Over the years I’ve made the most of Halloween. It came naturally because haunts and hauntings were a part of the lives of my three younger brothers and me.
I and then the others, as they put in their respective appearances, bounced around the island, from one rent to another for ten years, from 1948 till 1958. During the last five of those years, beginning in 1953 at ages nine, seven, five, and one, we lived in a little Cape on Indian Creek known to every islander as “The Bucket of Blood.”
No one could provide a plausible explanation; rather, it had just always been The Bucket, everyone knew it was haunted, and it was commonly assumed there was a good reason for it. Our very practical parents thought the best way to deal with that assumption and the obvious toll it would take on their four boys, was to simply acknowledge an apparition’s existence, give it a name, and welcome it into our home and into our lives.
Our evening ritual involved welcoming him to join us for dinner…
Accordingly, “Uncle Tim” was welcomed into our family. Our evening ritual involved welcoming him to join us for dinner by opening the attic stairs adjacent to our kitchen table so he could descend to and sit on the bottom step and join us in conversation which, and I have no reason to question my memory, he did regularly. Later we would each wish him good night through the second-floor attic door from the little bedroom we three eldest shared.
Back in the ‘60s I dressed as Dracula for the first time and, with a date in tow, wowed them at a VFW party in Hartford. I had a beautiful black cape, fangs, and blood dribbling from the corner of my mouth. Nowadays I’m still drooling but that’s different.
Back here at home I made the most of my Dracula persona in the annual haunted house at the old Latter Day Saints Church. I occupied a coffin in the lofty perch at the top of the three-story tower and, as each tour was led trembling up the stairs toward the horror they knew awaited, I composed myself to fulfill their fondest nightmares.
The coffin lid rose up on its own as they entered, operated by a string on a pulley by a conspirator in the closet, and I sat menacingly up to greet them. The results were occasionally memorable as when we had to stop the entire event and clean up the stairs when a terrified adult attendee wet herself or when a brash teenager loudly suggested, “Oh hell, that’s just Crow (my nickname).”
Perry Boyden, hiding in ambush in a crawl space at ankle height and waiting for just such a troublesome skeptic, yanked him off his feet and dragged him into the creepy black recesses, while making hideous noises that sounded to us all, particularly to the young man being consumed, like bones, his bones, being hungrily gnawed.
Later, Abe Knowlton and I conspired to make the area at and around our adjacent homes particularly scary when trick or treaters came around.
Still resplendent in my long cape and teeth, I lurked around the area, sweeping down from doorways or from behind bushes on older but tremulous kids trying to score a little candy.
Some parents were accompanying their little charges. Among these was an incensed mother who stood atop my lawn with her hands on her hips—as I stole up from the shadows behind her—announcing to anyone within earshot, “If he thinks I’m going to stand for him sneaking around scaring the pants off my kids, he’s got another think coming.” As she postured, I swept my cape around her and bit her on the neck. I recall I had another mess to clean up.
Phil Crossman terrorizes and lives on Vinalhaven. He may be contacted at PhilCrossman.VH@gmail.com.