Oct 31 2011

#184 “Boo!”

From a mysterious stranger in either Juno, Alaska or Phoenix, Arizona
(It’s a long story…)

Tonight is the night! The infamous eve when ghouls and goblins and all things creepy, crawly and slimy slither from their dank hollows and moldy caverns to wreak havoc upon the world of human mortals. Tonight is a night for trickery, for giggles and chortles of the most sinister kind, for blood that trickles from the corners of young mouths and for shrieks from ancient women in pointed, black hats. Tonight axes will be wielded by children and straw men will find the strength to disengage from their crucifixions and take to the darkened streets. Tonight is a night for black cats whose eyes shine with a mysterious and sinister luminescence. Tonight is a night of indulgence in sweetness and exploration into the extremes of sadism. It is a night of whimsy and fear, of candlelight seances and strolls through cemeteries dotted with crumbling headstones.

It is simultaneously a night to throw caution to the wind and to look over your shoulder at every turn. It is a night of mystery, a night of wonder. And yes… It is a night when wolves stalk their prey with careful cunning and then feast upon the bones of their victims with wild abandon. So, if you find yourself strolling down a dimly lit midnight path and you hear the soft padding of wolven paws and the tell-tale click of claws on concrete, don’t even dare to turn around… Run! Run as fast you can! And if you’re very lucky, you might make it safely home with the cold air still burning in your lungs and your ears and fingers screaming with tingling numbness. And as you press your back against the door frame and breathe a sigh of relief, you’ll believe you’re safe and sound. And then, like the glint from a shiny butcher knife piercing through the blackness of night, the howl of the wolf will cut the darkened skies and then you’ll realize that if it wanted to have you… it could have done so all along.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Enjoy the spooky wolf story below as retold by S. E. Schlosser.

There once was a beautiful girl engaged to a soldier who caught the eye of an evil woodsman who had sold his soul for the ability to turn himself into a wolf at will. He lay in wait for the girl when she was walking home one day and accosted her, begging her to elope with him. The maiden refused, spurning his love and crying out to her love to save her from his advances.

The girl’s cries were heard by her eager fiancé, who had come searching for her when she was late returning to her parent’s home. The soldier drove the woodsman away, threatening him with dire consequences if he ever approached the maiden again.

The furious woodsman lay low for a few days, waiting for his chance. It came on the girl’s wedding day. She was dancing happily at her wedding reception with a group of her friends when the woodsman, in the form of a wolf, leapt upon her and dragged her away with him.

The enraged bridegroom gave chase, but the wolf and his bride had disappeared into the thick forest and were not seen again. For many days, the distraught soldier and his friends, armed with silver bullets, scoured the woods, searching for the maiden and her captor. Once the soldier thought he saw the wolf and shot at it. Upon reaching the location, he found a piece of a wolf’s tail lying upon the ground. But of the wolf to which it belonged there was no sign.

After months of searching, his friends begged him to let the girl go and get on with living. But the soldier was half-mad with grief and refused to give up. And that very day, he found the cave where the werewolf lived. Within it lay the preserved body of his beloved wife. The girl had refused the werewolf’s advances to the very end, and had died for it. After his murderous fury had died away, the werewolf had tenderly laid the body of the girl he had loved and had killed into a wooden coffin, where it would be safe from predators, and he came to visit her grave every day. Lying in wait for him, the soldier shot the werewolf several times as he entered the cavern, chasing him down until the maddened and dying werewolf leapt into the lake and disappeared from view. The soldier sat by the lake with his gun, staring into the rippling waters for hours as the catfish ate the bloody bits of the wolf that were floating on the surface of the water.

When his friends found him, the soldier’s mind was gone. He babbled insanely about a werewolf that had been eaten by a catfish when it leapt into the water, and he sobered only long enough to lead the men to the body of his beloved before he collapsed forevermore into insanity. He died a few days later, and was buried beside his bride in a little glen where they had planned to build there house. Their grave is long forgotten, and the place where it stands is covered with daisies in the spring. But to this day, the people of the area have a prejudice against eating catfish, though no one remember why.

Aug 24 2011

#116 “Costume Shack”

From Allie in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Not far from where I live in Chattanooga, there is a costume shop called “Beauty and the Beast.” On the whole I am totally enamored with this little ‘mom and pop’ business, and I often wish that I could think of an excuse to simply stop in and peruse the merchandise besides that one time a year when I make my annual visit a few weeks before Halloween. There’s just something magical about wandering through those aisles piled high with pure imagination. The questions and possibilities flow so freely there. What do I want to become today? A pirate or a pimp? A werewolf or a cyborg? Perhaps a wizard might be nice. Or what about Roman soldier?

With the right amount of imagination and a few additions to our outward appearance, we may transform ourselves into totally new beings. Although we may not have the opportunity to assume these identities in “real life,” the temporary donning of a costume has a powerful effect on our minds, often producing a cathartic experience, a cleansing or purging of the emotions through a temporary changing of identity that is often as simple as putting on a mask. God, I do love to pretend.

As is the case with many pictures that I receive, the illustration above plays on this theme of a wolf dressing up in sheep’s clothing, but what I love about this particular picture is the notion that this act, while being one that is typically associated with slyness and a devious nature, is one that might also be associated with fun… with imagination… with the joy of simply putting on that costume and becoming something new, if only temporarily.

Today, I encourage you: don a costume, wear a mask. Be someone new and unique and creative and interesting and painfully alive. Go shopping and use a faux British accent. Where a suit and tie and carry a briefcase even if you are going nowhere that requires it. Dress like a bum and sit on a street corner downtown. Throw on some khakis and a red polo shirt and go to Target; if someone asks for your help, give them your best assistance. Wrap the top of your head in a bandage and speak with a stutter or a slow drawl.

Try it out. Put on that costume. I promise you won’t regret it.