Back in late November, I made the following excited post to my personal Facebook page:
I found the haunted room here at the new hotel!!!
Yes, there were three exclamation points. You’d think I would have immediately come here to the blog to share the story, but I was otherwise monopolized. At the time, I was deeply embroiled in my quest to complete 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo. When that was done, I was ensnared by my life – or rather the lives of my menfolk. I’ve been helping my husband get pysched up for starting his new job (which he begins tomorrow – praise all the saints) and helping my son get calmed down for his first *college-level finals (and his first real date – oh-my-God, how old am I?)
* Remember, he’s only just turned 17, I’ve still got some mothering to do.
For the last two days, I’ve been concentrating on preparing myself for the next phase of this new life we’re creating. I’ve organized & disciplined the HELL out of my calendar and my planner. (When I listen carefully, I can hear them still whimpering faintly.) I’ve set new goals and recommitted to old ones. I’ve tidied up some of the pages around the blog and updated these:
- My 101 Things in 1001 Days list can be viewed anytime by clicking the ‘By July 22,2014′ tab at the top of the blog’s main page. Updating the list was a great way to reengage with the goals I had to put on hold for the last 10 months or so.There’s still one available slot to fill. I’m open to suggestions. Just know this: I have no desire to jump out of a plane in the next in the next year and a half … or ever.
- I started up the Writer’s Monthly Progress Challenge page for December, and defined my own goals for the month on The Paranormalist’s WriMoProg page. (Both of these pages are also available via the tabs.) Does anyone care to join me in the challenge, in reckless defiance of this month’s other demands? I’ll make a really cool winner’s badge if anyone does.
I’m feeling organized, confident and hopeful. I know what I need to do next, and what I need to do after that. Soon I’m going to go get cozy, on this wintry night, with a horror movie. (We’re having the first snow storm of the season here in Minnesota.) There’s a little time now, though, to tell you my mini-ghost story.
In room 566:
Deep in the night, on a mid-week shift at the new hotel, I realized a particular room - which had never before been available – was marked as rent-able. I had noted it on the list before, because it is labeled as a king suite. As far as I knew at the time, the hotel did not have any suites. When I had asked about it, I was told that I didn’t have to worry about it because a long term guest was in residence there.
Curious now that it was unoccupied, I set the back-in-five-minutes sign on the counter and went to have a look. I took the elevator to the top floor, then walked about half-way along the hall until I came to the correct door. I knocked – like I always do – waited, then let myself into the room. I located a single switch to my left, and flipped it on. A dim light from one wall-mounted lamp oozed out to fill the room, but it was weak, and it left soft shadows in the corners. Directly in front of me there was a living area furnished with a slightly shabby sofa, two matching side chairs, a scarred coffee table and a large television encased in an open armoire that stood against the right hand wall. In the middle of the big room, a writing desk pressed up to the back of the sofa. Beyond that, against the far left wall, a low king sized bed crouched between two night stands.
I stepped into the space and let the door shut behind me. To my left there was a small kitchenette, separated from the rest of the room by a wall of its own and narrow breakfast bar. I ran my fingers along the bar top as I crossed toward the desk. I was wondering where the bathroom was, and if it was any larger or grander than those in our regular rooms. I stood next to the desk’s bench for a moment, until I figured out that the bathroom was next to the kitchenette, and that it didn’t look like it could be very spacious.
It was then, when I was standing in the middle of the room, facing the bed, that the television behind me came to life.
I spun around, thinking someone had followed me into the the room and turned it on. There was no one near the television, except for the white-haired news anchor displayed on the screen. For a few seconds, I stood frozen, then I turned in a slow circle, scanning the room for any possible spot that could conceal a person. (I have a fear of letting myself into an occupied room. It’s been haunting me ever since the unexpected occupant in room 217 spooked me badly.) Finally, I thought to check the bathroom. It, too, was empty. Even though, by then, I was convinced that I was truly alone in the suite, I looked for the room’s remote control. It was resting on one of the night stands.
One part of my mind was scrambling for a rational explanation, but it was having some trouble because another part was busy screaming, “Appliances that turn themselves on and off are classic signs of a haunting!”
At last my rational brain deduced a plausible answer: the television had to be plugged into a socket that was powered by the switch I had flipped upon entering the room. Without realizing it, I’d provided power to a television that had been left on. There had been a delay simply because some TVs take a little time to warm up. (Later, of course, I realized that some TVs from the 70′s required warm-up time, but I wasn’t thinking about how old or new the set was in that moment.)
Since I had figured out the probable explanation, one thing remained to do: I went back and turned off the only switch I had touched since entering the room.
The room instantly went dark … except for the flickering, bluish light the television continued to pour out. I had to cross the suite to fetch the remote in order to kill it.
So what do you think? Faulty wiring maybe? Or some kind of reverse sleep timer?
Hi gang! I’ve had a day that came off the rails. I thought I’d be spending this Monday catching up on NaNoWriMo but, instead, I ended up helping my son register for too many credits at the community college, then going to work, even though it was supposed to be a day off. It wasn’t a bad day … just not what I expected. Consequently – and somewhat surprisingly – I’m now drinking my third beer, and I have to admit I’m feeling a little squirrely. That’s your warning that I’m feeling informal and chatty. Stay or go as you desire.
First, let me share a couple of personal pictures. (Because I just posted them on my real-life FB, and they are cute.)
This is my husband. In the last 18 months or so, he’s lost a LOT of weight (because he decided it was time to do so.) Now he looks pretty much the way he did when I married him. I sometimes wonder if he’s not secretly some kind of immortal. Otherwise, how could he still look so young? I haven’t yet decided if he’s vampire or were.
This is my son, who let me make him up as a version of my hypnotist clown for Halloween. He’s REALLY didn’t like me messing with his eyes – and he was kinda squirmy in general – so I couldn’t get the clean lines I wanted, but it didn’t turn out too bad.
And this is my goofy dog, in his customary chair, but not in his customary position.
There. With that out of the way, I can settle in and share the bits ‘o news I have.
WriMoProg / NaNoWriMo
A couple of nights ago, I updated my home-grown writing challenge / tracker page (WriMoProg) with this month’s goals which – for this one month only – pretty much equate to NaNoWriMo. I detailed my plans there, but the gist is that I’m joining in on the insanity for the first time. I’m behind at the moment, but I have 3000 words done. The intention is to catch up tomorrow (now that I’ve thrown my hands up for this one evening and commenced to screwing around.)
We had a pretty good holiday, though not nearly enough trick or treaters came to our elaborately decorated apartment door.
Do you see those brown paper boxes stacked up behind the treat-filled book? Those were filled with a set of construction cards that my son had outgrown. Our intention was to give this special prize to the first witch or wizard who came to the door. My boy was pretty excited about the whole handing out treats thing … he had never had the chance to do it before, because we lived so far out in the country.
