HALLOWEEN HALLOWEEN HALLOWEEN
A day filled with urban legends, superstition and imagination. Tales filled with magic, wonder and all kinds of fantastical creatures. While I enjoy the stories, I often wonder what inspired them and if there is any truth behind these tales. Well, I had the opportunity to find out for myself when I become the topic of interest in my local neighborhood.
I moved from New York to Florida in January of 2000. The bank I worked for had moved my department to Tampa. In the months prior to my move, I started apartment hunting online. After making a list of places, a friend and I came down for a week to check the possibilities. During one of the outings we got lost and kept passing this little blue house with a garden. So we stopped, just to admire it and I noticed a sign for rent. I called the number, met with the elderly owners, had a tour and a deal was struck.
The moving company arrived a week before I did. My furniture had been set up and my car was parked in the carport behind the house. I arrived the night before I was suppose to start work. My work schedule was the opposite of my neighbors. I worked an evening shift at the bank, then I worked a per diem overnight shift at the hospital. Due to this work schedule I saw my next door neighbor once a week if I was lucky. I never actually met any of my other neighbors. I mostly interacted with my coworkers and my landlords. The problem was my landlords were well known in the neighborhood and they were telling the neighbors about me. Since they never actually saw me; I was more of an idea than a real person. Some even questioned my landlords' sanity.
In keeping with my schedule, the house was set up so I could sleep during the day. I always left and entered through the rear entrance behind the house. I had a PO Box, so mail was never delivered to the house. The gardener came by every two weeks to take care of the landscaping. The attempts I made to go to the community center usually went array due to schedule conflict. The security cameras recorded the missed visits, deliveries and the activities of the sunset squad. A group of young kids that never came in the yard they would just show up around sunset and watch the house. I found out from my next door neighbor that the kids thought I was a vampire.
This is my life for nine months, until the week of Halloween. I had taken off to attend my friend's Halloween wedding. As I'm getting dressed, I notice on the camera that the sunset squad has gathered in the usual spot. I smile to myself, as I realize that they would finally get to see me. I grab my shawl and start walking out the side entrance. Suddenly, I hear this loud BANG, THUD, followed by running feet across the roof. I go around to the side of the house and notice that a larger group of kids have gathered. Two of them are standing inside the yard, while the rest are outside. It doesn't take much to figure out that the two inside were the roof runners.
The group is so busy hugging and congratulating the victors, they don't notice when I walk up. I announce my presence with a "Hello" and a smile. All chatter stops and I'm met with a sea of terrified faces. Everyone freezes as we stare at each other. Then pandemonium breaks loose, toys are dropped, candy is thrown and kids start screaming. The kids outside the fence run off in opposite directions. The two boys that I'm standing closest to one actually faints. The other runs toward the back garden and tries to hide in the apple tree. The kid on the bike is so scared he's just staring at me and stammering. I reach out to touch him he drops his bike and runs off screaming "vampire!" at the top of his lungs. As I survey the scene around me, I start laughing and adults start coming from all directions.
Kids are gathered in groups at both ends of the block, just staring in my direction. The boy in the garden is sobbing loudly about wanting his mother. I wave at the kid across the street, who ducks behind her mother. I bend down to check out the kid at my feet only to have him faint again,when he realizes that I'm actually looking at him. The police officer who lives down the block shows up because one of the kids had gone to get him. Turns out the crying boy in my garden is his little brother. While I explain what happened, we are joined by other adults. We have a good laugh as we sort out the candy and toys left in front of the gate.
I lived in the neighborhood for three more years. The adults and I got along well but the children were always leery. The braver ones would greet me when they saw me, but for the most part they gave the house and me a wide berth. That was my first Halloween in Florida and how I inspired a neighborhood tale.
Moonfreesun – “My favorite color is blue, and my favorite food is coconut. I love to read, write,listen to music, play video games, swim, travel, and spend time with family and friends. My interests include: books, electronics, sports, science, food, knowledge and people.”