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Unfamiliar and Familiar Horrors

Back when I was a youth soaping windows was a common activity during the Halloween season.  If you don’t know what that is it is simply to take a bar of soap and rub it on a window.  Most often the window was a car window.  Since I lived on a farm in the country I didn’t have to be concerned much about anyone soaping the windows of my parents car unless we went to town.  To keep from getting soaped on those occasions I came up with the idea of making a dummy to make our car look like it was occupied.  When we were visiting my uncle and aunt in Villa Grove I found out that this dummy was fairly convincing .  My uncle Dan was out for a walk when we got there and upon seeing our car with the dummy he said he went to our car thinking it was my father sitting in the drivers seat.  I was pretty proud at the time, however looking back on it Dan often had a few beers in him so he may not have been so hard to fool.

Once Uncle Dan and another uncle were drunk and started walking up to houses on their knees so that they could trick or treat.  I remember that my mother was disgusted by this, however us kids thought it was extremely funny.  Another time Dan was drunk and offered to give anyone a dime who would kiss his forehead.  Again us kids thought this was a good deal since a dime was worth something then.  Still some of the adults were disturbed by Dan’s generosity.

Anyway back to the dummy.  That dummy proved very effective in keeping our car from getting soaped and I decided to see what more he could do.  One night one of the neighbor boys named Neil was plowing for the farmer across the road.  He left his car parked along the road so that he could drive home when he was done.  I went out and put the dummy in his car.  The next morning I was surprised that the car and dummy were still there.  It turns out that Neil was scared to see someone in his car and walked home. Neil’s mother had called my mother to tell her about the man in the car and found out about the dummy.  With it being Halloween most everyone but Neil thought the trick was funny.

Strangely many years later Neil was murdered by his wife.  She had become involved with another man and decided that it would be easier to hire someone to kill Neil than to get a divorce.  The man who was hired for the job was supposed to make it look like a break-in.  He failed the first time when Neil heard him in the garage and instead of coming out stayed inside and called the police.  The guy got away and a few weeks later tried again and was successful.  However it didn’t take the police long to figure out what had really happened and the wife was charged with murder within a few days of the crime.

Another story from my youth involves me being scared for a time.  Me and some friends were driving around at night when my friend Steve started telling a story about a woman who seemed to be a witch.  He told of some odd things that went on at her house, the details of which I am sorry that I don’t remember.  I do remember that we decided to drive by her house, which was located at the start of what was called snake road.  Now snake road would not appear out of the ordinary to most people unless you lived in Central Illinois where most of the roads are straight for miles and miles. Snake road which had a couple of curves stood out in that environment.  I can still remember driving by the old farmhouse where the witch was supposed to have done some things like disappear and reappear.  There were three of us in the car and two of us were worked up to a state of fear by Steve’s story.  Once we got past the house Steve told us that he had made it all up.  I do remember being a little disappointed that it wasn’t true, still I respected Steve’s ability to tell a convincing story.

I think Steve was convincing because he seemed like a matter of the fact guy.  He often carried a slide rule and was into computers before most people.  He didn’t seem like the type to come up with a story about witches.  So I think that made him more believable.

Sadly, about twenty years ago Steve was killed in a car accident on a foggy morning on his way to work.   I can remember visiting him in the town where he worked on computers for an insurance company.  Frequently he would be interrupted by someone calling from work to ask a question about the computers.  He was still the same matter of fact responsible guy that he almost always was.

Now, I started out to tell a few stories of Halloween and at first had only thought about the first part of each story and not the second part about what happened later.  I was struck by how the first part as with most scary stories involved  an unfamiliar horror while the second part was of the more familiar which turned out to be a horror.

Categories: farm, musing, Scary Tags: , ,
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