Motion detector lights are what finally snapped me in the end. The sting of failures in life and love and goals and horrible memories amplified and magnified through various vices, that all was manageable. But a few motion detector lights burning bright shadows across my back yard are what finally sent me spinning into a nervous frenzy hoping that the loony bin wasn't booked up for the summer.
Initially a few lights getting set off in dark isn't a big deal. No, there are stray cats and various woodland creatures scurrying around, not to mention the water a few yards down the road. Maybe some missing-link-type-mutant pulled itself out of the water and crawled its way into my back yard looking for the nearest WaWa so it could pull the classified section and look for employment or reasonable rents.
Most of this is my own fault; I was reading a string of "real crime" books, that delved into the horrible, gruesome murders by serial killers and mobsters. Ritualistic and random, all the kind of details that get your mind gears spinning in the middle of the night and wonder what kind of weapons you could stave off an attack by some 9ft hooded phantom.
This was all elevated by the dreaded "Horn Incident" of early 2009. To explain this properly would require a knowledge of automobiles that I just don't possess but suffice to say, through various incidents of road rage that resulted in my fist being pounded into the steering wheel apparently damaged the interior circuitry of the horn, the full extent of which revealed itself just after midnight on a cold February night while I was engaged in one of my eerie murder books. The unrelenting, constant whale of a car horn is unsettling enough, but when you don't realize why it's happening your brain gets flooded with panic.
My first thought was that it was a neighbors car, then I realized the sound was too loud to be far away, my next thought was the maniac who'd been stalking the back yard was revealing himself; ready for a showdown, holding the horn down until I came out, startled and unready to meet this demon head on.
Well I wasn't ready. And there was no demon. Just a broken car horn which required a flash light, and the frantic yanking of fuses, while the deafening siren began to erode my hearing. Finally, the right fuse was pulled and the horn was gone, but the ringing was still there, it felt like every nerve was vibrating, and I couldn't quite shake the feeling that somebody was snickering out there in the dark watching me turn into a nervous, trembling pile of jelly.
A few months passed by and the lights stayed off, and my paranoia levelled off. Must have been a stray cat or some rabid possum. Then the warmer weather came and the light started going back on. I played this off, it's spring and things are popping up and exploring. Then a week straight of lights going off. Just once a night. But at the same time every night. Those old creaky paranoid gears started turning again. It was time for some serious action.
I decided a stake out was in order. I'd sit outside in the daylight, and then go prone after the sun had gone down. I had on all black, even the ski mask I pulled over my face once I got into my "combat ready" position. I was armed with a roll of quarters I'd forgotten to take to the bank and a slightly dull knife that I'd found in an old tackle box. I took my position with the vigilance that a man protecting his home must have. I was determined to find out the cause of the disturbance even if it was something as silly as a cat, or a squirrel, or even the wind.
Unfortunately I underestimated the amount of patience one must possess in order to be successful in such an operation. Self doubt began to creep in. "This is awfully silly" I thought to myself.
I headed back inside and threw the ski mask to the ground, I turned around and out of my peripheral I caught the image of the light stabbing my eyes with its shine. That was it. Now I was just being mocked, I flew out the door, towards the light, and started covering every possible route someone could have taken, but there was nothing. No answers. No small animal scurrying away, no missing link mutant, no long gusts of wind, no weapon wielding maniac. But it didn't matter anymore. I'd had enough. All I would be thinking about now is whether or not that fucking light would go off again.
I packed my bags and headed to the Ocean County Medical Center. In Bergen County they used to have a place like this called Bergen Pines. I don't live in Bergen County anymore but when I did I didn't worry about random maniacs kicking open my door. Or maybe I did and I've just blocked it out since. I asked before admitting myself for "chronic fatigue": "You guys have a security system right? Like in case anyone tries to break in?" The nurse looked at me somewhat puzzled,"uh, yeah we've got that".
"Good," I thought, "now it's their problem."