My Grave Nightmare: A Halloween Story


Was it a day in full blinding sun or a night in deep gloomy shadows?  Was I asleep?  Awake?  I don’t remember.  No, it was both.  I wandered about in my dream with my eyes open, my dream that quickly became a nightmare.

What I looked upon were reflections of my darkest thoughts and fears.  My sub-conscience was trapped in the dreaded landscape of the land of the dead–the churchyard, the cemetery, God’s Little Acre, the lawns and fields of the departed.


The angel stood on the rock and watched over the mute stones.

“O, What has come into this world that these once vital souls, who lived, loved and danced and sang must now repose until the Day of Judgement?”

I stood watching a man mourn the loss of his wife, lover, child, parent or self.  He cannot bear the loneliness of existence.  He pulls at the door.  It is solid and firm in its closure.  The door is thick bronze.  I touch his shoulder to offer solace.  He, too, is bronze.  It’s all metal and stone except for the dust that lies within.  He will remain in this torment until the acids of the rain reduce him to molecules.


I walk on.  I don’t know why I do this.  I know what awaits me behind the next tree or over the next hill.  I walk into the trees.  Roots have begun to ensnare a gravestone.  The trees will absorb the crystals in another century.  Then, who will remember?  Where will the flowers be placed?  Where will the tears be spilled?


The only comfort for my eyes are the green and living leaves, mosses and lichens.  Objects with life hold firmly to the ultimate symbol of death.

True irony.

I leave the dark trees and stand to meditate the monument before me.  I read the inscription.  It’s not an epitaph–it’s a promise:

Somewhere in Mexico–when you were hurting and in despair, I sent my angel to comfort you.  You are not alone.  I will be with you even unto the end of the earth. 


There is an old house with an open door.  I grew up and passed from childhood into manhood in an old house.  I must enter.  I walk into the foyer and along the hallway.  There she is.  The transparent image of a long-ago lover.  Or is she the sister I never had? Or is she my mother as a beautiful youth?  Or is she someone unknown to me–coming to hold my wrinkled hand and place her young cold lips on my warm cheek.

Instead, she passes through me and ascends the stairs to meet another shade–someone her own age to play with–someone as spectral as she.  I watch her ascend the stairs and experience an overwhelming sense of melancholy.  I wished to know her in life.  I probably would have given her my heart–the heart she would break when she passed away.  My heart breaks as easily as ancient Oriental porcelain.


I leave the house to her spirit.  I whisper a prayer for her restless soul.  Does anyone hear my words?  I walk on into a monochromatic world.  There at my feet is the grave of a man who is holding…is it his own face?  The head of someone he is longing for?  The visage of a family member?  I walk by and he continues to stare, without terror or anger into another pair of eyes.


I have seen too much for a living and mortal mind to comprehend.  I want to be awake.  I don’t care if it’s just past mid-night or if the sky in the east is becoming pale.

Pale!  Enough pale! I want to be amongst the living and the breathing.  I want to mingle with lovers who embrace with a terrible passion for life.  I want to walk along flowered paths rich with bees and insects and birds singing for the company of a mate.  I want to help a lame farmer till his field, an old woman with arthritic joints knead her bread, a teacher tell his students the truth about life, calm a couples angry words, write a song a child will love, write a book that will make a man weep, kiss a wanton woman, drink a dark ruby wine, eat a mushroom in a desert, draw a picture that a blind person could see, dig a grave, speak words at a burial, pour Holy Water on an infant’s forehead, stand on a mountain peak so very sharp and pointed that the highest crystal pierces my thick boot soles and makes my foot bleed so that red stains on the heather will guide a lost soul to the low meadows.

I can feel sleep falling away.  But, I sit up in bed, still in a deep slumber and see my last vision for the night.

It’s the Angel of the Fog.  But is she fading away or growing more real?


I rise and boil water for tea.  I wrap myself in flannel.  I rub the Sandman’s leftovers from the corners of my eyes.  I am fully awake and fully alive.  I will use and live this day to its fullest.  I will live with faith and hope.  As I slowly stir a drop of honey into my tea, I begin to wonder…

What will tonight bring me as I put my book down and let the dark envelop me?

Waiting For All Hallow’s Eve XVI: “Is My Childhood Home Haunted?”

420 Front St.-

Sometime in 2005, I handed the keys of my childhood home to the new owners.  That action was very difficult for me.  This was the only home I had ever known from birth to the time I went off to college.  But, even in the years since 1965, when I hopped into a car and headed for my higher education experience in Louisiana, the house was always a special place for me, my children, my nieces and nephews.  That sense of ‘home’ was not just in my heart but also found its way into others.  We all brought our girlfriends and wives to the house to show them the nooks and hallways and hidden rooms.  See my post “This Old House” on WordPress to read more of this experience.

But, on that afternoon, as the new owners sat and faced me…before I would give up the key…they had questions.  The daughter was quite interested in whether or not the place was haunted.  How could I give them full disclosure?  How could I tell them of the little things that happened over the years that had a meaning only to me, or my brothers?  No, I said. Not that I know of.

