Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. As someone who frequents cemeteries for fun, and has a vibrant collection of skulls at home, PLUS three drawers full of costumes, I enjoy the fact that— at least once a year, my macabre interests are not only tolerable, but celebrated! This year, however, I haven’t gotten into the spirit of Halloween, due to the real life horror film that is THE 2016 ELECTION. How can we tear ourselves away? It’s so ghastly, how can we not?
Well, a few weeks ago, there were reports that #repealthe19th was the top trending hashtag on Twitter. The 19th amendment is, of course, a woman’s right to vote. IS THIS REAL LIFE? ARE THERE ACTUALLY GROUPS OF PEOPLE (INCLUDING WOMEN) WHO THINK WOMEN SHOULD NOT VOTE??!!
Susan B. Anthony wept. And then I did. (Repeat X 1000)
I knew at this point, I needed to save my soul or lose my sense of humor forever. So, I decided to substitute any and all articles about the election, with reading spooky halloween ghost stories–chief among them, Jezebel’s Scary Story Contest. (Highly recommend) Turns out, these stories were juuuuuuust the tonic to soothe my suffering suffragette-lovin soul. Demonic possessions. Spirit visits. Alien encounters. ESP.
Reading all of these stories got me to thinking about my own experiences with the supernatural. Which, I have to admit, are pretty much nilch–despite my early-in-life forays into the occult. However, since I’ve moved to Rockridge Oakland I’ve collected an armful of decidedly freaky stories about my neighborhood, neighbors, and former roommates, that I’d like to share with you now, as my halloween treat to you.
So, put down that election article, and gather around the old rotting pumpkin, because I’ll have THREE very special stories to share with you, over the next few days.
Here’s # 1!
David the Gnat
Okay, we were all super desperate when we chose David (name changed) to live with us down in unit B. Our first choice roommate fell through at the last minute, and David seemed, at the very least, quiet and polite. He was a poet from New England, studying at the art school nearby and seemed like he’d just hang out mostly in his room, composing sonnets or staring deeply into the night.
Well, the day he moved in coincided magically with the day I discovered nobody had taken out the compost in weeks. IN those days, our compost lived under the sink, behind a cupboard which nobody ever remembered to check. When I opened the cupboard doors, an apocalyptic swarm of fruit flies flew out and engulfed me.
“Holy fuck!” I shouted, running out the door with the compost pail like it was on fire.
Well, guess who I ran into while running out the door with the compost? Our new roommate David, with a boxful of shit in his arms.
“Hey, David! Welcome, welcome. Sorry in advance, there’s a few fruit flies in the kitchen, but I’m going to put out some traps and they should be gone in a few days.”
The look on his face. Like someone just peed bud light on his grave.
Anyway, I emptied the compost, went back in the house, and began to pour apple-cider vinegar into a bunch of little bowls, followed by a few drops of dish detergent.
David walked into the kitchen where I was pouring the vinegar. He looked at me without smiling, and said “Why are there bugs?”
“Heh, heh. Wellll…because we forgot to take out the compost. By accident! Been a busy week. But don’t worry. I’ve got these traps I’m making.”
“What are the traps?” He said, squinting at my bowls of vinegar.
“Oh, a mixture of vinegar, and dish detergent. You put a little tinfoil over top and poke a hole. they fall right in, and never come out. Gets em every time!”
He shook his head at me, like I had just declared the earth was flat, sighed and said “okay,” and went to his room.
The next day, I got an email from David
The bugs are really freaking me out. I’m going to do some cleaning in the kitchen today. Where are the cleaning products kept?
Great! Thanks for taking the initiative. The cleaning products are under the sink.
That night, I came home from work, and found that:
1. all of my fruit fly traps had been dumped out.
2. Instead, everything in the kitchen was wrapped up in plastic grocery bags. (This was when they were still legal in California). That is to say….everything in our fruit bowl (which makes sense) was bagged up, bags of sugar, spices, butter…But then, I saw a handful of utensils—- in a plastic bag! Some bowls! And good god…Bottles of cleaning product, Jesus Christ-Clorox Wipes?? AND EVEN OTHER PLASTIC BAGS WERE WRAPPED IN PLASTIC BAGS.
Trembling, I went searching for the cats, envisioning a scenario where I would find them also wrapped in plastic, David hunched over them, wiping some sweat from his brow, and smiling for the first time in his life:
“It took awhile but I got all them nasty buggity bugs. I even got the two big furry queens. Those were hard to catch, howdy!”
“Oh god, DAVID THOSE ARE THE CATS.”
Anyway. You know how, like…When you are freaked out by something, it keeps coming back? Well, after David moved in, our house seemed unusually susceptible to critters. We had crazy spiders for awhile. An invasion of ants. And one morning, there was a giant banana slug on our floor, about three feet from David’s room.
Just saying. Sometimes, what you put out into the universe comes back on six legs….
