10.01.01 8:08 p.m. -Gustave Flaubert
The human language is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out a tune for a dancing bear, when we hope with our music to move the stars.
10.01.01 8:08 p.m. -Gustave Flaubert
This Entry Features: Succubae. Paramours. Bees with hooves. No circumcised goats.
American History X-Files
Here is what I know of the Mansion. It has more than a few myths and legends associated with it, not all of which I believe. I more or less think that there is a tiny bit of truth in all of the stories that might eventually blossom into a full-blown fact. But here I present what I have heard and witnessed. Judge if you must. What I have seen and heard with my own eyes I know to be true. Everything else is up to you.
I began the Mansion, as I have said, five years ago this month. I attended the first meeting with Jen (whom I was highly crushing on) and Zack (whom I was not), rather on a whim expecting that this was the sort of thing one got cast in and that I, being around 15, would not. Of course, this was not the case. Every bit of help was welcome as long as we never expected monetary recompense. Not a large problem.
We began working there every weekend. It became the obsession of Jen, Nick, and me to the extent that we referred to school as the period between the Mansion. Jen and I both acquired significant others during the Mansion, I Coley and she a mental midget who we will call RKO. About halfway into the Mansion, she and I realized how severely we burned for one another, though we were not together. We blamed the Mansion for exciting our passions. I facetiously stated then that I felt that the Mansion contained an improbability field, ala Douglas Adams, and could only function by having ridiculously unlikely things occur and upsetting reality.
As I am sure you journal readers know, Jen and I became strongly entwined and eventually began cheating on our significant others and further on becoming legitimate lovers. This is another story (one that I likely told) for another time. I introduce this only so you understand the context of the following tale.
Jen and I were working a moving set, and thus were hidden and free to roam between scenes. Her boyfriend RKO was off in another room, so Jen and I were kissing against a wall. He was about to return, so I went to wander a hallway. There I saw a small girl dressed all in white. It should be noted that, as we rely on surprises in the darkness for scares often, white is not a very useful color. The owner, Kevin McCurdy, rather insists on our wearing the darkest clothing possible, preferably black. I whispered to this girl, whom I did not recognize, that she should not be here as a group was about to stumble upon this hallway. She cocked her head to one side, curious. I grabbed for her shoulder to push her into a hidden alcove so she wouldn't be discovered. My hand went through her and she faded away. It was like putting my hand through cool, statically charged cotton.
To my extreme credit, I did not scream. I calmly walked back to Jen and RKO and informed them that I had seen the ghost. They were less calm, but were hushed about it. After the group had passed, Jill, one of the security guards, appeared and asked what had happened. I told her that I had seen the ghost. She regaled me with a story of how years ago, she and the owner of the mansion were locking everything up at the end of the night. No one could have been in the Mansion, save them. Suddenly they heard laughing that turned to screaming. All of the sliding panels of the hallway there were in opened up and the screaming got louder. She screamed, "We aren't scared of you!" All of the panels shut and the screaming stopped. Interesting tale, and I do remember being a customer when that version of the Mansion existed. Still anecdotal, though fascinating, evidence.
Another night, Jen, Nick, myself and some other denizens of the Mansion were lying exhausted on the floor of a room. Jen, Nick, and I were lying on one another. Suddenly a picture flew off the mantel. The metal frame landed feet from my head. The glass fell straight down and broke into three pieces. The frame and picture were leaning against the wall. No one was near it and the guards quickly came and removed the glass. I grabbed the picture of two angels before they could remove it as well.
That same night, one of the guides at the mansion was going though a spiel that involved a touching box that made harmless sparks, like a wind-up toy. And she got an intense electric shock that burned her finger. No explanation was ever given to that event and the box was checked out and assured to be safe.
The myths continue. They are many and varied and I cannot describe them all tonight. A few more to slake your thirst.
One story went that a little girl, whom we shall call Anna for the ease of telling (the first year I worked there, the focal point of the activity was in a scene called Anna's Room), got lost in the dense forest and froze to death on the old foundations. When the mansion moved one hundred feet over, she moved with it. There could be truth to this, it doesn't sound outside the realm of probability, though I have yet to unearth any facts. What doesn't mesh for me is that at least one of the ghosts seems to be less innocent than that. I described it once as a succubus. I thought that it fed off the fear and passion that existed at the Mansion. See, now you think I am weird.
Another story tells how the workers once painted Anna's Room black for a scene. Just a paint roller and black paint. When they returned to put some finishing touches on the now dry paint, they were greeted with what appeared to be an open, empty casket surrounded by gravestones on the black wall. This is how the paint dried and this was how they left it for fear that a new coat would be worse.
