Special Orders

Plum Island sunset -copyright, L.N Carreras

Woodcarvers sometimes get strange requests. But they are usually the sentimental type of thing, specialty designs of various sorts. Well, I know one carver who has a kind of specialty in erotic sorts of things, but this story is not about her designs.
I tried to break into the occult carving market by doing runes sets for people telling fortunes, only to be priced out by Chinese mass-produced junk. However, the shop owner in Salem did save my card and referred to me unique clients with special needs.

This was how I received a small series of annual commissions for boxes of a particular type. While dimensions varied yearly, they always needed to be made from hand split, hand sawn, and planed ash. In addition, the ash had to be fastened with wooden pegs. The hinges and lining were of a hide they provided for this purpose. Finally, each box was carved with specific runes on each surface. I received the orders in September; delivery was always the final week of October. The commissioners were pleased because the orders were repeated for several years.

Then one year, a new order came in from another group for oak sticks of a certain length, taper, and thickness. Each was inscribed with an old word in Glagolitic that I found impossible to translate. I felt odd about this order, and after completing it, I told them that I would not accept future orders of that kind. That was OK, they said, and the following year it was a specific type of crucifix they wanted. Crucifixes and stakes? The next year they sent along some small bottles with a design for a wooden holder. The text was something in Latin, and I suspected that the bottles were for Holy Water. They said they were so pleased with my work that they would mention it to their friends.

And oh, did their friends contact me; there were particular orders for Samhain and special orders for Beltane. And then came the orders from cults, sects, and rites from Africa, India, and Micronesia. It got so turning them down was difficult. There’d be pressure, a sort of do it, or misfortune might befall you. “Oh, Mr. Carreras, you over billed us on our last order. We took the liberty of reducing your payment. We hope you are satisfied.”

It was the damned Ouija boards that tore it. Having had a terrible experience with one in the sixties, I put my foot down and flat-out said no. As of three years ago, I refused all orders of the occult. Yes, they paid well and on time, but they were much more demanding than my nautical customers.

Then the little box with the doll arrived by FedEx. It was then I knew that I had to take action.

It pays to keep up your dues in specific organizations. Working in boatyards, carving eagles, and other significant work associated with the deeps stood me in good stead. A trip to the harbor, a few poured libations to Davy, Neptunas Rex, and the other deities of the port, seas, and oceans took care of things. Those powers of the depths resented flatlanders horning in on a dues-paying member. So cease and desist notices were sent.

I know this hasn’t turned out well. And I know that science refuses to believe that it’s a war of natural orders, But Ian, yep, the Santeria, Voodoo, and a few other groups found out that you don’t mess with the sea. That town in Idaho that became a ghost town, I feel awful about that.

I am very sorry now that I have started it. Evidently, the Olympians are trying to get everyone to the peace table. And I hear rumblings that some think It was all my fault for trying to do what I shouldn’t have.
But while the big guys are duking it out, most people think it’s just Climate Change.

I guess that’s good for me; I’d hate to change my name and move at this stage of my life.

Lazy Bones

Bubba Gray was having a meltdown. His wife and the business manager wanted him to accept a contract to restore an old rum runner, and Bubba was saying there was no way on earth that the cursed thing was coming into his yard. Lazy Bones had famously killed its owner, his lover, and two mobsters in the thirties when it brought Canadian whiskey into Maine harbors. It had spent thirty years in a shed, and according to Bubba, it was there the damned boat remained. His wife quietly argued that he either accepted the contract or found another way to extract the yard from eminent bankruptcy.

It wasn’t just that the Lazy Bones seemed to have been cursed. It was spectacularly cursed. On launch, the boat had rolled on its builder and crushed him. The reputation of having been christened in blood followed the boat. But an uncanny ability to disappear in fog, outrace the Coast Guard and slip into small harbors undetected had made it a money maker. The owners had wept when Prohibition got repealed.

