Listener Essay - All Hallow's Eve

Oct 31, 2014

  Susan Comenzo is a life long resident of the Capital Region.

The clock struck twelve, not noon but midnight, that was clear. Each successive sonorous tone echoed through the uninhabited house, reverberating past cloths draping living room furniture ghostly white, pushing through heavy drapes to rattle windows long loose in their frames, disturbing thick dust atop the dining room table, brushing the handle of the refrigerator, the surface of the kitchen cabinets, and, finally, the back door knob, as if to leave or let someone, or something, in.

Outside, brittle leaves rattled down the sidewalk like old bones. The wind, blustery all day, took up a howl around the eaves and chimney almost human in its anguish, demonic in its aggression. The graveyard at the outskirts of town lay quiet, but the moon appeared to lay a path among the tombstones, whether toward town or the wood was not yet clear. In fields and farmyards further on, moonlight played across the pumpkins left behind, carving faces sufficiently gruesome to raise the dead.

As costumes were shaken out of trunks and drawers, closets and boxes, to the delight or disappointment of countless children, other beings were rustling to life. A skeletal hand jimmied the lock on the pharmacy's door and soon a dim light could be seen floating from bottle to bottle, darting among the shelved boxes, then was gone. Bats converged in the church belfry, preventing the bell from tolling the daylight hours, then spreading out across the night sky, appearing and reappearing to darken the moon and plunge the land below into momentary blackness. Night after night, down an alley adjacent to the courthouse, a single light shone through a barred window, as if a lone figure sat within stitching a blood red A onto a pure white shift.

Halloween dawned with a tear and a sigh. Rain drizzled, sputtered and stopped; damp breezes blew grey clouds to the edge of town and back. But by noon, the air is fiercely crisp and the trees once more aflame. Colorfully costumed trick-or-treaters traipse past the waiting house, many too absorbed with the next treat to turn their heads. But some, the dreamy stragglers mostly, catch the creak of the porch swing ( the wind, no doubt), glints of light flickering first in one window and then the next (surely the reflection of a street lamp, a headlight, a parent's flashlight). They hurry to catch up with their fellow ghouls, witches, fairies and superheroes, for how to explain the sense of foreboding that wafts down the front walk and over the weedy lawn, trailing after them until they reach the neighbor's white picket fence? Long after the last trick-or-treaters have disappeared from the street and their footsteps have ceased to echo on the leaf-strewn pavement, the clock strikes twelve, not noon but midnight, once again. The bewitching hour, that is clear. Each successive sonorous tone reverberates through the uninhabited house, brushing the knob of the back door, which opens to invite...you in. Happy Halloween!