Monday, October 31, 2016

Ghouls or Phi on the Loose


If you ask Thais if they’ve seen a ghost, most will timidly say NO, indicating the fear that any mention of a spirit might endanger their luck, yet Thais love horror movies popularized by such famous ghosts such as Phi-pop who eats livers, phi tai hong who died due to violence, and phi kraseu who has a head of intestines.

Thai movies' make-up and FX are naive, but scare the bejesus out of my wife, however these Asian film horrors have nothing on the real people in the USA.

This is a true story.

_________________________________________________

On their way to dig up a grave in rural southwestern Wisconsin, the Grunke brothers and a friend stopped at a Wal-Mart to pick up some condoms, authorities said.

Three days later, on Tuesday, twins Nicholas and Alexander Grunke, 20, and Dustin Radke, 20, were charged in Grant County with attempted theft — and attempting to have sex with a corpse.

“In different schools that teach you about bizarre behavior, necrophilia is one of those things that you hear about, but never think you’ll have to deal with,” said Grant County Sheriff Keith Grovier. A Cassville police officer arrived at the St. Charles Cemetery on Saturday night after a neighbor alerted police to suspicious activity, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday.

The officer found an abandoned vehicle parked near the cemetery. Minutes later, the complaint stated, the officer saw Alexander Grunke walking toward the vehicle, dressed in black and sweating profusely.

After being questioned, Grunke told the officer his brother and Radke were trying to dig up a grave, according to the complaint. The two drove into the cemetery to find the partially dug grave of a 20-year-old woman who was killed in a motorcycle accident Aug. 27 in Cassville. The diggers had only managed to reach the top of the grave’s concrete vault.

Nicholas Grunke and Radke were arrested Sunday morning in Beetown, about eight miles from the cemetery. The complaint said Radke told police that Nicholas Grunke had asked him to help dig up the Cassville woman’s body and take it to Grunke’s house, so that Grunke could have sex with it. On the way to the cemetery, Radke said, they stopped by a Dodgeville Wal-Mart to buy condoms “because Nick wanted to use them when he had sex with a corpse,” the complaint added.

Grovier said the three did not know the woman but had seen her picture in a newspaper obituary.

Grovier said the woman was “very well-liked, very popular” in Cassville, a Mississippi River town of about 1,100. “The community is very upset,” the sheriff said. “They can’t believe it.”

What’s amazing about these boys is that they used condoms for safe sex.

I told several Thais this story.

They didn’t believe me, but said the town should have a mor phi or ghost doctor come to save the town from any ghoulish episodes.

_________________________________

Necrophilia is a crime in most states but not all.

Wisconsin is one of them.

Necrophilia should be beyond the pale, however OTTO IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, reputedly slept with his deceased wife for over 17 years. Many courtiers of the Holy Roman Empire said she was faking sleep.

I found a wicked account of a necrophiliac at a bookstore along the River Seine.

THE JOURNAL OF LUCIAN H

This romantic novella about a French man’s exploration of love with the dead doesn’t appear on any Google searches. The tale tells of his falling in love with them after they are dead. He doesn’t abuse them. Sad is his mood, when he has to leave them once the bodies are too far gone. Of course that’s a far cry from Hollywood movies glorifying the dead, but then teenage boys would have to depend on sappy love movies to get girls to hug them in the cinema.

Yech.

Zombie Alert

The word Zombie is derived from the melange of the words zonbi Haitian Creole and nzumbe from the African dialect North Mbundu. Zombies are the walking dead. They have been featured horror movies since their black-and-white introduction in George Romero's 1968 epic film NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Scientists and anthropologists have searched Haiti for zombies since the 1930s without having substantiated the rumors of voodoo priests seizing the astral or soul of their victims.

According to Wikipedia Wade Davis, a Harvard ethnobotanist, presented a pharmacological case for zombies in two books, The Serpent and the Rainbow (1985) and Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie (1988). Davis traveled to Haiti in 1982 and, as a result of his investigations, claimed that a living person can be turned into a zombie by two special powders being entered into the blood stream (usually via a wound). The first, coup de poudre (French: 'powder strike'), includes tetrodotoxin (TTX), a powerful and frequently fatal neurotoxin found in the flesh of the pufferfish (order Tetraodontidae). The second powder consists of dissociative drugs such as datura. Together, these powders were said to induce a death-like state.

