I live (alive) across the road from the living dead. They're most visible in the fall, during official haunting season. The rest of the year the old house is relatively abandoned, as it has been since we moved in over a decade ago. The living dead seem to make okay neighbors. No plastic toys cluttering the lawn. No penchant for shooting firearms while drunk. No constant tinkering with muscle car engines. No addiction to fertilizer.
But now, in October, they once again take up their chainsaws and screaming. It’s only on Fridays and Saturday nights, though. The living dead apparently have other jobs during the week.
The house, before it was officially haunted, always seemed a little haunted anyway. Many years ago, it was a kosher winery. The neighbor who owns it told me once a story about the tragedies of the family who had it before him, who had hoped to make it into their country home, a place to visit when they wanted to leave the city. If I were better at remembering details, I’d tell you what happened. The gist of it was that things went wrong. I want to say that a step-child was seriously injured in an accident and then a wife died of some brain hemorrhage. Whatever it was, the husband stopped coming, crushed, I assume, by memory. A few years after we moved here, my neighbor bought it, but his family didn’t want to live there; they already had a house down the road. So it sat empty for more years, collecting vandals, raccoons, and other trespassers.
In spring of 2012, a sign went up: Haunted Winery and Corn Maze. And so, the living dead. They practiced for months being dead and scary. They’re pretty much young men and women with a penchant for gothic thespianism. They lurk around in the house’s driveway wearing shredded clothes and bleeding. They laugh ghoulishly, forced and loud. They play with chainsaws.
On the weekend, their soundtrack of fright seeps through my walls. Outside the house, posted rules. No smoking or open flames. No alcohol, firearms, or weapons of any kind. No food or beverages. Please do not touch any props or actors as they will not touch you. I like that there are rules to being scared. I wish it worked that way with all fear. I wish that when confronted with horror we could step easily away from the screaming and choose, instead, to get lost in the sweet shushing stalks of corn.