Columns » Bob Lancaster


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I hope you and yours had a Happpy Halloween, which I guess is an oxymoron since Halloween is about scary stuff and extortion and certainly not about anything having to do with happiness.

We got off pretty easy here at the Lancaster house. Someone tumped over our outhouse, as usual, and threw the flaming paper sack of excrement on the front porch for me to rush out and stomp on, and kidnapped our favorite shoat, and rolled a couple of our shade trees.

But nothing serious, like that time with the bulldozer, or the hazmat thing, or the one involving the TNT under the patio deck.

I wanted to use the holiday — or would you call Halloween a holinight? — to test out a theory I’ve been working on. My theory is that 99 per cent of these spooks and goblins out running around in the dark of Oct. 31 are phonies. Those aren’t real monsters. The whole business is a big charade. Nearly every bit of it is costuming.

What tipped me off was the rubber strings I kept seeing on the backs of what I came to realize were just masks. If you look close, you can see they’re not even good masks. Those bloody fangs don’t even look like fangs and the blood is just painted on them. It’s not at all wet the way real blood is. And the color’s not the same, though it’s close. The sight of real blood makes me faint — I’m out cold in a heartbeat — but this stuff doesn’t faze me one bit. I can laugh at it heartily and not feel one wooze of wooziness.

And here’s another tipoff: Notice how their facial expression never changes. With the vampires, it’s usually a hissing or snarling expression and it stays exactly the same even when they’re asking you politely if you’ll donate them another Tootsie Roll in their plastic pumpkin. And if you try to look into their eyes the way Bela Lugosi made those stupid actresses look into his, which glowed and hypnotized them, you can’t even see their eyes they’re so far back behind the cutout eyeholes.

Just a big fraud. At least 99 percent of it is. The one exception this year was the werewolf, which I suppose I’m going to have to sooner or later admit was the real McCoy. I first thought it was a mask because it looked exactly like Lon Chaney Jr. right after all the hair finishes growing while he’s gazing so tragically at the full moon. So I made some sarcastic remark and this crazy s.o.b. made a wolfish leap at me and went chasing me through the house, with the little gypsy woman who was with him yelling warnings to me that he would tear my throat completely out and repast on my liver, and I guess there might’ve been real trouble if I hadn’t got to the .22 rifle that I keep loaded with silver bullets for just such an emergency and dropped him with a single shot.

I’ll tell you something else that’s just pure myth. They don’t turn back into human form once you’ve shot them. The hair doesn’t just miraculously melt off nor does the snout retract back. I wasn’t quite sure about the proper etiquette so I did like the old boys around here do the deer they’ve shot: I skint him out. There’s this taxidermist down at Leola that does awful good work, and I’ve cleared out a place for him over the mantle in the den. It may scare the behaysus out of the grandchildren when they come Christmas, but they’ll get used to it. I’ll tell them it’s just an evolution exhibit.

You can tell the witches are just little girls made up to look old and warty and mean, but the most obvious frauds among the Halloween “children of the night” are the ghosts. Even before developing this new theory, I was pretty skeptical about ghosts. And I don’t mean just the ghosts that come out on Halloween. I mean ghosts in general, from Casper up through Sylvia Browne. Sometimes, on one of my little investigative field trips up out of inerrancy, I even have doubts about the Holy Ghost.

Mainly I just don’t see why dying has to turn you into a moron, but apparently it does. Because the premise of just about all the ghost literature is that what ghosts need most is somebody that’s still alive to tell them that they need to go on into the light. If they had a lick of sense, wouldn’t they know that without some still-living midget having to tell them? It can’t be any fun for them, and it has to be awful cold, hanging around in that miserable limbo back this side of the light, so why wouldn’t they just gravitate to the light instead of hanging back in the hope of maybe getting to rattle the furniture or leave lipstick messages on the bathroom mirrors of some innocent-bystander simpleton here in the teary vale? What’s in that for the ghost? Amusement?

I’ve heard mediums say it’s because the ghosts are drawn to the heat of the living — we’re supposed to be like pot-bellied stoves to them — but these same mediums were soon after offering me deals on swampland.

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