We got a basketball player, a firefly, a girl in an orange shirt, a generic super-hero, an Arabian princess and a bug. Then there were no more.
Once we thought the festivities were over, my son and I decided to tour the building to see if anyone else had gone all out. (Nope.) When we were returning to the apartment, however, we were delighted to hear “I can’t believe I got the special prize!” We rounded the corner and saw a 12-13 year old girl, in full Hogwart’s regalia, showing the boxes to her mom. My beloved had awarded her the cards. She was thrilled. And so were we.
On his Facebook page, my son later posted, “Getting trick or treaters might be the best thing ever.”
By 10p, we had disassembled all of our decorations and packed them away. I carved two more Jack-o-lanterns, just because I could.
Then Halloween was over.
Except, it’s never really over, is it?
The must-see horror movie list
I’ve been making some progress on my required viewing. Thanks to a tip from Hunter, I settled in with The Cabin in the Woods a few nights ago. It will absolutely go onto a list of the best, I just haven’t yet figured out which one. I’ve also seen The Mist (which was pretty good, then pretty awful, then mind-blowingly amazing) and Repulsion (which was a challenging but rewarding slog, and destined to go onto the psychosexual horror list that I STILL don’t have enough entries for.) I’ll be puttering and updating the lists when I’m done here.
Sometimes I think I should make a whole new blog just for detailing the goings on at the hotel. Right now I’ll settle for one quick update, for those who are following along. Remember the guy that told me cleaning elevators wasn’t my strong suit? Yeah. He completely lost it. Within a couple of days of my post (on October 17th) he had alienated every resident and staff member at the hotel. He checked out. Then he came back and claimed that he’d left valuables in his room: a pair of shoes and a box full of winning scratch off tickets – hundreds of dollars worth of scratch off tickets. He was convinced the housekeeping staff had rejoiced at their good fortune and absconded with his property. Then he made some racial slurs to back up his theory. He wanted to call the police into the situation.
It came to a head on a day I didn’t work. My boss acquiesced and phoned the cops. The officer, I was told, attempted to make peace by suggesting that the guest (Joe) be given one free night’s lodging, in exchange for refraining from haranguing hotel staff while other guests waited. After that, we thought it was over.
Except, it wasn’t.
He showed up a few night’s later, while I was working. He seemed to be back to his old self. Calm. Competent. Sane. He rented a room for just one night, at full price, with no argument. I should have known that wasn’t a good sign.
Several hours later, I was approached by a set of three parents who wanted me to help find their underage children, whom them knew were in the hotel somewhere. They were sure there was drinking, and possible drug use, going on. While they were talking to me, one young boy made the mistake of visiting the snack machine. He was recognized by the parents and questioned about the room in which the party was taking place. He lied repeatedly, offering up a variety of random room numbers (which did not actually exist in the hotel.) When he’d rattle off a room number, I would subtly shake my head, and the questioning would continue. When he said they were in the room Joe had rented earlier, I shook my head again. Tired, worn down, he insisted that was really the correct room. The father in the group of parents went up with him as the boy proved his claim.
Even after the father returned, it didn’t work in my head. I had to go up there myself. Four girls – by appearance, none of them older than 15 – were still in the room. I gently questioned them about the adult that had rented the room for them. They described Joe to the smallest detail. Apparently, they had approached an “old man who was hanging out in the parking lot.” He’d agreed to rent the room for them.
Epilogue: Two days later – when I was working again – Joe strolled into the lobby, bold as brass. He came to the desk, greeted me, then asked, “Is it true that I’m no longer allowed to rent a room here?”
With some satisfaction – because I don’t like to be told I am not good at cleaning anything – I said, “Yes. That’s true. I’m not to rent to you again.”
He was outraged. He wanted to know why we had harassed his guests.
I looked at him for a few seconds, then said, ” Because they were underage maybe?”
He insisted I call the police. Which I did, happily. He sat in the lobby for about ten minutes. Eventually he stood up and exclaimed, “I don’t have time to wait around for the useless cops to show up. I’ll be back. With my lawyer.”
I haven’t seen him since.
Plans for the blog
Now that I’m dedicating most of my time to generating fiction, I expect to update here a couple of times a week. Currently, I’m drafting the telling of what I saw in room 217 of the old hotel, and its companion ghost story movie list.
And that’s it, a long, rambling post on a Monday night. Please forgive me and try to remember that this is about as close to a weekend as I get.
As I create these Courting Creepy lists, I repeatedly discover gaps in my viewed-films list. My knowledge of zombie movies, for example, was so thin that I had to ask a guest blogger to construct a 13 crucial zombie films list for me. Each time I write a supposedly definitive list, I receive suggestions from readers for additions and replacements. Though I stand by my choices, I must also admit that I haven’t seen everything and, consequently, I could be missing a great film. I’ve been trying to keep the list of must-see movies in my head, and/or on random scraps of paper. It just occurred to me, that this is a better way to keep track. Duh.
As with all the lists, feel free (even compelled) to make suggestions and recommendations!
13 creepy movies I most want to see next:
II. Candyman (1992)
III. The Descent (2005) - repeatedly recommended for sheer creepiness
V. Sleepy Hollow (1999) - beautiful films candidate
VI. Lake Mungo (2008) - Australian
VII. Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1973) - PG rated zombie movie
VIII. Twixt (2011) - writer list candidate
IX. Communion (1989)
X. The Howling (1981) - classic, think I’ve seen it, don’t remember well
XII. Case 39 (2009)
XIII. Trick ‘r Treat (2007) - recommended as best Halloween movie ever
Films to be moved up, as needed:
Peeping Tom (1959) - rough going, I’ve heard
The Spiral Staircase (1946)
Final Destination (2000)
Gothika (2003) - think I’ve seen it, don’t remember well
The Company of Wolves (1984)
The Gift (2000) - think I’ve seen it, don’t remember well
The Desperate Hours (1955)
The Blob (1958)
They Live (1988)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Lady in White (1988)
Al Final del Espectro (2006)
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) - read an intriguing review at IPC
The ones I’ve bagged:
The Pact (2012)
The Sentinel (1977)
DECEMBER 2012 ^
Kill Baby, Kill [Operazione paura] (Italy, 1966)
Burnt Offerings (1986)
The Skeleton Key (2005)
Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)
NOVEMBER 2012 ^
The Mist (2007)
The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Wake Wood (2011)
OCTOBER 2012 ^
I suppose it was growing up in Anoka, that warped me into a horror writer. For that, I am grateful. I don’t live there anymore, and I’m happy in my adopted home of White Bear Lake, MN, but I will always carry a certain affection for Anoka. It pleases my little dark heart to be able to post this tribute to the newest event to spawn from my hometown’s creepy cradle: Anoka’s First Annual Walking Dead Pub Crawl – October 13th, 2012.