The Living Dead are creatures of legend, but several years ago year the Washington area had been pestered by zombie flies who have been infected by an unknown fungus taking control of their brain. Scientists have conjectured that humans might be susceptible to such an affliction and Homeland Security has studied various strategies to handle a zombie outbreak.

As far-fetched as this plague of zombies might seem there are actually five ways of humans contracting zombieitis according to cracked.com

Brain Parasites such as toxoplasmosa are weak, but in the hands of the Pentagon the fungus could be strengthened to affect humans very fast and there's nothing scarier than fast zombies a la RESIDENT EVIL. Voodoo poisons are another vector danger, but in a trance zombies are slow-moving i.e. not as dangerous as fast zombies. Viruses such as Mad Cow's Disease are a potential threat to humanity, but the living dead would be spastic and easy to avoid, unless they had numbers and in every zombie movie zombies seem to be everywhere. GM stem cell research could produce suspended dead to await a cure for their disease, but zombies are not sleeping beauties to be awaken by a kiss. Lastly nanobots seeping into your brain to take over your 'free will' and some madman hits the kill button.

Zombies Zombies Zombies Red Alert.

Tonight is Halloween.

Zombies are a favorite costume for young and old alike

Beware of the real thing.

One bite and you're a zombie and no zombie is a friend of mine.

Sanmhar Samhain

Halloween has nothing to do with Christianity. The Harvest Holiday originated way into BC. The Romans dedicated the feast to Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, and the Celts celebrated the summer's end with huge bonfires to evoke the blessing of the spirit world for the dark half of the year. Walking between the fires cleansed the soul for the winter. The practice probably dated back to the PIcts and further into prehistory.

The following day was the feast of the dead.

For the dead are never dead in our hearts and minds, except for the Living Dead.

In Gaelic the walking dead are called marbhán siúil.

The modern usage is zombai.

Thankfully they are creatures of myth and not reality like banshees and leprechauns.

Nothing was scarier than the LIVING DEAD.

Séanmhar Samhain.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

COWBOY VS BATMAN by Peter Nolan Smit

My friend Haoui Montauk bequeathed me a Paul Smith suit in his will. We had worked at a punk nightclub together in the late-70s. He had collected the cash and I had worked the door as a bouncer. Haoui liked to call me ‘rough trade’.

He wasn’t wrong. I liked a good fight now and then. He said it ran in my blood.

I was taller and stockier than the poet, but the suit fit my body albeit a little tight. It was not a suit for all occasions, since the material was a bright blue plaid. I wore it pride and considered any venture so attired was like taking Haoui out for a walk through the city he loved the most.

I received many compliments from women for having the courage to sport such an extravagant outfit and my bravery was rewarded with further admiration upon their hearing about my deceased friend having left it to me in his last will and testament, but New York wasn’t the same city as before.

The rich had replaced the poor and the bankers had crowded out the artists. They were very uncool and on one occasion a banker in his 20s muttered under his breath passing me in front of a Prince Street deli, “What a fucking ugly suit.”

“Same as your face,” I wasn’t taking any guff from a Wall Street stooge.

“What you say?” He wheeled around with a gym-strengthened aggression.

“My suit is ugly, but so is your face.” Haoui was gay. People like this man had bullied him as a boy. I wasn’t backing down. My friend Billy O was waiting in the middle of the block.

The young man approached me, as if he wanted to fight, but Billie O was already taking my back. Two against one wasn’t good odds and the Wall Street stooge stormed away with a parting ‘fuck you’.

“And not only are you ugly, but you only have one eyebrow.” I was good at getting in the last word.

The banker looked over his shoulder with eyes blazing with hatred. He picked up an avocado from the fruit stand and threw it at my head. I ducked to the left and it whistled past my ear. A good throw, but a miss and the Korean grocer came screaming out of the store, yelling, “You pay for avocado. You pay for avocado.”

