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					WHERE THE WATERS DIVIDE

K. grew up in the era of Satanic Panic. In her small
town of Baldoon, Ontario, in Canada—a crossroads
on the edge of a village, really—strange events and
strange beliefs permeated everyday life.1 Heavy
metal and classic rock ruled the radio airwaves then,
and still do now. No other soundtrack suits the town
so well, and so music remains in lockstep with life.
Blue collar workers and farmers prevail. When the
freeway was built in the 1960s,2 it bypassed the
town. To get there, you had to put in an effort, and it
was an effort most wouldn’t tolerate. A dusty two
lane country road was the only way into town from
the South, and from the North, a similar road carved
its way through Walpole Island Native Reservation,
or Bkejwanong, “where the waters divide.”3 It is a
poor reservation with a small population. Tribe
members claim the bones of Chief Tecumseh are
buried on sacred ground there. Wariness related to
racial and class issues passes freely back and forth
across the bridge that separates the island from the
mainland, and suspicious cases of arson proliferate
on and near the island. And its borders grow. As far
as the cattail and duckgrass mat spreads out into the
Chenal Ecarte River delineates the new border of the
reservation.4 Some years, mainlanders go out in boats
at night, trimming back the mats to reclaim the
Chenal for summer pleasure fishing. K.’s town was
1A642.1. Woman cut in pieces: houses, etc., made from her
body. India: Thompson-Balys.




2J2171.1.1. Ship built with a wooden saw. The ship has no
bottom and is so narrow that nothing can get into it. Type
1274*.




3E272. Road-ghosts. (Cf. E332ff., E582.) Ghosts which
haunt roads. Lappish: Qvigstad FFC LX 40 No. 10; England,
U.S.: *Baughman; New York: Jones JAFL LVII 248; North
Carolina: Brown Collection I 674.




4D469.2. Transformation: weeds to bridge. Africa (Vai):
Ellis 191 No. 8.
physically – and psychically – hemmed in by these
issues.5

The factories were well on their way to dying by the
time K. was born, and their slow hold death choke
continued until there were only a few left by the
global recession of 2008. In the mid-1990s, she, and
generations of teenagers before her worked the farm
fields in the summer. They piled onto school buses
that bounced down gravel roads. She joined the
migrant workers from Jamaica and Mexico. The roads
segmented seas of corn and tobacco, with lower
waves of winter wheat followed by soy beans and
tomatoes. In the mornings, she wore garbage bags to
keep the dew off, bags over her sneakers that
shucked in the soft soil until the sun began to harden
it at midday.6 In town, in the summer, all of the grass
turned a crispy brown from drought. Boys with
downy mustaches on BMX bikes swayed in lazy
waves on the hot black asphalt, with mullets and
high-top Adidas. No laces. Tough girls with bleach
blond feathered hair and acid wash jeans perched on
their handlebars. Black mesh belly-t’s or black shirts
with white arms—Iron Maiden, Quiet Riot, Judas
Priest—three or four syllable mantras that embodied
the detachment necessary to endure the boredom of
small town life in rural Canada.

K.’s childhood was spent between homes. She spent
the majority of her elementary school years in a rural
farmhouse, and in during her parents’ frequent
separations, she lived with her grandparents or with
5D2121.13. Sailing in a leaky boat without sinking. *Loomis
White Magic 90.




6   A689.1. Dark puddles in hell. Irish myth: Cross.
her mother in short term rentals around the town.
She left home young. Her family’s farmhouse was
plunked in the middle of a farm field they didn’t
harvest, and breathed in the pesticides they didn’t
spray. The farm as a whole had once belonged to her
great-grandfather. In the Depression era, the farm
was far into the red, and so he sold off the fields to
the JR Martin Popcorn Company, keeping the house.7
The fields alternated as she grew up: the density of
corn, the pungency of onions, and sometimes,
tobacco. K.’s uncle had been born with a caul that
covered his face, and was said to have the gift of
Second Sight.8 The midwife removed it and burned to
ashes to prevent its theft. It was buried underneath
the silver maple tree behind the house – the type of
tree that turned the backside of its shiny leaves up to
the sky whenever it was going to rain.9 It was the
largest on the road, and had over the years twisted
into the shape of a man at the trunk.10 K. suspected
that she had been born with a caul also, but her
mother denied clear answers. Her knowledge of the
weather was thought to be uncanny: K. knew the
sound of birds before it rained, and she knew how the
cows and cats would act before a storm. She could
divine humidity to foretell tornadoes, and persuade
the moon to forecast the next day’s temperature.11

Her farmhouse, itself the site of peculiar goings-on,
was in turn situated between two properties with
their own eccentric presence. To the east side was
the site of an infamous poltergeist case known as The
Baldoon Mystery; on the west side, the Kroon family
7F171.6.6. People in otherworld thatch house with bird’s
wings. Thatch blows away while they go for more. Irish
myth: *Cross.




8 N655. Waves break caul of abandoned child. He is rescued.
Irish myth: Cross.



9F811.15. Upside-down tree. Branches in ground, roots in
air. Africa (Bambara): TravР№lР№ 205ff. No. 66.

10D1571.1. Magic ashes revivify trees. (Cf. D1271.1.)
Japanese: Mitford 182.




11E262. Ghost rides on man’s back, whispers secret
knowledge in ear of carrier. *Fb III 520a; E. H. Meyer
Germanische 76; Schцnbach Sitzungsberichte d. Phil. Hist.
Classe der Kaiserl. Akad. d. Wiss. zu. Wien CXXXIX (1890)
135; Icelandic: Boberg; Lithuanian: Balys Index No. 3511.
lived in their odd house built of salvaged materials.
Lenny was the patriarch, and was a retired
archeologist. While he was stationed on a dig in
France just after WWII, a cathedral was set to be
demolished. He stole the stained glass windows from
the work site, and shipped them back to Canada.12 He
found the off cast heap of a ceramic manufacturer in
Germany, and sent back heavy boxes of floor tile. He
rummaged through the local dump, hoarding pipes
for plumbing, and he drove his truck around the back
roads of Southwestern Ontario, ripping hardwood
floors and fireplace fronts out of abandoned
farmhouses.13 The resulting house, made of trash,
was a strange amalgam of Prairie School and
Vernacular Gothic.

K.’s brother R. befriended Lenny’s teenage son, and
so it was that she came to hear the Kroon stories.
Lenny was a liar by nature.14 No one ever knew the
story behind his missing fingers. He lost them while
diffusing a bomb in the Second World War. An
alligator bit them off when he was on a dig in Egypt. A
mobster cut them off when he couldn’t pay a debt
from a game of poker.15 He told K. about the time he
was called out of his bed in the middle of the night by
men in suits. He was taken to the site of what he was
told was an airplane crash, messily landed just an
hour before on the shores of Lake Eerie. He was
sworn to secrecy. On arrival, he understood why. The
crash was not an airplane, but an extraterrestrial
aircraft.16 He witnessed two alien pilot bodies tangled
with aluminum shards of a metal cockpit. He helped
12 E236.7.E236.7. Ghostly noises disturb village until stolen
church plate is returned. (Cf. E402.) England: Baughman.