Halloween has always been a big deal in Anoka, MN – the official Halloween Capital of the World. (In 1937, the town persuaded the United States Congress to award the title.) In the last few years, though, I’ve noticed a certain tameness creeping in to the season – the disgustingly healthy Gray Ghost 5K run comes to mind. This year, celebrations took a decidedly gruesome turn … finally!
As a creature of habit, I have always tended to patronize the older bars, the bars more familiar to me, like: Billy’s Bar and Grill, Serum’s Good Time Emporium, and the ever-changing, latest incarnation of the bar where I used to work (which was called Patty’s Pub back then and is currently known as as Beer Belly’s.) The official host bar for the crawl, however, was River City Saloon, a place I had never visited.
My Beloved and I weren’t sure which bar to choose as our base of operations, so we called some friends who still live in Anoka. They were kind enough to scout out the scene and find a table before we arrived. We met them at about 5:30p.
By the time we got there, my friend – Trish – who had been watching the zombies come out, was wishing she had dressed up for the event. After some discussion, I convinced her that I could do a quick makeup on her for less than $20 – if she was willing to to walk over to Party Papers with me.
The total came to $19.25. We could have skipped the putty/wax, which would have brought the total under $15.00. We bought the basics for a passable zombie and settled in to a corner of a hallway. Fifteen minutes later, we had done this:
I think we should have bought the next size up of the bottled blood. One of my favorite memories of the night involved standing on the sidewalk outside Party Papers, with me throwing handfuls of blood at her … as the Ghosts of Anoka Tour was guided past us. (I wish I had a photograph of that, but I was afraid to touch the camera long enough to hand it off to someone.)
In her simplicity, I think this was my favorite zombie of the night. She was just a little thing, and she absolutely invoked the mood of 1968′s Night of the Living Dead.
The Zombie-killer half of this duo is Jenny Johnson, creator of the event. I touched base with her a couple of times through the night. She was, by turns, excited, hopeful, overwhelmed and pleased by the success of her brainchild. (She also participated in the Thriller-dance flash mob that happened at 9p.)
A Ghost-Buster style wagon drew crowds wherever it parked. I liked the way the walking dead all streamed away from it at the same time in this shot.
Just a good ole boy and his woman. Some of the sweetest folks I met all night.
CONTINUE YOUR ZOMBIE CRAWL:
The Southern Northerner
Jenny’s House of Horrors
herding cats & burning soup
Author Sherry Soule Blog
Paranormal research Group Blog
Adult Urban Fantasy by Sherry Soule
Moonlight Publishing Blog
Ghost Hunting Theories
Above the Norm
A Dust Bunny In The Wind
Zombob’s Zombie News & Movie Reviews
Flesh From The Morgue
The Living Dark
Some One Else’s Cook
Forget About TV, Grab a Book
Zombie Dating Guide
The Paranormalist – Renae Rude
Random Game Crafts
Carmen Jenner Author
Sarasota Zombie Pub Crawl
Not Now…Mommy’s Reading
Love is a Many Flavored Thing
Its On Random
Horror Shock LoliPOP
The Spooky Vegan
The Story In…
DarkSide Detectives Blog
Something wicKED this way comes….
Julie Jansen: science fiction and horror writer
Author/screenwriter James Schannep
The Zombie Lab
Sharing Links and Wisdom
This Blog Has A.D.D.
Wth? - I guess I have sex on the brain because I started writing a post, last night, about the prostitutes that frequent my hotel. I intend to get back to that, because I’ve got more to say on the subject, but I’m working under a time crunch (as usual) because I’m going to Anoka’s First Annual Walking Dead Pub Crawl in about an hour. (Which – I hope – explains the odd juxaposition of this post.)
Right now it’s raining, off and on, and we’ve had a half-dozen lovely thunder rumbles in the last hour or so. I’m hoping the weather doesn’t dampen the attendance at the crawl. (Polite titter appreciated.) I won’t be going dead this year; I guess I just ran out of time and money. I will, however, do my best to document the event in photographs. I’m even taking along an extra photographer, my Beloved. I’m a little nervous about approaching strangers who are likly to simply moan in answer to my request for permission to take a picture. Last night I made some photo release forms, just in case anyone in a great get-up is too recognizable.
Heads up, zombie-lovers – I’ll be reporting on the walking dead crawl next weekend, for a blog hop (as I believe these things are called) I’ll be doing October 19th – a virtual zombie walk that can be found if you click the following banner. I know some of you are zombie experts and you might want to sign up. (There’s a typo on the page, but I believe the last day to sign up is actually Wednesday the 17th. Monday the 14th might be safer though.)
Back to sex – I mentioned, on the last day of September, that I mapped out a flow for my daily posts in October. I’ve known for a while that I wanted to write a post about the prostitutes, consequently, I’ve been working on its companion Courting Creepy list, but I’m a little short of titles. Anyone want to chime in with suggestions? Here’s what I have so far:
13 weirdly steamy movies – with psycho-sexual themes – at Halloween (or anytime.)
Cat People (1942)
Cape Fear (1962)
The Beguiled (1971)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
The Virgin Suicides (1999)
The Hunger (1983)
Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Black Swan (2010)
Tomorrow I have no plans other than to write, and catch up on some movies and TV (The Walking Dead starts tomorrow night!! – but I’ll bet you already knew that.) With luck, during the writing time, I’ll finish up my thoughts about the working girls and put the pscho-sexual list together.
Wish me luck in my evening interactions, won’t you?
A while back, I decided that I should use my Thursdays as personal time. (I don’t work Thurdays.) The plan is to use the day to go on an artist date (ala Julia Cameron) and the evening to relax and pamper myself a little. I’m about to slip into a bubble bath, so I’m definitely on track. Later there will be some great old movie.
I like having a day that is about visual and physical things rather than words on the page and screen. (And certainly rather than treating pissy linens.)
This week’s game is simple, can you guess what all I did with my afternoon? Where I went? What adventures I had? The background of the collage below depicts the most exciting destination of the day. Here’s the clue: I used part of my time (and some borrowed youth and courage from my son) to go someplace I’ve been afraid to go.
Courting Creepy: 13 not-too-spooky movies – for girls’ night in (or a solo spa night) – at Halloween (or anytime.)
Let me be clear, some of the most hard-core fans of gruesome horror movies that I know are women. Some of those women can, and do, happily watch movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre while enjoying their morning corn flakes. There is nothing intrinsic to being female that bars one from enjoying a gory decapitation or a high-intensity chase through a zombie filled graveyard.
My own taste runs to minimally graphic films, with lots of slow-builiding tension – preferably those with plots centered on witches and/or ghosts. Consequently, most of the themed recommendations at Courting Creepy lean toward “the Gothic, the darkly beautiful, the subtle and the not-too-gory.” When I’m on my own, or cuddling with my husband, those are the films I seek out.
