“It’s so damn hot in here. I can’t breathe!”
Like an August in West Texas. Hot in the far back of a tiny closet.
Behind a locked door.
The smell. A combination of mold, worn plastics, the acrid odor of mechanization, body sweat, and a dishwashing liquid drop-hint of semen.
The carny potpourri was too much. Even after thirty minutes. It felt like hours of suffocation. The lack of even the tiniest pin stream of light made the sickness worse.
I put aside my fear of shadows. They lived outside the “safe” boundary of the ripped seat that brought me to this point. I knew it. They thrived where light couldn’t.
Peaked over the edge of the two-seat car that took me into amusement hell.
And vomited hard.
Into the warm, dark shadows.
A Coney Island dark ride.
One of my scary favorites.
Until that Friday night in August. 1975.
When frolic reversed like a spook house car. Right to fright.
Stuck in Coney Island’s famous –
It took months to gather the courage to enter the black place. The desolation of winter falling on outdoor attractions would find me wandering outside this haunt. I was drawn to the dark. The shadows inside. Even when locked for the off-season, I was on. In. The ride.
It was that damn cyclops with the six pack.
I would stare up at that face. Shudder. My eyelids frozen open. Eyes behind them seduced to stare. I wanted to be there. Part of it. The attraction to the attraction was unnatural.
That solo eye slid back and forth in a slow, stilted sweep.
In the winter. When the sky was quiet and gray and cracked dirty urban streets were empty of banter, I swore I could hear the mechanized creak of that eye.That left arm. It moved up and down at a deliberate “look at what I can do” pace. Loud too. A creep hand that held a severed head by dark, long strands.
And I couldn’t get enough.
It was that damn sexy witch with the curves.
She tempted. Seduced me to enter.
Assured me it would be fine whatever “it” was. Perhaps my sanity, my sense of self, my ability to stay alive. Whatever fine was, I wanted it.
I shouldn’t be afraid.
To open up.
She promised not to scare me.
That body. It tricked me.
And I was scared. And excited.
And so wanted to leap.
Trapped in the dark.
Shadows all around me.
Too deep into the ride.
I was angry.
And the shadows surrounded me. I was breathing them in. Absorbing them through pores exchanging Satan for sweat. I could feel a dark-line slither circle my heart.
My body tingled cold in a hot mess.
All I feared, hated. All that ate me inside. Swirled around me. And I couldn’t move.
In the sun haze of day that went to night behind swinging doors. Real fast. 1975.
The dark ride track comes full circle.
And it’s black again.
The creeps have returned. With shackles. Iron boots. Lead, dead female faces.
1). What tempts you to enter the dark? Perhaps it’s the promise of light. Of love. Of sex. Of higher knowledge. Of a new bundt cake recipe. Who knows? The dark. Before it swallows you, is a seductress. It promises you what isn’t there. What was never there. Maybe it’s a bright battery of false beacons. Could be the only way to awaken from a darkmare is to get stuck in the middle of it in the first place? That’s it! You need to be trapped. Vomit deep. Purge the fear of what the dark brings with it. But first comes absorption. Attachment. Acceptance. Then – Clarity.
2). How do you disarm the shadows? Be open to them. Have souls around you intuitive enough to expose and destroy them. You’ll know who they are when they come to rescue you from that ride with the dank stench. The primal will to survive will draw you to the human lights you require. Be patient. It can take a long time but if you’re open. It. Will. Happen. Who are your teachers of the light? I have found four so far. They know who they are. I pray for more. I seek them now. I’m not tricked by the dark light anymore. But first was the pain. The fear. And the motivation to.
3). Release the shackles. Be prepared. When shackles break, some part of you will too. Consider it a priceless donation to a higher power. As a warrior willing to enter and then exit the dark, you’ll need to bleed. Give up a piece of yourself to gain a greater peace of yourself.
4). Get the lead out. Carrying the weight of the past and future will leave you for dead in the dark ride.
The ego is a hungry, rabid rodent. Eating you. Picking at you. Until. You’re the Spook-A-Rama rat. Fully engaged in the present will trap the rat, save your face and show you the way out of the illusions of fear and anger.
5). In the light, the dark shadows appear campy. Funny. Harmless. Rotted. Lots of wires. Nothing real. Promises you made to the fear will die. The ties that bound you to false obligations of the past will break.
Best-selling author, shiner of the light, James Altucher wrote this to me today – The shadows aren’t real. They are playing out a story with you. A fiction.
Well. Isn’t that what a dark ride is? A short thrill? A fiction?
But it’s supposed to end.
You’re not supposed to get stuck inside.
The eye isn’t supposed to follow you forever.
Eventually, it rots. Breaks. Exposes itself as a silly amusement.
The stare releases your spirit.
And the light goes on forever.
Thanks to those who rescue you.
From the dark ride.
Dedicated to Misti Mathis.