I was telling the truth.  I didn’t really believe it was haunted.  But this was something the new owners would have to find out for themselves.

Another reason I didn’t say anything was that I simply didn’t have the time to tell all the stories.  I couldn’t go into every odd sound, every feeling, every visceral reaction I had…not to mention the experiences of my brothers and parents who were not present to tell their side of events.

So, here, for the first time, is a short list of occurrences that happened to me or my family (who related them to me).  I was present for some of these events.  Others, I relied on the honesty of others.

So, was 420 Front Street haunted?

–My mother always said the house was devoid of anything ghostly but…she told me more than once that when she would go into the backyard to tend to the weeds or just take a walk to the river, at a certain place, at the bottom of a slight decline in our yard (which marked the ancient riverbank before the river meandered to its present location), she felt the presence of an ‘indian” as she would say.  A chief or a brave.  But she felt his presence very strongly…but only when she stood at one spot in our yard.

–My older brother, Chris, once told me that he was lounging in the bathtub on the second floor.  He distinctly heard the front door open and close.  Then he heard footfalls on the wooden stairway leading from the front foyer.  (Years later, the stairs were carpeted).  He claims that the footsteps never reached the top of the stairs.

–My three brothers and I always seemed to have a cat.  One particularly fertile female, Portia, gave us litter after litter.  One evening, three of us were playing with her in the large front bedroom.  She loved to get high on catnip and do goofy things.  On this evening we were just watching her bounce about from bed to bed.  Suddenly, she went stiff.  We stood in front of her.  She arched her back and hissed…really hissed.  I was there and I recall that the cat seemed to be looking beyond us toward the wall.  She ran from the room.  I won’t forget her reaction…to nothing we could see.

–We had a pool table in our cellar.  It was an unfinished space so there were many cobwebs and a great deal of dust.  Many of my friends in Owego will recall the games we played.  Once, after making a great shot off the bank, I let the cue stick hit the floor a little harder than I wanted.  The concrete floor sounded hallow.  I tapped around and the area seemed solid but the one spot where I had put my cue stick was hallow.  What could it have been? An old well? An old furnace pit?  I never knew.

–The second oldest brother, Dennis, was born in 1942.  My father bought the house in 1945.  So, Denny would have been 3 years old when my parents came to look at the place.  Denny swore that he remembered coming into the house and entering the living room.  He insists that there was an old man sitting in a wing-back chair reading a newspaper.  The man put the paper down and look at Den and smiled…then went back to his paper.  My brother always stood by his memory of that day in the winter of 1945.  On many occasions, I asked my father about the old man in the chair. He insisted that the house was absolutely empty.  Nothing and no one was in the house the day he and my mother looked at it.  He never changed his story. Who was right?  Both of them?

There are other stories, small memories, tiny happenings, obscure sounds, and dreams that I can attest to.  But, I’ve said all I want to say.

Part of my soul, my memory, my childhood and my sensitivity was in that key that I pressed into Lauren’s hand that day. The house is now on the market.

I’d buy it…but you really can’t go home again.

Waiting For All Hallow’s Eve XI: “Ouija–Game or Gateway?”


It sells for about $20.00 on Amazon.  Barnes & Nobel carries a Glow-in-the-Dark version. It’s a ‘parlor game for a lot of people.  But, for many more, it’s something that should never be allowed in a God-fearing home.

The origins of a “talking board” type of game goes back to China…almost 1000 years ago.  But it was not marketed as a board game until 1900.  A woman named Paula Curran began using it as a divining tool around WWI.

There was a town in the mid-west somewhere they had a bon-fire to burn Ouija boards and copies of Harry Potter books.  And this was in 2001!

Do you own a Ouija board?

Read the following testimony from a site on the Internet:

 “I can see you through the window”

I was about 12 or 13 spending the night at a friend’s house, goofing around with the Ouija board with him & his sister and we were getting all sorts of gibberish plus words spelled out, just kind of scaring ourselves for fun not taking it very seriously when we got the message “I can see you through the window” and then “I can see you through his eyes” or something like that…there was just a small window in the basement room where we were, and just the back yard and woods past the driveway visible through that window…we asked it more questions and it said “I’m under the car” so we somehow got up the nerve to go out with a flashlight and peer under the car, where we saw a huge black stray cat which was hissing.

So, do you own a Ouija board?  Where is it?  Is it on the game shelf in your den, next to Monopoly and Scrabble?  Is it gathering dust under your bed?  Or…is it put away, in the attic, where the kids can’t find it.  Where you won’t be tempted to open it and light a  candle…and place your finger on the little moveable piece and ask questions…

Above all, don’t go looking for it at 2:45 am.  So that at 2:57 am you’re ready to play.

And don’t begin asking your questions at 3:00 am.  For it is widely known that is the ‘witching hour’ when the shadows of darkness descend over the earth.

Have you ever used a Ouija board?  Have you had fun innocent experiences with it, or did you have an unpleasant encounter with someone from the ‘other side’ that made you feel…less than funny?

Please share any experiences you may have had in the Comment section of this post.

I’d love to hear your stories.