Something at the window

I don’t know how you’ll interpret this picture. Well, frankly, we never really know how anyone will interpret any picture. But some have more meanings embedded in the symbols. This on is more ambiguous. Are the children evil shades? Or just locked outside while their mother gets some needed rest? Either way, it’s scary.

A darkened window and someone peering in is one of those things that scare me witless.

True story (and aren’t they all?): While I was designing this painting, I was home alone. Alone on, yes, a dark and stormy night, the first one of the season. I was merrily drawing away in the silent house, enjoying the sounds of the storm, when something started knocking at the window. Jeepers creepers and yikes-a-bunga! I about lost my teeth from fright.

I don’t have cats anymore, or any pet to be a watcher for me, so I simply closed the shades, locked the doors, and hunkered down at my drawing table to work. Every so often there would be a clonk at the window, or on the side of the house. The motion detectors detected nothing. At least, they didn’t turn on the security lights, so I didn’t go investigating. That’s scary movie rule #1: girls should not investigate strange noises outside, alone, in the dark!

Yeah, I have to admit, when the mathematician got home, he investigated (he was not fed a steady diet of scary movies as a child, and as a result, does not know scary movie rules), and found the summer shade had come unhinged from the plastic sleeve that holds it against the wall, and the wind was blowing it around, and every so often it knocked against the house. No ghosts.

But it was a good cheap thrill while it lasted.

The ghostly hitchhiker

Doesn’t every town have a ghost that hangs by the side of the road? If you stop, she gets in your car, you set your gps to find her house, and when you finally get her where she says she’s going, she disappears.

It is a scary thought, as you’re driving down a pitch black road, to imagine seeing something or somebody in the flash of your headlights. I’ve never seen a ghost walking, but once, late at night, I saw an antique truck—1940’s model—on the highway in the rain. I spied it in my rear view mirror, and I remarked on it to myself, because I’m a sucker for old cars. Then it disappeared.

I don’t mean it changed lanes, or turned away, or even turned off it’s lights. It simply ceased to be in my rear view mirror. Not proof of a ghost, I know, but needless to say, I hightailed it home, ran into the house, and burrowed under my covers (with the cats), which is, of course, the safest place to hide from apparitions. You know that, right?

Niles has a version of the classic hitchhiking ghost, which makes sense on that winding, unlit road. Frankly, I find the hitchhiking ghost legend sort of tragic, especially the versions in which she disappears just as you bring her to her parents’ house. I mean, couldn’t she stick around long enough to give them a clammy hug? They miss her, for God’s sake.

For more on this classic story, go here. It’s good write up (veracity excluded), but I’ve got to warn you that if you frighten easily, do NOT look at the rest of this website.

More Ghosts in the San Francisco Bay Area

For what does your cat wait?

When I was young and slightly more nervous about things like spirits and the like, I relied upon my cats to warn me if anything otherworldly was about the house. Since my two cats pretty much slept like lumps, I always figured my house was free of ghosts and monsters.

But I did have a friend who once woke on a rainy night to see her cat staring intently out the window. This was unusual, because her cat was a lazy thing, and preferred sleeping under the covers on a chilly night to  sitting by a cold window watching the rain. She called to the cat, but it didn’t move.

Curious, my friend got out of bed to see if she could see what the cat was looking at in the rain soaked streets. When she touched the cat, the animal’s body tensed. It whined low in its throat, and suddenly there was a tapping at the front door.

That was weird, but she still went to the door to see who might be there. Since all the neighbors in that small apartment building were friends, she thought perhaps it was someone needing help. As she headed to the door, the cat growled menacingly, and ran in front of her to crouch on the entry rug. When my friend tried to get to the door, the cat growled and hissed at her.

This spooked my friend. Another tap on the door, and the cat, all it’s hair puffed out, it’s eyes as big as saucers and glinting in the dark, hissed again, but silently. My friend, by now thoroughly scared, decided that whoever was tapping on the door could wait until morning.  She went back to bed (after grabbing her telephone, and a big knife from the kitchen.) The cat finally came to join her as dawn was breaking, and they were both finally able to sleep easily.

She still doesn’t know why the cat was growling, or at who (or what!). The cat never did that again, but then again, no more night visitors ever came tapping at her door.

But my friend slept with a kitchen knife under her pillow for a long time after that.

Riding down the broom

Happy Halloween Week!

For bizarre family reasons (my father is a tried-and-true horror movie fan, and we spent Saturdays watching Bob Wilkins’ Creature Features, evenings watching Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, and Night Gallery), Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love the scary stuff (as long as it’s not too scary).

So this week I’m promising to post every day, sending paintings of seasonal spookiness out into the blogosphere for your enjoyment. I’m the witch on the souped up broomstick, laughing like a hyena, carrying you away into the night.

I hope you enjoy the flight.