In keeping with the season, even if I'm a day late and a dollar short, I'd like to share some Halloween spirit. I have been watching horror movies one after another for the last couple of weeks, alone up here in the North woods. That, along with my firehouse days in Detroit, have spawned plenty of horror filled moments to macabre to relate.
Our shared mortality is the great unspoken. We can except death and dying as a function of nature, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, but when we feel the cold breath of the Reaper no one is immune from the nerve jangling fear of the ultimate darkness. We take it personal.
Devils Night comes each year to Detroit, the night before Halloween. It is a freakishly violent tradition where shadowy arsonist declare total warfare on the dilapidated neighborhoods of my Rustbelt hometown. It is pure evil. Every "fire buff "(the hanger ons, paparazzi and groupies) that can manage the travel expense are here in mass, waiting for the the torch to be lit, to drink of our blood. Our admirers want to feel the hurt and dance on our early graves. Like mindless zombies they crowd around the firehouses waiting for the doors to open and the trucks to barrel out. The curious pray for havoc and when the real devils acquiesce to their wishes the chaotic celebration begins.
The fire storm is something to see, that I will admit. The smoke column lifting from a 90 year old wood frame structure is a mixture of twirling embers and superheated smoke riding the wind upward like the jet-stream behind a cackling, broom wielding witch.
Some folk claim to be able to see things in the flames as they envelope these old homes and businesses. I see it sometimes myself. Spirits, or ghosts maybe, separated and cast off from their haunts like an inept dentist might rip out a sore tooth. I can plainly see a face in this fire picture from a few nights ago. A dispirited entity? The more I stare the clearer the face of a witch becomes, I can even make out the hat now! This picture is straight out of the camera and probably nothing more than an example of the human brain seeking to apply meaning to the random patterns of an elemental and frankly frightening force of nature. There is a desire to make sense of it, to control it, to make light of its terrifying potential and dark cruelty. But when the hair stands up on the back of your neck, it's hard not to believe your gut when it's telling you some malevolent force is at work.
There is a field at Shiawassee Reserve that is given over to sunflowers. Acres and acres of them. As it has gone to seed massive flocks of Red-winged blackbirds have collected there. The swirling noise of the winged hoards is oppressive. Naturally visions of Hitchcock's "Birds" come to mind, so effective was his slow boiling paranoia it resonates all these years later. It is unsettling to be there alone and so vulnerable, I can't take it very long.
Perhaps it would be a good idea to take a little break from all this ghoulishness and watch The Marx Brother's Duck Soup tonight!
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