The Tales of Lofar No. II

During my teenage years and into my twenties, the man materialized at suspicious times. He wasn’t welcome, ever, but if I could have grasped the pathway that authorized him to show up, I would not have been such easy prey. I don’t mean to suggest there was a multitude of staged incidents, or that I didn’t learn how to handle them albeit crudely, but in truth one man was one too many. More puzzling was this question above all: Was he a man differently disguised, or was he many men? The disguises were clever because they were memorable and nondescript at the same time—the porch sitter, the peripatetic, and much later Mr. Peeping Tom—but they were never amusing. His—or their—appearances were anything but commonplace, and I eventually realized he was only one man, differently disguised, thereby giving me the tools to get to the bottom of this bizarre predicament. Given this premise, then, I posed more troublesome questions: Why were his appearances so irregular? What did he want from me? Was I inviting him? The latter question was the most vexing and was utterly incongruous with who I knew myself to be. I was a shy girl, not one to socialize, I didn’t have a boyfriend, I couldn’t have cared less about partying or drinking or playing the role of the popular girl. I studied hard, got good grades, loved to read. Even football games were a torment. How could this girl invite this man into her living dreams? It was a dangerous line of thinking that I didn’t dare pursue. Should I think, even now, that I was to blame for his unwelcome arrivals, I would then become a victim of my own syllogism.

I decided on one fact: I did not invite this man into my life. Yes, I was an introvert, and yes, I relished my solitary habits. But who said teenagers couldn’t enjoy the silence of their own minds? I didn’t need him to tell me that I spent a lot of time alone. And besides, how dare he insinuate himself into my dreams and that crafty space between sleep and awakening? Mysteriously, the man came unexplained, unplanned, unwelcomed. I still hadn’t discerned the significance of the porch sitter when the second man appeared around my eighteenth year. I didn’t name him at the time, but he was like a peripatetic, coming and going as he pleased, day or night. I struggled to escape his willful accompaniment; he would have suffocated me if I had not imposed restrictions on his activity, restrictions that were basically futile. I remember one evening around midnight I woke to see him standing at the foot of my bed, staring at me. Of course, I didn’t know how long he had been there—five seconds, ten minutes—but time was like the hand of a clock that didn’t move. I tried to scream, but I could barely eke out the sound stuck in my throat. I tried to move my hands, my feet, my head, even my eyes, but I was paralyzed. Desperate, I tried to make a sound like a cry that came out aaaragh. I’m sure no one in the house heard it; I could barely hear it myself. I tried wriggling my toes, first the right foot, then the left. I tried my fingers, first one hand then the other. I could feel them move, slowly, as if dead things had been slipped in between them. I twisted my head from side to side and raised it slightly off the pillow. It moved. I moved. I opened my mouth. I said, “Go away.” The peripatetic left without a word. I didn’t see or hear from him again.

What did he want, this peripatetic who scared me more than the porch sitter? Yes, I never knew if the porch sitter was a real man, although looking back I’m almost certain he had come to fill the space between life and dreams. The peripatetic was, however, more insidious; I couldn’t decipher his intentions. To throw me off-base before I departed for college? To send secret messages he wanted me to crack? This was the game he played, tormenting me and at the same time drawing me into his world of dreams. What did he want?

2 comments
  1. Jeff, Lofar had a particular dream source and grew into the four Tales of Lofar blending fact, fiction, dream, and the imagination over a period of decades. Perhaps The Tales of Lofar incorporate your insight and the questions you ask. Perhaps they—The Tales—have their source in “the inner female psyche,” an innate trait, personal experience? The origin story of Lofar has not been published yet.

  2. It is interesting to me that although the story-teller is afraid and finds the phantom man to be menacing, there is no overt threatening act (as yet) by him. His presence is enough. Am I glimpsing the inner female psyche that finds men to be unsafe? Perhaps it is in keeping with what I have seen, at times, in the world, but perhaps this perspective is wrong. Perhaps it is a naturally selected trait for female survival. Or perhaps it is specific to this story-teller’s experience, and I will learn more with further episodes…

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