Look who has free reign of the blog, yes, indeed, it's Virginia Boecker, talking about creepy stories and summer and imagination. Enjoy! And thanks for taking the time to write the guest post, Virginia! We also have a giveaway for the #DarkSummerRead below!
When I think of childhood summers, I think of the month my brother, cousins, and I spent together with our relatives, far from home. They lived in a small town (the inaptly named Metropolis), on the edge of a lake at the end of a long dirt road, surrounded by trees of all shapes and sizes filled with creatures of all shapes and sizes. Both house and town were a bit of a place time forgot: creaking doors, odd drafts, and strange nocturnal sounds in the former; roadside food stands, barefoot children, gravel roads, and rust-fendered trucks spewing exhaust in the latter.
The days were hot and sticky, the air full of humidity, the sound of cicadas, and the briny scent of catfish and bluegill that stocked the lake. The five of us spent hours on the water: canoeing (read: tipping the canoe), sailing (read: idling; there was never much of a breeze), fishing (read: watching the fish; none of us wanted to hook a worm) swinging from the death-defying heights of the tree swing before returning home to make homemade ice cream (always vanilla, always more melted than frozen.)
Our afternoons were the things of stories. Our nights were too, albeit stories of a different kind. We took advantage of being temporarily parentless to indulge in the things “forbidden” to us at home (no, not that): hair-raising books and movies of the R-rated variety. Stephen King’s Christine, Friday the 13th, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None were a few of our favorites: they were what frightened us and got our imaginations running. We took the stories and made them our own, twisting them in an ever-escalating effort to raise the hair on one another’s neck.
Maybe those ancient trucks we saw rattling around Metropolis during the day were waiting somewhere at night, maybe in a garage like Darnell’s, their fenders popping out dents by themselves, their ripped vinyl seats stitching themselves back together, the long broken radio tuning itself to a long-defunct am station to play 50s hits from Buddy Holly, The Coasters, Dale Hawkins, before turning out, driverless, to cruise the streets.
Maybe the lake wasn’t just a place for fishing and fun. Maybe a boy drowned here once too, the body never recovered. Maybe he’s come back for revenge, living in a shack in the woods, sharpening his machete by day and stalking the woods by night, looking for children alone, away from their parents, to flay with his machete… (now I’m freaking myself out.)
Or maybe, just maybe, my loving aunt and uncle weren’t so loving at all. Maybe they brought us here to atone for our “crimes” (being tardy to class, passing notes during class, doing poorly in class: this was all high treason for thirteen year old). There would be no escape from this house, from this town, until justice was served. We could choke, we could drown, we could be stung by wasps or have an “accident” with a kitchen knife or simply, one by one, the five of us would begin to disappear.
Since then, time has caught up: the home of our summers has been remodeled: no more cold drafts from nowhere or things that go bump in the night. As for Metropolis itself, riverside casinos have swept into town, bringing with them paved roads, heeled feet, and restaurants. My cousins and I have moved on, too. But any time we get together we still love to dig into the archives, pull out a VHS or a paperback or two, and delve back into the dark summers of our past.