13F1032. Person walks unceasingly for year. Africa
(Angola): Chatelain 33 No. 1.




14F59.1. Man stretches self— till he reaches other
world. Greek: Fox 36 (Dionysus); Hawaii: Beckwith Myth
476.



15   F167.6. F167.6. Handless people in otherworld. Siuts 218.




16 F56.2.Extraordinary bird pecks hole in sky-roof to give
access to lower world. Africa (Fjort): Dennett DFLS XLI 74ff.
No. 16.
to comb the site and contain it, secreting a piece of
the crumpled metal into his jacket pocket. The men in
suits took him home, along with his secret.17 The
story of a mysterious late night aircraft crash made
the local papers in the morning, but the details were
vague. No pilot was ever found.

K. loved to look around Lenny’s “bone room,” raised
on tall beams like a tree house, connecting to the
second floor of the main house with a thin walkway.
The bone room was a cabinet of curiosity, an archive
of indigenous pots and archeological shards that K.
was welcome to touch.18 Lenny had a bizarre sense of
humor. He liked to collect the penis bones of
raccoons, gluing them on to plaster casts of the Venus
of Willendorf. He claimed that this cast was made
from the original, from the time he was left alone in
the room with the statuette for a half an hour in the
back rooms of the Royal Ontario Museum. Sometimes
he would carve a tiny black top hat and cane for the
Venus, giving them away as graduation and birthday
presents. He kept the bones of roasted chickens,
constructing intricate tall ship models.19 Lenny was
the most interesting person K. had ever met. She
liked that the area between his lies and truths was
definitively grey.

On one visit, Lenny told K. to hold out her hand, and
placed a piece of what appeared to be smooth tinfoil
there. He told her to crumple it up, and she did. It
stayed that way for just a moment, and then swiftly
17 F1041.9.2.   Illness from keeping a secret. Irish myth:
*Cross.




18T511.6.2. Second Sight from touching finger-bones of the
dead. S. A. Indian (Bakairi): Alexander Lat. Am. 312,
LР№vi-Strauss BBAE CXLIII (3) 347.




19   E538. Ghoulish ghost objects; phantom ship.
unfolded itself. It did this in a way that was faster
than she thought possible.20 It was like it had never
been crumpled at all, unmarred. “It’s a piece of the
space wreck,” he told her. She laughed, assuming he
was telling a story. He seemed offended as he took
the metal away and put it back in its clamshell case.

When she was in her twenties, working at the local
library, she tried to track down the newspaper
articles that Lenny had also shown her that day. He
was convinced that the local press had been
systematically erasing all of the strange stories about
their town, and so he clipped articles, creating a
paranoid archive stored in rows of binders in the
bone room.21 On her lunch break at the library, K.
found the range of microfiche spools she would need
and whisked through them to try and find the stories
of the “air wreck” at Lake Eerie. The newspaper for
that day was there, but the story was blacked out
with a permanent marker, a void on the page. She
became embarrassed in retrospect, for laughing at
the evidence that once rested in the palm of her
hand.22
20   M118. Swearing on a skull. Irish myth: Cross.




         Person with many eyes. Scottish:
21 F512.2.

Kirkudbrightshire.




22E761.4.3. Truth token: mirror becomes black (misty). (Cf.
D1163.) *Bolte Zs. f.Vksk. XX 70 n. 5; Armenian: Macler
contes ArmР№niens 28; Japanese: Ikeda.
BOOK STREET SKIES

K.’s life began as such: or, her life began as such in the
sense that some vague logic of coagulating
consciousness was by then beginning to occur. The
time spoken of in this writing was the time when her
childhood memories began to flow together, their
importance (or conversely their mundanity) locking
together to form the beginnings of a distinct
personality.

It was August, and K. was very young – young enough
to be in a sitting in a stroller on her grandparent’s
front porch. It was several days into an intense heat-
wave, and everyone was sitting on the porch because
there was a thunderstorm coming.1 This was not
uncommon in the late summer, when the sticky heat
was blocked in by the tall corn fields. No one in K.’s
family had air-conditioning; and so on those days
where no amount of air flow directed into the house
by the noisy box fans in windows could take the edge
off, they sat on their porches with sweaty mugs of
pink lemonade and waited for the storms to break
the humidity. She was not then, nor has she ever been
afraid of thunderstorms.2 The rumble of the thunder
seemed more ominous than usual, but they stayed, K.
in her stroller flanked by her grandparents and a few
uncles and aunts leaning against the railing. Like
most storms, the air was addictive and terrifying all
the same. Bravery diminished when the lightning
became too intense and the pounding of the rain
1D1812.5.2.3. Hearing thunder on setting forth a good
omen. *Kittredge Witchcraft 45, 398 n. 172; *Frazer
Pausanias III 417 (lightning on the right).




2D2141.0.10. Woman hoists skirt to raise
thunderstorm. Hawaii: Beckwith Myth 113.
drowned out conversation. The storm tore through
quickly, the rain lessened to a drizzle and the thunder
receded. K. remembers the sharp smell of dirt and
sulfur and chlorophyll in the air.12

Everything that happened next happened in front of
the clouds.3 The lightning had long retreated behind
the bank of storm clouds, miles away now. This was
something else.4 True, the flash and rumble
occasionally lit everything up, but it was light behind
an opaque screen. Purple twilight. The Libbey Glass
Company -- the factory her grandfather had worked
at since he was old enough to reach the assembly line
by standing on a box -- was still operational. But it
was a Sunday night, and so no lines were running and
the lights were out on the cooling tower.5 This is
important.

An oblong disc of light appeared in front of the
clouds, hovering near the ten-story tall cooling shaft
of the factory, like a celestial light switch had been
flipped on, a firefly the size of an automobile that will
always remain questionable in her memory.6 There
was no travelling time for it to have come from
elsewhere. It was very abruptly just there. The large
disc of light produced three more. One disc plus three
others, smaller but no less in intensity. 7 The family
on the porch were all gaping, pointing, and K., in her
stroller, pointing too. She wasn’t talking, but her arm
was stretched out, indicating the oddities above as a
point of reference. 8 Child’s arm as way-marker to the
sky. She knew this was not lightning from the storm.
3 D901. Magic cloud. *Chauvin V 230; Fb “sky”;
Jewish: *Neuman


4E555. Dead man smokes pipe. Fb “tobak” III 814a,
“spшgelse” III 520a; U.S.: Baughman; N. A. Indian
(Seneca): Curtin-Hewitt RBAE XXXII 219 No. 41, (Teton):
Dorsey AA o.s. II (1889) 150.



5A1174.2. Why some nights are dark and some light. India:
Thompson-Balys.




6 D1566.1.5. Extraordinary light kindles lamps. (Cf.
D1005.) *Loomis White Magic 46f.; Irish: Plummer clxxviii,
*Cross.



7F989.16.2. Swarms of birds darken sun and moon. Jewish:
*Neuman.