The banker ponyed up the money. Billie O and I had a good laugh, but he said, as we entered the Mekong restaurant, “That suit draws the wrong type of attention.”

“It’s Haoui.” I explained how I got it.

“Maybe it’s haunted.” Billy was Irish. We were both superstitious and I retired the suit for a long time.

Ten Halloweens ago I was stuck for a costume and remembered Haoui’s suit. It fit a little tighter than before, but I could pass for a carnival barker in it. My left knee was sore from buckling on the basketball court and I picked a cane out of my closet. I had one with an 8-ball for a knob. One look in the mirror said ‘carney’ and I limped through the East Village to Nolita, where my friends were waiting at two tables in front of the Mekong.
It was a warm night and we watched the parade of costumes. Most people were heading over to the parade in the West Village. I sat next to our lady friend, Jane was dressed as a go-go girl from the 60s. The English model had the Swinging London look down pat. We were having a good time, until a Batman dropped into an empty chair next to her. Our friends laughed at the intrusion, but then the muscular Caped Crusader kissed Jane and then he stole my beer.

A Stella.

The cheapskate owner charged $6 for it and never bought back a round.

“Jane, you know this guy?” Women were sacred, but beer was holy.

“No.” Jane was horrified by his macho behavior.

“That’s enough.” I grabbed my beer. It was going to be in the way.

“Old man, don’t tell Batman when he’s had enough.” He was in his 20s and sounded Wall Street. His muscles came from exercising and his bravado was bolstered by a few boxing lessons.

“Old man?” I was only 49. It was the youth of old age.

“Yeah, take a look in the mirror. You’re farting dust like a mummy.” He resumed smooching Jane.

“Leave it off.” My friends’ kids were at the table. I didn’t want them to witness a fight. Still it was only Batman without Robin, so I said, “This isn’t your table. Move on.”

“Fuck off, you old git.” Batman grinned like the Joker, if the villain had perfect teeth.

The word ‘git’ ended the discussion. Git was my word. I seized Batman’s cape and threw him into street. He snatched the cane from my hands and swung it at my head. I blocked it with a forearm and caught him with a right to the jaw. I wrestled the cane from him, but he ripped off my glasses and ran away, chanting, “Nah-na-na-nah-na.”

It sounded mockingly like Stream’s hit TELL HIM GOODBYE.

My left knee was in no condition to chase him.

Shannon came out of the bar. The tall New Yorker was dressed as a cowboy. I thought he looked like Robert Duvall in TRUE GRIT. Shannon was a good decade younger and several inches taller than me. We had been friends since the Milk Bar and played basketball together in Tompkins Square Park.

“What’s wrong?” He could see scratches on my face.

“Batman stole my glasses.” I squinted and pointed to retreating Batman. He was having a good laugh.

“I’ll go get him.” Shannon loped down the street at a run.

Batman was resting at the gate to St. Patricks.

“Gimme back the glasses.” Shannon spread his stance. His fighting skills came from the street and not a gym. My money was on the Cowboy Versus Batman.

“Go fuck yourself, dude.” Batman threw a punch. Shannon blocked it with ease and KOed Batman with one punch. Batman slunk to the sidewalk like he was sleeping in Bruce Wayne’s bed. Shannon returned to Mekong and said, “Here’s your glasses.”

“Thanks.”

“I’ll be going.” Shannon didn’t need to speak with the police.

“I owe you a beer.” It was good to see again.

“You owe me nothing. That guy was a creep.” He downed his beer with an ear cocked for sirens. He knew Billie O and said, “One more thing. Don’t wear that suit anymore. It’s trouble.”

“You got that right.”

Later that night I returned Haoui’s suit to the closet. It stays there most of the time, but every once in a while I take it out for a walk. It’s getting small for me in my old age, but I can always suck in my gut.

Haoui wouldn’t expect anything else from me and neither would his ghost.

