Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Halloween Posting

Halloween is upon us. Like Poe’s raving character Usher, I can hear it scratching in the thin wall separating tomorrow from today. The entire city moves with nervous steps. Leaves skitter up the streets with restless energy. Animals, wild and tame, look about fearfully.

In that darkest hour just before the salvation of dawn, my dog woke me from a sound sleep. This was no dream – this was today. My silent protector, my quiet sentinel, roused me with a long, melancholy howl at four a.m. How can I describe this sound to you? It froze the house cats in the midst of their nocturnal mischief. It chilled my blood even as I lay under three layers of heavy quilts. It was a sound born of the darkest, most sorrow-filled caverns of hell. It was the cry of Cerberus himself.

There can be no doubt that this year even the dreams of the peaceful and the sleep of the saints will be defiled by the lurking evils that hid throughout my city during this last night of October.
Now you, my dear friend, know that I am no believer of fairy tales. And I pay little heed regarding the so called proof of phantasms or other fantastic phenomena. What rational human does? However, mark these words: There are places in Portland where even the bravest, the sanest, and the most skeptical dare not go on this upcoming profane night for fear of becoming cowards, lunatics, and superstitious believers. And mark this too: Particularly not on a Hallow’s Eve cursed by the death of the Hunter’s Moon. Yes, it will be a dark, moonless night.

“What place does he refer so gravely to?” you ask. My friend, I shall tell you of two of them. The first is grounded in solid fact, historical evidence, even a commemorative sign. The second remains shrouded in sealed court documents and folklore – old Native American legends nonetheless.

Facts first: In September 1689, what is now the idyllic Deering Oaks Park was the sight of a shameful massacre. The blood of dozens of Native American’s flowed freely during that wicked event. Knowing what we know about how non-whites were treated back in those barbaric times, can anybody believe their spirits went to rest honored and peacefully?

The second site of spectral horror in this city lies under the very foundation of the Portland’s great citadel of higher education. According to legend and some lawsuits brought by local tribes and swiftly dismissed by the judges (although, oddly still not available to the public), Luther Bonny, the great eyesore of 60s architecture on the Portland campus of the University of Southern Maine, was built on the sacred soils of an ancient Indian burial ground.

Now I do not believe in ghosts, but by that same measure I do not go around desecrating the sanctuaries of the departed nor disturbing the haunts of the deceased. Regardless, the land stores its own memories and wreaks her own vengeance when wronged. Some things that should slumber in this city are greatly agitated and they have been greatly wronged. Was it that knowledge that made my dog wail so piteously last night? Does he know what is coming with the morrow? Will I awaken to a beautiful November dawn? Or does this Halloween come as a time of reckoning long over due?

Sleep well tonight my friend and again tomorrow night. Sleep the dreamless sleep that I shall scream out for during my waking nightmare as my city pays, measure for measure, a bill long overdue.

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