 It seemed to drift from owner to owner, with no one holding it for more than a season. Its pattern of unfortunate accidents followed it too. It crushed one against a float in Bath. He slipped and fell into the water; the boat swelled against the float, breaking ribs, collar bones, and an arm. The wife of the next owner quietly committed suicide in the cockpit. The following day, she was found with her scarf tightly around the wheel. 

The boat did not age well; rumrunners like the Lazy Bones are not cheap to maintain. But, it’s like they always say, “if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.” So the boat was stowed in a shed screened behind years of old furniture, trunks, and household goods.

All this time, Lazy Bones was out of sight, but not mind. The boat was just infamous enough that it enjoyed a life in the town’s folklore. Tours of the waterfront always included retellings of the story of the Lobster racing boat Devil, and the Lazy Bones. According to rumors, these boats were seen on Halloween, racing in the harbor against low banks of clouds.

Against this background, the boat’s restoration began at Bubba Gray’s little boatyard. A canny business woman Evvie Gray charged entry to where the Lazy Bones restoration work was getting done. A natural storyteller, she wove threads of the boat’s history and lore into a powerful tale. Soon photos of her standing with the boat appeared in papers Like the Boston Globe and even the LA times. She re-did her wardrobe to be more dramatic for the Yankee Magazine spread that featured her and Lazy Bones against the background of the yard. 

It was a purely commercial decision on her part that she take the boat on a grand tour as soon as all work was done. And when a Las Vegas casino offered her a residency with Lazy Bones, it was again a purely commercial decision.

Divorce was not that common in town then. But the news that Evvie Gray was divorcing Bubba came as no surprise. Bubba was the only one genuinely surprised. The yard folded not long after; without Evvie struggling to keep it going, Bubba failed in a year. But he seemed happier just working over at Allen’s larger boat yard on the other side of the harbor.

Evvie milked the Las Vegas deal for all she could and wound up taking a position with a developer creating new concept ideas for casinos. And you can see the Lazy Bones on display at a museum of cursed and damned boats; it’s evil only latent now.

Some say that the boat’s evil caused the break up of the marriage, the closure of the boatyard, the ruin of bubba Grey, and even the fall of Evvie Gray into a ruinous Las Vegas lifestyle. All of this is open to interpretation, as is the history of the Lazy Bones. I can only comment on what I know; most of what transpired was human nature and failings.

But supernatural explanations, curses, and misfortune sell more tickets and makes the heart race on a cold dark Halloween evening.

The Devil


You’d be hard-pressed to find any family of seafarers, fisherfolk, or plain coastal types without some horror tale on the water. It just goes with the territory; salt water envelopes most of the world and is dangerous. 

Lurking beneath that calm tropical paradise you’ve vacationed in are currents, tides, rips, rocks, tidal flats, and reefs – these might all be known hazards, but that doesn’t mean that they are less deadly. Circumstances and bad luck can be the dividing line between inconvenience and tragedy. And that’s just the stuff you can make plans to avoid or correct.

There’s just a ton of stuff you can’t plan for; rogue waves, sudden squalls, engine failures that put you at risk on lee shores, collisions with unseen objects, and illness at sea. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. It’s no wonder that hidden in every sailor is a tiny little superstitious knot. It might not be as apparent as a refusal to sail on a Friday, no bananas on board, or not whistling while you set sail, but it’s there. But without a doubt, the most dangerous element at sea will always be the human element.

Where I lived on the coast, it was considered bad luck to change the name of a boat. But, if you did, many boatyards followed procedures that seemed more like heathen rituals than practices you find in any of the local Baptist, Congregationalist, or Methodist church.

Libations would be poured to Neptunas Rex and Davy Jones. Coins under the masts would be added to, carefully put back in the exact locations after repair, or eliminated in exchange for a completely new set, and of course, the boat would be thoroughly cleaned fore and aft. Sometimes this would not be enough.


