It was such a pleasant evening. We had watched the beauty of the setting sun and after a stroll about the yard were ready to head for the house. Then it happened. “Look at that”, Ann said, with a small tremor in her voice. “What?” I replied, turning my head in that direction. “There’s something over there, ” she exclaimed. We lived in the country at that time, and it was not unusual to see some small animal making its way from here to there. I looked again, surveying the general area her hand was pointing. “I don’t see anything,” I said in a casual way.
“It’s moving she said,” as she slipped her arm into mine. “That thing is moving and it has green eyes.” “I just don’t see what you’re talking about. Let’s go on in the house.” “No, I want to know what that is,” she said as she moved closer to me. “It’s low to the ground and it’s crouching.”
“I’ll go see what it is,” I said in a fake show of courage. “Don’t you go over there”, she said, in a way that spoke her own fear. “That thing might be dangerous, it could be rabid.” “I’ll take one of my big walking sticks,” and pulled one from the large old-fashioned 50-gallon milk can. With weapon in hand I started in the direction of the danger.
“Don’t go Jack,” she cried out in a loud voice. “Don’t bring that thing in here.” I ducked under the big oak tree that shadowed our house and moved toward the neighbor’s drive where the creature was hiding. All the while, Ann was screaming, “Don’t do it Jack, don’t go over there; don’t touch that thing Jack, it’ll bite you.” She had made her way safely to the porch and was now inside.
By this time I was lost in the semi-darkness. “I’ve got it”, I yelled, “I’ve got it by it’s tongue.” Ann was frantic. “Don’t you bring that thing over here; I’m going inside the house and I’ll lock the door. Ann was now standing in the main doorway of the house. I kept calling out, “I’ve got it Ann, and I’m bringing it back with me!” Now Ann was standing just inside the heavy wooden door, peeking out as I approached. “Don’t you bring that thing in here.”
“I’m coming in”, I said as I reached the screen door. “I want you to look at it Ann, just look at it”. “I don’t want to see it,” she cried almost in hysterics; “I don’t want to look at it”. I said, “Come on Ann, just look at it,”. “I don’t want to look at it, I don’t want that thing on our porch or in the house.” “Just look at it Ann, “I insisted, with a soft and gentle voice. “LOOK AT IT“, I quietly demanded.
She raised her head and opened her eyes, and was shocked by what she saw. We stood there frozen in time for a moment. Then began one of the most hearty and enduring times of sheer laughter we had ever experienced. We just laughed and laughed as we hugged each other. Tears filled our eyes as we held the creature between us. We held it up together as if we had conquered some vicious animal.
You want to know what it was? It was one of my old tennis shoes that our dog had captured out of the garage and carried off. The metal ringlets had reflected the night-light that had formed the mysterious green eyes of the creature. Our fear and imagination had done the rest.
The old adage says, “A fear faced is a fear erased”. The apostle Paul put it another way. Writing to the believers he said, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7). Fear is the only power we possess that allows us to create something out of nothing. This time it was a fierce animal out of an old shoe.
I admit that as I moved toward this ‘unknown creature’, I felt a bit of fear in my mind. The solid oak walking stick was a chosen weapon that I would use if I needed to defend myself. I was pleasantly shocked to find that this creature we both feared was just a harmless old shoe. I had started on the journey without thinking of the danger that could be involved. Foolish me and careful Ann. Between the two of us, we solved the mystery and had a hearty laugh about it.
Recently a case was reported in the newspapers of the man in the banana car. Just a hobo – ‘hopping’ a night freight to the next town. Once he released the door it slammed shut and locked from the outside. He yelled and hollered but no one answered. He struck his last match to investigate. It was then that he saw the dreaded tarantula spider moving in the straw that once bedded down the bananas. The train moved on. Later, they found his body, a brutal mass of torn flesh. His hands were beaten to a pulp. His fingers mutilated from clawing at the door.
Tarantulas? No! A post-mortem disclosed a heart attack had killed him but not a single deadly bite from the Tarantulas was found on his body. Fear had done the job. “The only fear we really face is fear itself.”