Friday, October 28, 2016

NO UP OR DOWN

The 1960s Space Race between the USSR and USA exterminated young boys' worship of westerns and we retired cowboy hats, vests, guns, and holsters to the closet next to toy boats and teddy bears.

During the autumn of 1962 I pleaded with my parents to buy me an astronaut costume for Halloween and my father answered my request with a gleaming John Glenn space suit complete with a visored helmet. My older brother dressed as a green-skinned Martian and Frunk had fabricated a ray gun from a broken egg-beater. After dinner we were eager to trick or treat, but before leaving the house I purloined sunglasses from my father's desk.

"Aren't you going to ask Dad for permission?" My brother was better at following rules than me.

Our father was escorting my younger siblings around the neighborhood.

"He won't know a thing."

"Why do you need sunglasses."

"They're extra protection from your death ray." I pointed to his weapon. I had seen INVASION FROM MARS ten times. The Martians' main weapon vaporized soldiers into carbon.

"I don't think this is a good idea."

"We'll be back before you know it. What can happen?"

We lived in the suburbs, a land of two-car garages, good schools, and beautiful babysitters.

"I guess nothing."

"Other than getting a lot of candy."

"Chocolate."

"We left our split-level ranch house. My best friend, Chuckie Manzi, joined us on the lawn. He was a young Frankenstein.

"First things first." He pointed across the street. Mr. Martini's house drove truck for Arnold's Bakery. His wife put out cake instead of candy.

It was a moonless night. I could barely see. We climbed the Martinis' brick stairs. There was no metal railing. My brother rang the doorbell.

Mrs. Martini acted scared and offered a selection of cakes. I chose orange spice. Chuckie and my older brother picked chocolate cake. We thanked her with filled mouths and I slipped on my glasses and shut the visor. I then turned around and walked off the stairs.

Free fall.

My helmet smashed into the wall and mutilating my little finger scrapped down te rough brick. I thumped into the flower bed face first..

I sat up with blood all over my astronaut suit. I was more concerned with my father's sunglasses. They had fallen off, but luck was with me. They were intact.

My brother led me back to our house, careful not to let any blood drip on his costume.

My mother admonished my dangerous behavior. She had six kids. We were always in jeopardy. A band-aid stemmed the blood and my mother refused to let me leave the house again." "What about my candy?"

Here." My mother dumped a load a licorice, Mars bar and other treats in my bag. "One accident is more than enough for tonight."

And she was right and I replaced my father's sunglasses on his desk.

I still bear a jagged scar on my little finger from that fall and since that Halloween I have only worn sunglasses at night when I can't find my regular glasses, but I learned that on Earth we fall in one direction.

Down and no one ever fell in Space.

There was no up or down off this planet.

Especially boys from the South Shore of Boston in the fall of 1962.

TONIGHT IS NOT HALLOWEEN

Halloween has been celebrated on Oct. 31 for most of my entire life, but last year a Connecticut State representative floated an ill-conceived idea to schedule the holiday to fall on a weekend.

"Halloween is fun night for the whole family, but not so much when you have to race home from work, get the kids ready for trick or treating, welcome the neighborhood children, and then try to get everyone to bed for an early school and work morning.”

Both Democrats and Republicans lambasted his suggestion, which included trick or treating in daylight for safety's sake.

I also disagreed, but this year New Yorkers have been sporting Halloween costumes for over a week.

Call me old-fashioned, but I consider celebrating Halloween on any day other than October 31st as a sacrilege and yesterday a friend phoned that he was having a Frankenstein party a night early. We argued about the date, until Shannon explained Halloween's Celtic origin as Samhain, which marked the division of the year into halves of light and dark when the otherworld was nearest reality.

“It was a night of fire to cleanse the world.” I knew my Irish heritage. My mother’s family came from the West of Ireland.

"And they carved turnips, not pumpkins," Shannon stated with authority. His fiancee Charlotta was smart and he had mined Google's vast abyss of useless knowledge to impress the German artist.

"So the band should have been Smashing Turnips." The Chicago alternative band had been big in the 90s.

"No, once us Micks came here, we opted for pumpkins instead of turnips. They were bigger."