8A778.2.1. Milky Way as path of souls (demons). Finno-
Ugric: Holmberg Finno-Ugric 82.--Mandan, Pawnee:
Alexander N. Am. 96, 117; S. Am. Indian (Amazon).
No one was talking, only silently pointing. Soon
others wandered off of their porches and out of their
living room. She recalls how the streets nearest to her
grandparents’ house beginning to fill with people
standing, confused, looking up and talking in hurried
tones about the lights in the sky.9 K. does not
remember how that evening ended.10
9F541.1.2. Eyes flash lightning. N. A. Indian (Navaho):
Matthews MAFLS V 123.

10   F55.2. Arms piled up to sky. India: Thompson-Balys.
BOOK STREET BEDROOMS

Photographs of the house on 26 Book Street look
modest when compared to her memories.1 The street
itself was not paved professionally, but was covered
with soft blacktop the locals patched themselves if
potholes developed in front of their homes. Most of
her summers would be spent barefoot, wandering
around on similar roads with no adult guidance.2
Baldoon was too small and her family was too poor to
send her to summer camp. While the road was
painful to walk on in the first hot days of June with
soft heels, the bottoms of her feet would thicken into
callused sheets immune to the heat collected
throughout the days of August. Wandering the roads
was supplemented with trips down to the creek
embankment to look for crayfish by lifting up rocks
and to sit and watch the water. It is so silent, when
she thinks back, and she spoke then as rarely as she
does now. The quiet was sparkling, punctuated by the
racket of cicadas and cars driving over the metal
grate of the bridge leading out of town – heavy metal
out the windows. The band Loverboy distorting into
the distance, a brief flash of the driver banging on the
steering wheel in agreement that yes, everybody here
is working for the weekend.

Her grandparent’s house was two stories tall, white
with brown trim. Simple vernacular gothic clad in
wood siding and two pop up dormers in the roof. A
1E761.4.2. Life token: picture burns black. *Bolte Zs. f. Vksk.
XX 70 n. 4.




2F1032. Person walks unceasingly for year. Africa (Angola):
Chatelain 33 No. 1.
set of creaky wooden steps with no railing (again,
much taller in memory than reality) led up to a wide
planked wood porch with a spindle balustrade that
spanned across the entire front of the house. When
she was six, K. fell down the last four steps, brutally
skinning her knees. She smashed her fists on the
wood, as though the stairs had caused the fall and not
her own clumsiness. As she moved through
childhood, her parent’s tenuous relationship often led
to shifting homes: a night or two here, a few months
there. By the time K. was born, her uncles and aunts
had all left home, conveniently leaving four bedrooms
open at her grandparent’s house. This was obviously
convenient for her mother’s frequent forays as a
bachelorette.3

The first room K. slept in was called “The Playroom,”
but she remembers it as a glorified walk-in closet.
The interior was painted mint green. Disco-era
posters had been tacked onto the walls by one of her
aunts. The light that filtered through the lone frosted
window bounced off the slanted green walls and onto
the single bed pushed into a corner, making the space
seem that much sicklier. With all of the empty rooms,
one has to ask, why was she made to sleep in the
worst one? The first night, K.’s mother slept in there
too. It seemed like a form of self-punishment. K. was
an active sleeper, and so when her mother grew tired
of her nocturnal flailing, she moved into another
room.4 The burden of the room was left with K. So it
was that she found herself awake at night, unable to
sleep in a strange place, drifting in and out of
3Q552.21. Woman vomits heart as punishment and lives
without it till her death.India: Thompson-Balys.




4   K231.1. Refusal to perform part in mutual agreement.
consciousness while staring at the faces of the Bay
City Rollers.5 After a week, she begged her mother to
allow her to sleep in another room, and moved across
the hall.

In the next room, she developed an immediate
unfounded fear of the closet, and at an age much too
old for such fear. The heavy black curtain printed
with bright red apples seemed to hide something
sinister. If she could trick her mother into getting her
clothes out of it for the next school day, she would –
forfeiting the choice of what to wear. A close cousin
the same age would sit next to K. on the bed when
she came to visit, staring at the curtain and agreeing
that something did, indeed, seem strange about the
closet. Lucky for her, she would get to leave. Beyond
the closet, the room itself had its issues. A metal
heating pipe for the gas furnace stabbed through the
floor of the room and up through the roof. It was
scalding hot and there were many times when a
distracted brush against it would result in a minor
burn.6 Regardless of this heat emanating column, the
room remained cold.7 Even her grandfather’s
minimalist approach to utilities use could not have
accounted for the lack of heat. K. slept under a mound
of four or five quilts, but these did little good on those
nights when they were violently torn off the bed
while she slept.8 On more than one occasion, she
would wake in the dead of the night, aware that the
blankets were being yanked towards the end of the
bed. In that muddled state, waking to the cold shock
of the room, she would scream hysterically for help.
5   E34 (Resuscitation with misplaced head)




6B16.1.1.2. Cat leaps through man like arrow of fire and
burns him to ashes. Irish myth: Cross.

7E281.3. Ghost haunts particular room in house. England,
Scotland, U.S.: *Baughman.


8F470.1. Spirits pull off person’s bedclothes. *Kittredge
Witchcraft 217, 524f. nn. 37--44; England, Scotland, Wales,
U.S.: *Baughman.
An impression would remain on the end of her bed,
as though someone had been sitting there, watching
her sleep.9 After two nights, her mother stopped
responding and left her to deal with this
phenomenon on her own. K. responded by covertly
asking her grandfather, when her mother was at
work, if she could please change rooms again. He
hung an inverted horseshoe above the door to her
third bedroom, and said nothing of it.10

Strange discoveries are rooted to the history of the
Book Street house. One April, as her grandfather was
expanding the borders of his garden patch, his shovel
hit something hard in the ground—what he thought
was a pipe or a tree root. He eased the obstruction up
from the ground with the tip of his shovel, and took
hold of the other end with his hand. It came loose
easier than he thought it would. As the soil fell away,
it became clear that he was holding a human femur
bone in his hand. 11
9E568.1. Revenant leaves impression of body in
bed. England, U.S. *Baughman.




10D1385.9. Magic horseshoe keeps off devils, trolls, and
witches. (Cf. D1286.) *Fb “hestesko”; Hdwb. d.
Abergl. III 437ff.




11A2004. Insects from devil’s post-hole. Devil is given
enough land to dig a post-hole. From this come all kinds of
insects. To stop them a burning log is put in the hole.
BOOK STREET BABIES

One Saturday, as K. was drifting in and out of sleep on
the couch (or the Chesterfield, as her grandfather
called it), watching cartoons with the volume low.
She could hear her family talking in the kitchen. Her
uncle R., always one for ghost stories, was conspiring
about the nature of the steady discoveries of skeletal
remains in their town. He spoke of a house that was
haunted by the wailing of babies and the sound of
ticking clocks in the walls.1 But was this memory
accurate or did she dream it? K. couldn’t parse the
details. Where was this house?