Still, there are certain, traditionally female-only occasions that call for something even lighter, something a little closer to a chick-flick. The following list features some films that pair well with mani-pedi parties, stitch and bitch sessions, and cookie baking marathons. Others are geared toward an evening alone with a pot of tea, a box of fancy chocolates, and a few hours to devote to a hobby, like knitting, or some self-indulgence, like a hot oil treatment.
The standard fare on such occasions is usually pulled from the rom-com genre, which really doesn’t lend itself to the season of Halloween. (Or to any season, for certain women, who can’t stand the romantic comedies made after 1949 … at least not the mainstream ones.)
In self-defense, and to bring a little creepiness to girls’ night, I’ve curated a collection of movies that are unlikely to freak anyone out, but which will still provide a bit of a thrill, set a slightly eerie tone, or at least bring a touch of the paranormal to the evening.
NOTE: When I finished reading synopses and composed the list, I realized there’s another theme running through the collection – for the most part, these movies showcase strong female characters, many of whom are not teenagers.
As always, please let me know if I’m hitting my target squarely, and feel free (even compelled) to share your suggestions for substitutions. (Remember – a list can run no longer than 13 movies. If a new one appears, another must be banished,)
13 not-too-spooky movies – for girls’ night in (or a solo spa night) – at Halloween (or anytime.)
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
- Romantic, old-fashioned, and surprisingly creepy.
Harold & Maude (USA, 1971)
- Not even remotely a horror movie, but its themes are tailor-made for horror fans. This is also the movie I’d recommend to anyone who can’t tolerate chick-flicks. Great dialog:
Psychiatrist: Tell me, Harold, how many of these, eh, *suicides* have you performed?
Harold: An accurate number would be difficult to gauge.
Psychiatrist: Well, just give me a rough estimate.
Harold: A rough estimate? I’d say
[savoring the thought]
Harold: That’s a rough estimate.
Psychiatrist: Were they all done for your mother’s benefit?
Harold: No. No, I would not say “benefit.”
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
- What’s girls’ night without a musical?
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
- The first half of this film is an unapologetic celebration of women and the friendships they have with each other.
Sleeping With the Enemy (1991)
- Special acknowledgement for most perfectly beautiful town: Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Single White Female (1992)
- Special acknowlewdgement for best shoes: black stilettos with silver heels.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (USA, 1992)
- I dismissed this movie when it came out, because I thought it would be a disrespectful parody of my favorite genre. Years later, when I caught part of it on cable, I was surprised by how funny and sharp it was. I sought out an uncut copy. Now I understand why Buffy was developed into the popular TV series … which I haven’t seen, because I fear it will devolve into a disrespectful parody of one of my favorite movies. Hmmm.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
- Special acknowledgement for the most memorable mini-scene: every person I’ve talked to about this movie immediately chants, “Amok, amok, amok, amok!”
Delores Claiborne (1995)
- There’s some beautifully subtle work done in this film to clearly differentiate between scenes set in the present and flashbacks.
The Craft (1996)
- Probably best if you are under 20 … or if you happened to have seen it, at an appropriate age, when it came out. Otherwise, it’s a little angsty. Some lovely depictions of magick early on though.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
- This movie is about immersing yourself (for 2 1/2 hours) in a southern gothic. Kevin Spacey, by all accounts, does a devestatingly effective portrayal of Jim Williams – the man upon whom this story centers. If you’ve read the book, be prepared for deviations from the story. FYI: I want to be Lady Chablis, as she is in the film.
Practical Magic (1998)
- When I am an old woman, I want to live in that house, and indulge in midnight margaritas every Wednesday.
- Special acknowledgement for most beautiful woman in any of these films: TIE Sandra Bullock, Stockard Channing, Nicole Kidman and Diane Wiest.
- It is absolutely essential that you equip yourself with the finest chocolates you can afford before you settle in to watch this film.
Best bet for Halloween night: Hocus Pocus
A few days ago, a friend, Kris, came to White Bear Lake to spend the day with me. I showed her the independent bookstore, the bakery, my favorite upscale patio bar / restaurant, and a shop with distinctive clothes on one side and high-end home decor on the other.
Once we’d hit the high points in the town proper, I drove her along the lakefront to Matoska Park, where the two-story gazebo lives, and where a bridge crosses a narrow channel then leads to Manitou Island. The island used to be a boys’ camp in the late 1800s when WBL was a big resort town. Now it’s a private neighborhood for the wealthiest of WBL’s citizens. We parked in the lot meant for SUVs with boat trailers, and strolled toward the bridge. At the first Residents Only sign we paused, looked at each other then continued on. We made it all the way across the bridge, and a few yards onto the island itself before we came to another sign that warned us of security patrols, and reminded us that we were not welcome.
“We’d do it, if we had a little alcohol in us,” she said.
I laughed and told her I had another place to show her. We went back to the car, then on to a dive bar on the edge of town. Dick’s Little Bar has an honest-to-goodness backyard, complete with picnic tables and a horseshoe pit. Once, when I took my mom there for a lunch, the waitress gave my dog three strips of bacon as a treat for being cute.
At Dick’s, you can get an a-mazing, greasy hamburger, on a butter-toasted bun, with chopped fried onions … a burger just like the ones that Kris and I used to flip – twenty-five years ago – at a little place in Anoka, called Patty’s Pub.
Kris and sat at a picnic table, sipped beer, and reminisced about being 20 for a while. Then the conversation turned to the present.
Later, at home, I started thinking about another Island, one that doesn’t have an official name, and isn’t even a proper island.
In this photograph – taken this spring – it appears easily accessible … but 2012 has been a dry year. When I was a teenager the river ran high in Anoka. The Rum rushed through that channel, and the tips of those stepping-stones were slippery with algae. That didn’t stop me from going there hundreds of times. From the time I was 15, I liked to sit on the upper level of the “castle” and write in my journal during the day. At night, filled with teenagery angst and a spooky sensibilty, I liked it even better.
In the dark – sometimes with friends, but often alone – I would scramble down the steep bank toward the castle, across the rocks and out to the island. (At the time I didn’t think of myself as serial killer bait.) Every once in a while, the police car that patrolled the lot above the river would stop, and a cop would shine a light toward the island. By the time his flashlight beam played over the castle, I was always hidden in its shadowy belly.
Back then, I was fearless.
When did I get so old, I wondered. Why hadn’t Kris and I boldly cross over the bridge to explore Manitou Island that afternoon? After all, we are just two respectable 40-something women, out for a stroll on a lovely autumn afternoon. What cop, or security guard, would do more than remind us the island is private and suggest we leave?
That’s when it dawned on me. I’m not afraid of the actual potential consequences of ignoring those Resident Only signs. Not as an adult, anyway. The thing that stops me every time is my almost subconscious belief that I don’t look harmless, or respectable, or 40+. Deep in my head and my heart, I feel like the teenage girl that used to hang out on castle island – the girl who would have been hauled down to the station so that the authorities could call her parents … had she ever been caught.
I’m not acting old, I realized, I’m forgetting that I’m old. And that’s pretty cool.
