I have one very specific childhood memory of Halloween. And again, it involves my Parents’ God.
It’s a troubling story and I’ve never liked telling it. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because it was the first time I had to come face-to-face with the horrific, lobotomized state of stupidity blind faith may leave the most innocent of victims.
Or maybe because it involves a 60-year-old woman and what I am now sure was some form of ancient and tribal, brutal anal rape.
Yeah, that was probably it.
The story of that fateful night begins like most Halloween misadventures. I was about 10, my brother was 8 and we’d spent the night in costume, basically being the begging vagabonds we’d later prove to be as adults. We weren’t alone either. The night was alive with pre-teen and, at the time, innocent activity. Children screamed, whooped and hollered to the sky, thankful to whatever deity had created such a night where one could be given so much by doing so little.
There’s always been something magical about Halloween to me; not to mention the lessons it teaches kids about what I call, The World of The Real ©. You see, in reality, vampire bats are the size of softballs, have no legs and look like bedroom slippers with seedy eyes; a wolf bite doesn’t give you special powers, just rabies and the 20 syringes to the gut that come with it; the only zombies in the real world are married men; and Frankenstein could never exist, because if we ever could reanimate the dead, the now infamous Summer of ’89, following the death of my pet turtle the late great Mr. Sizzle Biscuit, would’ve been way less traumatic. Instead, it just stunk…it stunk of fried turtle meat and tears.
But on Halloween, ah, that’s when, for at least one night, one could take a break from The World of The Real © and its lifelessly ordinary landscape. On Halloween, werewolves were real, vampires were scary, Frankenstein’s monster shuffled somewhere off in the distance, and daddy wasn’t really a zombie, he was just drunk.
My brother and I had started the night with a larger group, but we eventually separated with the two of us going on alone. The others, more than likely, had gone hunting for younger children (as I hinted earlier, the innocence of Halloween is only temporary, as the night inevitably degenerates into a rabid, Mad Maxian search for candy at the expense of any poor kid who doesn’t know enough to run or bring a larger friend).
My brother and I weren’t down with those shenanigans. We were in it for the candy and we wanted it as nonviolently as possible. By the time we were through, it was late and most of the houses were dark. People were going to sleep and the wells were drying.
Off in the distance, drunken screams occasionally stabbed at the growing silence: the teenagers were out now, and those weren’t monsters we were willing to deal with. We decided to go home, but one house stopped us.
There was nothing special about the house. We’d seen it every day growing up. It was one of those neighborhood houses you’d pass everyday of your childhood without ever thinking twice about it. Honestly, the only thing about the house that interested us was that its light was on.
The general rule states: If I do not have candy and/or do not want to participate in Halloween, I will turn off my porch lights to signify that fact and discourage children and any resulting revelry to fall upon my doorstep. That’s the rule; that’s the agreement. So when we saw this beacon calling to us, we felt it would be the perfect way to end the night.
The house was corpse-like from the outside. The grass, what little there was, was brown and decayed. A lone tree outside shivered impotent, skeletal and frail. The whole property stank of death.
When we walked up to that God-forsaken door, I felt the pull of reality’s anchor in my gut. Something was wrong.
My brother knocked twice and I held my breath. When the house owner, an elderly black lady, came to the door, the first thing I noticed was her smile. It seemed plastic, almost like it had been formed through some process away from her body and then delivered for her to wear.
Still, It took me a few minutes to realize just what was in front of me.
The lady was naked, or at least, she might as well have been. From her neck down she wore a leather masochistic bondage suit. It was very tight and she was having trouble breathing. The chest was cut out so her breasts hung heavy near the bottom of her rib cage. Blue veins throbbed under the strain of their weight and simple old age.
But it was her eyes that held me. All life had been drained from them; they were dead, yellow and bloodshot. The odor detected earlier poured from her. It smelled like decomposition.
Still, she swayed in front of us with a big goofy smile, looking like a corpse being held up by strings.
“I have some booklets for you little boy and/or girl,” she announced abruptly, to no one in particular.
She reached toward our bags robotically, dropping several pamphlets in our direction. I recognized them as religious themed immediately. “Uh, we already go to a church, thank you.” I said, pulling my bag away, but it was too late. She dropped a booklet each into our bags, several others fell to the concrete. She didn’t notice.