As an adult, K. contacted her cousin, simply asking if
she remembered anything “strange” about the Book
Street house, with no details beyond that. Her cousin
responded right away:

        I recall some stories about it. I don't remember
       who told them to me for some reason though.
       The one story I remember is that Nana heard
       babies crying a lot in that house and our
       parents and siblings were all past the baby
       years.2 One day they were doing some
       renovations upstairs and Papa found old
       fashioned baby clothing and a couple skeletons
       of wee babies. I am not sure if they reported it
       or not. But the story goes that the crying
       stopped afterwards.3
1E225. Ghost of murdered child. English: *Child I 218 No.
20; Tobler 30; Estonian: Aarne FFC XXV 114 No. 9; Finnish:
Aarne FFC XXXIII 39 No. 9; Lappish: Qvigstad FFC LX 40
No. 3; New York: Jones JAFL LVII 241, 244; Eskimo
(Greenland): Rink 392, 410, (Smith Sound): Kroeber JAFL
XII 181.




2 E421.3.7. Flames issue from corpse’s mouth. Penzer II 62;
Icelandic: *Boberg.




3E337.1.2.1. Sounds of accident re-enact tragedy, end on
recovery of bones. U.S.: *Baughman.
K.’s cottony half-conscious remembered version of
the story was obviously inaccurate. She called her
mother. K.’s mother picked up the phone and did not
leave her space for questioning until she shared the
content of dreams she had been having of her
grandmother for the last two nights. They were vivid
dreams of a repeating lineage that had begun soon
after the woman’s death. K. and her mother always
made a point of sharing them, suspecting their
intensity and accuracy and co-presence in their
bedrooms qualified as apparitional visitations. This
was peculiar news – the type of supernatural oddness
that causes eyes tear up uncontrollably.4 K. had been
writing about Book Street for the past two days, and
the connection of this action to her grandmother’s
visitations was clear. K. took this opportunity, while
their conversation lingered in strangeness, to ask her
mother about the house and the half-remembered
story.

In 1965, K.’s grandfather bought the Book Street
house at an estate auction for four thousand dollars.
The house was condemned and had been sitting
empty for two years.5 The leaking roof in
combination with burst pipes meant that the interior
of the house would need to be completely gutted
before the family could move in, and so he rented a
dumpster and began ripping out all of the moldy
carpet and spongy wood paneling that lined the
walls.
4   D457.11. Transformation: eye to another object.




5 E593.3. If no lamp is lighted in a house for a period of
fourteen days, ghosts take it for their dwelling. India:
Thompson-Balys.
The prior tenants used to run the local junkyard a
few miles south on the outskirts of town. “They
weren’t right,” her mother explained. The father was
a drunk, and his wife had died from Cancer young,
leaving him to raise their daughter and son. “They
were simple-minded.” In spite of the spaciousness of
the house, the children shared a bedroom. Somehow
the entire town knew this. Eventually, the father died.
The sister and brother, who were by then grown
adults, stayed in the house for the rest of their adult
lives, until they were sent to the government funded
old-age home where they died in 1963.

While prying wood paneling from the kitchen, K.’s
grandfather found a section that gave way much too
easily. Stuffed between the wood studs of the wall, he
found three small bundles, about a foot long,
wrapped in stained brown linen. He dislodged one,
and picking it up, found it to be very light. Things
inside shifted and made a wooden clacking sound like
a stack of kindling being piled in a basket.6 He
kneeled and unwrapped the bundle on the floor. The
linen did not contain hoarded money or forgotten
documents. He ran next door to the Authier’s and
asked them to call the police. Inside of the bundles
were the skeletons of babies. “It was an incest thing –
a brother-sister thing.” By the time the police had
arrived, her grandfather had cut a small hole through
the wall of the house, a portal through which to
delicately pass the bundles to the hands of the
constable standing outside.7 K. was disturbed to find
the foggy memory, now made clear, was linked to a
6   V515.1.5. Vision of dry bones. Jewish: Neuman.




7E431.4. Coffin carried through hole in wall to prevent
return of dead. Fb “gjenganger” I 444a; Frazer JAI
XV 70; England, Scotland: *Baughman; Indonesia: Kruyt
Het Animisme 264ff., Elshout De Kenja-Dejaks uit het Apo-
Kajanggebied (Den Haag, 1926) 62.
house that she had lived in – that she had lived in a
house where multiple infant deaths had occurred.
Whether murder or stillborn birth was the cause of
the fatalities was inconsequential. The reality of the
thing was disconcerting.8

While this new shock was still settling in, K.’s mother
quickly moved on to weave in another story:9

         And you know that house across the street? The
        green one? Well, there used to be a family that lived
        in there called the Winstones. But, you know, when
        we were kids, we called them the Flintstones. They
        did a lot of weird things. One summer, they started
        to dig a pit in their front yard. They thought that
        was all they needed to do to make a swimming pool!
        So they had a big hole in front of their house, and
        the sides kept collapsing when they went too deep.
        A storm came through, and the sides collapsed and
        the damn thing filled up with muddy rainwater. The
        town had to come down and make them fill it in
        before someone fell in it and drowned. But the
        weirdest thing happened with the Winstones. We
        had been living across from them for about two
        years at that point, when one day they just
        disappeared! The whole family – there were seven
        of them! Their dinner was all laid out on the table: a
        bowl of potatoes, a ham, and drinking glasses filled
        as though they were just about sit down to dinner.
        They didn’t take anything with them, not even their
        car. They just vanished, and no one in the town ever
        heard from them again.
8E337.   Ghost reenacts scene from own lifetime.



        Person with many eyes. Scottish:
9 F512.2.

Kirkudbrightshire.
A few years after the Winstones disappeared, the
house was torn down and a duplex was built on the
property. No one stuck around in those apartments
long.10
10F863.1. Unbreakable chain. Flemish: DeMeyer FFC XXVII
81 No. 9c.
ELECTRIC LINE EVENTS

The smell of rose perfume floating through the
sulfurous tendrils of extinguished candles.1 Cherry
tobacco smoked in a pipe.2 The sound of thick pencils
– a noise like “sssssssssshhck”--the belly of a snake
sliding across rough paper.3 She could hear that the
line was continuous. The pencil never lifted from the
page, and so there was no tapping of lead on paper on
top of wood. They were not making grocery lists
down there. The snap of new paper being replaced
under hands guiding pencil. Sometimes if things were
not flowing smoothly, they used a planchette to aid in
their receptions. The wood heart carried the pencil in
a hole, raised on wheels with one slightly off track.
Barely audible squeaks, in need of oil. Soft mumbling.
Questions.4 Have you ever heard a ghost walk?

The shapes were coming down the stairs, behind her,
as they always did, every second Saturday night of
the month.5 She had learned, over time, not to be
afraid of them. They were people once. “It’s not the
dead that will hurt you,” her grandmother would tell
her, “—it’s the living.” Since she had been old enough
to escape her crib, K. had snuck out of her upstairs
bedroom, tiptoeing to the edge of the landing,
following the worn carpet runner so as not to make
the hardwood floor creak. She wanted to listen to
what was happening downstairs.6 Her clandestine
movements were an unnecessary ritual, but she
followed them anyways. She wasn’t invited, yet she
1D479.7. Evil smells transformed into sweet fragrances, and
vice versa. *Loomis White Magic 81.

