Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Trick or Treat Draws Nigh


Punkin - Before

Tomorrow is Hallowe'en, which I have always considered my holiday. There are several things that tend to re-enforce the meaning of this date, not the least of which is that is my son's birthday and my daughter's wedding anniversary. I'll carve my jack-o-lantern, stand by for the few trick-or-treaters we'll get, and get into the spirit -- so to speak -- of the day.

As a boy, going trick or treating was probably at its acme of popularity -- come Hallowe'en night, the streets of our town turned into a giant party -- every child who could walk was out. It lasted until nine or ten p.m. Nearly every house participated, and those who turned off their lights and refused to open the doors generally had their screens soaped.

Those of you who didn't grow up in mosquito-ridden place where every house had door and window screens, such covers were fine wire mesh, usually steel. Soaping a screen involved taking a bar of soap and dragging it back and forth over the mesh. Such an act left a visible mark like chalk, and if you then washed the screens, the mark would be cleaner than the rest, so you couldn't get rid of the mark without scrubbing the hell out of the whole thing.

No treat? Here's your trick.

Um. Anyway, when I got to be a little older, I had a buddy, and he and I, at some point when we moved to different cities, started a correspondence, and on Hallowe'en, we'd each sit down at midnight and write a spook-inspired letter to the other. Silly stuff, but we were young and full of ourselves.

In the early seventies, my buddy and I had a falling out, and stopped talking to each other. By then, the Hallowe'en letter tradition had become firmly established in my mind, and I decided to continue it, after a fashion. I bought a journal, and come the witching hour on the eve'n of All Hallows, I wrote my letter -- I just didn't send it.

From 1973 until now, I have done an entry each year.

Mostly these are ruminations on old memories, a quick sketch of what is happening in my life, viz: family, work, and play; a few reality tags -- I can tell you what the weather was like where I was every Hallowe'en for the last thirty-odd years.

Sometimes the jottings are only a page or so long, most of them handwritten. Sometimes they run longer, and couple of them were done on a keyboard and printed out, then stapled into the book

On some level, I think I had a vision of my old ex-friend reading the journal and understanding how deeply the loss of our friendship had scored me. But he died a couple years back, so that won't happen.

I write the entry at midnight. Usually, I then go for a walk around whatever neighborhood I'm in, generally that's at home. I open myself up for anything paranormal that might happen. A couple times, I have taken a drive to a graveyard or a mortuary, in an attempt to see if any haunting will take place. (Thus far, contact with the spiritual realms has been less than successful. A couple of years ago, after my buddy died, I walked to the duck pond. "Okay, I said to myself, "I've been waiting for a call from spook central for a long time. If you are out there, give me a sign."

At which point there was a huge splash from the pond, as if somebody had dropped a refrigerator into it from a great height --

Holy shit! I grabbed my flashlight and lit it ...

There was a beaver in the water, and it had apparently decided to smack its tail upon the surface at just that moment.

Coincidence? Probably, but I can understand how somebody looking for such things might be convinced. Not a full-blown ectoplasmic manifestation, but ...)

Some years I have been away from home, but I've taken my book, written my entry, and strolled, looking.

Come tomorrow, if I am still here, I'll do it once again.

As Vonnegut liked to say, and so it goes ...

1 comment:

Mike said...

Ha! I will never forget your daughter's wedding invitation; it was a true classic and I only wish I'd have saved mine. We would have made it to the wedding, had it not involved a 2500 mile or so drive. Not many trick or treaters around Bailiff's Hollow, sad to say, and that's a shame considering the tombstone that's inscribed "Here Lies the Devil" about 200 yards from our house. And like you, I've done the soap-on-a-screen trick, but only after tipping over grain wagons and moving outhouses. Maybe you've got to be a Hoosier farm kid to appreciate these last two, but we found it highly entertaining.