Motown Writers Blog Challenge 2017, #3: What My Book Isn’t About
I could do an angry reaction to the supposed things accompanying unfounded assumptions by arrogant others that my book should be about, but I will simply tell you. My “not about” is drenched in pure envy and jealousy. Every night when I close the French doors to the bedroom wing of the house I think about it, when I reach my arm around before the rest of me to turn on a light in a windowless hallway, the shadow cast by a many armed cactus that is particularly ominous at the witching hour, and especially when the neighbours’ basement light protrudes a glow seeming to come from the underworld.
Perhaps it is because I grew up in the region well known for its infamous Devil’s Night, or that I am from a culture whose ghost stories are scarier than yours. It’s that I believe that makes it all the more frustrating that my book is not about ghosts.
I seek it out – watch horror movies, read ghost stories, consume an endless diet of videos and listicles on haunted objects on the internet. In every city I visit an undeniable favourite is the after dusk ghost tour.
In New Orleans, it was a cliche dark and stormy night, when I captured my first light orb at Jackson Square. In many a frame of my digital camera there were droplets of rain on my shots, and then suddenly, as if it thought I wouldn’t notice, that spherical gathering of light thought to be the manifestation of an otherworldly being. It was only on that one shot, surely proof of its reality, even confirmed by the tour guide who was into the academic, historical side of ghosttouring and decidedly not of the costumed exaggeration kind.
In my own city, it had become a Halloween ritual to seek out a deathly activity. One year I participated in a Victorian funeral at the Merchant House Museum, known to be haunted by the stubborn spinster daughter who kept the home a veritable museum as she lived in it, unwanting to change with the times when electricity and the like came around. According to her wishes, we walked about the house by candlelight, and in the front parlor, we lowered our heads at the casket. We viewed the bed, constructed of rope that engendered the phrase “sleep tight” into our vocabulary, where one or more of the family members had passed. We listened intently at the staff recounting first hand experiences as we watched shadows traverse the walls, car headlights or… we’ll never know for sure.
In Newport, Rhode Island, summer home of the Gilded Age, I spent the most indulgent weekend …staying up half the night watching a marathon of ghost hunting shows.
Heck, I’ve even made up ghost legends for places I’ve visited when I found the local lore wanting. Ballynahinch, the centuries old castle in the heart of Connemara in Ireland, is one such place. Warmed by hearty victuals and convivial music, we found a spacious room to take a cooling pause. My friend took a seat on an overstuffed sofa, and I across from her. I glanced above her head and a gruesome portrait of a hunt showing more blood and less sport than the usual pleasantry of a living room painting. It was a very large specimen and immediately became the victim of my overactive imagination when we couldn’t squeeze a ghost story out of the proprietor.
At The Mount in Lenox, Massachusetts, mediums of the paranormal had calculated the night of our tour to be especially propitious and thus there were more than your usual number of psychic types present. The unhappy homelife of one of our most celebrated authors was sure to result in psychic residue. Even the extensive number of pets buried on the property surely “left something behind.” As I descended a staircase to the basement, one after another before me and after me turned as they all noted the undeniable occurrence that had just happened. One woman lost her breath and had to sit down. As I asked what they saw, a couple, a man and a woman described something as clear as day. There was a stir of startled excitement running through the entire group. And I seemed to be the only one who couldn’t see it. Yes, that is the sad fate of one who soooo wants to see a ghost.