One of the Allens from over to the cape purchased a very smart lobster boat third-hand. He did this against his wife, father, and brother’s wishes. He’d been thrice warned.

The boat had started life as a workhorse lobster boat built by a well-known builder out of Boothbay. She’d worked the waters of the mid-coast for years as the Hattie Carroll. Then, about 1974, she’d been sold to a New York City Banker who had her gutted and fixed up as a fancy boat to tour clients around during the summer; what we call a lobster yacht these days. 

Then, without any to do, he’d had a signmaker slap some vinyl letters on her, and her new name was ” The Cheek Of The Devil” in a fancy script. The boatyard had suggested that a bit of ceremony would be nice, but he wanted what he wanted, so he got it. No ceremony, but it was the talk of the harbor. Using the Devil in a boat’s name was not typical and not thought lucky.

He didn’t enjoy his boat long. A fire started offshore, and all aboard went into the bay. Unfortunately, there hadn’t been enough floatation devices aboard for all the guests, so he yielded his floatation vest and drowned. 

The boat survived with severe fire damage but was salvaged and put up for sale.

She lay in Spinney’s yard for two years before being sold. I wouldn’t know if the reason was the fire, the owner’s death, the name, or a combination of all three. But sit in the back of the yard, she did. To locals, it was the Devil when someone referred to that boat. That should have been enough to discourage any local from buying it. 

History and name suggested that nothing but ill luck was involved in that boat. Wash it in a bathtub of holy water from Saint Jerome’s, pour libations all day long, and do whatever hocus pocus you wish, and none of that would help. My father-in-law, the Cap’n, put it succinctly enough when offered the boat at a bargain rate, ” I wouldn’t allow any of my kin to sit in its shadow, much less step aboard.”


The Devil sat there until Jacob Allen went looking for a cheap boat with fast lines that he could pour a high-power engine into for lobster boat racing. The Devil fit the bill. And over a long Maine winter, he worked to rebuild the boat into his dream of a fast racer. 

During the spring, his trial runs seemed to indicate that he’d be a contender in any race he entered. Unfortunately, Jacob was not the type to go full speed ahead, only at a race. He’d run circles around other lobster boats in the local harbor gang he belonged to. Jacob took pleasure in almost swamping small craft he considered to be in his way. Jacob wasn’t well-liked.

Jacob was known to infringe on the territories of nearby lobstermen and was closely watched until, one day, he was caught. The first time you get caught, you will likely pull your traps and find a half hitch in your line. It’s a warning that your trespass has been noted. Do it again, and the penalties will go up. 

The Devil proved as successful as Jacob believed it would, and victory was frequent. Now I do not know how plush the prizes are these days, but back then, it was peanuts. You raced for the joy and pleasure of it. Jacob also raced because he loved to rub other skippers’ noses in how fast the Devil was. In a family of quiet Mainers, he inherited all the ego.


I was helping out at Spinney’s boat yard that September hauling out summer people’s boats, and overheard Spinney talking to my father-in-law, the Cap’n. They both agreed that Jacob was heading for a fall. they quieted down when I walked up, but it was common knowledge that Jacob had been robbing traps, and something was bound to happen.

Things get slower as the weather gets colder; lobstermen spend more time repairing and making new lobster pots ( or traps), repairing their gear, and taking care of their boats. But on Halloween evening, the blast rocked the entire harbor as the Devil blew up with Jacob Allen aboard. The official report said Jacob had ignited a puddle of gasoline while starting his boat. A death by misadventure, I guess. But knowing people understood that Jacob Allen had been a scrupulous man in caring for his boat.

Murder was suspected but never proven. There wasn’t much of the Devil or Jacob Allen left for an inquest, just the mutterings of people about the enemies he’d had and someone finally canceling a grudge hard.

At the coffee shop in the morning, there were comments about how the boat had been ill-fated from the start, and then, more quietly, someone muttered that the Devil had certainly known his own.

