are you trying to give me a heart attack in the dark?

PEE-WEE:            Really now . . . I’m giving you a heart attack, am I?  Have you peed your pants—not once, not twice, but three times—like I did when you gave me your Halloween gift of the oral rendition of the Monster Bible?  If I recall, I was only four years old—you are sixty-four!

ME:                        Oh look, the lights just came back on and I just heard the garage door open up—it must be WW coming home earlier than I expected (hallelujah!).  Gotta go.  I’ll talk to you later, psycho-sister.  Oh, and by the way, I’m going on record to disavow all knowledge of this Monster Bible and said treatment of you when you were a little kid.  God broke the mold of a model big sister when I was born.

PEE-WEE:            Hum, are you sure the garage door was opened by WW just now?

ME:                        What do you mean—am I sure?  Pee-wee cut the crap; you’re freakin’ me out, here.

PEE-WEE:              Are you sure it’s my brother-in-law in the garage—maybe it’s the long lost relatives of The Boogey, Count Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man that you forgot to add to your Monster Bible.   Maybe it’s — THE ZOMBIES!   Mwahahahaha . . . Mwahahahaha . . . MWAHAHAHAHA!


I am discovering that the overdone meme on the Internet is correct:  monsters don’t live under our beds when we grow up—they live in our heads.  After one exposes the monsters underneath the bed of our childhood to be simply part of an overactive imagination, one has to constantly make sure that real live monsters don’t take up residence under our adult beds, rendering us completely incapacitated:  fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, fear of racism, fear of bullying, fear for the welfare of our children and their children, fear of growing old, fear of death, fear of never finding love, and my personal “top fear”—fear that God is not good and life as we know it is all there is—the haves vs. the have-nots.  The only antidote against monsters that I’ve discovered is that one has to flood the room with “light (Truth)” to push back the darkness, and then all the monsters (lies) have to flee.

I am also discovering that no matter how long it takes—younger siblings will have their revenge on older siblings—and it will seem to taste awfully sweet to them.

What monsters exist beneath your bed and in your head?

Image from “On the Subject of Monsters Under the Bed”

“…it is easy not to believe in monsters, considerably more difficult to escape their dread and loathsome clutches.”― Stanisław Lem, The Cyberiad

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”—Friedrich Nietzsche

 “We make our own monsters, then fear them for what they show us about ourselves.”― Mike Carey & Peter Gross, The Unwritten, Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity

“One need not be a chamber to be haunted;

One need not be a house;

The brain has corridors surpassing

Material place.”

~Emily Dickinson

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Posted by on October 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


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38 responses to “When Monsters Come Out to Play

  1. Hudson Howl

    October 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Am out of breath, speechless and at awe. I have not read everything you have written but this one ‘E’ for me is one of ‘your’ best -seamless , honest and real. I guess all I can leave here is my version of the ‘ultimate’ expression of job well done – a big huge ‘Grunt!!!’.

    • etomczyk

      October 22, 2012 at 8:03 pm

      Hudson, what a gracious thing to say and what an honor coming from you. You have such a feel for the rhythm of the written word and it is something I strive for. Always appreciate you dropping by. All the best!

  2. momshieb

    October 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    That monster absolutely, positively, without a doubt lived under my bed when I was a kid! Except for those times when he snuck into the closet and peeked out if my younger sister accidentally left the door open a crack. I can still picture his glowing yellow eyes…..!
    I didn’t know he had so many relatives that were hiding under the beds of people all over the world!
    Tell you what, though: I dust under my bed pretty often now. You can’t be too careful!

    • etomczyk

      October 22, 2012 at 8:23 pm

      Momshieb. I had a section about the monsters in the closet (which was my achilles heel when I was a little girl–that and the basement furnace), but it made the piece too long. Thank you for reading and reminding me to check out my closets before I go to bed. Yikes! 🙂

  3. Valentine Logar

    October 21, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    I absolutely loved this. Your relationship with your sister sounds similar to mine with my baby brother, he did not hold on that long though and our tortures were far more physical. My mother used the monsters as babysitters, yes she really did, ‘don’t get out of bed or the giant snake will eat you, only I can put it back in the box in the morning’.