2E555. Dead man smokes pipe. Fb “tobak” III 814a,
“spшgelse” III 520a; U.S.: Baughman; N. A. Indian
(Seneca): Curtin-Hewitt RBAE XXXII 219 No. 41, (Teton):
Dorsey AA o.s. II (1889) 150.

3 X251.1.Why no weavers in hell. Devils annoyed at their
noisy trade. Flemish: DeMeyer FFC XXXVII 84 No. 27a.




4 E557.1. Ghost writes on wall the answers to problems of
person in trouble. U.S.: Baughman.


5 E421.4.   Ghosts as shadow. U.S.: *Baughman.




6 D1412.3.Flames draw person into them. (Cf. D1271.)
Jewish: Neuman.
knew that they knew that she was up there, listening.
There were strangers in the house. Some of the
voices were familiar. They spoke like they were from
town; farmers with clipped Ontario accents. Other
voices came and went, with more exotic accents,
strained, and ethereal.7 She wasn’t sure if it was her
ears, but she was sure they spoke in other languages.
They bled out from the shadows. Straining her ears to
listen through the murky dark was tiring, and so
sometimes, she would fall asleep, fetal form at the top
of the stairs. She would wake up in her own bed in
the morning, hazy headed and disoriented.8 Nothing
was ever said of the discreet rejection of her
bedroom, but she often pretended to sleepwalk, with
the intention of perpetuating her innocence.9

In the morning, if she was awake before anyone else,
she would search for clues. A slim envelope of money
that had not been there the day before, hidden in the
back of the bread bin.10 The dining room table was
the biggest and oldest piece of furniture in their
house, and had “come over from the Old Country,”
according to her mother. They never ate at that table,
and she wasn’t allowed to work at it. Their family of
five crowded around the formica and chrome table in
the kitchen instead. The dining room and its table
were reserved for second Saturdays. Sometimes the
adults didn’t clean up from the night before, and she
would find the tablecloth hand-tatted by great-
grandmother, with its hilly landscape of white wax
candle drippings in the center, thrown over that
special table.11 Nothing else remained.
7D457.14.2. Transformation: tongue to flame. Jewish:
Neuman.




8   E34 (Resuscitation with misplaced head)



9E175. Death thought sleep. Resuscitated person thinks he
has been sleeping. He exclaims, “How long I have been
asleep!” Bolte 555; Wesselski MРґrchen 192.--India:
*Thompson-Balys; Philippine: Dixon 235; N. A. Indian:
*Thompson Tales 319 n. 154, (Calif).

10K1064. Man dupes animals into turning their tongues
upside down. India: Thompson-Balys.




11 D1153.1. D1153.1. Magic tablecloth. *Type 569, 851,
853; BP I 464ff.; *Aarne MSFO XXV 118; Penzer I 25f.--
Breton: Sйbillot Incidents s.v. “serviette”.
In family photo albums, she once found an image of
her grandmother, back when she lived in the
farmhouse too. Scalloped white edges with a date:
1959. Her grandmother sitting in an oversized
armchair, wisps of smoke from the burn pile of leaves
outside, reflected through the warbled glass windows
and onto the peeling botanical wallpaper.13 The
staircase in the background, fading into darkness at
the top. Her mother always said she “got a chill” going
up those stairs. One night before bed, she told K. the
previous owner had hung himself there, “over a
woman,” on the fifth step.14 Knowing this, she
avoided the step altogether for the next few months,
double-stepping up or down.

As she grew older and the dining room continued to
host second Saturday nights, K. grew bold, edging her
way down the stairs, one step at a time. The thick
wood slats of the banister provided her with ample
reconnaissance cover. She discovered that if she
leaned forward while sitting on the fourth step down
from the top of the stairs, daring to put her feet on
the fifth step, she could see the back of her mother’s
head, sitting at the dining room table.15 The table was
round, but it was clear that her mother was the head
of the table, ruling over the events. The patterns of
this ritual were predictable, but the events were not.
Candlelit faces edged out from her mother on either
side, arms raised, elbows bent and hands clasped,
enclosing her mother in the center circle of the circle,
pencil on paper at the center, at the table.16 Their
eyes narrowed in the dark, just barely swaying.17
13 D1572. Magic smoke carries power of spirits. (Cf. D1271,
V220.) Irish: Plummer clxvi, Cross.




14 E538.2.   Ghostly rope of suicide appears. U.S.: Baughman.




15 E386.3.Ghosts summoned by calling them by
name. Icelandic: *Boberg; England: Baughman.




16F1034. Person concealed in another’s body. *Penzer VII
114ff.

17   D457.11. Transformation: eye to another object.
They did this while they waited for the pencil to
begin moving, waiting to ask their questions. Her
aunt L. and uncle R. were always there, and her
grandmother. A few other faces she recognized from
their town, but there were strangers there too,
people “from away.”18 The seats around the table
were always full.19
18   C745. Tabu: entertaining strangers. Jewish: Neuman.

19 D1153. Magic table. *Types 563, 564; BP I 346ff.; *Aarne
JSFO XXVII 1--96 passim, MSFO XXV 118; *Kцhler-Bolte I
109; *Chauvin V 272 No. 154.--Irish myth: *Cross;
Icelandic: Boberg; English: Wells 32 (LayamonвЂ˜ s Brut);
Swiss: Jegerlehner Oberwallis 297 No. 28.
ELIZABETH STREET SPELLING

“Well if you can’t say it out loud, then spell it out.”

Her mother was on the telephone, anchored to the
old rotary dial system in the entry hall. K. knew it was
her grandmother on the other end of the line,
because they had just spent their first night in the
new house, and no one else had the number. Her
grandmother was also very loud.

“Spell it out, D. She won’t understand. What’s
wrong?”

One thing that was wrong was that K. was in the
room, and her mother did not want to frighten her.
But this was minor. D. was clearly afraid of something
herself, and the cyclical and strange nature of being
present in this moment, with this telephone call in
the room, had K. frozen with fear on the carpet of the
living room.1 She pretended to draw a picture,
because she didn’t want to leave the room and be
somewhere else in the house, alone. Yet, she didn’t
want to hear what her mother had to say, because
she already knew. To say what was wrong out loud
would make that much more real.

“Do you need me to come over there, D.?”