"Plus it’s hard to carve the Jack 'O Lanterns with eyes and mouth on a turnip.”

"You got that right." I had narrowly sliced off my thumb splitting a turnip the previous evening.

“And hollow pumpkins smash easier.”

“Not if you carve smaller eyes and mouths on a pumpkin.”

“Why?”

“Because the pumpkin will rot within a day, if the holes are too big." I had been researching 'pumpkin soup' on the Internet. Getting smart didn't take much of an effort these days. "What are you going as this year?"

"Some kind of monster." Charlotta was hosting a Halloween party on the right night at Chez Oskar on De Kalb Avenue. She believed in tradition and so did Shannon. "The first Halloween in America was mentioned in 1911. Someplace in hockey-puck land."

"Canada?"

"Yep."

"Then Happy Hallowmas." My Halloweens dated back to 1958 to Falmouth Foresides, Maine, when my mother warned that I couldn't go out 'trick or treating' unless I finished my beets.

Canned beets paved the path to chocolate paradise and I poured a glass of milk to wash down the purple vegetables. My older brother in his pirate outfit watched my struggle. I wore a skeleton costume. My younger sister was dressed as a ghoul. Gina and Frunk finished their beets. They actually liked them.

"What are you waiting for?" asked my brother. "We're missing out on all the good chocolate."

"Nothing."

I put the first sliced beet in my mouth. My tongue skated around the jellied vegetable. The bittersweet chunk tasted twenty years old and I swallowed it whole. My throat constricted on the unchewed beet's passage, but I got it down.

Only two more to go.

"No more milk." My older brother pulled away the half-filled glass. He had a date with Sandy the girl next door. The five year-old was dressed in white up as a good witch.

My best friend Chaney was going as a clown. His sweetheart's costume was that of a ballerina. I had asked Kathy Burns to walk the rounds with me. She had decided to go with Jimmy Fox. They were going as Tarzan and Jane. I didn’t have a date, but I would have chocolate, if I ate the beets.

I stuck the fork in the second beet slice and stuffed it deep into my mouth. Maybe too deep, because I gagged on it. My father's clapped my back and the beet slice back onto my plate.

My mother was not amused by my upchuck.

"Stop playing with your food."

"I'm not playing."

"You better not be. There are starving people in China."

Her family had gone through the Depression. Food on the plate was meant for your stomach. This was 1958. Eisenhower was President. America was a Land of Plenty. The beets belonged in the trash, but not in our house. Two slices took two minutes to stuff down my throat.

"That wasn't so bad." My mother grabbed my plate from the table.

"No." They came from a can and I vowed to never to eat beets again.

After kissing my mother I ran around to the back of our house and threw up the beets.

Only one thing would get rid of the taste.

I hit every house in our evening our neighborhood for candy and chocolate. My bag bulged with treats. My friends and older brother had done no tricks. Chaney had kissed Sandy on the cheek.

Reaching my house I went upstairs and stuffed four Baby Ruths in my mouth. I chewed them into mush and they sluiced down my esophagus into my stomach. The combination of chocolate and beets played havoc with a six year-old's constitution and I ran into the bathroom to empty my belly into the toilet.

The color of my upchuck was purple.

I drank a glass of water and returned to my bedroom. My brother was separating his candy into groups. I picked up a Baby Ruth and chewed it a little more slowly than the first four. It was not a beet or a turnip or a pumpkin or a kiss from Kathy Burns.

It was sweet chocolate.

And there was plenty of it.

As there will be forever as long as Halloween is celebrated on October 31.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dawn Along The Petrusse

Last Sunday dawn rose fast on the City of Luxembourg. Only two days before I had arrived with the sun's first light on the flight from London and jet lag prevented my sleeping till noon. It was 1AM back in New York.

Madame Ambassador was in her bedroom. No other human was in the embassy.

Only her cat in the guest room.

I pressed my hand to the window.

The lower pane was icy and I dressed accordingly for the cooler weather of Mittel Europa.

I exited from the embassy. The morning was quiet even for Luxembourg.