I’m off work tonight, so I’m trying hard to earn some spookypoints for the Halloween contest my daughter is running for our family. So far, I’ve photographed my household decorations and a shorn corn field, watched Wake Wood, and made a new Halloween countdown collage.
I’ve got a couple more movies to get through tonight … and I might do something crafty at the same time.
This week’s game: spot the 13 differences. (Special thanks to my Beloved, who has mad photoshop skills.)
By the way, I love these two photos of my old-school decorations. I also love the little pun I’ve made. (Check out their titles.) Bonus question: which of the displayed decorations actually dates all the way back to my childhood Halloweens, in the 1970s?
We’ve found exterior Halloween decorations in three yards so far. I think this town will do nicely.
This week’s puzzle: Can you spell out the word ‘ghosts’ with the first letter of things found in this collage?
- G _ _ _ _ _ _ (OR) G _ _ _
- H _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (OR) H _ _ _ _
- O _ _ _ _ _ (OR, easier) _ _ _ _ O _ _ _ _ _ _ _
- S _ _ _ _ _ _ _
- T _ _ _
- S _ _ _ _ _ (OR) S _ _ _ _ _ _ _
I will accept valid words other than those I found.
The Halloween countdown continues, but first, the answer to last week’s puzzle:
As for this week? One of these things is not like the other …
I should have started this project a while ago, but the idea, and my approach to it, only crystallized for me last night. For a few weeks now, I’ve been taking more pictures than usual, in an effort to capture the arrival and unfolding of my favorite season. It’s been sort of a treasure hunt. I’ve been challenging myself to really notice what is going on around me. Some of the questions I’ve been trying to answer include:
- When does summer transform in autumn?
- How can I immerse myself in the seasonal changes going on around me?
- When do the first signs and portents of Halloween appear?
- What seasonal images and sensations especially appeal to me?
I decided it would be fun to turn the images I’m collecting into weekly collages. (I might increase their frequency in the last thirteen days before the 31st.) These collages will serve as my countdown Halloween. Next year, I’ll try to start at least thirteen weeks before the 31st.
This week, I found all SIX of the following photographs at my local Target store:
The background of this collage is the sixth photograph. Can anyone figure out what it is? Here’s a clue: Creepy things come in threes.
Recently, I wrote about 108, a guest who scared me while I was working the night shift at the hotel. (Quick story synopsis: he arrived claiming severe spinal injuries, then repeatedly requested off-kilter assistance, then revealed his injuries were probably imaginary, then stalked me through the long night.)
My tension that night built up in layers. At first, I worried he would suffer a medical emergency on my watch, and I would be ill-equipped to handle it. Upon realizing how disruptive he was being, I dreaded complaints from other guests. Later, when it dawned on me that he was mentally unstable – and that he was taking special delight in deliberately startling me at every opportunity – I feared he would physically harm me. It wasn’t until the predawn hours, when I was huddled behind my desk waiting for him to emerge again from his room, that a final cloak of foreboding settled on me.
108 had been absent for a long time. The anticipation of his next appearance had me twitching at the faintest sound. As the minutes ticked by, I became convinced he had somehow sneaked out of his room without me hearing his door open or close. It was possible, I imagined, he had then crept down the hall, out one of the four exits I could not monitor from my desk, circled the building, and come into the laundry room through the service door. I cursed myself for not ensuring that door, which opens into the dumpster’s yard, was locked.
I stifled my rising panic by remembering that the service door automatically locks so that no one can enter from the outside, and that no room door in this maintenance-hungry hotel can be opened and closed noiselessly. It just wasn’t possible for any living creature to surprise me, I reassured myself, as long as I continued to keep my back to the the laundry room.
My confidence lasted about two minutes.
True, no living creature could slip past my spooked vigilance. But what if – oh mother of God – what if he had died? What if his injuries were real, and his refusal to wear his neck brace had allowed him – in his agitated state – to snap the last important connection between his spine and his brain?
[That happens. My son took a first aid course last fall, and the instructor stressed the importance of keeping accident victims immobile. To emphasize his point, he described the relatively common phenomena of crash survivors wandering dazed until they they turn their head and drop dead.]
As I contemplated the possibility that 108 had died, I couldn’t help but think about what kind of ghost he would become. (In that moment, I did not doubt that he would become a ghost.) Unlike the spirit that may actually haunt this hotel, 108 would not be content with being perceived at the edge of my awareness. No, 108 would alternate between shuffling around the lobby and racing along the hall. He would open and close doors, rattle the ice in the ice machine, and make the desk gate swing on its squeaky hinge. He would repeatedly sneak up behind me, then wait silently for me to turn around.
That would be bad. (Oh so bad.) But what if he didn’t limit himself to the tricks he’d already played?
Certain horror movie images are particularly terrifying to me. Any human-type creature crawling on the ceiling? (As in The Exorcist III and Legion.) That freaks me out. The guy who stands in the corner of the cellar at the end of The Blair Witch Project? He gives me a serious case of the willies. The worst, though, is that ghost-girl from The Ring, and her way of fast-forwarding toward the camera in fits and starts.
I suspect 108 – with his need for attention and his penchant for hide and seek games – would have discovered, then mastered, all of those techniques and more. I know this: Had the man died in this hotel, I would never have stepped foot inside the building again.
I’m at work. It is 5:45a. It’s been a long night. As I type, I’m jumping at every sound. I can’t help but glance to my left, toward the long hotel corridor, every thirty seconds or so.
When I came in at 11:00p tonight, the clerk who worked the three to eleven shift – we’ll call her Annie – was in tears. (She’s my favorite “new” employee – a pretty, cheerful, nineteen year old, recently promoted from housekeeping to front desk.)
Her evening had been difficult, thanks mostly to a walk-in guest she had checked into room 108. By the time I got here, he had been plaguing Annie for a couple of hours. The troubles had started the moment he arrived. A friend brought him into the hotel, but then disappeared as soon as he ascertained there was a vacancy. The guest – wearing a plastic brace on his neck and a plaster cast on his left arm – explained to Annie that his neck was broken, and that he was feeling weak. She rushed to get him registered, then used one of our office chairs to push him to his room. Another guest noticed the spectacle and helped to get him settled.
Annie was shaken and concerned, but she had to return to her duties – there were other guests waiting to register. An unprecedented number of those guests wanted to pay with cash, which is more complicated for the clerk than accepting a credit card. Considering her inexperience, it would have been challenging for Annie to keep the evening’s business straight … even if room 108 had not immediately launched a barrage of phone calls to the front desk.
By the time I came in, Annie was a wreak. She told me about the guest in room 108, and worried that she maybe should have called an ambulance for him. On top of that, she knew the cash drawer was off by at least $260.00. She knew she had overcharged one woman by sixty dollars, and had forgotten to collect the tax from another guest, but the origin of the extra two hundred dollars in the drawer was a mystery to her. Aside from that, she had not had enough time to do much more than start the day’s laundry.