“No, don’t. It’s just my bad luck. I’m like a magnet.
Alright, I’ll spell it.”
1   F402.1.6. Spirit causes weakness. Irish myth: *Cross.
K. put her hands over her ears, but it wasn’t enough,
or she wasn’t quick enough. The following bled
through: “S-P-I-T-S. This house has S-P-I-T-S.” Or
maybe it was “S-P-R-T-S.”2

It wasn’t fair to blame K.’s inability to spell because
she was only in the third grade. In any case, she
wrote the letters down with crayons on red
construction paper – alternating colors to make a
rainbow effect. Her mother had found the crayons
and paper upstairs when they moved in last night,
and gave them to K. to stay busy while she unpacked
the carload of boxes. The house was full of someone
else’s things. The woman who had lived here before
was D.’s boyfriend’s mother, and she had died a few
months ago. K. wondered if she died in the house, and
whose bedroom it happened in. She hoped it was her
mother’s and not hers. The boyfriend did not live in
town, and when he was, he stayed at the hotel where
D. worked. Since the house was sitting empty, waiting
to be settled for the estate sale, and D. and K. were
living with her grandparents, he gave the keys to D.
to move in.3

K. looked at the letters spelled out on the paper, but
they didn’t make a word she knew. The letters didn’t
make sense. And yet they did.

It had been a strange night. Neither K nor her mother
had slept well. Someone had been wandering in and
out of her room all night long. She would surface
from sleep with the feeling that someone had just left
2   J1803. Learned words misunderstood by uneducated.




3 E593.3. If no lamp is lighted in a house for a period of
fourteen days, ghosts take it for their dwelling. India:
Thompson-Balys.
the room, or had just walked away from the end of
her bed. She assumed it was her mother checking on
her.4 And the one time she did wake up to see her
mother standing in the doorway, D. had accused K. of
coming into her room. That her mother lofted this
accusation upset K. She had been in her own bed all
night, too scared to run across the hallway to beg to
stay in her mother’s bed.

K. folded the paper into quarters, hiding it before her
mother saw what she had done. She would show it to
her father or her grandmother next time she saw
them, and ask them what it meant. She put her
crayon to a new piece of paper and tried to draw a
sailboat, but she drew an old woman lying on a
glowing bed.5 The bed looked like the one in her
mother’s room. Something was wrong with her hand.
She tried to draw a cat, but she drew a little girl with
red hair, sitting at a piano.6 The piano was the one in
the parlor. She tried to draw a bird, but she drew a
red doorway, with a big black dog charging out.7 The
door in the picture was to the closet in the living
room. She couldn’t bear to look behind her. She
couldn’t draw dogs, and so she stopped drawing. She
folded the papers into quarters and then into
quarters again. And then again. Again and again. She
hoped to make the drawings that came through her
so small that they would disappear.8
4E281.2. Ghostly horse enters house and puts hoofs on
breast of sleeper. Tobler 50.




5E487. Glowing beds of dead. Youth in land of dead puts
staff into one of the beds. The iron glows and the wood
burns. Irish: O’Suilleabhain 63, 102, Beal XXI 324, 333;
Swiss: Jegerlehner Oberwallis 309 No. 7.

6E554.1. Ghost plays organ. North Carolina: Brown
Collection I 676.

7F401.3.3. Spirit as black dog. Swiss: Jegerlehner
Oberwallis 310 No. 25.




8   E593. Ghost takes things from people.
ELIZABETH STREET PROTECTION

Her mother’s breath had come out ragged and visible
all that night. It was August, but it was so cold in her
bedroom that she could see her breath. Someone was
trying to sleep in the bed with her, spirit form
floating above her own, face to face, living to dead,
separated by mere centimeters.1 She got up during
the night to retrieve a butcher knife from the kitchen,
placing it beneath her pillow.2 What did she think she
was going to be able to stab? D. called the parish
priest in the morning, but he would not come and
bless the house, since she had left her husband and
the church without first asking permission from the
congregation. She had been ostracized. In a moment
of sympathy, with D. crying on the telephone, he gave
in.

“His mother died in your room, in your bed. She was
very angry to be so ill. Flip your mattress from end to
end and then from side to side.3 Do this every night,
to dispel her lingering spirit. She will leave the
bedroom if you do this. I’m not sure she will ever
leave the house entirely.”4

D. asked if there was anything else she should know
about the house.

“His little sister also died in the house, in your
daughter’s bedroom. She had leukemia. Such a
1E472. Revenant sleeps in same bed with living but without
contact. U.S.: Baughman.


2E761.4.1. Protective knife stuck in tree rusts (becomes
bloody). *Bolte Zs. f. Vksk. XX 70 n. 2; *Fb “kniv” II
221a




3   E472.3 Revenant haunts deathbed. U.S.: Baughman.

4E439.9. Ghost will not return if mattress is lifted and spun
backwards. (Cf. D1783.) England: Baughman.
shame, D. She had the most beautiful red hair, and
was a very talented pianist for her age.”5

D. did as the Quebecois Catholic priest told her to, but
continued to cling to the comfort of the knife below
her pillow for the remaining time that they lived
there. D. did not share the information of the red
headed girl with K. until she was much older.
5 E487.  Glowing beds of dead. Youth in land of dead puts
staff into one of the beds. The iron glows and the wood
burns. Irish: O’Suilleabhain 63, 102, Beal XXI 324, 333;
Swiss: Jegerlehner Oberwallis 309 No. 7.
ELIZABETH STREET APPORTS

They lived in the house for six months, but it felt
much longer. The house was unruly.

That first afternoon when they entered the house,
they were alone. It was K., her mother, and her
grandmother. D. had been given the key by her
boyfriend the night before. In K.’s memory, he never
once came into that house while they lived there, and
no one at all had been inside the house in at least two
months.1 This is important to remember. The smell
that poured over them when they stood in the entry
foyer was not as offensive as it could have been. The
air was stale with undertones of sickness. Past the
foyer, straight ahead, they entered a living room. To
the right, a bright red door. This was the first door
they opened. 2 It led into the type of closet that
contains the angled backside of the staircase, but it
was quite large. K.’s mother pulled the cotton string
to trigger the hanging bulb overhead. This room
smelled fresh, of sweet dough and eggs and butter.
There were two card tables set up alongside one wall.
Their tops were lined with baked goods.

Nothing was moldy – in fact, K.’s mother, finding this
discovery so strange, reached out and ran her finger
through the frosting on a white cake. Everything was
beautifully arranged, fresh flowers surrounding cakes
on silver risers. The cake’s icing was fresh. She then
1 E593.3. If no lamp is lighted in a house for a period of
fourteen days, ghosts take it for their dwelling. India:
Thompson-Balys.




2E599.11. Locked doors open at touch of ghosts. India:
Thompson-Balys.
touched a pyramid of chocolate cookies. They were
warm to the touch. As an eight year old, the prospect
of eating all of these desserts was very exciting to K.
But her mother backed out of the room, as though if
she turned her back, the baked goods would revolt.
She forced K. and her grandmother to follow. K. found
this upsetting – what were they going to do about all
of those treats? “Throw them out,” her mother said.
She was quite definitive about the whole thing. She
was convinced they were a trap, a test laid out by a
vengeful spirit in waiting. 3 There could be no other
explanation for their freshness. Both tables, pounds
and pounds worth of hand baked effort went into
black trash bags and out to the curb. K. often wonders
if the house would have acted the same if they had
partaken in its offerings.4

Two weeks after they moved in, K. picked up a case of
chicken pox, for the fourth time in her life. She was
hospitalized for three days, and sent home on
quarantine for a month. Her mother couldn’t afford
or find a babysitter, and so she left K. home in the
afternoons while she went to her waitressing job. K.
was supposed to be sleeping, recuperating, but
sometimes the sound of silverware rattling in the
drawers of the kitchen would wake her up. Other
days, the phone would ring for hours. And if she was
left alone in the evening, just as she was on the brink
of sleep, she would hear the tinkle of a high note on
the piano in the parlor. 5 It was always the same note,
over and over, until her mother arrived home from
her shift.
          Spirit leaves food in table or cupboard. England,
3 F473.6.3.

