Friday, October 14, 2011

Haunted Hatchback

Welcome to another peek into

Lin's Fantasy World.

With Halloween around the corner, let us take a trip into the bizarre and scary.

Haunted Hatchback
L.J. Holmes

I grew up looking for ghosts beneath white sheets on Halloween. Later, when I was a tad more mature, I learned that some people could recite chapter and verse on the many ways the ethereal bits of smoke and almost completed shapes could make their presence known to the few brave enough to stick around long enough after strange things began happening.

I was not among them.

I guess I should clarify that with identifying the location of my maturing years. I learned many a ghostly tale because I lived in the New Hope, Washington’s Crossing vicinity. I was this far from Gettysburg and a stone’s throw from Philadelphia where Liberty created vigorous debate by the framers of both the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution and deaths happened routinely honorably, and well, you get my drift.

Everywhere I went during my molding years I heard about Washington sleeping here, there, and just about everywhere. (When did he find time to general the war?) I cannot help wondering how many ghostly bosoms are not still hankering for a return of the cedar scented Lothario. Would that be reason to haunt the stone homes lining the banks of the Delaware River calling in deep lament “George” over and over? There are reports of such wailings.

I kid you not!

Places rich in steeping history seem to draw ghost stories. I even did one of my first college papers on a haunted house that appears every year in the local newspapers just before Halloween and is happily haunted by no less than four very diverse apparitions. I suppose with those four active ghosts haunting your house, it would be a little hard to keep your spiritual co-habitants a secret.

Yet, when you consider where the kids in my town played hide’n’seek you’d think I’d have a ton of ghost stories to tell.

Okay, I can see your eagerness to learn where we challenged the corporeal world as children tempting the night by hiding there. Are you ready? 

Right across the street from my house, and up two, the Last Stand Funeral Home sat in dignified repose; just waiting to tempt very brave children to hide in places we probably should not have, but hid out anyway.

Did we see floating wisps of ghostly stuff? Let me assure you, I was never that brave as a kid. Growing up in the country, as I did, the bravest thing I did was stand with my taunting brothers, in the bottom acre of our two at the darkest parts of dusk, tossing stones into the air at the approaching bats to watch them give our stones a wide, circular berth.

I thought it was stupid…my brothers thought it was both funny and cool. What can I say…they were boys IN the country…boys who would one day look at a knothole and see “woman” in their warped country boy minds.


Moving on, the years progressed and I actually gave birth to one of the strange testosterone infused creatures…but that’s for another tale of horror and fright...maybe next year.

I had just turned thirty, so I suppose one could say having slipped OVER THE HILL made me suddenly delusional. I must admit I have wondered myself about that explanation for what was about to unfold…and yet.

Does anyone remember the Chevy Vegas? I owned one. Not a stellar car or one you want to take an ad out in your nearest BIG newspaper, for me it would have been The Philadelphia Inquirer and announce your proud ownership of such a vehicle. Back in the day…well I would not have minded boasting about my metallic blue Camaro Convertible, off the showroom floor, but that was ten years earlier and one looonnnnggg marriage ago too. 

Long marriage. That’s important information for you to have.

The Vega, was just a car.

It is December 1982 and I just got the restraining order removing my hubby on November 4, 1982. Freedom seemed so sweet…even with nothing grander than my Chevy Vega.

Christmas approached. Our first, the kids and mine with no one but ourselves to worry about. We were like kids delighting in the d├ęcor spread throughout the relatively new mall nearby. Although poor, you’d be surprised how much joy you can find in sitting for hours staring at glittering snow garlands when you do not worry about the monster waiting at home to grab you.

The Vega, white and a hatchback was small, comfortable and no bigger than we needed it to be. I actually liked its compact size, having never quite grasped the dynamics of parallel parking, or mall slot parking well enough to want to burden my driving skills and the world's with oversized tanks.

Day after day we explored the world we weren’t allowed to when the monster lived with us. Our smiles returned, and simple things became glorious treasures to hoard away and pull out for revisiting well into the night.