A Bloody Night

Wallpaper can hide an entire wall of unpleasant surprises. Strip off ten layers of the stuff and find the blood spatters that paint didn’t effectively cover. A little research at Town Hall reveals the details of the unsolved murder that took place there in 1910. Unfortunately, the culprit never got caught, and the wallpaper was a cheap way of ignoring what had happened.

Somehow the stains leaked through multiple layers. Someone painted thick white primer over the wall at some point to block the “bleed through, ” but the next tenant just went back to the wallpaper. It was like the blood was refreshed year after year.

My friend had purchased the house as a teardown. But his wife had convinced him to renovate instead when construction prices hit the roof during the pandemic. So that’s how we came to peel the wallpaper and find the blood stains. They were still vivid after all those years. So we calculated how much blood had to be soaked in for that effect and decided that it must have an entire blood bank full.
My friend’s wife, Susan, was furious at us. We had been so fixated on the wall that we ignored the layers of bloody linoleum on the floor. So we pulled up layer after layer of stained linoleum to find blood-stained boards beneath. This provoked another trip to the records at Town Hall. There we found the report of the Medical Examiner. The body was exsanguinated, but the only wound was a laceration on the right throat. The cut was clean, with no staining around it. It appeared surgical in its precision.

Susan suggested using the house as a haunted house for the upcoming Halloween. Jase and I were creeped out at the idea, but money had its say. Gutting the house would be expensive. And here was the ideal way of recouping the cost of demolition and construction.
As an anthropologist and history buff, my part was further research, duplicating public domain materials for use in creating a tellable tale, and convincing local media that this was worth covering. I dug in and found lots for Susan and Jase to use. There had been a husband; he had never been found. And while he was the principal suspect, no murder weapon had ever been located. In fact, no one knew what sort of implement could have created the mayhem found the next day.
Even before the murder, the location had a reputation as being haunted. It was located on a plot of land known locally as Tophet, a place which in the Bible was associated with the sacrifice of children to Moloch, probably as a burnt offering. In addition, the early Puritan settlers in the area used the name to describe the wasteland they associated with infernal activities.

A little further research in the local history room of the town library indicated that Sarah Joyner, daughter of Ethel, had never been found. Concocting a ripe tale out of these bits and pieces was the work of a leisurely evening over dinner at a local inn that dated back almost as far as the town’s age. Sitting in the low raftered dining room by the fire seemed to encourage us to piece together the story of sacrifice to Moloch, the burnt offerings of a child, and a father so riven with guilt that he disappeared into the swamp only to return on Halloween. His fee for eternal life was his wife’s blood price and his daughter’s burnt offering. I took notes as Susan and Jase offered details created or culled from the old newspaper articles.

The house needed very little prepping. It had been vacant for years before Jase and Susan purchased it. The demo on the murder site offered a grim enough reality of the events of 1910. Susan would provide the commentary on the guided tour ending in the room beside the old kitchen where all the blood stains were. Jase was in charge of taking entry fees. I was to be moving lanterns about in the swamp to imitate ghost lights; I also had a tape recorder of creepy sounds. The local newspaper reprinted its 1910 coverage and sent a reporter to cover Halloween at the house. Local access television had a crew there to video the happenings.

At first, everything went according to plan. I moved about the swamp making noises and waving lanterns. Jase seemed very happy with receipts, and Susan dressed like Ethel Joyner told the tale of her husband’s betrayal of wife and child.

The town had issued a temporary business permit allowing the attraction to operate until 10 PM. But It was so well attended that Jase could not miss a good thing and kept admitting people until just before midnight.