Wales: *Baughman.



4   Z13.4 (j) >> (Man chased by coffin, which follows him)




5E548. Dead make music on their ribs. Irish: Curtin Myths
and Folklore of Ireland 25; India: Thompson-Balys; New
York: Jones JAFL LVII 244.
One afternoon, she grew bored of bed rest, and
decided to brave a walkabout the house while no one
was home. In the entry foyer, there was an old wood
bench with a hinged lid for a seat. Underneath the lid
she found stacks of yellowing papers and sheet music
copied in the old purple ditto ink style. It was in an
old journal from the 1950s, intended for grade school
teachers, that K. found a strange record. It was thin—
as flexible as the magazine itself. It was bound into
the spine, but K. was able to remove it by tearing it
out along the perforated seam. This was a mystery.
She needed to hear what was on that record.6

When K. was a toddler, she was obsessed with the
country music her uncle R. played, and would try to
make his vinyl sound by spinning them on one finger,
using the other finger as though it were a needle,
singing made up lyrics to “Your Cheatin’ Heart” while
the adults laughed. She was old enough now to know
that she needed a record player to release what was
hidden in the grooves. Finding a music cabinet in the
parlor, next to the piano, she put the thin piece of
vinyl on the turntable and dropped the needle.7 The
scratch and pop that followed shifted her state of
mind to prepare her for whatever the record
contained, but she was not prepared for what
happened next.8

The sounds coming out of the speaker sounded
demonic. Slowed down voices and incantations.
Ghostly organ music at funeral dirge speed. She was
stuck to the spot, and then before she could stop
6 E384.    Ghost summoned by music.




       Resuscitation by song. Icelandic: Gцngu-Hrуlfs
7 E55.1.

saga 337--38, Boberg; India: Thompson-Balys; Tsimshian:
Boas BBAE XXVII 215; Eskimo (Greenland): Rink 452.


8E554.1. Ghost plays organ. North Carolina: Brown
Collection I 676.
herself, had found her feet and was bounding through
the parlor door towards her bed and under the
sheets.9 She wished she could go back and turn off
the record, because it seemed like the music was
making a space for whatever it was in the house that
was wrong to grow. Her uncle arrived at the house
just then, there to check in on K. and make her
dinner. He stopped at the door and recalibrated
himself to the presence of unexpected noise in a
house that was meant to be silent. He suspected K.
was awake, and called out to her as he walked
towards the player.

“Did you put on a record? You’ve got it on the wrong
speed”—and flicked the knob up to 45rpm.

Preacher voices. A churchy record of a congregation
chanting in prayer.

“Why would you want to listen to this Jesus music?”
he asked. “And anyways, aren’t you supposed to be
staying in bed? Go to sleep.”

The previous weekend, shuttled to her father at the
farmhouse for her shared family time, K. had walked
in on her brothers out in the barn. They had lit
candles, but this was not like their Houdini séances.
They were playing their heavy-metal records
backwards, trying to divine the hidden instructions
needed to create sonic pathways for demonic
manifestations.10 They wanted to open one of these
portals, to ask an evil spirit to teach their mother a
9 X811.  Frightened man lying under his bed sheets thinks he
is lying in his shroud. Is cured of fear. Type 835*.




10 E386.4.  Walking around a grave twelve times backward
will raise the ghost. England: Baughman.
 lesson for leaving. When K. played the record at the
wrong speed in the Elizabeth Street house, her
thoughts locked into these barn-side rituals. K.’s
uncle could not have known how frightened she had
made herself. Yet, when she woke up from her
afternoon nap, she walked into the kitchen to find her
uncle R. sitting hunched over the kitchen table. He
had removed the address sign that hung suspended
over the porch. He was using her colored chalk,
drawing a protective hex symbol on the backside of
the wood.11
11J2212.5. Wooden anchor would hold if it were only large,
thinks the fool. Scottish: Bayless, 23.
ELIZABETH STREET ATTIC

Her uncle R. was as convinced as anyone that the
house was haunted. One day, in the upstairs, the area
of the house foggiest to her now, she stood behind
her mother as her uncle entered the low half-door to
the storage space. She was not allowed to follow him
in there. She could see the form of a dress-fitting
mannequin. Is there not one of those in every
haunted house attic? An old steamer trunk was found
and dragged out of the dark room. It was locked.

K.’s uncle owned a metal detector, and had been
systematically dredging their yard for the last week,
finding a few old coins and a decorative iron skeleton
key. He gave the key to K. for good luck, telling her
the key had said her name when he dug it out of the
ground. She wore it on a piece of cotton string around
her neck.1

“Let me see that key for a minute.” She gave it to him.

The key opened the trunk. Cardboard drawers and
compartments lined the interior, with lithographs of
romantic scenes and sublime nature. The paper was
very brittle. In the bins, they found lacey gloves and
shawls tucked around blocks of cedar that were no
longer pungent. The trunk must have come over from
the “Old Country,” her mother said. Just like the table
in their dining room at the farmhouse. The top
compartment lifted out with two tray handles. K.’s
1E434.6. Keys as protection against revenants. (Cf. D1176.)
Wimberly 255.
mother tried to block from view what was on the
bottom, but was too late. A Christmas wreath, K.
thought, encased in a glass frame. But looking closer,
she saw that the wreath was made of human hair,
flowers and leaves tightly wound and woven into a
circle.2 The wreath was made of the hair of the dead,
to remember, like a photograph.3

They gave the hair wreath to the museum, and kept
the trunk even after they left the house. They kept
other things from the house, too. One of upstairs
rooms was lined with shelves, spaced a foot or so
apart, that ran from knee height and up the wall, to a
height that even an adult would have to stand on a
chair to reach. The shelves were just wide enough to
carry a teacup and saucer set. And there were
hundreds of them. A collection of fine chinaware
lining the entire—otherwise empty—room. None of
these porcelain beauties were treated any differently
when it came time to empty the house for the estate
sale. They were all sold for three dollars a set. Her
mother did take one special cup for herself – an
antique tea-leaf reading bowl.

K. and her mother began to pack up and price the
things in the house, part of the agreement for their
staying there rent free. Things like the teacups, the
piano, and the furniture – were all sold at an estate
auction. A few choice objects, however, were spread
among the homes of her family – the steamer trunk,
the teacup, and a porcelain music box in the shape of
a girl playing the piano that folded back upon itself by
2E562. Dead person weaves. Fb “spшgelse” III
520a; England: *Baughman.

