48: The Boogie Man

48: The Boogie Man

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas!

The Boogie Man

Sometimes imagination pounces; mostly it sleeps soundly in the corner, purring.

~Terri Guillemets

I think I was close to five years old the Christmas that the Boogie Man came. I had always imagined him to be the ugliest thing that ever lived, with big teeth and horns, a long forked tail, and a pitchfork for poking little girls and boys. He turned out to be a whole lot cuter.

Our Christmas tree that year was just beautiful. I would lie on my back under the tree and gaze up into the branches, and it felt like I was in another world with all the lights and sparkly objects. There was snow on the branches, and it smelled like a forest of pine trees. The angel on the top would move and look from one side of the tree to the other, keeping watch over this wonderland of my imagination.

On that Christmas Eve, my mama could not drag me away to bed; even bribery would not get me there. I begged and begged to stay up. I just wanted to look at the tree and wait for Santa to come. Mama finally got me to lie on the couch and just rest, as she put it, knowing I would fall asleep. She untied the belts of my dress and covered me with a blanket and I watched and waited for Santa to come. Finally, I drifted off to sleep. My tired mama just let me sleep there and went to bed herself.

During the night, I was awakened by noises in the house. It sounded like someone running from room to room, stopping every so often to see if anything moved. I just knew it was the Boogie Man looking for me. I’d been told he looked for little girls who won’t be good for their mamas and go to bed. I covered my head with my blanket and tried not to move, barely breathing. I tried to call for help but not a sound would come from my mouth. The sounds kept getting closer, until he found me.

One of the belts to my dress had fallen over the side of the couch and he had seen it. Grabbing the belt, he began to pull on me, trying to drag me off the couch and carry me away to some hideous place where I would never see my mama and dad again. My fear was running rampant. He would pull and I would move as far away as I could, but it didn’t stop him. He would let go long enough to growl at me and then grab my belt again and pull. I must have been stronger than I thought, because no matter how hard he pulled or how much he growled, he didn’t pull me off the couch.

It was hot under my blanket, sweat was running off my body and my hair was ringing wet. I have never been so scared in my whole short life. This tug of war seemed to go on for most of the night.

Once more, I lifted the blanket, sucked in a breath of fresh air, and tried to scream. To my surprise, the word “Mama!” sounded loud and clear. I called again and again; once I got started, there was no stopping me. Finally, the door to my parents’ room opened, and my mama came running out to see what was wrong. The Boogie Man scampered away.

I had never been so glad to see my mama. Sobbing, I told her the whole story while she hugged me, wiping sweat and tears from my face. I knew the Boogie Man would not come now that my mama was there. I finally felt safe.

My mama went in search of the so-called Boogie Man. When she came back, there he was — a rambunctious puppy! Mama said she and Dad decided I needed a puppy for Christmas, and they got me a very lively one to keep up with me. They had put him in the laundry room, never dreaming he would escape. He wasn’t trying to be mean — he just wanted to play with me.

Thanks to a mischievous puppy, I was given my Christmas present early that year. My little Boogie Man and I had many more games of tug of war over the years — it was his favorite game. Sometimes he won and sometimes I won, but it didn’t matter to us. We just loved being together. I will never forget the Christmas that the Boogie Man came to visit.

~Louise McConnell

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