Thursday, October 1, 2015

Shudder Shriek Scream

October is the month of mischief, fun, and sometimes frights. MFAC faculty member Ron Koertge* kicks off the season with his own Halloween story.

As some of you know, I live in the Halloween House. One of the local sites for John Carpenter’s Halloween. The first one. The iconic one. Everybody’s favorite.

If you watch the first 12 minutes or so of the movie, there’s the house on Oxley Street and the avocado tree. The latter is bigger and the house is pretty much the same. Which is part of the appeal.

For sure now in October, but really off and on all year, we get visitors. Pilgrims is more like it, because they come from everywhere. All over the U.S., Mexico, Germany, Japan, Australia, China, Israel, and Norway.

Vagabonds. Supplicants. Votaries.

Mostly they just wander around, take pictures, use the plastic pumpkins my wife provides. They sit where Jamie Lee Curtis sat. They walk where she walked.

A few turn up in costumes, and Michael Myers - the madman with the knife - wins hands down. I don’t know how many times I’ve come home from the race track and there are two or three people in coveralls and masks holding a pumpkin hostage and waving a knife around.

When I get out of the car, the conversations go like this:

Fan: “Do you live here? Holy crap! What’s that like? Are you scared”
Me: “Nope. It’s a friendly house.”
Fan: So cool you let people use your pumpkins and stuff.”
Me: “Sure. Have a good time.”
Fan: What’d you do, like for a living?”
Me: “Well, I, uh, write poetry and - ”
Fan: “No, man. What do you do?”
Me: “Oh, okay. How about mortician.”
Fan: “No way!”

What seems remarkable to me is the good will these folks bring. They’re thrilled to be here. Grateful to be able to take pictures. Anxious to share minutiae. Ready? The original title was not Halloween but The Babysitter Murders,” Jamie Lee Curtis bought her own costume and spent under a hundred dollars, and in the credits Michael Myers is called “The Shape.”

We’ve lived here more than twenty-five years and never an ounce of trouble. Nobody steals a pumpkin, nobody sprays their names, every now and then someone leaves a Thank You note and a dollar or two.

Just the other day I was outside staring at the dying lawn when a guy pulled up with a woman who, from a distance, looked a little like Jamie Lee Curtis. “I swing by here on my honeymoon,” he confided. “This is my fifth trip.”

Thanks Ron for sharing the true-life tale of your Halloween House.  We're glad that it's got a happy ending.  So, readers, do any of you have a Halloween story to top Ron's?  If you do, share it in the comments below!

*Ron Koertge is a faculty member at Hamline's MFAC program.  He writes poetry for everyone, fiction for young adults, and most recently co-authored a young reader series (Backyard Witch) with Hamline alum Chris Heppermann. Book # 1 of that series -Backyard Witch: Sadie’s Story - is out now (read the publication interview). His latest work also includes The Ogre’s Wife, Coaltown Jesus, and the unforgettable Sex World - some of the fastest flash fiction in the world.

You can learn more about Ron's work by visiting his website or visit his faculty page to learn about him as a professor at Hamline University.

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