Yet another story occurred a few summers ago when the Mansion was being built. Workers had stated that there was a hole by the old foundations and anything dropped into it never hit bottom. They tested this theory a few times before deciding to lower a flashlight on a 100-foot rope to the bottom. It never reached a bottom. They tried a video camera and the tape refused to play. I did not witness these things. I have no proof they occurred.
On Friday night, Emily and I headed up to Albany for her cousin Daniel's bar mitzvah. My mother procured Wendy's for us, though I realized once Emily and I were in the car that her eating a salad and baked potato while driving may not have been a wonderful idea. Despite the fact that we were nearly run off the road by a reckless truck driver and we got very lost (we were in Massachusetts), we eventually made it to the hotel.
We were carrying our bags in when I said something about entering at their behest. She retorted, "Well, it behooves us... Bees with hooves?! Good Heavens! They'll trample the roses!!!!" This was my secret joy all weekend. Incredibly funny girl.
The room was rather lush, though we did not get complementary bathrobes. Communists! Complementary bath robes are the holy grail of every traveler.
We settled into the king-sized bed for TV and cuddling. In playing around, I accidentally ordered a movie about sorority sex initiation. We spend several minutes trying to undue it so her card would not be charged. I do not think anyone would have enjoyed our watching porn. Plus, she had new silk jammies that made her look like a concubine in a harem ("How is a concubine different from a porcupine? See, the porcupine as many pricks on the outside and... never mind"). So any porn would really be extraneous.
She rolled over three time in order to reach me (big bed, you see), waking me. I looked at her, kissed her, and asked if she was lonely, likely before I actually woke up enough to realize she was there.
The next morning her family, like all real families, was late, rushing about, and snapping at one another. I was standing in my suit (Emily evidently lusts after a suited me. Good to know) trying to avoid imminent collision with two or more equally charged bodies. We went to a cheap diner before the bar mitzvah, because in the end, it is always about food. Always.
The temple was not as I expected. It was like a modular home that someone glued rock pillars to. I actually think this relaxed me, as I was expecting something far more imposing. With circumcised goats. In the end, it is also always about the ritualistic genital mutilation of farm animals. Always.
Inside, Emily's sundry family members were hugging and kissing one another. I was trying to avoid this, with little success as Emily felt the need to introduce me around. I was horrified I would make some faux pas, like offering them some pork loin.
Emily had warned me that mitzvahs at orthodox temples could take upwards of 4 hours. I was not physically or psychologically equipped for this, as I tended to doze off when I was unclear as to what was going on. Trust me, it is a good idea.
There was a lot of sitting and standing and some woman in pink (the canter, as Emily told me) kept hitting high notes in Hebrew that would shame the less than lucid Mariah Carey. When the rabbi told Daniel's brother to open the ark, visions of Indian Jones flashed through my head and I shut my eye as tightly as was possible. I didn't hear any Nazis melt (well, it was a Jewish temple, I would think they would melt before entering, as is the courteous thing to do) so I opened my eyes and saw an enormous scroll being trounced around by a very tiny Daniel. It had to be as tall as him.
The Rabbi spoke about Moses, and explained that God gave him term limits and Moses left when his term was up, alluding to Giuliani. Evidently reformed rabbis are hip. Who knew?
After more sitting, standing, singing, and the giving of checks, we were led to food. See, always about the food. I ate some grapes and cooed over Emily. Then I ate strawberries and cooed. There was cooing. It was a blessed thing.
Finally, we were led back to the hotel. Where there was more food. All. About. The. Food. And a DJ. Never. About. The. DJ. As there were many tables of congregants, the DJ asked us trivia questions to decide who would eat first. The initial question was what the first words were once man landed on the moon. I said, "The Eagle has landed." He told me I was wrong and someone else piped in with "Houston, the Eagle has landed." They got to eat. Emily's family offered sympathy. Next he asked who rode the horse Rosenanthe (or something to that extent). I stated that it was Don Quixote. We got to eat and Emily's family was impressed. All. About. The. Food.
There was much dancing. And games. And silliness. It was quite a bit of wholesome fun. Emily and I slow danced to Elvis (I think). Twas romantic. Glee!
Soon in Xenology: More history of the Haunted Mansion.
last watched: Angel
reading: Articles by John Dewey
listening: The Learning Channel
wanting: To bloody have money.
interesting thought: My life involves that which I would not otherwise believe.
moment of zen: The smell of patchouli and nag champa on Emily's skin.
someday I must: get a steady job. Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.