The ancient city was sleeping outside the embassy, which was perched on a cliff overlooking the chasm of the old fortress. Not a single car was on the viaduct and pedestrians were absent from the sidewalks of Boulevard de FDR. The city's residents were sleeping in warm beds, I had Luxembourg to myself and the crows swirling around the spike spires of Notre Dame Cathedral.

I wandered down the narrow streets of the old city, hoping to find an open cafe.

The only sound of humans was my breathing and I thought to myself, "How could you have spent six months here?"

Madame Ambassador and I had a good time during my sojourn as resident writer.

Parties at the Aston-Martin dealership.

A soiree to commemorate the Battle of the Bulge.

And a great dance night with the RAF.

Come to think about it and that half-year in 2011-2012 were a good time and I headed over to the ramparts. The sun was rising over the EEU buildings in Kitchenburg, but offered little warmth. Thankfully I was wearing my tweeds and became my descent to the casement, fortified against siege until 1862. A few tourists were shooting the valley of the Alzette River. I stepped on a broken wine bottle. The noise startled the two of them. They were Japanese.

Te famed military architect Vauban had expanded the fortifications in the 1600s and the city withstood a siege by the French for seven months earning it the name 'the Gibraltar of the North'.

Not one solider guarded the city this morning. They too were in bed.

People in Luxembourg like their sleep.

My heavy boots crunched on the gravel path along the old mill stream. I imagined myself an Irish exile serving the Prussians. That ghost was only in my head, but closing my eyes the Alzette's babbling vanquished the years. Life was this moment now connected to back then my my daydreams.

Opening my eyes I saw that the Bock casemates glowed in the dawn as they might have to the Roman legions to have come upon this craggy plateau. It was a good site for a fight.

The plaza of St. Jean de Grund was another empty space.

Except for an exquisite Daimler.

Luxembourg is a rich city.

One of the richest in Europe and rich people get to sleep in late on Sundays.

I yawned and said to myself, "Time to join my pillow."

Madame Ambassador and I would have breakfast later.

She had promised me a proper English Breakfast, although she would be up for another hour.

I could wait that long.

The bells of Notre-Dame were ringing out the hour of Eight.

After all I was still the resident writer in Luxembourg and dawn was still five hours away from New York.

A WALK IN FOG by Peter Nolan Smith

On a murky November evening I attended the opening of the "Dream' exhibition at Luxembourg's Mudam Museum. Madame l'Ambassador bailed early for a formal dinner. I was not invited for supper.

"It's a diplomatic thingee." Madame l'Ambassador explained, as we walked through a thickening fog to the waiting Jaguar.

"I understand." A writer-in-residence has to accept his place in the scheme of things.

Francois the driver opened the right-hand rear door for Madame l'Ambassador. It was the safest seat in the car. He asked if I needed a lift back to the city. The museum was located on the opposite side of the gorge running through the city. I had traversed it several times on foot and refused his offer.

"You go with Madame. I'll be fine." After all I am simply the guest writer.

I lingered at the soiree for another half hour. The crowd was young and artistic. The curator waved to me. The amiable Italian was chatting to an aristocratic couple in their 70s. Patrons of the museum were much more important than a well-unknown writer and I ordered a Duvel.

The bartender poured the triple-strengh beer into a special glass with reverence. Mittel Europe worshipped its beers.

I leaned at the bar and studied the passing faces. The queue at the bar seemed contently unconcerned by the chaos of the Euro. Their luxurious clothing cloned the bare threads of down-and-out artists, then again Luxembourg has the highest individual income in Europe and even the poor are rich in comparison to America.

The first beer had gone down quick and I ordered a second. No one commented on the speed of my drinking. The grand duchy marked the highest beer consumption per capita in 1993 with an unbeatable score of seventeen beers for each man, woman, and child in the tiny country.

A light-weight in my late-50s I called it a night after my third beer.

I had a good walk ahead to the upper city across the canyon of the Petrusse.

The I.M. Pei structure was shrouded by a spectral fog and I remembered my High School German teacher's translating fog for our German class.