I grew tired around eleven and went to the inn for some refreshments.
I returned at midnight and was in time to see the house light up with a brilliant white glow. This was followed by a rush of visitors running in every direction away from the house. Then, a sudden flash followed by darkness so complete that I was blinded.
Clearing my eyes, I ran into the building. I saw that the walls were just fragments of lath and bloody plaster. In the back of the bloody wall was a statue of a bull-headed creature. There was a large basin in its lap. What looked like burnt human bones poked from the pot, like grim appendages. A fire was beginning to run up the beams to the ceiling, and I hurried to help Susan and Jase from the developing inferno. Within a minute, the gas line blew, and the house was a jet of flames lighting up all of Tophet and the surrounding town.

Jase and Susan lost the property and much else from the lawsuits. Unfortunately, they left town, and I only hear from them at Christmas.

The town eventually took the property for back taxes. After that, the site sat abandoned because Tophet was now a protected wetland. But finally, someone came up with a plan to build right on the roadside where the old house had been. I was the only one who spoke against the project at the Zoning Board appeal. Just a crazy old coot with a long greasy beard muttering about Moloch, human sacrifice, and how the early settlers had been right – Tophet was an unholy ground. They laughed, and I felt humiliated.

The new house went up, and there were rumors of vandalism even before they finished it. Blood or paint being splashed over everything seemed to happen every Halloween. The police never caught anyone.
An investigation showed that it wasn’t paint; it was blood. So then the paper sent someone around to interview me, but they never printed the article. They didn’t want locals to think they were one of those tabloid papers you read on the supermarket’s checkout line.

Meanwhile, I know that Ethel and Sarah Joyner die again and again in a blood sacrifice every Halloween. So my only question is, where is all that blood coming from?

A Halloween Offering

I was idly lighting the long kitchen matches one by one. My friends were going on endlessly about demons, the undead, hell and Satan. I wasn’t involved in the discussion. I lit match after match and watched as they slowly burnt down while my friends got all worked up and angry about things.
I listened idly to the conversation, but I just sat there with the matches unless I was asked a question. Having had a few unpleasant experiences with the unreal, I wasn’t interested in the sort of movie hype and second-hand Lovecraft stuff they were rattling off.
Whoever had stocked the cabin had believed in matches. There were numerous boxes, plus the sort of railroad flair called torpedos. I had also found enough other fireworks for two fourth of July. I had plenty of toys to play with.
“Well, the whole thing revolves around whether God allows Satan to “go to and fro in the earth, and up and down in it.” If that’s true, the demonic is free to torment humanity.”
“What you’re not seeing here is that way before the Bible got put together, there were entire corpus’ of supernatural literature and whole works dedicated to lessening the demonic impact on people.”
” Bullshit. Satan this, Mesopotamia that, it was just people afraid to go out at night!”
” Hey, Wes, what do you think? Say something profound for once this evening and stop playing with matches.”

I stopped to think and then held up an old-fashioned strike-anywhere match. “Theses were originally called Lucifers. That’s right, named after the fallen angel Lucifer, who was originally the light bringer but fell with the others. They called them that because of the flare of light you get when you strike them and the scent of sulfur. In the 19th century, many ministers preached against their use as being Satanic due to the smell. They maintained that making fire that way echoed the fires of Hell, and godly men should not use them. Well, you can see how successful they were in suppressing that. But look here, and I’ll show you how right they were.”
With that, I struck a match and put it to the hundreds of matches, fireworks, candles, and other flammables I had assembled over the hours. Within seconds the flares of light and flame illuminated a horned and leering bringer of light that lit the entire area around our firepit. Rational ideas of the supernatural fled, as did all my friends running in fright into the night.

The flare of light died back. All that was left were the coals. And the snap of wood in the fire and the sounds of my friends fleeing. I sat there alone and chuckled with amusement. A whisper of a laugh came from behind, but even before I turned, I knew there was no person behind me. No person.