David: Murdering us in our sleep
So, David lived with us for about 4 very tense and bug-infested months. His mood never improved. He never smiled, nor showed any desire to make friendly with the rest of the house. As far as I could tell, his life consisted of breaking in to the nearby high school track field to go running, going to poetry readings, and then holing up in his room. His presence made me deeply uneasy. Maybe it was the fact that, when he spoke, he made very piercing, and direct eye contact. Maybe it was because he looked at me like he wanted to kill me in a gruesome way every time I spoke to him. He never said anything unkind. It was all in his eyes.
Anyway, one day I was hanging out in the kitchen with our other roommate Gary. David came in, stared at us for a moment, and then proceeded to make a sandwich and then slammed the door to his room.
“Sometimes,” whispered Gary, pointing to David’s room, “I’m scared he’ll murder me in my sleep.”
“Oh my god!!” I whispershouted to Gary. “I have had the EXACT SAME FEAR SINCE HE MOVED IN and wrapped our whole kitchen in plastic bags. That was some unholy shit. ”
I thought it was just me. But the truth is, for months, whenever I was home alone with David in the house, I would lock myself in. I hadn’t shared any this with Gary lest it sound like I was being a damsel in distress, or overly-paranoid. I wasn’t sure if I was comforted or even more disturbed by learning that Gary too, feared for his life in David’s cold saucer eyes. Or if it made it worse.
Suffice it to say, I was fucking stoked when Gary finally broke his lease and said he was going to move out.
But before he did, he left a few final gifts for the house.
The Mysterious Smell
Subject: Moving out.
Let me know if I can help with anything to make the move-out process easier. I can help you search for roommates too, if that helps.
Subject: RE: Moving out
That’s thoughtful of you. All I ask is that your room be clean when we show it. I’ll give you at least 24 hours notice before we have someone over to see it.
The first person to view the room was a sweet German exchange student, let’s call her Greta. “Oh my, it’s like a crooked little castle in here,” she said, admiring our feng-shui-fucked living room.
“Yes, that is for sure a way to see it,” I said, giving her a thumbs up.
“Yass, yass it is.”
“Well, let me show you the room.”
When I opened the door to David’s room, I cringed. There was a foul smell emanating from somewhere. Not the smell of human remains buried in the walls , but a turd. It wasn’t even that stale beer-fart smell like some dude’s room have. I deduced that there must be a fresh crapload hidden somewhere in the room.
“Well, so that’s the room,” I said, hastily shutting the door, and ushering Greta into our kitchen, where I lit an incense candle, and tried uselessly to extol on our fine amount of pantry space. But she looked deflated, and politely excused herself after my spiel was over. She left her cup of tea mostly full on the table.
“Run Greta,” I said silently to her, after she left. “Achtung! Get as far from this godforsaken place as you can. And when you get there, bleach yourself twice and pray for your soul.”
The Curse of David
So, this really weird chick named Amy moved in to David’s turdsmelly room after he moved out. When she came to my house for the roommate interview, David was actually hanging around the kitchen, and they bonded over poetry. (Note: The turd must have been cleaned up by then).
Anyway, Amy was weird, but only a sub letter staying for a month. I think she had body dysmorphia because one time she asked me I thought if her pantyhose made her look “fat.” She also frequently ate entire blocks of cheese.
Well, fast forward a month. I’m taking the last BART home from getting loaded in San Francisco. It’s like, midnight or something, and I’m feeling butthurt about some boy or other, and just wanna get home and bury my face in a cat, when what do I see? A couple going at it skinnemax style on the corner of Lawton/College. Jesus, get a room! I thought. Do you have to publicly declare your lust right now? Have you no respect for others who might be stumbling home heartbroken?
“C’mon now. Don’t be all down on love, lady. Don’t get all bitter ” I said to myself. “Some day, it will be you getting fisted in the street. And you will not give one shit about some bitter passerby. YOU WILL REJOICE”
I HAD THIS ACTUAL DIALOGUE GOING ON IN MY BRAIN WHEN SUDDENLY
It was Amy, my pantyhose roommate! IT WAS AMY was the one boning down on the street with—
————-OH CHRIST— DAVID!!!
“Hey, Arlene,” he said, and ACTUALLY SMILED. It made my guts leak.
“Yeah, we were just at a poetry reading,” said Amy, walking hand in hand down the sidewalk with David, while I toddled along trying to act normal when my soul was screaming NOOOOOO NOOOOO NOOOOOOO’
Here I thought I’d never have to see creepy old David again, and he’s coming back to our house with Amy. Going back into his old room, to either bone, or mutilate her and inhabit her corpse for halloween, or shit in her closet. I almost wanted to tell her “Did you know David is a turd hoarder?” but I didn’t. I’m polite, see.
Instead, when we all got back to the house, I locked my door, and turned on some music so I wouldn’t have to hear whatever was happening in the other room. I hoped and prayed that I wouldn’t find Amy wrapped in a giant plastic bag come morning.