It started on one such night. We’d stayed at the mall until it’s actual closing…most daring…eleven o’clock that night, and giggled all the way home. My son took my bathroom and my daughter the hall bathroom preparing for bed. I went to the kitchen found the preparations for hot chocolate and pulled out the home-made Toll House cookies I’d made that afternoon…soft…chewy…and melt in your mouth yummy.

Curled up together on the couch, enjoying our snack and regaling each other about the recent night, all three of our heads came up at the sound of the Vega, in the driveway, outside the house, roaring to life.

Looking from one to the other, our shock showed. I leapt to my feet, raced to the stand by the entranceway, grabbed my purse, riffled through it, pulled my key ring from its depths and stared in abject confusion at the only key that existed for that car…and no, my hubby did NOT have one.

Yanking open the door, I sailed…no, I didn’t give a second’s thought about bravery or tomfoolery…out the door, unlocked the car's door and was inside in a flash. No key in the ignition, no wires crossed below, yet the car’s engine rumbled, purred and growled.

I thrust my key home and flipped it off. The engine died.

Stepping out of the car, I relocked the door, and stood for a long moment staring at that car. I’m not sure why. Maybe hoping it would give voice to what had just happened, although if it had I probably would have run for the house, closed and locked the door, called the police and had the men in white coats sent instead.

My children were waiting for me, hanging to the door, my daughter’s eyes wide with fear; my son’s tempered with boy macho trying to mask his fear.

“What happened?” they both wanted to know.

I looked at them and wondered how was I to answer that…especially when I didn’t have a clue.

Finally the word popped into my addled brain and without taking time to filter it I said, “Short, it’s got to be a short in the wiring. Come on. Let’s finish our treat then get some sleep.”

I don’t know if I believed the word, but it is the only thing that made any kind of sense, so I let myself accept it, but when I went to bed, I carted my purse, with the key ring stuffed so deeply beneath the junk I keep inside my purse it would take a seeing eye dog to find it, into my bedroom with me and shoved it beneath my bed.

I have no clue why I did that, but it’s what I did.

sleep was blasted from me when the car screeched to life again. Fumbling beneath the bed, I found the purse. I had to get the damned car to shut up before the neighbors called the cops, that’s how loud the squeal of my until now, innocuous car sounded.

Not bothering with slippers or answering my children poking their heads from their room, I sailed from the house and biting down against the hurt being caused to my eardrums I wrestled my way into the car and once more inserted my key into the lock and flipped.

What in the world was happening?

I turned the overhead light on and maneuvered my butt into the air checking here, there and everywhere. I do not claim much knowledge about technical things, but I can tell if wires are frayed, loose, or otherwise, unsettled. I grabbed the flashlight from the glove compartment and flipped myself into the hatch part of the car aiming the beam here and there.

At one point my son, his feet thrust in his winter snow boots showed up with the stronger torch light and aimed it where I couldn’t search.


I know nothing about the mysteries beneath the hood of a car. My son, a baby of just eight didn’t know any more, yet I had to do something to assure my phantom car would not come to screeching life in the next three and one half hours before the nearest mechanic opened at eight.

I sent my son back into the garage for my wrenches. Battery, I decided, if I disconnect the thingies that clamp onto the prongies no juice can get to the engine to allow it to roar to life, right?

Terrified of electrocuting one and all, I sent my son back inside, propped the torch precariously and began tugging and pulling. Somehow I managed the feat without killing myself or breaking anything I shouldn’t break. Don’t ask me how.

My heart was in my throat the whole time, but once I finished I gave a huge sigh of relief and, yeah, I felt a momentary swell of pride-filled accomplishment. Hey, I was always told I was too stupid to do anything meaningful. This, to me, was meaningful!

Returning everything to its proper place, I tucked my kids back into bed, but no way could I fall back to sleep.

What the hell is happening here? I’d had that Vega for two years now and not once had it done anything like this, so why now?

My hubby never drove my car so it couldn’t be his residual energy throwing a temper tantrum…could it?

That idea swirled and swirled within my head, but I eventually rebutted it.

