Dear People. This is an old Halloween article that I unpublished for some reason, and then found again yesterday. I liked it and thought, what the heck? I’ll throw it back up there. I couldn’t remember why I unpublished it anyway. So I made it public again. But I THOUGHT it would go back up where it originally went up: in the October 2013 posts. Nay. It went up today. In bright, lovely April. Eh. I’m too lazy to move it. So enjoy the weirdly unseasonable Cemetery Post. )
You know what my town needs? A good old fashioned creepy cemetery. Oh, I know we have a cemetery. It’s lovely, and historic, and there is a pageant held in it every year where they sell honey-taffy, throw pottery, give wagon rides, invite mountain men, and perform little plays (been in one, myself).
People. This is much too cheerful. Don’t get me wrong: I love the Cemetery Pageant. It’s all evocative and small town. The rolling hills and great old trees make the whole thing perfectly lovely. But dudes. It’s Halloween month. Who wants perfectly lovely?
When I was a kid in Maryland we had on our street a full-blown bonafide creepy cemetery. It must have been there long before most of the houses were. Like, since the days of Clear-the-Land-to-Build-a-Cabin. This thing was tucked into a corner and surrounded by wrought iron fencing; the kind whose slats ended in fleur-de-lis points and were covered in lichen and rust spots. Headstones were lopsided and crowded between trees that were so big and gnarly they’d probably survived the Flood.
It even came with a scary caretaker — like the Scooby-Doo episodes I used to watch — who would stand there in grass up to his shins, leaning on a spiky old rake and glaring his bad-guy eyes at us while we scurried past. (‘cuz, baby, you didn’t walk by that place.)
The thing was, even though there were never any news vehicles or flashing lights pulled up alongside that little graveyard indicating foul-play by Mr. Creepy Mausoleum Man, you knew by the way he wore his suspendered pants that he had a past. And that made the whole place the stuff of delicious childhood fantasy and whispered rumors.
Like this one from my friend Crystal, spoken with eyes widened in horror: “The other day I was walking to school, and I saw that cemetery man standing in the grass burning leaves. He was holding a shovel and was laughing like this, *insert maniacal laugh with appropriate insane facial expression*. Well I don’t think it was leaves he was burning!” *gasps and quiet screams from the rest of us*
That cemetery totally did its job. And I kind of feel that we need one like it here. Every town does. Without it, what do kids have to imagine on dark October nights? I mean, dark October nights when their parents have grounded them from media? What stories will they pass around, or dark tales will they write, without old rotted trees to scrape boney fingers across the shoulders of unsuspecting passers-by? What do teenagers do without a “knocking tombstone” with which to scare the honeybees out of dates, creating excuses to walk with protective arms around shoulders — not that my husband ever did this.
I say we petition the city to add some creepy to this town. At least temporarily. And if that doesn’t work, then we should all go to the library and check out copies of Neal Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book to read before Halloween. We can meet at the Cemetery and swap taffy and tales that shiver our timbers right to the ground.
You bring the cider.