Boo Part Two
By John Gray
You weren’t supposed to be here this late. If you had known you wouldn’t leave work until after 7pm, you would have parked the car in a safer place. It’s dark and as you walk the block-and-a-half to your car, the shadows cast by the distant street light play tricks on your mind. “I’m fine, I’m fine,” you keep telling yourself, but why then, are your steps quickening with the beat of your heart? That voice inside your head you seldom listen to keeps saying over and over again, “Smart boys and girls don’t walk alone in the dark.” As you reach the car and hit the button to unlock the door there’s a sudden feeling someone is right behind you now. They can’t be there because you would have heard the steps, but the voice is now screaming, “DON’T TURN AROUND.” You don’t, and quickly fling open the car door, hop in the seat, hit the lock and start the ignition. The radio blasts Bon Jovi and every muscle convulses. “Jesus,” you say to yourself, actually wishing he was with you right now. Feeling safe, you look out the window and for an instant see someone near the bushes not 20 feet from your car. You strain to make them out, buvt they are gone. “A trick of light,” you tell yourself. No one is there. Still, you stomp on the gas and don’t bother with the seat belt. As you drive home you won’t dare look in the rearview mirror because that’s where they hide in all the scary movies. “If I don’t look, they can’t be there. The boogeyman has to be seen to be real,” you tell yourself. You try to sing along with Bon Jovi’s “Who says you can’t go home”, but the voice in your head talks over the music, mocking you: “Look in the back seat, go on, just a peak. You know you want to. Maybe it’s you who won’t go home. Not tonight.”
Welcome to our October issue and my favorite time of the year – fall. If you haven’t guessed by now I love spooky stories and things that go bump in the night. I’ve read dozens of horror novels over the years and nothing gave me the chills more than Pet Cemetery by Stephen King. It’s the only book that bothered me so much I stopped reading it halfway through, only to pick it up and finish six months later. I was amused to learn King did the same thing while writing it; stopped then started again. His wife, Tabitha, begged him not to publish it because the thought of burying a child and having them come back evil was just plain wrong. King was never one to worry about people’s sensibilities.
The funny thing about King, Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, or any of the talented writers who give us the chills, is that in the real world their monsters don’t scare us. I mean are you really worried that a killer clown may be hiding in the sewer or that a vampire may live next door? Of course not. The stuff that scares us is the real monsters who stalk and prey and make us pray we don’t have to walk alone at night.
Of everything I’ve read, one of the most haunting verses comes from an author few have heard of: William Hughes Mearns. In 1899 he wrote a poem for a play called “Antigonish”. Its simplicity is only matched by its sheer creepiness: “As I was going up the stair, I saw a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. I wish I wish he’d stay away.” If you’re scratching your head wondering where you’ve heard that rhyme, they used it in the surprisingly frightening film “Identity” starring John Cusack.
I like the poem because it raises the question of ghosts. Do they exist? No one talks about it, but I’ll bet you if you asked 10 of your friends if they believe in ghosts, spirits or visitations, at least seven of them would tell you they do. Most people I know have a ghost story of their own where they were certain someone who wasn’t there was indeed paying them a visit. I wrote in this column last year about a ‘visit’ from my father in a dream a few weeks after he died.
I asked renowned psychic and medium John Edward about that dream and he told me that is how our loved ones visit us all the time. The skeptics laugh, but I know what I know and the dream was like no other before or since.
British medium and clairvoyant Lisa Williams raised the dead at Proctor’s Theater last month and I had a chance to ask her about ghosts and goblins. She believes we get messages all the time from the other side; we just have to pay attention. “If you’re thinking about someone you love and the next song on the radio was one of their favorites, it’s not a coincidence,” Lisa says. She adds that visits from spirits are never sinister as they are portrayed in scary movies. “Usually, it’s just their way of checking in. Letting us know they are still with us.” If you’re afraid to get undressed for bed now, Lisa insists they are not watching you 24-7.
I’m not so sure. The other night I had a hankering for something sweet, but had nothing in the house except for a can of Betty Crocker frosting for a cake I was planning to bake. So there I was, sitting on the couch in my underwear eating the frosting with my finger. The TV remote, which was minding its own business, somehow managed to fall off the arm of the chair with no help from me. “Mom,” I thought. It’s the kind of thing she’d do if she ever caught me eating frosting from the can that way.
As you pick apples, carve pumpkins and the smell of burnt leaves fills the air, I wish you a happy October ripe with sweet cider and friendly ghosts. And if you find yourself alone on a dark street and you do turn around to face the boogeyman, recite Bill Denborough’s line in King’s ghoulishly good novel, It. “He thrusts his fist against the post and still insists he sees the ghost.” Then run!
John Gray is a Fox23 News anchor and contributing writer at the Troy Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org