Before she finished telling me about her evening, the phone rang. I answered it.
It was the guy from 108, of course. In a weird, raspy whisper, he informed me there was no robe hanging on the back of his bathroom door. I told him we don’t provide robes. He thanked me and disconnected. Annie and I started to review the evening’s transactions, but the phone rang again. This time 108 wanted to know if room service could deliver a soda to his room.
I said, “We don’t have room service, sir.”
“Oh. I thought that, since I’m in a suite, room service would be included.”
“You aren’t in a suite, sir. We don’t have suites.”
“Oh. Okay. Goodnight then,” he politely replied.
In the next hour – as Annie and I searched for the source of the mystery money – he phoned or visited the front desk seven times. Sometimes, when he appeared, he was wearing his neck brace. Other times, he was not. He had some odd pretext for seeking us out each time, but mostly it felt like he wanted – badly – to talk about exactly what had happened to him, how his doctors are shocked that he’s not a paraplegic, and how his family and friends are not responding to his injuries with appropriate concern.
Eventually, having untangled some of the registration mistakes that had been made, I sent Annie home. That’s when the real fun began.
108, by then, had given up on using the phone. Instead, he began to wander up and down the corridor and through the lobby. He circled my desk like a crippled shark – sometimes stopping to ask a question or make a request; sometimes just slowly cruising past; sometimes stopping to lean on the counter, wheeze and moan. I wanted to go into the back room to fold sheets, but every time I did, he reappeared at the desk. I would fold a sheet, then check the desk. If he wasn’t there, I would fold another. Usually he was there. Just waiting for me to come out so that he could give me the name of another friend who would soon be stopping by to check on his welfare. (No one ever came.) Or to obtain the number of the local hospital, so he could call them, just in case.
At one point, when he happened to be out of sight, I came out of the back to make a note about some supplies we need. As I was writing, he came running down the hall, through the lobby and out the door. He was gone for about twenty minutes. When he came back, the door alarm chimed so I emerged from the back room and buzzed him in. He hobbled over to the sofa with a bag of fast food, saying he needed to sit so he could cope with the blood poisoning. “Did I tell you that I have blood poisoning?”
All night this went on. Once he came out to ask for a Styrofoam bowl. He appeared about ten minutes later – shirtless and barefoot – and said, “I better get that number for the hospital again. Because the strangest thing just happened to me.” (I busied myself looking up the number.) “I was heating my cup ‘o noodles, in the bowl you gave me, in the microwave. Then I woke up and my face was in the bowl.”
“Do you want me to call an ambulance for you, sir?”
“Well, I know my health is the most important thing, but my finances aren’t in the best of shape. I’ve had a lot of medical expenses lately–”
“Here’s the information you requested, sir.” I handed a slip of paper to him. “Remember to dial nine to get an outside line.”
I retreated to the back room. I peeked out a few minutes later. He was standing at the swinging gate between the lobby and the area behind the front desk. He was pushing the gate open, then watching it swing shut. I tried to fold another sheet, but my nerve broke. I became convinced that I’d flip a sheet to snap out the wrinkles, only to find him standing in the back room with me when the sheet settled.
I went to the front desk, sat down, set up the laptop, and began my vigil. I could hear every time he opened his door in the silent hotel. Then I would prepare for him to show up. Sometimes he did, which was bad. Sometime he didn’t, which was worse. When he didn’t, I could only assume he was wandering the hotel. Then I would hear the door open and close again.
At 3:30a, the time had come to do the stocking in the breakfast area. I would have to leave the (illusory) safety of my desk area, and venture into a space that would not allow me to watch the corridor that led to his room. I moved fast, and checked for his presence between tasks. Only once did he come around the corner and surprise me. Without saying anything he turned and walked away. Within minutes, I had stocked breakfast … except for the yogurt.
I checked again for 108, then crouched in front of the small display fridge, with my back to the length of the lobby. As I arranged the yogurt tubs, I listened for any noise behind me. I even glanced over my shoulder twice. The thirty foot expanse of the lobby was empty both times. I straightened a row of peach yogurt, then looked over my shoulder again. The man was standing ( not approaching, but standing, flat-footed and stable) not six inches behind me. Of course I yelped. In fact, I believe I shouted, “OH! Christ!”
108 did not recoil even slightly. Instead he continued to lean over me. “Oh my. What happened? Did you hurt yourself?”
“You move very quietly, sir.”
He took four or five strides backwards, then stopped in front of the coffee stand. He picked up a handful of napkins, shook them at me, brought them to his nose. “Well goodnight then,” he said, before turning and leaving the lobby.
I returned to my chair behind the desk. I did not go into the back room, or the lobby, again until some of the other guests started to move around the hotel at about 6:30a. Instead I sat and watched him prowl.
Just before I left, he engaged me again. He had been absent for half an hour. When he popped up in front of the desk, he was fully dressed. He was not wearing his neck brace. He was not wearing the cast. (I want to assure you that this had been no brace. Either it was a prop of some kind, or he had cut himself out of a plaster cast.) He wanted to know where he could find a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign. He offered to follow me to his room, so I could show him that it was hanging on the knob, on the inside of his door.
I declined the invitation and, instead, found a spare sign. He accepted it and said, for the too-many-th time, ”Well, goodnight then.”
I’m on the schedule for Saturday night too. I am really hoping that he doesn’t extend his stay.
WriMoProg: 8 + 38 = 46/46
Hey, whattaya know? I made goal, even if the balance is off! That was more luck than anything. Perhaps there will be a more controlled success in September. (I’ll be setting up the September WriMoProg later today.)
My nights at the hotel have been ridiculously busy. Apparently we are at the height of Minnesota’s tourist and wedding seasons. On top of that, several new employees have joined the staff, which paradoxically makes more work for the “old” staff … at least until the newbies get the hang of things.
Tonight, for the first time in forever, I am able to settle in here, on my laptop, in order to take advantage of some of that free time I was promised when I interviewed. I hardly know where to start. Certainly there should be some blog reading, then maybe some real blog writing. (I’ve got a creepy tale to tell, about what I saw when I recently let myself into the wrong hotel room in the middle of the night.)
What I should NOT be doing is watching trailers for horror movies I haven’t seen … not when I’m alone in a dimly lit hotel lobby at 2:20a.
This one, The Pact, has me thinking that I wouldn’t make it through a theatrical screening. I’m going to have to wait for the video — then I’ll be able to make my husband tell me what’s happening while I cover my eyes through half the film.
Have any of you seen it? Is it as suspenseful as the trailer makes it look?
A few weeks ago, a rare summertime aurora alert arrived in my inbox. According to the email from SpaceWeather.com, an especially strong CME was about to trigger a vivid display of the northern lights in the skies over Minnesota.