Instead, she stared at us as if comatose and began to talk, “Do you know what Halloween is about?” She asked, her dead eyes staring off to somewhere distant.
“Candy,” I interrupted. “Candy, it’s just about candy…and costumes. Yeah, Candy and Costumes.”
“No, little boy and/or girl, you’re wron”
“Yeah, no…no, I’m pretty sure I’m right…”
“No, you’re wrong, you see Hallooooooweeeeeeeeeeen…..” Her eyes rolled back and her words droned and slowly died out, like a wind-up doll that had run low on power. Soon the rotting husk just slumped its shoulders and quietly stared off into nothingness.
That’s when I noticed the man standing behind her, in her kitchen. His back was to us, but there was something about his stature: shoulders back, head high, butt tight…he reminded me of someone I knew; someone I didn’t necessarily have the patience to deal with at that time.
“Let’s go,” I tried to whisper to my brother, but it was too late, the man turned his head on a swivel. He stared at us for a moment then his eyes lit with recognition.
“Hey, boys! Come on in!” Ugh, sonuvabitch, I thought, it’s My Parents’ God. I should’ve
known he’d have something to do with this atrocity of human dignity. “What’re you doin’ here?!” He was always so ebullient. Even then, his personality was too infectious to avoid— like Chlamydia.
Although I was hesitant to walk in, my brother was a little more easily persuaded by the guy who brings us Christmas. He sprinted into the house and I followed him screaming, “No! He’ll rape…”
I was silenced by the door slamming heavily behind us. I looked around frantically for another way out, but could find none. The windows were all boarded. There was another door in the kitchen, but it was probably locked. It didn’t matter anyway, because between it and us was our Almighty Father, and he didn’t appear to be budging anytime soon.
“Come on guys, sit down…”
“Haallloooweeeeeeeeeeen,” the husk had started again.
“Shhh…be still baby,” the Lord of Lords whispered. “We’ll get to that soon.” I remember it was then he took the chain — it was one of those big, Beware of Dog fuckers too — and he hooked one end to a looped collar buckled tightly around her neck. He then gave it a quick tug so that she’d know he meant business.
She nodded obediently and stood while he sat in the love seat next to her, with a look that just screamed, “This is good.”
“So,” he began. “What brings you…”
“What the fuck’s up with the zombie,” I was blunt, even then.
“Richard! Language!!” He stared at me. His mood instantly shifted to stern and possibly even wrathful. “This,” he purred, “is my new friend Sandra. We were just talking about the evils of Halloween and why little boys and girls should steer clear of such an evil day.”
My brother was taken aback, “What do you mean? Halloween is bad?”
Y’see, here’s the thing about my brother: one, he was only eight at the time and very impressionable. I once convinced him that I knew how to build a proton pack. And for an entire summer he waited on pins and needles as I drew designs, gathered materials, and ultimately forgot about building the cardboard electric circuit that, most likely, would’ve only served to burn down our parents’ house.
And two, despite my parents’ later affiliation with the Son of Man, earlier in my childhood their relationship with him was tenuous at best. They were still young and not so worried about death that they would invest whole Sundays listening to a sweaty fat man moan about ways of avoiding it; or at least the fiery and brimstoney aspects that may follow. Especially my mother, my mother was always someone who embraced creativity and the imagination. When we didn’t have the money to purchase decent costumes, she helped us make our own. My mother was a free-thinker, she was great like that.
So our parents didn’t have a problem with us trick-or-treating, in fact, they promoted it. Anything to get us out the house, I suppose.
So to hear the Calm In the Midnight Hour trash what had not only become a childhood institution, but had been – up to that point, at least – Adult Approved ©, well that can be quite jarring to a proton packless 8 year old.
“Yes, young man,” he began, tugging snugly on the chain when Sandra began to play with her nipples. “You see, Halloween is an evil day. It has beginnings in pagan religions where they worshiped demons and devils…it’s all so nefarious…”
I heard him, but I didn’t really hear him, y’know? I was too engrossed, staring at Blanche Devereaux in a Cat-Woman suit with her titties out. I responded absently, “yeah, yeah…It started as a pagan religion, just like Christmas…”
“Well, hehe,” he laughed awkwardly, “it’s not just like Chris..”