"Nebel." Bruder Karl at Xaverian High School had spoken the word with the muted thunder of someone whose wrist bore the tattoo of the camps.

Nebel coupled with Nacht became night and mirrors, a mystical combination for the intrigues of the Gestapo.

I heard no jackboots and descended into the reconstructed fortifications with the night's cold touch on my skin.


The Mudam disappeared into the gray murk. I followed the switchbacking trail like a man going blind. A train sounded its whistle on the tracks below. It was the 7:43 from Troisvierges.

During its reign as Gibraltar of theNorth Luxembourg had housed thousands of soldiers and his path from Fort Thungen would have been travelled by hussars, dragoons, and mercenaries back in the 17th Century. Tonight my footsteps ricocheted unanswered against the stone ramparts.

The slurry of leaves crossed my path and I thought about a movie that an actor friend had made here several years ago. Bill had played a blood-lusting Nosteradu. The city's medievalism had lent the exterior scenes an unexpected aura of horror and this evening I glanced around me with a rising apprehension.

I was all alone.

The city was old.

While I no longer believed in God, I had seen enough vampire movies to know that I offered a fairly easy target for a bloodsucker. Were-wolves were not a worry, because the earth was in the middle of the synodic month.

A twig cracked in the surrounding woods. Something was out there in the forbidding shadows. I wished for a sword in my bare hand.

A single pinpoint of light broke through the swirling overcast.

Venus.

I salvaged a little confidence with the sighting of a familiar object in the night sky, then a lisping wind scrapped the bare branches to chant an incantation from a time before the invention of electricity.

Meeting a woman under a light was too much to ask from this evening.

This was Luxembourg and not Paris' Rue St. Denis.

My pace accelerated through the tunnel underneath the outer bastion. A shiver scrapped a dull razor against the skin of my spine. My cellphone dimly illuminated the black passage of stone. Running would have been a sign of fright to creatures of the night preying on the weak.

I crossed the tracks before the 7:45 train to Wiltz raced beneath the steep embankment. The smooth cobblestones gave way to gravel and the trail bore the ruts of wagons.

A rusting grate blocked the tunnel under the railroad tracks. Something inhuman was in the trees. I hopped over the metal fence and bushwhacked through the underbrush to the tracks. I looked both ways and clambered across the double set of steel rails to the other side.

I reached the street ten seconds later.

A streetlight glowed overhead.

The fortifications along the Petruche were in sight.

My cell phone rang.

It was Francois the driver.

He asked if I was all right.

I had reached the safety of the old city.

"Okay." The word meant the same in English as in French.

"Sure?" Madame l'Ambassador was concerned that something bad might have happened to me. She was a longtime friend. We shared mutual acquaintances. Neither of us wanted anything bad to happen to me on her watch.

“Fine, I'll be back at the residence within fifteen minutes. Thank the ambassador for asking."

It was a nice feeling to know someone cared and also that a good scare made a man feel alive, which is 100% better than being killed by a vampire any night of the week.

Premature E-Jack-O-Lantern


What do you call celebrating Halloween before October 31st?

Premature E-Jack-O-Lantern.

My younger brother Patrick Charles Smith told me that joke last year.

It works this year just as good.

Halloween in Pattaya 2007

In 2007 Pattaya celebrated the old Celtic festival of Samhain with a singularly Thai flavor. Bar girls dressed in skimpy dresses and go-go girls painted fake blood on their faces. Farangs drank more than normal nights. It's a pagan holiday and nothing says pagan better than sex go-go girls, beer, and a devilish hang-over the morning-after.

That Halloween I got no farther than the Buffalo Bar.

I was wearing my Ramones outfit.

Torn jeans, Keds sneakers, a Ramones t-shirt, and Ramones baseball cap.

None of the girls made any comment, since I had worn the same outfit to the bar on innumerable occasions.

I drank five Chang beers. 6.9 % alcohol.

I asked three lesbians to short-time with me.

They laughed at my lewd suggestions

The scary thing about Halloween 2007 was my two-minute motorcycle ride home.

Which on five Chang beers was mighty scary trip.