Saturday, October 30, 2010

Haunted House

You know back when I was a kid, me and my brother and a bunch of neighborhood kids used to gather together and make a haunted house for Halloween. It got more and more elaborate each year, and we all split the money we made off doing it. Which was never much, like $5 was the most I ever took home. But it was fun, well it started out fun and then it would always end badly. Why? Well you see my father lived in a not so good part of town. It was a suburb of New Orleans, and in case you didn't notice, New Orleans is a crime-ridden city.

So anyway we had a kind of segregated community. Black folks lived over here, white folks over there, Vietnamese somewhere different. It was the way it was. Well my dad lived right on the edge of where all the black folks lived. Which didn't bother us none... except for a few miscreant youths that kind of ruined things now and then. So word got out pretty quick, about how these kids got a haunted house, and all the kids should come by and get scared for the price or 25 or 50 cents. Which was good... if you are the enterprising type. But they are also some more thuggish people out there.

Well that is when my father and my older sisters' boyfriends' and my uncle showed up, to protect us. Now this whole thing could appear racist and maybe it was, but at least for me, it was just a chance to have a haunted house and fun. But you will always have some that will try to take that away from you, and yet more try to protect you, and of course someone out to protect the "thugs" and on and on.

So every year, we would have a big fight, with people getting punched or kicked or smacked with some kind of foreign object until my dad showed up with a gun... Yeah that's right. My dad was old school, and he truly didn't care. Now he fired the gun into the air, never at anyone (that I know of) and that was enough to make everyone calm down.

Odds are that he was high as a kite when he did this (because he liked to smoke a lot of weed), but still it seemed to be his "make everyone shut up and go home" tool of choice. I don't think that would go over very well these days, but you never can tell. The cops got to know my dad, he never was arrested, and we eventually moved out of the city. But I can still vividly remember those days, the building with cardboard and visqueen crisscrossing the backyard. One year I was a mummy and we had a set up where I was in a "coffin" (made of cardboard) and I got to scare the bejesus out of everyone. Another year I was a gorilla/monster and I would swing on our big willow tree, not so scary but fun all the same.

I don't get why we couldn't just have the haunted house, without the people to get in a fight with near the end (because when those type of people came, my uncle would tell all the haunted house occupants to go home and announce to the rest "The haunted house is closed") while my dad got his gun and the older boys would fight. All for what? Free admission to the haunted house? Seriously that is what they would say. Maybe too much testosterone came with the costumes. But still I can remember part of the night anyway.

These days there is no friction, no neighborhoods like they had in New Orleans, no racial tension, and no haunted house. Seems more fun when we did have it all.

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