By Patricia Gulley
Fall is such a wonderful time of year, if it is cool, not cold, warm not hot. I came home one evening when I was still working from a presentation that had served enough food for me to feel content, but not stuffed and enough wine to make me feel mellow. It was almost Halloween and I’d been working evenings on a story about a werewolf in the moorage, so as I came down the ramp to the main walkway, I had to glance at the long strip of brush and trees along the steep bank of the river to see if I could see anything lurking there. The parking lot, ramp and walkway were all well lit, so I could see clearly looking down, but I did have to take note that the water was low enough that if an ‘on-two-legs or four’ werewolf was lurking in the brush, it would have no problem leaping from the bank to the main walkway to grab me.
We had the old wooden walkways then, so when I got down there, the mournful creaking of the logs and wood blended with the moans and groans of the houses and boats as they bobbed and bumped in the slow moving current of the river. I turned off the walkway on to my row, and was almost to my house when a cat let out a hideous screech behind me. I reeled around to see it shooting out of the brush on the bank and disappear over the top into the parking lot. Frozen in terror, I watched as a lumbering beaver came out of the same brush and entered the water.
Feeling silly, but with my nerves still on high alert I turned to step on to my front porch, and as I always do, looked down into the river where my honeypot sits between the row and attached to my front porch. A dark caldron of black swirling water at night. But this night a round, flesh looking thing bobbed there held low in the water by the brackets that kept the honeypot from banging against the row. Stooping low, I still couldn’t make out what it was in the dark, but it sure looked like a body, specifically the back of a head.
Fortunately I have a light switch for my porch light outside and I turned it on, but still couldn’t see clearly what the thing in the water was. My neighbor came out and looked too, but from her porch she couldn’t make it out either. I went in the house and got my broom and came out on the row where I could get a good poke at it. My neighbor was really worried; she wanted to go in and call 911 immediately (no one had cell phones then), but I said we should wait to see what it really was first.
Well, I’d been writing a while then, but I forgot everything I’d learned about forensics and crime scene disturbance as I whacked and beat on that thing trying to turn it over and see if it really was a dead human. Wrong!!!! Someone had lost their large pumpkin and the jack-o-lantern face that rolled over in the surf about scared the bajeezus out of me and my neighbor. Two terrified screams brought several other neighbors running and eventually a case of wild laughter, two of which were of a hysterical nature.
The story got all over the moorage by the next day, and it was deemed appropriate to stake Pumpkin Head at the start of our row for the annual Halloween Parties. He was given a very unceremonious burial November first in the dumpster. That’ll teach it to scare a twitchy mystery writer.
Was that scary, or just silly?