don’t need you to carve them or paint them or make them perfect for Halloween.
They were born ready for Halloween.
Polished to perfection by the Sun in a field full of dirt, covered with manure on the day they planted at the side of a highway with an abandoned cement factory in the next field over and a row of abandoned houses across the street-
warty pumpkins made their way into the world destined to be flawed and stocked next to smooth white pumpkins and full round golden orange pumpkins perched a thrones of clean straw with crepe paper bats and moons inviting you to join the fun this Halloween.
Would you invite a Warty Pumpkin or maybe two Warty Pumpkins into you home?
Would you carve them up and make them scream ” Halloween? “
Or would you just let them be Warty Pumpkins in all of their Warty Glory?
I am reflecting upon the angry people who to be master of the world , that rage and howl-no one should tell them what to do! Red faced they demand you should step aside when they stride to their beat up pickup truck in the Walmart parking lot.
There is a lot to reflect upon today.
I am reflecting up on ropes and smoke and graves filled before their time and words so harsh they have been carved into the air and can never be erased by time or the weather or barrels of ink and prayer hand emojis.
There is a lot to reflect upon today.
Where do I start?
I feel like I am tangled in a sticky web and the hungry Spider has just figured out I am here.
It was Mark Twain who once remarked sagely, in the person of Pudd’nhead Wilson, that “truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction is obliged to stick to probability, and truth ain’t.”
If you asked me to pick one of the weirdest experiences I have ever had that I could apply to Twain’s quote, it would have to be what I saw before I was caught up in the Nisqually earthquake in downtown Seattle.
An hour or so before it hit, a man in a blue plaid work short walked by my workstation. He was holding a white coffee cup and I remember thinking that I hadn’t seen a haircut like that since I was a kid and my Dad and his friends were rocking the dry look – in case you don’t remember it went something like this:
Well, I thought some of us just get stuck in a rut and that’s the way it goes.
I went back to my tasks and then I decided to go upstairs and get my friend for lunch and that was when the earthquake hit.
We were standing in a doorway, like they tell you to do in earthquake drills ( and it’s true, it’s great because the floor doesn’t move there ) and in those few seconds I looked up and the guy in the work shirt and old school hairstyle is standing a few feet away from me with his coffee cup in his hand and he’s smiling at me, and then as if the floor isn’t turning to jello under his feet he walked away from me and headed down the stairs to the warehouse.
So a few weeks later we’re doing repairs in our building and we open up a blocked off part of the warehouse where they used to do repairs and maintenance on lighting fixtures.
We had to inspect the entire foundation and walls and what we saw right away was that it a pretty nasty in there- it was full of rusty tools, spray paint cans, lighting fixtures that were in the middle of being repaired or fitted with new wiring- and all of it coated with grime and cobwebs.
There were wastepaper baskets next to the desk in the corner and I had no desire to look inside of it. I know the smell of rat pee and I was sure there was a lot of it in that one can alone.
Our in house general contractor told me this area had been shut off back in the mid-1970’s which means nobody had been in here for around thirty years.
We poked around and I see sitting on the workbench the same coffee cup I saw the guy in the Work shirt had been holding. It sort of nagged at me – it was just a non-descript white coffee cup with gold or yellow along the rim- Why am I dwelling on that cup? There must be thousand of them out there.
As we’re trying to decide what cleaning this area out would involve the Contractor’s assistant tells me that the Warehouseman who had my job years and years ago had an aneurysm and died on the job- and he had heard he had died in his workshop.
He told me he assumed that the area was the one in the newer section of the warehouse but we guessed this was where ‘it’ happened.
Then out of nowhere the Contractor turns to us both and says, ” there are no ghosts in this building. I’ve been here for over 30 years and I’ve never seen a thing.
It was like he was challenging me, you know?
” We weren’t talking about ghosts. But if there were any I doubt they’d be haunting this place. It’s gross in here, plus it’s closed off. What’s the point in haunting something if nobody knows you’re there?
” Yeah, well. I don’t believe in ghosts.”
We finished our graphing and picture taking and note taking and we left the workshop area. I was the last one out. I remember I turned around and saw that cup on the worktable and it felt like it was yelling at me, you know?
I shut the door and then I locked it and when the cleaners came in and took care of it I never went back in.
Because I’m sure that cup is still there and it’s true, truth is stranger than fiction. I was more afraid of going into that room again and seeing that cup than I was of seeing the guy in the work shirt.
Winter Stroud could tell you what the days in Starview are like-
she could tell you about two of the little cottages on Main Street that have curtains hanging in the windows even though there is no glass in the window frames and about the Post Office in the back of the General Store .
The cashier’s counter in the store is still near the wall, though wood rot has eaten away at most of it and that spinner rack that used to hold comic books and romance magazines still stands next to it, though it is a little rusty and tilts to the left.
The Post Office has a bank of mail slots behind it’s own counter and Winter Stroud could tell you how six of them hold letters that have been waiting patiently in their dusty cubbies since 1940.
She could tell you about the diner next door with the tables and booths and untouched by the elements and time and how not a single stick of furniture has been moved since 1940- except for dust. It’s covered everything – but dust is bold and fearless and it goes where it wants to go.
Winter Stroud could also tell you that at night Starview Heights comes back to life like clockwork- the shelves at the store fill with goods and the soda pop machine hums on and starts to chill the dusty empty bottles like it supposed to do.
Next to the two cottages, houses and buildings all around town claw and tear themselves up from the ground and after the dirt falls away and settles on the grass, the lights turn on and you can smell dinner cooking and hear doors and windows opening and closing too.
Winter Stroud could tell you all of these things because when Starview Heights was just a patch of land covered with trees she was already there, she was there in 1940 when all but a few buildings and the sign advertising Mallo Cups disappeared into the earth. She was standing in the middle of Main Street when the woods took away the only roads into town with everyone on it who was trying to leave-
you could ask Winter Stroud, it will be easy enough.
You’ll probably find her in the diner at the counter reading a comic book from the General Store.
She will be there, a lonely though content spectre passing the time in Starview Heights.