I can often be found in dark corners of old libraries, pouring over ancient dusty tomes of arcane legends, forgotten lore and collections of 1950’s issues of Popular Mechanics and Playboy. In my researches of things unusual and macabre, I once came upon a large volume of images most horrifying to look upon. To see them with your own eyes was like staring into the bright full moon, looking down the barrel of a cat-teasing laser or gazing into one of those weird instruments in the optometrists office. Some of what was included in that book were early plates of mid-career Madonna’s wardrobes, or late career images of Cher, Ozzy Osbourne and Keith Richards.
In the bibliography section, I came across references to ancient Halloween customs. Further research led me to rare and out-of-print books of popular costumes. There I found references to the famous Tor Johnson mask, the Vampire dress (oddly indexed under “C” for cleavage) and early clay studies of Wayne Newton’s face for a possible mask.
When I got to the chapter on pumpkins, I uncovered an unusual fact. There seems to be two schools of thought about pumpkin carving. One school suggested that happy faces were the only way to carve pumpkins. The other school stated that scary images were more in keeping with the true essence of All Hallow’s Eve.
By nature, I tend to gravitate toward the more ghoulish visages. How else are you going to scare the stuffing out of children who come to your door begging for candy? I mean, what kid is going to be frightened by a pumpkin face of Porky Pig or Casper?
Only kids from Connecticut would.
So, I googled the address of the school that held to the idea of “scary is better.”
I drove down the leaf-covered lane just outside of Amityville, NY. and pulled up to the gate. It was late in the afternoon. The sky was darkening and the sun was beginning to set.
“A strange coincidence,” I thought to myself. “Getting dark this late in the day may be a prelude of something sinister awaiting me. Gosh this is scary.”
An old wooden sign swung in the suspicious breeze. It made a strange and haunting creaking sound. It read: THE BATES SCHOOL, in perfect Times Roman.
“Needs a little WD40,” I said to no one.
Once inside the main building, I was struck by the awful quiet. It appeared to be deserted.
“Was it vacation?” I asked myself. “Where is everyone?”
Then I noticed the directory mounted on the ancient maple wainscoted wall.
I looked at the names. They seemed to come straight out of a gothic novel.
Prof. S. King Room 531 Suite 47
Dr. Pangloss Room 420
Dr. Vibes Room 74
Prof. M. R. James Room 221b
Dr. J. T. Ripper Room 666
Dr. Who Room BBC
Dr. John Room d’Orleans
Hall of Scary Pumpkins Basement (Don’t go down there!)
I descended the stairs, wiping away the cobwebs. The rats scurried underfoot. I stopped at the bottom step. This was it. An ancient stone hallway lit by 13 candelabras lit the way forward. I saw something on the floor, a head. Along the walls were small shelves. On these shelves were a series of the scariest pumpkins I have ever laid eyes upon.
The smell of beeswax from the candles permeated the room along with other odors most foul. I detected sulphur. I sensed brimstone (then I realized they were the same thing). I felt dampness. I smelled urine. I looked down and realized I had wet my pants.
If you, dear blog reader, have a delicate constitution and are faint of heart or suffer from a slight inner ear inflammation or dandruff, then go no further with this post. I won’t hold it against you. Send your children to a dark room and put “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on the DVD.
But, whatever you do, prepare yourselves! You have been warned.
Be afraid! Be very afraid!
Here, my friends, are the few photos I was able to take and email before they found me…huddled in a corner, my jet black hair had turned white as a Swede. I no longer bore a strong resemblance to George Clooney. I looked very much like that guy you see in the Mall. A guy who looks a lot like that writer, Patrick Egan.
[THIS IS THE LAST OF THE “WAITING FOR ALL HALLOW’S EVE” POSTS. HALLOWEEN IS UPON US…A TIME, ACCORDING TO TRADITION, WHEN THE VEIL LIFTS AND ALL MANNER OF DEMONS AND SPIRITS ARE ALLOWED TO ROAM THE EARTH. LIGHT A CANDLE. HANG OUT THE GARLIC. BREAK OUT THE HOLY WATER. CHECK ALL THE WINDOW LOCKS…ESPECIALLY IN THE BACK OF THE HOUSE…WHERE YOU DON’T USUALLY GO. LOOK OUT AT THE QUARTER MOON. BOLT YOUR DOOR. STAY AWAKE AND WAIT UNTIL THE SAFETY OF THE RISING SUN. THE ONE EXCEPTION: IF YOUR DOORBELL RINGS OR YOUR KNOCKER THUNKS AGAINST THE FRONT DOOR…OPEN IT CAREFULLY. BUT BE STERN: MAKE THE LITTLE CHILDREN ASK: “TRICK OR TREAT’, MAKE THEM SAY WHO THEY ARE DRESSED AS AND THEN MAKE THEM SAY: “THANK YOU.”]
ANOTHER IDEA: IF YOU WANT TO READ A FEW GHOST STORIES, GET MY BOOK “IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES” ON KINDLE (OWEGO FRIENDS…GO DOWN TO JOHN AT RIVERROW BOOKS AND GET A COPY). SETTLE BACK AND READ THE TWO GHOST STORIES SET IN OWEGO, NY….if you dare!
I’M ADDING ONE LAST IMAGE THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PUMPKINS. IT HAS TO DO WITH LIFE. LOOK AT THE PAINTING…my wishes to you who have followed these posts: Live your life to the fullest…every minute, every second. Live your life the best you can, love to the limit of what your heart can give…because you never really know when the bell will toll for thee……