I searched for a cogent answer, but I was too drunk to gather my thoughts. Sitting on top of the seventeenth-century gravestone was a translucent figure in strange clothing. ” I asked you, young sir if you agreed with me that a carved turnip lantern was more appropriate for All Hallows eve than these”pumpkins” your ilk seem to like so well.” He glared at me in a truculent fashion. Then, he waved about an enormous turnip carved into a believable skull with tiny wisps of firelight shooting out of the eyes, where the nostrils might have been and the teeth.

It took some time to gather the wits I needed to reply. I could only see the starburst comet trails of the flames as he whipped the skull about my head. It proved too much for my delicate stomach. I leaned over his grave and emptied myself of all the intrusive elements, mostly the beer I had consumed that night. I gasped out, ” I thought you Puritans didn’t go in for all that Halloween stuff.”, ” And who are you calling a nonconformist, thou Ninny! I was a godly man of the Church of England!”
I thought it best to apologize, but before my drunken tongue could frame the words, he swung his turnip at me, and then I saw stars.

I woke at dawn, wondering what I was doing in the Old Burial Ground on the other side of Beacon Hill from where I lived on Grove St. I tried to clear the awful taste from my mouth and pulled away from the mess deposited near the gravestone. Then, I recalled that carving turnip lanterns had predated carved pumpkins. And that had been the central element of my drunken nightmare last night. Then, lurching to my feet, I realized today was All Saints, and last night had been All Hallows Eve – Halloween.
I began to walk toward Charles Street and the Tarry and Taste Donut shop. Coffee and food would sort out my mind.

Then I felt a crunch and looked down at a smashed turnip lantern beneath my feet. The tiniest stub of a candle was in it, almost guttered out. My stomach lurched, and I ran out of the Burying Ground as fast as possible.

The Mansion

I had a colleague who was adept at saving threatened historic properties from being torn down. Some accused him of using trick tactics to evade demolition, but he once confided over coffee that it was all about procrastination. Delay long enough, and some bad actors will go away because timing is key to financing the project. Delay is also critical for building support to save or restore a distressed but historically significant property.
But years after I left the community we both had worked in, I heard the rumors of spooky tricks deployed against developers. Tales that implied forces more than natural were called into play to abet his goals.

We’re talking about properties that are sometimes hundreds of years old. Places like old courthouses have had their share of lawyers and clients’ traumatic deaths through rage-fueled strokes and heart attacks. Think of all the rage generated through sentencing, fair or not.
What effect might it have if you could harness and direct the remaining essence of all that angst? A developer stumbling over his bundle of plans and having a fatal fit at the foot of the courthouse steps?

The evidence was hard to gather. The incidents were spread over my colleague’s long and successful career. But there was the architect who fell into a casement as cement was being poured. Next was the developer trying to replace the old city stables with condos -crushed when a cart collapsed and buried him in horse manure. There were others over decades. Nothing ever directly pointed to my colleague, except the reputation that those who crossed him sometimes met strange ends.

Having all that unrepentant anger and rage abet your efforts is not without its peril, and the forces that reside in old buildings are not always in harmony with each other. Old unresolved grudges persist.

It was All Hallows Eve that the fire department responded to the fire at the 18th-century mansion that housed the historical society. They found his body in the library. The chalk marks on the floor were half erased by the efforts to put out the fire, but they still radiated a sort of sickly glow.
The vellichor, that musty smell of old tomes, mingled with the scorched smell of combustion. The nearly consumed architectural renderings of developments he had prevented lay in a planned disorder at the cardinal points of the chalked pattern. In the very center, he lay with an architects scale rule plunged through his heart.

It was never clear what he had been doing. But the habitues of the society noted that he was often closed alone in the library late at night on the eves of certain celebrations: Walpurgis eve and All Hallows. After that, the historical society took care never to meet on those evenings. Certain glows, emissions, and odors were said to come from beneath the library doors.
Then there was the sad case of the demise of an entire Board of Directors. First, they had considered selling the mansion. But they were struck down by food poisoning at a banquet given by the developer. A replacement Board rapidly rejected all offers to sell.

