Last night, I was convinced that if I stepped outside my house something terrible would happen to me. Now, this isn’t terribly odd in and of itself – I usually feel that way whenever the rent is due after all, even when though I make more than enough money to keep a roof over my head – but yesterday was different.
I’m normally a homebody in that I’m a bit lazy and I hate spending money. Taken together, these personality traits mean that my wife often has to drag me kicking and screaming away from the warm, comforting glow of my computer monitor. Now that she’s pregnant I occasionally have to field instances of bizarre food cravings, and since she grew up in Queens and doesn’t have a driver’s license, I’m Lucky Pierre. Most of the time I’ll grumble and grouse before going and putting my pants on and trudging across the morass of mud and barn cats that comprises our front yard, but yesterday something inside me broke when she told me she needed a turkey sandwich from Wawa.
It hadn’t been a particularly strenuous day up to that point. Sure, we dealt with a freak power outage caused by some vines up the street getting entangled in the power lines up the road, but after we went out and ran a few errands, the lights were back on when we returned home. It wasn’t even that late, either, yet for some inexplicable reason the thought of leaving the house filled me with a primal fear that can only be replicated by waking up naked and strapped to a wooden table in Hannibal Lecter’s basement. My heart started pounding in my chest like a trip-hammer, my palms got sweatier than a sixteen year old at prom, and at one point I even began shaking – something had triggered my fight-or-flight response, and for whatever reason it was tied to getting up and going outside.
It took me a good hour and a half to calm down before I was able to pull my shit together. The whole time I was going over doomsday home-invasion scenarios in my head, trying to figure out what sort of horrible, murderous calamity was waiting for me in the darkness outside my door – zombies, vampires, xenomorphs, Scientologists – but eventually I told myself that I’m not going to let this agoraphobia cripple me and turn me into a prisoner in my own home. Finally, I gathered up the courage to get dressed and go out to the car with my wife.
I won’t lie; part of me wanted to load my rifle and take it with me. I didn’t, though I felt naked without it. Looking back on the incident now, I can’t for the life of me fathom what the hell triggered the episode, and I feel completely fine now. Still, it’s not something that I look forward to ever having to deal with again, considering how I might end up killing the mailman because I think he’s a skinwalker or something. At least you get three hots and a cot in the psychiatric ward, right?