At about 2:30 on the morning of July 16th, my son and I hopped in the truck and headed north, seeking an unobstructed view of the horizon. Such a vista proved difficult to find, but eventually we found a promising gravel road. We bumped along that road for a few miles, until we found a lengthy stretch of darkness between the rural security lights which are the bane of skywatchers. We parked along the edge of a boggy meadow with a decent view, killed the lights and stepped out into the warm night. Though the sky was clear, and there was a certain glow that might have been a weak manifestation of the lights, we decided that we were out of luck.
(In other parts of Minnesota, however, the display was amazing. Check out these shots of the event, from a talented photographer in St. Cloud – a location approximately an hour and a half northeast of where we were.)
Despite our disappointment, we lingered. The pre-dawn morning was lovely, with a thick, low layer of fog swirling over the meadow and lapping at the roadway. Inevitably, of course, I started to imagine zombies shambling in the mist, and we decided to go. As I turned the truck into a nearby driveway, a motion in my sideview mirror caught my eye. Illuminated in the glow of my tail lights, a small, furry beast was following us.
It disappeared from my view when it marched directly underneath the truck. I stomped on the brakes and told my son what I had seen. He said, “Well, huh.” We looked at each other for a moment. Then we both leaned out our windows, trying to figure out how to not run over the damn thing. After long moments, it waddled out from behind the front, passenger-side wheel.
My son reported on the creature’s ever-changing relative location as I cautiously backed up. It seemed intent on circling us. We both assumed it was simply trying to return to the boggy meadow, but retreat was not on its mind. By the time I had squared myself in the right direction, it had taken a stand in the middle of the road, blocking our exit. Now the headlights clearly revealed the critter’s species:
As muskrats go, it wasn’t a particularly big specimen. Despite its harmless appearance, however, its behavior -along with the steadily thickening fog that was closing in around the truck – thoroughly unnerved me. My response in such situations is often laughter, and this one had me in a near-hysterical giggle-fit.
For a few seconds we each held our positions, then the muskrat charged straight toward the truck. I hit the accelerator and swerved around and past it, thankful that the road was wide and the shoulder firm. As I drove away, I looked in the rearview mirror. That mad muskrat was chasing our truck – as fast as its furry little legs would carry it.
It was a strange encounter, but not as strange as some others which have been in the news lately. Even before we went on our aurora quest, we saw a story on the national news that amazed and amused us:
Click on the above photograph, or go here to view a CBS news story about some grave robbing rodents in New York.
Subsequent to our muskrat encounter, rodenty happenings in Minnesota took a darker turn. (Yes, I know that otters are NOT rodents. In fact, they are considered to be members of the weasel family. That’s why the title of this post includes the word ‘rodent-like’.)
Doesn’t this pair look sweet? I’ve certainly always thought of otters as gentle, playful creatures. I’ve never seen one in the wild, but if I had, I would have been delighted. In light of recent developments, however, I think I will be cautious if I ever get the chance to observe one up close.
Click on the otter picture above, or go here to read about two different attacks by otters in Minnesota waters.
What does this mean for the human race? Probably nothing. All things considered, though, I’ll be keeping an eye out for unusual behavior in any animal I meet in the coming days.
I think I found a job ridiculously well suited to me … I’m going to be a night auditor at a hotel. The shift runs from 11p – 7a. The work load sounds extrememly manageable, especially once I’ve been trained and have settled into the routine. The charming owner/operator who hired me is perfectly comfortable with the idea of me bringing my laptop along to use however I see fit, after my regular assigned tasks are done. Pretty sweet deal for a writer, huh?
Tonight I’m thinking about books I can load onto my e-reader, because that seems like a good way to pass the dead hours as well. Obviously, it’s time to re-read The Shining. I also found this:
I think I already love this Wilke guy:
“The dull people decided years and years ago, as everyone knows, that novel-writing was the lowest species of literary exertion, and that novel reading was a dangerous luxury and an utter waste of time.”
— Wilkie Collins, My Miscellanies
It was a busy day: Spent the morning searching the online want ads. Spent the afternoon taking pictures. Spent the evening being a good helpmate. Spent the depths of the night previewing photo manipulation websites. (Yeah, the birds are singing as I type up this post.)
I know some of you are photographers. Maybe you too were heart-broken when Google+ gobbled up Picnik, only to spit out a less friendly, less fun, set of free photo editing tools. If so, check out Pixlr. I happily played with both the photo editor and the cool, “retro vintage effects” section. (The interface on that is fascinating.) For the following photographs, I just used the editor to add a credit line, but it looks like there are lots of other useful things there too.
I’ll be doing full posts about these locations later this month, and there will be more photographs. For now, I just had to share my favorites.
Since I had my dream, about a hypnotist clown working in a traveling haunted house, I’ve repeatedly caught myself outlining a new novel inside my head.
This is not a good thing. I was warned that this would happen:
From Chapter After Chapter by Heather Sellers, Chapter 20 –
”When you’re working on your book, you will undoubtedly be tempted by Fresh Start Sirens. Gorgeous, tantalizing new book ideas will arrive, making juicy promises. These new ideas are going to pop up, assuring you a baggage-free new beginning. They want to lure you away from your existing project, those boring bad days of writing month after month, no end in sight. The Sexy New Book idea always promises it will never be difficult; it will never be a burden. It says it’s way, way more publishable, plus more fun. It whispers, Take me now. I’m all yours.
When this happens: Run. Run as fast as you can in the other direction. Do no get involved with this book!”
I remember reading those words, many months ago, and thinking there was no way I would ever feel the urge to cheat on my beloved baby-witch, Lizzy.
Lately though, Lizzy has been a bitch.
This clown on the other hand – with his smeared greasepaint and his insecurities – is seductive. I’ve been imagining a world in which he could live – a world populated by tattooed, pierced prop artist / roadies, and an acting troupe made up from self-identified vampires, their consenting blood dolls, militant pagans, and other societal drop-outs. There’s a middle-aged, asexual couple with fluid gender-identities too – I think they design the special effects, create the makeups and manage the books. I am in love with them all.
I never have trouble coming up with characters. When it comes to plot, though, it’s a different story. Where’s the conflict? What’s the story arch?
Which brings me to The Traveling Vampire Show. I am pissed off by it’s very existence. The title suggests a brilliant premise – one that encapsulates conflict. We all know carnivals and traveling troupes are creepy. The idea that such a show could conceal real monsters behind nothing more than gel lights and face powder is stunning. The book should write itself.
Years ago, I bought the promisingly titled paperback, rushed home, slipped into a hot bath, and started reading. I vividly remember throwing the damn thing across the bathroom an hour later, thinking: “I could write a better book than THAT!” (‘Turns out that doing so is harder than I thought it would be. I should take this opportunity to offer up a sincere apology to Mr. Laymon, may he rest in peace.)
Even then, I knew I was furious because Richard Laymon didn’t allow the book to write itself. Instead he imposed a graphically violent, verging-on-pornographic, coming-of-age story on it, forever ruining the best title ever conceived.