    I invented a snake eater and got up any way.

    Like you the monsters of our adult life are far and away more frightening, I battle them in my head and my heart. Like you I believe if we fill the room with truth the lies must flee before it, but some days my friend, some days I wonder.

    • etomczyk

      October 22, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      Val. I can’t believe your mother aided and abetted the monsters! Yikes! I’m getting the willies just imagining that.

      I know what you mean about keeping steadfast in the hope that the truth will set us free. I suppose that that is what faith is all about. Thank so so much for your fabulous comment (now I’ve got an image of a giant snake to add to my monster collection). OMG!

      • Valentine Logar

        October 22, 2012 at 9:02 pm

        I will absolutely loan you my monster eater. He was fabulous.

  4. imagesbytdashfield

    October 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    You ain’t right!!! My big brother did a number on me by whenever there was a thunderstorm he would drag me (mind you there was a 12year age gap) outside and HOLD me while it was thundering and doing the light show knowing full well I was scared to death! He was the only sibling who tried to scare me as all of my sisters were too pissed that they were stuck watching me. But one of the worst nightmares I had as a kid was when daddy was fixing on the tv and we had video but no audio and Frankenstein vs. the Wolfman was on. Yep! that gave me nightmares.

    And the movie The Haunting has made me forever terrified of leaving any appendage even remotely hanging over the edge of the bed! Oh hey-all no!!!!!!!!!!

    • etomczyk

      October 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      TD: I remember when the Frankenstein vs. the Wolfman came out. You’re right, it was scary. I must admit I was just a terror as a big sister which was really too bad because Pee-wee and I had human monsters that made the imaginary monsters look like a walk in the park. Poor little thing. Although your brothers take the cake–holding you out in a thunderstorm. Good grief!

      Always love your comments and sure do appreciate that you follow my blog. Cheers!

  5. Joanne

    October 21, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Wow! Eleanor! I think that artistically this reads as so spontaneous and so refined at the same time! Howdyadothat?

    I feeel inspired to share with you the story of MY MONSTERS:

    As a kid in the early 60s, Nazis were my monsters. As a five-year old child, I dreamed of Nazis stormtrooping our home and rounding up my parents, my siblings, my dog, and all of the other innocent pets in our house. In this dream, I was always hiding under the dining room table. I was always the last to be found and taken, but ultimately I always WAS found — by the most scarred, narrow-eyed and thin-lipped Nazi of them all, and joined my loved ones in line as we boarded a wooden train that had inexplicably pulled up in of our well-tended suburban front yard.

    My current, adult nightmare: I dream of Tea Party representatives stormtrooping our Capitol and paralyzing all reasonable legislation with filibusters while abducting our civil rights, freedom of religion, right to make personal choices, dream of universal health care — and all the while pushing through policies that will lead to the end of public school education (originally, the most egalitarian concept that ever struck modern, Capitalist mankind) as we know it, privatize Social Security and Medicare … and then without drawing much attention to their actions, quietly trampling the poor and disenfranchised members of our society (such as recent immigrants, all US-born and native peoples of minority backgrounds, and even white people who are not rich) under their storm-trooping and self-righteous Tea Party bootheels.

    I am terrified that I may not wake up and will have to witness how this nightmare ends. It may force me to finally crawl out from under my dining room table and flee for Canada!!….

    • etomczyk

      October 22, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      Joanne, this is an amazing comment! Thanks so much for investing so much thought into the story and taking the time to add layers to it with your fantastic response. You are simply the best.

      P.S. Thanks for the personal note that was tagged on the end. I will definitely call the next time! Cheers!

  6. aFrankAngle

    October 22, 2012 at 8:19 am

    As usual, and what I have come to expect … Excellence from the Dalai Mama!

    A couple of points. 1) I don’t sleep well either when separated from my spouse.

