I love Halloween. It is my favorite among all the holidays, and has been since I was a child.
My love for Halloween and all things eerie and uncanny manifested itself in me decorating my mother’s yard to unnerve candy-seeking visitors. These days, I still adorn the garden with spooky items every October, and elements of the supernatural frequently recur in my plays and short stories.
In 2015, the spectral season converged with social media postings and an unforeseen burst of creativity and, out of all that, I produced a “poem.”
Well, poem may be too strong a word, even though the piece has meter and it does rhyme. It is a bit of doggerel, a bastardization of Poe’s “Annabel Lee,” and the idea come to me because my friend Brenda dressed up as a sozzled clown by the name of Boozo, presented herself to her mother, Edna, and received the usual and expected maternal reaction of consternation and dismay.
Oh, and Brenda’s middle name is Kay, and her maiden name begins with the letter “B,” and Brenda Kay B. instantly intertwined in my mind with Annabel Lee, and my odd little ode was born. My sincere apologies to Edgar Allan Poe.
BRENDA KAY B.
It was now, in the present, not long ago past,
In a green house beside a dead tree,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know,
By the name of Brenda Kay B.
And this maiden she lived with a great many thoughts,
Of her Ghoulies and Ghosties set free.
And now, in the present, this right saucy lass,
In her green house beside a dead tree,
There she lives with much vigor and passion and vim,
The lass who is Brenda Kay B.
Much vim and much vigor as herself she surrounds,
With her Ghoulies and Ghosties set free.
And now, in this season, not long ago past,
In a green house beside a dead tree,
The Halloween spectres and spirits are rising,
To the delight of our Brenda Kay B.
Rising to startle and frighten and panic,
Brenda’s Ghoulies and Ghosties set free.
And now, in the present, not long ago past,
Far from the green house and dead tree,
The maiden did journey, clad garish and rainbow,
As clown Boozo, not Brenda Kay B.
A truly bad car wreck. Sad pigs in a fire.
Who needs Ghoulies and Ghosties set free?
Not now, not the present, but the most recent past,
Left behind – the green house and dead tree,
See Boozo confronting the Mother confounded,
She who bore our dear lassie, you see.
With a stare and a sigh, puckered brow and eyes wide,
Quoth THE EDNA, “OH, BRENDA KAY B!”
Way back when, many a long year ago, when I was a pre-teen, I was decking the halls with fear and horror, all in honor of October 31.
I began by fashioning tombstones out of old boards and paint. Every October, for the next several years, the tombstones graced the small garden plot beneath the living room window. I later added some spare parts from mannequins (discards from the store where I worked as a teenager), and bloody hands burst forth from the soil around the tombstones. My mother lent me some ragged old clothes which I stitched together and stuffed with crumpled newspaper to produce a saggy corpse perfect for a hanged man.
It wasn’t going to be enough simply to leave the cadaver slumped over near the front door, though. I wasn’t going to get the reaction I wanted with a scheme so modest. I began eyeing the tree in our front yard.
I found a rope and made a noose. I slipped the noose around the corpse’s neck. I tossed the rope over the tree limb that so conveniently overhung the concrete path to the front door. I hauled the hanged man aloft. Now, anyone seeking candy would have to pass directly beneath a dangling cadaver.
And yet, that wasn’t quite enough for me.
I eyed the tree again. I eyed the front window. There’s the ticket, I told myself.
I ran the rope over the tree limb, across to the house, and through the side window of the living room. The rope was high enough that, as darkness fell, it became difficult for approaching children and their parents to see the line strung overhead. They could, however, clearly see a cadaver dangling above their route to the door and the candy that waited there.
I lurked behind the drapes in the living room window. I couldn’t easily see the trick or treating children or their parents. I had to listen closely for their voices and for their footsteps as they shuffled through the fallen leaves on the driveway and the walk. I lurked and listened and gauged their approach as best I could, then I loosed the rope and let the hanged man fall. More often than not, I got exactly what I wanted. I heard shrieks and screeches, frequently from the parents rather than the children.
These days for Halloween, my front garden sports tombstones, a corpse bursting from the earth, zombie flamingos, spider webs aplenty, a spooky black trellis that glows with garish orange lights, and eight or so Jack-o’-lanterns.
No hanged man plummets from the sky to scatter crowds and cause screams, but...maybe... next year?
And who knows what poem, or play, or story might emerge because of this particular Halloween season?