If my hubby chooses to come after us, he’ll be far less subtle, won’t he?

seemed to take forever, but I did not mind seeing the Vega leave on the back of Mike Witcomb’s tow truck. Now we’d have answers, and hopefully by , and have the car back in time to see the high school’s Christmas Pageant that night.

Mike called at three. There’s nothing wrong with the car, he assured me. He tuned it up, lubed it here, greased it there, but found nothing to explain the unearthly starting ups.

Paying him money I could ill afford, I accepted this car, no longer my friend and drove it home.

We went to the pageant, for the first time in all the years we’d lived in this area. It was fun. Drove home, repeated the ritual, and once more, the car’s engine roared into vibrant life with keys firmly attached to the belt latched to my waist.

Time to call in the big guns.

With shaking hands I dialed the number. My dad would disown me if he knew, but there are times in one’s life when going over the heads of one’s narrow minded fathers is the only way to maintain one’s sanity.

A cousin, five or six times removed. Some would call her a medium…others a charlatan…others, a shamaness. My Grandmother and I always chose the latter.

Vera arrived in full Native garb…quite impressive. The children and I described what we’d endured. Vera listened, never blinking, seemingly not breathing.

When we finished, she closed her obsidian bright eyes and went stiller than before, if possible.

My children sat across from Vera, there eyes wide, not with fear, but with something else, awe in my daughter’s eyes, something less impressed in my son’s. My son’s nut is tougher to crack.

I have no idea how long we were sitting there when the car started. Vera’s eyes snapped open, an evil grin spread over her intent face and I would not have wanted to be the demon she meant to go to battle with at that moment.

Turning her intent gaze to me she asked, “Did you never suspect your husband was possessed?”

I gulped. Well, yeah, I knew he was evil, but possessed?

“He's left part of him behind to give you no peace and melded it to the car.”

“But why now?”

“Because Christmas is coming. If the demon does not destroy your Christmas the good of the season will weaken its hold. It will not allow that. in the morning it will force your neighbors to turn on you, forcing you into a hell of your husband’s making.”

“I don’t…”

I had no idea what I was going to say. 'I don’t believe it? After everything else he’d done? Of course I believed it!'

“How do I stop it?”

“The demon is strong. You must get rid of the car!”

“I can’t afford another car!” I protested.

“You can’t afford what the car will do to you if you don’t!” Vera said her eyes revealing things that made me shake before them.

“It’s little more than a piece of junk now,” I protested. “Who would want it?”

“I know someone; a strong mage who will dismantle it and purify the parts. He will even pay you for the scraps. Much more than you will get from others.”

I looked long and hard at this woman my grandmother trusted in life and heard Nonnie in my soul telling me to believe her.

My husband's haunting my freaking car! He’d said he would never let us live on without him. I’d thought he’d meant to outright kill us. How much more like him to psychologically reduce us by terrorizing us like this?

“Call your friend.”

Two hundred dollars didn’t buy much, but the car I did buy lasted a surprising four years and never once started by itself.

As for the Vega…I liked that car, once upon a time. But in the end, when things start acting weird, pay heed. Many more things go bump in the night than we know.


J Q Rose said...

Very spooky...Yes there are things that cannot be explained. A light flips on or off, the doors open and no one is there. We call it Harry Scary in the room. Glad you dumped that evil car and husband. Thanks for the story. Love your storytelling!

Lin said...

Thank you JQ. Kat thought it would be a good story to recount at this spooky time of the year, and you have no idea how much it means to knwo you like the way I tell my stories. Means a lot.

Karen Cote said...

Spooky! Guess I shouldn't be reading stuff like this at this time of night. Yeah. You rock as a story teller dear Lin.

Gripping and fascinating. Your education is so firmly entrenched in your writing as well.

Smart & Beautiful. Now if I can only get to sleep...

Love you!

Lin said...

I love you too Sweet Angel-Girl. I am so proud of you.

Anonymous said...

ressetyou are a brave, brave woman!!! so far, i enjoyed everything you wrote. i think im getting a ride to the book store!!!