    2) I don’t fear God because the foundation of my personal belief mantra is God is good.

    3) And one for you ….

    • etomczyk

      October 22, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Frank, I can’t believe you found this musical clip! I had forgotten that this was in Fantasia. The first time I heard this orchestra piece in college I was mesmerized (originally featuring Muzorsky’s works). I’d never heard anything like it in my life. It was scary to me without any visuals then and it certainly became scary as part of Fantasia.

      I too believe with all my heart that the core premise of God is that he is a “good God.” It is just that sometimes, evil holds sway a lot longer than is emotionally, physically, pyschologically, and humanly bearable, and in the middle of the night, one’s faith gets tested at the thought of “How long, oh Lord; Why oh Lord?”

      Thanks as always for your stimulating and engaging comments. You’re the best!

  7. Tina

    October 22, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Sheesh Eleanor! Could you have found some slightly less creepy pictures???????? Time to listen to “hello fear” again, like right now.

    • etomczyk

      October 22, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      Tina, I’m sorry! 😦 I think you’re right. . .I’m gonna need the “Hello Fear” song myself. Thanks for stopping by and especially for taking the time to comment. Cheers!

  8. Sunshine

    October 22, 2012 at 9:57 am

    OH dear, you weaved an excellent scary tale…love your images as well! The best kind of bed, thank goodness for its invention, is the storage drawers built right under the mattress. Haha, no place for the monster to lurk and hide!! Now, the head…that’s a different story… 😉

    • etomczyk

      October 22, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      Hi Sunshine! I’ve often wondered how kids in foreign lands handle monsters under the bed when they sleep on mats? Of course, maybe the human monsters that are part of their lives are so bad that there is no time for imaginary ones. Although I have a suspicion that children will always encounter these monsters of the imagination but they just lurk in differen places as you have suggested. Thanks for stopping by–I always appreciate it when you do. Cheers!

      • Sunshine

        October 25, 2012 at 2:08 am

        We humans are a complicated lot, huh? Glad we had some time to touch bases again, El. 😉

      • etomczyk

        October 25, 2012 at 5:04 pm

        Sunshine. Indeed we are. . .Thanks for stopping by. All the best. ET

  9. notquiteold

    October 22, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I was very nightmare prone when I was a kid. My older sisters used to love to torment me by telling me spooky stories just before bed.

    • etomczyk

      October 22, 2012 at 10:04 pm

      Nancy, on behalf of older sisters everywhere: forgive us for we knew not what we were doing! Sigh! How could we have been so rotten? My younger daughter takes great glee in hearing her “Aunt Pee-wee” regale her with the stories of my torturing her because she thinks her older sister has done the same to her. I plead the Fifth and so does my older daughter. All the best!

  10. becomingcliche

    October 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Monsters have led to marital issues in my life. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that monsters will eat any part of the body not covered by at least a bed sheet, therefore even in the heat of summer, I have to have some covers when I sleep. My cold-natured husband takes my covers to mean that I am cold and turns off the ceiling fan. Why doesn’t he understand me? Why aren’t monsters a part of premarital counseling?

    • etomczyk

      October 22, 2012 at 10:17 pm

      BC: You are a hoot (I actually feel the same way)! That is a fabulous idea for a short story, too: monsters as part of premarital counseling. Can you see the scenes? Couples therapy would be a great scene to write as each couple brings their monster into the session. Take it away, BC! 🙂

      • becomingcliche

        October 23, 2012 at 7:41 am

        Hmmm… Maybe I will. I had thought about doing a blog post, but I like the idea of fiction. For one, it makes me appear a little less insane.

      • etomczyk

        October 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm

        BC: Why not give it a try. You can always label it in the beginning as: “Fiction based on a somewhat true scenerio. . .” I’d read it. 🙂 Take care. ET

  11. composerinthegarden

    October 22, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Oh Eleanor, you had me laughing out loud and feeling creepy, all at once! Monsters under the bed were a definite problem for me as a kid. I used to go to the end of the well-lit hall and get a long running start so that I could jump from the doorway into my bed. That worked well until I landed short of the mark one night and creamed my knee and shin on the footboard of the bed. After that, I said, “c’mon guys, just come and get me” as I walked up to my bed at night – imaginary monsters paled in comparison to the pain of that crash 🙂 I do love the movie “Monsters Inc.”