“Hey, hey, hey! Is she supposed to be doing that?!” I yelled as a yellow puddle began to pool by Sandra’s left foot. The poor woman seemed to be all but brain dead. She didn’t speak, barely moved and only parroted words fed to her. But I guess such is the fate of anyone dumb enough to relinquish their right to think.
The Lord of the Hosts, grabbed the chain, double wrapped in his fist, and yanked Sandra so hard she was pulled off her feet. She landed with a sick, old lady thud. He then grabbed her by the back of the hair, rubbing her face in the urine, “No! No, I said no! If you have to go walksie’s ASK TO FUCKIN’ GO WALKSIES!! If you piss on your carpet again I swear I’ll smite you, I’ll smite the living fuck out you!!”
My brother and I almost split in half from the bricks we were shitting.
“Uuuuh…I think we gotta go…” I tried to segway into some sort of story about having to go Maxi pad shopping for our mother or anything that’d be less awkward than staying in that house one more minute.
“Oh, no you don’t,” he interrupted. “You’re going to argue your point.”
“Yeah, Christmas is Christmas. It’s a holy day. It represents all that’s good. Halloween is evil, it celebrates all things dark, and dead…and damned. The two are nothing alike.”
For the record, this was probably one of the first arguments I’d have with the guy. I was a lot more timid then, especially compared to how I’d eventually be in our final big blow-up over homosexuality.
“I mean…well if you look at them how we see them today, then no…they’re different. You’re right, I guess. But when you called it evil, you were talking about the Halloween from back-in-the-day, and your reason for it being evil was because of what it used to mean back then…well, December 25 was a pagan holiday too, worshiping some Latin sun god. It has its roots in pagan and cult traditions just like Hallowee…”
“Shut up, you,” he pointed at Sandra, “No, no…Christmas is the time we represent Jesus’ birth! Okay? There’s nothing more pure than that…”
“Jesus wasn’t born on December 25.” … “Yes, he was.” … “No, he wasn’t.” … “Wait, what…yes, he was! Fuck you, yes he was!”
“It’s okay if you don’t know your son’s birthday,” my brother began. “My daddy doesn’t remember my birthday either.”
“Fuck ya daddy! I ain’t never liked his ass noway!” God pointed at my brother who began to weep.
“Jesus…was born on Christmas. Christmas, okay? Were you there? Were you? Cause I was. My presence was felt…by all! Everyone had an Almighty Boner because of me!” He violently yanked the chain to the point I thought poor Sandra would be decapitated!
“Okay, okay please, please….don’t hurt her anymore!” I begged.
“Yeah…cause you know I’ll do it, right? You know I’ll kill this bitch! Send her to meet her maker: Me!” He yanked once more for good measure.
“Look, you’re right. You’re right! I don’t know when he was born, I don’t! But nobody does…like, at all; even the experts. The bible was kinda vague about all that. But we do know the Christian church, at some point, chose December 25 as the day to celebrate Jesus’ birth so they could draw pagan converts who were used to partying around that time anyway. Like, they took all the traditions as bait: the Christmas tree, the yule log, giving gifts; all that came from Northern European pagan cults…
“Look, I’m not saying we should stop celebrating Christmas, I like Christmas.” My brother, teary-eyed, agreed and gave an enthusiastic thumbs up. “I’m just saying that we can’t use something’s origins as reasons to hate it, especially if it’s changed. Christmas may be a holiday born of politics and based in pagan traditions, but that’s not why we celebrate it now. We celebrate it for family, and community, and gifts, and toys, and…”
“Jesus,” God sighed.
“Yes!! Jesus too! Christ, of course, Jesus!…But we ain’t sacrificing no goats to Sol anymore…know what I mean? The same thing goes for Halloween. Maybe it was about scary stuff…and maybe today people still think about that type of thing, but not most people. I’m a superhero tonight, my brother’s dressed as Indiana Jones…we just…we just want fuckin’ candy…
He sighed and relaxed, “So where’d you learn all this?”
“..uh, I read. …school…?”
“Of course,” he threw his hands to the sky, “they won’t teach intelligent design, but they’ll teach this horseshit!” Sandra was back up, and nodding feverishly in agreement.
“Look little boy,” he began, pointing at me this time; that wrath again, flashing to the surface, “I don’t care what you say. Okay. I’m God…damn it. And what I say goes. I’m a give you a choice.”