So now I have my hypnotist clown, and I know he is perfectly suited to being a monster keeper, but his story is stillborn. It doesn’t matter that I want to write The Traveling Vampire Show. It’s been done. And done well enough, by an author famous enough, to win a Bram Stoker award. (How that happened is beyond my ken.) Oh, and it looks like there’s a movie version in production too.
But, I guess, that is a good thing. Because I have to put aside my brown-eyed hypnotist anyway, so that I can crawl back to Lizzy, with declarations of faithfulness on my fingertips.
Maybe I could give him a cameo.
I had the most wonderful nightmare – one too long and involved to relate in full because … well, because they always are, aren’t they? An aspect of it, though, has been niggling at me all evening. My attention may be partially on the movie (Sometimes They Come Back) I’m streaming from Netflix, but, in truth, mostly I’ve been surfing the web, looking at hundreds of images of clowns.
My dream, you see, ended abruptly in the middle of an encounter with an intriguing haunted house performer: a clown / hypnotist.
[For an interesting look at the perils of working as a haunted house performer, check out this post at Huffington Post's Weird News.]
He was beautiful in a way that isn’t to my usual taste – small, dark, wiry and of some indeterminate, but fully adult, age. His eyes were his most striking feature – with amber-brown irises which had the clear depth of a sunlit pond. He wore a shabby tailcoat, done up in a faded orange and yellow fabric which would have been better suited to upholstering a ’70s era chair. Under the coat, he wore a dirt-smudged, cream-colored Henley shirt and jeans – modern clothes which nonetheless invoked early 20th century carny garb. An untrimmed peacock feather was tucked into the water-stained, citrus-toned ribbon band on his fedora. His makeup was minimal – just a suggestion of traditional paint.
Guiding my group through his tunnel-like section of the fun house, he seemed to take an interest in me, and I caught him marking the hem of my jacket with chalk. When we emerged from the tunnel into a room lined with large, spinning spirals, he launched into a hypnotist’s patter. I deliberately led him to believe I’d be a good target for his schtick – even though I was certain I was unhypnotizable.
Meaning to play along, I was surprised when he was able to partially mesmerize me – a fact I became aware of when I realized he was causing me to have hallucinations even as he thought he was failing to affect me. When I didn’t cooperate he shifted his attention to someone else. I sensed he was embarrassed – perhaps even feeling duped – as he struggled to refocus the crowd on another mark.
I was left to come out of my semi-trance on my own. When my head finally cleared, he was gone. I felt guilty. Amazed that he had been able to affect me at all, I wanted to congratulate him and apologize for making him look bad. I went back to the beginning of his section, but a different clown was waiting at the entrance to the tunnel. Disappointed, I scanned the crowd, but failed to locate him. I was about to leave when I heard his voice bidding the replacement clown a good night. His face was devoid of paint and he had stripped out of the tailcoat and hat, but I recognized his eyes. I realized, then, that I must have been been disoriented for far longer than the few minutes I had thought.
As he swept past, I reached out to stop him. It was too loud for him to hear my apology. I pulled him toward a nearby bench, suddenly convinced I had need of his skill in a paranormal investigation I was conducting. I was about to explain exactly what I needed to him when I woke up.
It’s bugging me. What use would a hypnotist be in a ghost hunt? There’s gotta be a story in there somewhere.
Facts to guide the discussion:
- I am not sensitive to clowns; I neither fear them nor particularly enjoy them.
- I do not believe I can be hypnotized. And I’m not sure if I believe the phenomena is real for anyone.
- The early part of the dream was more traditionally nightmare-ish: fleeing a murderous psycho, a “real” haunted house (as opposed to a fun house), etc. All very exciting.
Let the psychoanalysis begin
As I write this, I’m listening to Coast to Coast AM, which is “a late-night syndicated radio talk show that deals with a variety of topics, but most frequently ones that relate to either the paranormal or conspiracy theories.” (Wikipedia)
I knew the program was out there, because some of its hosts have appeared as experts on Ancient Aliens. I didn’t realize, however, that I could actually tune in until I heard a snippet of a broadcast about EVPs as I dialed through the channels tonight.
Apparently, the program airs seven nights a week, and runs for four hours at a time. The format usually includes one or two expert interviews, followed by an open-line, call-in period.
At the Coast to Coast home page, it’s easy to find a local station that carries the show, as well as many stations that stream to the net. An available tab – labeled ‘SHOWS’ – lists details about upcoming topics.
Tomorrow night’s show will be about strange disappearances from national parks.
I foresee lots of lost sleep.
P.S. What the hell is wrong with the paragraph spacing, all of a sudden???
What is the most haunting film you have seen? Not the goriest, or most shocking, but the most compelling and eerie?
One of the best treats of October is the plethora of horror movies available to fans – at least to those with satellite TV and insomnia.
I finished viewing The Innocents (1961) this afternoon – because it unnerved me too much when I tried to watch it last night … and the night before. In it, a luminous Deborah Kerr plays a governess charged with caring for two … precocious children. It wasn’t perfect. (The acting too often slipped into a staginess that isn’t to my taste.) But, its weirdly sensual tone surprised and unsettled me.
It got me to thinking about the other great, creepy films I’ve seen – films which linger in my dreams and my fiction. I can feel a top ten (or thirteen) list bubbling in my brain. Help me remember the best of the best.
Noises – which I have decided can best be described as skittery – were emanating from the kitchen as I used my husband’s computer in the dining room. At first, I thought it was rain against the window. Then I thought, maybe, one of the cats was playing with a toy near the baseboards. Neither of those theories panned out when I investigated, but I was able to determine it was coming from a lower cabinet. I told myself that I would set out some live traps tomorrow, then tried to settle back into writing. The sounds continued, growing louder and more rodent-y with each passing minute.
Finally, fearing that a raccoon or a giant rat had invaded my home, I devised my plan – which required a TALL kitchen stool and my son’s Karate bo.
All the lower cupboard doors now stand open. The night is quiet again. But I keep spinning in the chair to see if anything is peering out at me. As I sit here with my feet carefully tucked up under me, I’m wondering what this says about my chances of being couragous in the face of future paranormal studies.
A while back, I mentioned a whirlwind of fine tumbleweeds that crossed my path. A few days later, I found the same type of plant material heaped in front of my door. Having noticed it twice, and realizing that a true tumbleweed is much bigger, I had to find out what it really was.
It turns out that this is called tumble grass (or tumblegrass). It is also known as: Panicum capillare, witch grass, old witchgrass, and panic grass.
I should hate it. It fills my garage and creeps from my patio into my foyer, then all through my home. (The pets adore carrying into even the deepest recesses of the house.) It’s impossible to sweep or vacuum effectively.
But it comes when the fall winds make the leaves dance all night – which I love. Besides, how can I hate anything with such an intriguing set of names?