    • etomczyk

      October 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      Lynn, your comment was so funny that WW and I read it together and fell out laughing! I wish I had remembered I used to do the same thing (take a running leap), but the comedy is in you not making the proper landing! That is a very funny bit and would have made this story hysterical had it even crossed my mind. You’ve told me you don’t write comedy but maybe there is a quirky children’s musical composition in this (monsters under the bed), along with the musical conception of taking a running leap and crashing into the bedframe, with the final musical determination to face your enemy as you limp along to the bed. I can almost hear it! Cheers. ET

      • composerinthegarden

        October 23, 2012 at 10:25 pm

        Hmmm, you’re giving me ideas . . . Glad you liked the story. Let me know if you ever write a funny animal story piece, and I’ll tell you the one about mouth to beak resuscitation of a drowned chicken 🙂

      • etomczyk

        October 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm

        Lynn: Ha! You’re killing me here! 🙂

  12. Vicky DeCoster

    October 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    I swore a witch lived under my bed when I was a kid. As a result, I think I set a new world long jump record when I made it from my bedroom door to the bed with a giant leap one night when I was certain that witch was going to reach out and grab my ankles if I walked by instead. Loved the included photos in this post which really helped me remember how active my imagination still can be!

    • etomczyk

      October 23, 2012 at 6:32 pm

      Hi Vicky. Isn’t it the truth about our imagination? I try to calm myself down but menopause has made it worse. I wrote this story because a friend and I were talking about how the slightest shift in hormones can make you so banana-kukoo and exascerbate the slightest fear turning it into a full blown monster.

      Appreciate you dropping by–please come back again. Cheers!

  13. momshieb

    October 27, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    HI, Eleanor, I know that you’ve had this before, but I’ve nominated you for the Beautiful Blogger Award. Enjoy! And be well!

    “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” Eleanor can find the absurd as well as the beautiful in life. Her writing is funny, warm, thought provoking and deeply human. She feels like a best friend, or a sister who moved away. Read her blog; you’ll want to have her over for coffee!

    • etomczyk

      October 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Momshieb. I am so deeply touched by your nomination of my blog for the Beautiful Blogger Award. I am even more touched by the lovely comment you wrote about my writing. (You know this is a mutual admiration society don’t you–I love your prose and your heart, and the worst thing about the friends I’ve made in the blogosphere is that I don’t live near enough to have coffee with them and conduct our blog conversations “live.”) Thank you so much. Cheers!

  14. BroadBlogs

    October 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Great story for Halloween!

    • etomczyk

      October 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Thanks Broadblogs. Appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment.

  15. The Savvy Senorita

    October 30, 2012 at 7:44 am

    Great post, really enjoyed it! Brings back memories of being a kid again, and terrified of everything that ‘goes bump in the night’! Just want to note, that first pic inserted in the post made my heart jump! I think I’d need therapy too if someone did that to me! Really cool though!

    • etomczyk

      October 30, 2012 at 10:17 am

      Hi Savvy Senorita. You’re so right about that first picture in my post. I almost didn’t use it because it really made me shiver. And I’m embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to get over walking down the street when there was a full moon. Yikes! Thanks so much for stopping by and for leaving such a great comment.

      • The Savvy Senorita

        October 30, 2012 at 1:42 pm

        Hey, thanks for your response!! Oh, don’t be I understand; I’m still a little cautious of the dark, occasionally I get carried away thinking something will be lurking waiting for me! All that and I love horror and supernatural stuff! Glutton for punishment!

        Can I also say many thanks for liking a couple of my posts!! Thank you for dropping by my blog!!

        Bex 🙂


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