The conversation was about to take a very ominous turn. I suddenly became aware of the fact that my brother and I were trapped in the middle of what was essentially a hostage situation, by a guy who even his followers describe as kind of bipolar. And now he was pissed…at me.
“Either stop celebrating Halloween…or, I’m going to have to murder you.”
My brother’s mouth dropped, “m-murder?”
“Yes, little one. Murder. I’m going to murder the fuck out of you…you and your family, your descendents, I’m just going to…murder-fuck you all in the face. All up in the facial region, just murder-nuts in your mouth….”
“I don’t want to die, Richard…” My brother whispered.
Just then, there was a knock at the door, “TRICK OR TREAT, MAUH’FUCKA!!”
God’s face suddenly turned fearful. Teenagers, I’m sure he thought. They’re the one age demographic he could not manipulate easily; what with their hormones, penises and throbbing clitti and all. He suddenly became less concerned with us, unraveling his chain and snapping it back onto Sandra who began screaming like a honey badger.
“We have to be ready,” the Light In the Midnight Hour called across the room, “they’re coming! Boys, can I count on you?!”
I nodded yes, but then turned to my brother… “Be quiet.” I whispered, “Do you still like Halloween?” He nodded and I motioned for him to follow me.
“Okay boys,” God screamed. “Grab something, anything sharp or heavy…teenagers, they’re like…they’re like animals! They don’t listen to reason, they just keep going, non-stop, believing what they wish….we’re going to waste so many pamphlets on them!!”
He counted down from three then flung the door open. Sandra was released like a demon on those poor young people. She was all serrated teeth and claws, gnawing and gnashing! The screams were horrible as the kids had whole pounds of flesh ripped from their bodies. One unfortunate girl had her whole left breast pulled from her chest like one would remove a scoop of ice cream. She screamed in agony for the rest of her very short life.
“Come on boys, grab something — take up arms, and come with meeee!!!” His voice trailed as he ran out into the street.
“Come on, let’s go,” I whispered to my brother. We both grabbed our bags of candy and headed for the kitchen door, which led to the back yard.
We ran out into the night with the sounds of slaughter behind us, hopping Sandra’s fence and into the backyard of the house behind her. We ran through that yard and out into the street, panting like rabid Tasmanian Wolves. Our house was just up ahead.
We hit the front porch, just as we heard gun shots over our shoulder. Sandra’s house was probably a mile away at that point, but the violence was still audible, even from such a distance. Soon our parents came to the door and my brother and I bolted inside.
The rest of the night was uneventful, even as my brother and I sat deeply disturbed, watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We’d never heard of it and thought it’d be a good scary movie to help get our minds off the sick, sadistic fuckfest we’d just escaped.
Boy, were we wrong.
For years, our dreams would be haunted by sights of sado-masochistic bondage bags and leather masks adorned with mouth zippers.
The only mention of the night’s shenanigans happened when my parents, going through our candy, looking for syringe marks and such, came across two pamphlets.
“Somebody was handing these out,” my mother said with an annoyed smirk.
“Yeah,” I admitted, “her light was on and everything.”
“That always isn’t the best indicator tho’,” my mother said, throwing the pamphlets in the trash. “Some people take things too seriously, don’t let it bother you.”
I love my mother. She was always very smart and very thoughtful. She taught me how to look at the world through someone else’s eyes. The point was that nothing is the same for everyone. What you call crazy, someone else may call faith. She taught me respect, as well as the ability to acknowledge that I didn’t know everything.
Ironically, my mother is currently a deaconess at her church and attends what is probably 5 times a week. She doesn’t celebrate Halloween anymore.
The idea of ‘not knowing’ is the scariest thing most people will ever have to deal with. Some people believe that religion was created for the sole purpose of numbing mankind’s brain to the burden of ‘not knowing.’ Religion offers followers easy answers that, by rules of the relationshiop, cannot be questioned. Religion therefore protects followers’ egos while protecting them from their own curiousity, killing whatever possibility there is for the person to unintentionally upset the balance of things by searching for deeper truths.
People will argue, scream, and kill just to prove that they aren’t as clueless as they’ve always feared they are; some people would even submit their souls, just so some higher idea can pull the strings for them. You can never be wrong that way, right?
All I can do is hope my mother’s truly happy, and not being led around by some horrible, demonic tether. But me? The only thing I know, is that I love Halloween.