Every Halloween, the city capitalizes on its history by offering haunted mansion tours. It’s my understanding that the historical society solved its fiscal crisis by charging admission on Halloween. The scary effects are reputed to be the best on tour. And the historical society is mum on how they do it.


It was a nasty thing to do, but I loved it. As we walked along Mount Vernon Street, I carefully counted until I found the specific mansion I wanted. I was telling a story of unrequited love, murder, and mayhem to my sweet companion of the evening. It had all the elements of a true-life romantic potboiler. And it should. I stole the plot wholesale from one of her true horror romance novels that I idly looked through while waiting for her to finish with her costume.

The party we had attended had been full of the usual assortment of witches, werewolves, ghosts, and vampires—all except my sweetie, all done up as a living Regency Romance heroine. But, unfortunately, none of the guys got it. And some of the women looked at the decolletage enviously.
I was her escort, not her lover, so I knew the display was not for me. OK, I resented it. She knew how I felt about her but treated me like a younger brother. Maybe that’d why I did what I did.
As we reached the mansion, I carefully turned her to face the street so she would not see the windows. “It was about this time Laura discovered his infidelity. She confronted him in the salon. But Alfred determined to wed his mistress and decided there and then to kill her. So he dismembered her body and buried her beneath the floorboards of the salon.” My companion was a bit intoxicated and giggled, ” Oh, I read that story not long ago, Wes!” I smiled. ” Yes, but this is where it happened. Right here on Mount Vernon, in this mansion and on Halloween. It’s tonight, the anniversary of her death that, her ghost appears in the salon window. Look!” I turned her slowly to face the windows of the lovely brick mansion. In the window, a soft light seemed to grow bright. It revealed the stunning form of a young woman, arms out as if in appeal. As rapidly as the apparition appeared is seemed to fade away.

My date was more than a bit startled. Finally, in a panic, she broke away and ran screaming down Mount Vernon towards the lights on Charles Street. I stayed a bit longer. The light once again came up and revealed the lovely form of a 19th-century figurehead – a young woman in period dress with her arms out in either welcome or appeal. I had discovered the display a few nights earlier, but I had not seen the horrific possibilities for scaring someone on Halloween until reading the potboiler romance.

She’ll never forgive me, but I wonder if she’ll ever pick a horror romance novel off the library shelf again?


John looked up the hill to where his Dad was putting the finishing touches on this year’s Halloween display. John had moved on to other interests and was not helping this year. Halloween decorations were childish, and he didn’t understand why his parents paid so much attention to this year’s decorations. Tonight’s party was much more interesting to him.

He moved the pile of travel brochures his mother had been looking at so he could sit and check who had responded to his invitation to the party.
His Mom and Dad were allowing him to use the old carriage house for the party tonight.
“John, you’ve put all my travel material into a pile. I wish you wouldn’t do that.” “Come on, you and Dad are never going anywhere. All you ever do is talk.”
An angry look appeared and disappeared from her face so quickly that John wasn’t sure that he’d seen it, ” Well, you’re old enough now. Although It would be a sacrifice, it would be fun for your Dad and me to be on our own again.” Something in the way she said that made him angry, “Sure. You and Dad talk big about how when I’m old enough, you’ll leave on some grand trip, but you never do. I wish you would. I could do with the privacy.” Mom just smiled and went to help Dad put up the new decorations.

Despite his comments about decorations, John had spent serious change on the setting for his party. The old carriage house was spooky enough as it was. But the lighting and audio effects he had added made it genuinely creepy. His big surprise was set for midnight just as the couples were looking for secluded nooks. It was then that the shrieks started, and everyone started trying to escape. So far, so good. He picked up a small remote, and stage smoke began to billow out of the old heating vents. He was laughing until the foundation started to rock; that was not planned. Soon John was joining the rush towards the single unblocked exit. Tripping past the threshold, he plunged into a pit that had not been there this afternoon. John and all his friends were scrambling to get out of the pit but not having any success. Over at the driveway, he noticed his parents loading up the car – “Mom, Dad help.” they just continued to pack. Finally, his Mom wandered over towards the mud-covered teens. “Mom? Help get us out. Please!”

