The Boogeyman in My Basement

Bloody Door

There was a peck on the door. Not a knock, but a gentle rapping that wasn’t sure of itself. This was not the beak of a raven, but that of a hummingbird. Yawning in the hallway, I thought I’m not putting my pants on for that.

The tapping stopped, whoever it was. The Jehovah’s witness had second thoughts about sharing their beliefs with someone with such an unkempt hallway. The vacuum cleaner salesmen doubted his product would do me much good. The petitioner doubted someone with that many bottles on their porch cared about wildlife preserves.

The stairs creaked as the mysterious solicitor slunk back to the sidewalk from wince they came. I shuffled over to the kitchen to attend to the pressing matter of eating ice cream straight from the tub.

My roommate had asked if I’d borrowed any of the cash on his desk. I’d helped myself to some of his razors, deodorant, and clean socks, but I wasn’t aware that he’d left any money out.

I caught movement out of the corner of my eye; a shadow beneath the back entrance. A key clicked into the lock. There came a rapping, so faintly came a tapping, and my ice cream hit the floor. I squeezed my knuckles into fists and positioned myself in front of the door.

It screeched open to reveal an intruder. His face was slick with sweat. His skin was sun dried, red enough to hide the cysts along his hairline. He was shirtless, an emaciated golem. His skin left none of his rib cage to the imagination. His shorts were a patchwork of grass and blood stains.

His hand shook, wielding the key like a prison shank.

I stepped forward. “How’s it going?”

The intruder leapt back. “Is, um, Mike home?”

Shaking my head, “Nope.” I put my hand out, “Can I see that key?”

Feigning to set the key in my palm, the intruder dropped it on the floor. Lowering my eyes, I missed his getaway. The intruder slid down the railing, tapped one foot on the mezzanine, and leapt down the stairs. He was ghost.

So it turned out this was the tenant I’d been brought on to replace six months ago. He’d been stealing DVD box sets and pawning them for drug money. Here he was to make another rental from my roommate’s library.

Running down the stairs, I saw no clear sign that the intruder had left the building. My hunch was that he hid in the basement. Flashlight in hand, I made my way through the cobwebs and the mouse traps. Shattered glass cracked under foot, announcing my position to the darkness. I scanned the abandoned storage closets. There were deflated bike tires, doors stacked against the walls, and circular saws in the laundry room sink.

There was a color crayon picture on the work bench, a crudely drawn man with a handlebar mustache. A series of violent lines sliced through his gut, a gash of black across his middle. A caption down the side read:

I DIDN’T DO IT, BUT I KNOW WHO DID.

He’d been living down there. Who knows for how long? In the coming months, I would jump whenever the wind rattled the doors, put my ear to the walls, listen for bumps in the night, look for silhouettes through the blinds, and drudge into the basement to check for boogeymen.

Though the intruder never returned, the intrusion haunted me.

Corruption on Camera

In film school, one of our first assignments was a video poem. Our job was to capture the spirit of a setting with a narration. I wrote a poem called Out of Sight, Out of Mind about the intruder living in my basement. Venturing down there with a camera, I rummaged through his things, planting my tripod in each of his bedrooms. Jerry-rigging a dolly together, I tied the camera to a skateboard, and tugged it down the hall.

My film teacher was so appalled by the state of the basement that he complimented me on the staging of my props.

For the musical accompaniment, I went for an industrial soundtrack. I used metallic percussion, wood creaking sound effects, and electric buzzing samples. These went well with images of rusty pipes, cracked walls, and exposed wires.

The arrangement was heavily influenced by the Nine Inch Nails album The Downward Spiral, particularly the title track.

The music ties the narration and the footage together to create a truly unsettling experience. All these years later, I’m still happy with the results.


(This is the first poem I ever set to music)

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Everyone wants more prisons
More homeless shelters
More treatment centers
Nobody wants to live next to one
“Not in my backyard”
Out of sight
Out of mind…
There’s a Boogeyman in your basement

He watches the dust
Fall from the support beams
He watches the dust
And listens to you have sex
When he holds his breath
Your life flashes before his eyes
He slides his hands down his pants
And makes a bump in the night

By day he’s a sidewalk troll
Charging a toll to anyone in his path
For gas, for food, for a Greyhound ticket
For the monkey he’s got on his back
He creeps into the coffee shop
Snatches up a laptop
And scrapes the serial number off
With his teeth

He lives his life from pawnshop to pawnshop
He lives his life in forty-dollar intervals
He lives his life from alley way to alley way
He lives his life from bag to bag

He ducks into an entryway
And waits for you to pass
You’re a Christmas present
Waiting to be unwrapped
Some men steal bread
To feed their bellies
Some men steal iPods
To feed their habits

Why should you have nice things?

His nightly ritual
Involves a lighter
A spoon
And a bulb from your hallway
He peels his skin
To pass the time
He has no reflection
Just cysts where a face should be

He listens to your television
And wonders what’s on screen
He listens to your pets
And wonders if they can smell him
He reads the books
He finds in your dumpster
He reads the newspaper
Before he wipes his ass with it

He gathers cobwebs
Waiting for the day
When your lights go out
And you need to flip a circuit
You didn’t want him in your back yard
Out of sight
Out of mind…
There’s a Boogeyman in your basement

Out of sight
Out of mind
Out of sight
Out of mind
Out of sight
Out of mind
Out of sight
Out of mind

The Basement

4 thoughts on “The Boogeyman in My Basement”

  1. This is my second attempt. I had already written a comment but by some strange stroke of a key it all vanished. Maybe the stranger in your basement had something to do with it. But I blame my laptop whose sole excuse for being is to defy both Father Time and me.

    Well, this post kind of defies my expectations, too. The opening story riveted me on the spot, leaving me aching for what will happen next. Well, what happened next was the video clip. I skipped that. I was a bit peeved because I was expecting to read a story. Alas, that’s not all. A poem came next. That poem I like very much. More than made up for that bit of disorientation I experienced on this visit.

    You’re a unique dudebro of a writer. You defy expectations and perhaps you take special delight in shaking things up. I like that, too. I’m also up for it. And yes, if there’s someone who’d dare school me in various new ways to deliver or write a post, I feel reassured it’s you. I’m in good hands, I suspect. Just don’t surprise me with a stranger with a chainsaw in the basement and we’re good. 😀

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    1. Thank you so much for sticking all the way through the post. Initially I was just going to post the audio and video links and the poem, but then I figured I should explain where all of it came from. Turns out the explanation became a piece onto itself.

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  2. Oh man, that is super creepy. I thought I was reading a short story at first, was shocked when I realized it was true! Great video though! I can definitely hear the Nine Inch Nails influence–sounds great!

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  3. Okay now I’m creeped out… Just what I need before head down to the basement to switch out the lights before turning in for the night. 😛 seriously though, don’t creepy happenings make for a great story?!… Or poem set to music in a film clip. Brilliant… Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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