We kept this nonsense up for years
Halloween has certain advantages over other holidays such as Talk Like A Pirate Day, in my opinion. For example, nobody can remember when Talk Like A Pirate Day is, so we just talk like pirates whenever we think about it. Halloween is a known quantity, and is as “fixed as the Northern Star” as Julius Shakespeare once said.
My biggest concern about Halloween is that the nervous bands of children who creep to the great rusted iron door at the bottom of my concrete tower at the foot of Mechanic Street just don’t seem to take the whole thing as seriously as I do. With a grating and creaking sound I fling wide these doors every year wearing my antique wampire suit (I’ll explain that bit in a moment,) adopt my best Transylvanian accent, and declare with much enthusiasm “Ah, Children Of The Night! Come In!” (The capital letters are important, Kim.)And none of them get the joke. Not one. I don’t think their parents get it either, which is a greater pity.
This year I have gone to great lengths to make Halloween Towers as effective as possible. As I am sure must be very obvious to you, the single greatest problem I face when embracing the spirit of the season is the great distance that lies betwixt my humble apartments up here in the belfry of the west tower and the rusted iron doors at the foot of the south tower where my little spooky guests skulk about. Many a year I have failed to detect their ghastly presence at all, and as night dies over the South End I had been forced to resort to firing my unused stocks of candy by catapult all over the neighborhood. There I believe the Woodmans collect it at dawn and stockpile it for the next year, or else they feed it to their were-rabbit.
This year it will be different. I have arranged for a bell rope soaked in lye to be attached to the dripping door handle, which runs inside and up to the very top of the tower where it connects to a bucket of dried bones balanced on a plinth above the door where the raven sits and mutters never more. All the little darlings at street level need to do is tug ever so gently on the gory rope and the bucket at the other end will upset its contents all over the raven, which will croak its famous words and thereby scare the shade of the Great Poe himself to momentary action in the mirror that hangs over the empty bathtub filled with tiny claws, which occupies the south-easterly corner of the dread tower where I am forced to live under the empty black sky filled with stars. His terror-stricken reflection will alert me to the presence of Children Of The Night down below, and I will begin my long descent along the interior galleries and staircases that are manifest within these grisly towers only this one night of the year. Imagine that! As I pass along the way my reflection will fail to appear in any of the mirrors that line the ancient stone walls, if only because they have no glass in them. Anything to create the proper effect.
As I crawl down the stairs upside-down in true wampire fashion I will ponder aloud the many delicious miseries that have afflicted me these past 12 months since last I enjoyed a South End Halloween by pouring molten red wax on passersby down below. L’horreur! Les horreurs! etc. (The French always have a word for what ails you.) Chief among this year’s pretty sorrows is surely the 18-hour video performance of Wagner’s “Parsifal” that I was obliged to watch with a woman dressed in black on State Street. “Parsifal” makes Halloween look like International Peace and Daisy Day. “Parsifal” is about God done completely wrong. By Germans.
Why wampires, and who is Kim who has to leave alone my capital letters? Let me explain as I descend these dripping stairs toward the door far below. When my dear boys were small I told them a tale of their father becoming a fanged undead fellow around this time every year, with the general drift being that as Halloween approached so my transformation into a blood-sucking Creature Of The Night increased in scale and magnitude, until at last on the great evening itself the effect was complete. They could tell the process had begun by paying attention to my increasing inability (or decreasing ability) to pronounce the letter that comes after U and before W. Believe it or not, we kept this nonsense up for years. They still get a kick out of it. We did other things too. We wandered the woods in Owls Head when they were haunted by Rockland Rotary, and stared in delight at the grove of a thousand illuminated pumpkin heads. We saw Michael McGuire as the Dead Editor. We saw the witch fly over the moon. One year a wicked woman dressed as the Grim Reaper stood outside our front door on Linden Street for half an hour on Halloween and thoroughly rattled the littlest one.
(Kim is the modern-day copy editor at the Courier — very much alive so I am told — who is one of the first souls to read this deadly nonsense every week. Imagine having her job. She isn’t paid enough. I let O’Meara read it too, but all he does is look to see if he is mentioned.)
My final effort this Halloween has been to dress the Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse as wampire bats. You have no idea. Yet my intention is that they accompany me as I creep down the concrete stairs, and that they emerge dramatically overhead as I fling open the doors and greet the screaming Children Of The Night with a fusillade of candy. But what an absolute bloody nuisance those birds are, and not willing to take part in the spirit of things at all. I was obliged to detain them overnight under spider webs and old squirrel tails in Poe’s haunted bathtub before I could administer the black spray-on rubber make-up and solder the plastic fangs to their silly pecking beaks. Utterly ungrateful. Everything I do for them, and all this dismal and melancholy joy in store for them tonight, and they just sit there sulking. The raven over the door stares at them in disgust.
David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at email@example.com. But not tonight.