Mom looked down and then back to where her husband was waiting for her. “John, you’re old enough now. Your father and I decided that it would be a sacrifice to let you go, but one that would enable us to travel.” She pulled a small remote from her pocket and typed in a code. A loud rumbling started from the area where his Dad had been placing decorations. A shambling figure made of mud, sticks, stones, and oddments of wire lurched onto two feet and started lurching towards them.

“Harriet! Hurry up; we’ll be late!” ” I’ll be right there, Ozzie!” Then, looking down into the pit, Mom blew him a kiss, ” now don’t think too poorly of us, John…we just want to travel before we’re too old to enjoy it, and you know children can be such a sacrifice!”
The thing tumbling down the hill seemed to be continuously shedding small bits and pieces; maple leaves and bits of clay. In its mouth were rows of blunt teeth that initially had been gravel from the driveway—reaching the pit, a vast muddy hand reached down and took up John first. As he entered the maw, the last thing he saw was his parent’s car turning towards the road. His father was playing that dammed song he liked so much – “Highway to Hell.”

A Good Night

Although Christmas was beloved by the residents of the Folkie Palace, Halloween was revered. When else could you parade downs Charles Street as a corpse garbed in a chartreuse tux and high heels? And it certainly was not just our cadre. People came from all over town to have a good time.
But the central affairs of the evening were the parties.

Folkie Palace parties featured lots of beer, weed, tons of food, and many “unique” individuals. A corner of the kitchen was reserved for the folk musicians huddled in a rough circle swapping songs. When not in use for everyday functions, the bathroom was used for recreational weed smoking – the window wide open and a fan blowing at high speed; the toilet seat was always up to speed the process of flushing illegal goodies if the local Fuzz ( our title for the police) showed.
For the Fuzz, it was also a busy night. Lots of intoxicated, disorderly people who had illegal goods on or about their bodies. So we tried to lower our profile for legal involvement. There was no sense attracting attention from our favorite patron of the law – officer Cappucci. We had a love-hate relationship with Cappucci. We loved him when he stayed away and hated him when he showed up. It was noise complaints that drew attention. The Communists on the second floor were shift workers and would complain if there was the slightest noise. It was hard to be quiet with a full-blown party going on.

Our method for minimizing the damage were trays of lasagna, watch-outs on the roof, and restricting all drugs to the bathroom. The lasagna? After the lookouts hollered down the stairwell that a police car had arrived, we all quieted down. The Teahead of the August Moon perched on a stool and began reading from a book of Ferlinghetti poems to an attentive audience. As the police climbed the stairs, stashes and goods went down the toilet with a flush. Then the Monk took the trays of lasagna from the oven.
As the Fuzz entered, the apartment was filled with fifteen or twenty aficionados of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and other Beat poets. Also, the apartment was redolent of the odors of fresh lasagna ready to be served. This latter helped mask any residual odors of said illegal substance.
This evening there was a complication. Officer Cappucci discussed with the Folkie Palaces chief cook, the Monk, on their respective recipes and methods of preparing lasagna.
Cappucci favored the sauce made by his Irish mother and the Monk that of his Italian mother. The dispute hinged on the type of tomatoes used and how much fresh basil was needed.
The party-goers grew restless and began to depart for other celebrations. Eventually, the police left, and a much-reduced group finished off the lasagna and took to the streets in full costume. Our goal? Hide in the Pickney Street playground and scare the bejesus out of the innocent and intoxicated. Then we’d watch the moonrise as we howled—all in all, a pleasing night. Finally, the following day we’d offer compliments to ourselves on a well misspent Halloween.

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