3   E761.4. Life token: object darkens or rusts.
plunking out “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head.” In
their new homes, these objects were soon looked
upon with suspicion. They acted strangely, of their
own accord.4 The music box made noise at night. The
teacup rattled in its saucer and gave false readings to
her mother’s clients. Ticking sounds drifted from the
trunk. One by one, the tainted objects were given
away, returning spiritual calm to messy homes.
4D1649.6. Objects rebel against their owners. American
Indian (Maya, Andes, Chiriguano): MР№traux BBAE CXLIII
(3) 484.
ELECTRIC LINE BURN PILE

Every Halloween, K. and her brothers tried to contact
the spirit of Harry Houdini.1 It was local tradition on
both sides of the US—Canada border. On October 24,
1926, Houdini was to perform at the Garrick Theatre,
across the river, in Detroit. His health was grave. “I’ll
do this show if it is my last,” he told his wife Bess as
he climbed the stage. Afterwards, he was sent to
Grace Hospital, but operations to fix the damage of a
burst appendix and the resulting infection failed. He
succumbed on Halloween at 1:26 pm. His body was
sent to the William R. Hamilton Funeral Company for
enbalming. This same building later became the
home of the Art Center Music School’s performance
hall, and later, a takeout hub for Slow’s BBQ, a
midtown foodie fixture. Later in life, when she lived
in the city, K. once asked the owners if they knew that
Harry Houdini’s body had been embalmed where
they pulled pork for sandwiches. They did not. They
hung a picture of him over the door.2

By the early 1990s, their mother had stopped leading
séances in the farmhouse, and was trying to delude
herself—to block from memory—the fact that she
belonged to a lineage of spiritualist mediums going
back three generations. And so, since neither K. nor
her brothers knew how to run a séance in the way
that their mother had, they were forced to use a
makeshift Ouija board. They were very inventive
teenagers when it came to matters of the occult. This
1E545.6. Dead speak on Halloween. (Cf. V70.5.) Irish myth:
Cross.




2   E783.4. Severed head opens eyes. Irish myth: Cross.
year, they planned to rest their fingers on top of an
upended glass, surrounded by handwritten letters
circling the top of the table. A few years earlier, her
brother M. had secreted a real Ouija board into the
house under his jacket. It was a secret because there
was a rule against them in her family—a rule her
brothers thought to be hypocritical, considering the
strange events that had occurred in the dining room
throughout their childhood. K.’s mother scoffed at the
fact that they were sold as toys, believing them to be
an open, chaotic spiritual channel that was
impossible to close. M. kept it well hidden in his
room, stuffed between the mattress and box spring of
his bed.

K. and her brothers held their Halloween Houdini
séances in the back barn, sitting on empty milk crates
around an upended wood utility spool that once
contained telephone wire. Before K. was old enough
to participate, before the Grace Hospital was
demolished, her brothers would borrow a car and
drive to Detroit. More than once, they broke into the
abandoned hospital. They knew the room Houdini
had died in, and so they held their séances there. 3
They told her the messages transmitted were much
more clear back then. 4

K. was not eager for the events of last year to be
repeated, and it was only through constant cajoling
that her brothers were able to convince her to
participate. A friend of M.’s was in attendance last
year, and he had had a bad attitude about the whole
3 E285. Ghost haunts sick room, prevents drawing water
after dark. England: Baughman.

4 E261.1.2.Speaking to skull tells about previous life, reveals
future events, etc. Krappe Moyen Age XXVII (1926); India:
*Thompson-Balys.
thing. He wasn’t a believer, and he was making light
of their yearly ritual. Harsh words were uttered
among them, and proclamations of disbelief were
sent out into the air. The planchette resting on the
Masonite board screen-printed with blue letters
suddenly joined the words in the air. It slid out from
under their fingers, flying across the barn, its tip
sticking like an arrow shot from a crossbow into a
wooden beam.5 It made a high pitched whining sound
as it whizzed through the air, ending with a “dunk!”
as it merged with the wood.6 They all sat there for a
moment, gape-jawed and wide eyed, looking at one
another. All together, they stood up, overturning the
table and ran out of the barn.

Their mother found the board and planchette the
next morning when she was out to feed the barn cats.
She was furious. She threw the board in the burn pile,
but left the planchette in its beam, refusing to touch
it, and demanding that no one ever touch it. It might
still be there.7 The burn pile was not set to be lit until
the following night, when it would be topped up for
the annual Bacchanalian boat burning party that
coincided with M.’s birthday. K.’s father had been
working the afternoon shift at the glass factory,
arriving home after midnight. He could never explain
what had compelled him to wander back to the burn
pile after pulling his car down the gravel driveway
that night. Her mother was standing at the kitchen
sink, making a cup of tea, when she saw him out the
window. He was out there, hunched over and rooting
around in the pile, illuminated by his car headlights
5F473.2. Spirit causes objects to behave contrary to their
nature.

6M119.7. Oath by placing hand on genitals. Irish myth:
Cross; Jewish: *Neuman




7J1146. Trap by spirits (wood). Trespasser (lover, mistress,
ghost, fairy, etc.) leaves footprints in the grain.
*Schoepperle Tristan and Isolt I 117ff., 221ff.; *Gaster
Germania XXV 290f.; Fb “mel” II 570; Jewish:
Neuman; India: *Thompson-Balys; N. A. Indian (Seneca):
Curtin-Hewitt RBAE XXXII 510 No. 109, 526 No. 111, 810
n. 410.
set to bright with the engine still running. Her mother
said he looked like he was sleepwalking. His eyes
were dead.8 He apparently found what he was
looking for, walking towards the house with the Ouija
board in one hand, lit cigarette in the other. The
cigarette was a fixture there, his fingers stained
brown from years nicotine contact. The Ouija board
was inconsistent. K.’s father didn’t participate in the
supernatural traditions in their home. Her mother
headed him off at the mudroom door, refusing entry
into the house. He was confused, because he was
unaware that he had anything in his hand at all. She
forced him to return to the burn pile, to take the
board and place it deep inside the heap of refuse. She
forced him to ignite it.9 There were no boats burned
on the farm that year.

Every Halloween, K. and her brothers tried to contact
the spirit of Harry Houdini. Nothing quite so dramatic
happened ever again, as the year when the planchette
became violent and their mother burned the Ouija
board.10
8   D457.11. Transformation: eye to another object.




9D1812.5.0.4. Rising smoke as omen. N. A. Indian: Kroeber
JAFL XXI 224.




10 E402.1.7.   Ghost slams door. Canada: Baughman.
CALLING / HAUNTING

When K. was in the fourth grade, her cousin told her
how to make the phone ring. They dialed the test
tone number #4343295543#0000. The phone rang,
and it rang longer and louder than it should have. The
sound seemed ominous, and so she slammed the
phone down. It kept ringing, and just as her fear rose
to a pitch, the noise stopped.1 Later, when her mother
was home, K. dialed the numbers again. Her mother
didn’t know about the test tone ring, and was
convinced it was her dead aunt calling, harnessing
the phone lines to make her presence known. K.
perpetuated the haunting for a few days, making the
telephone ring whenever her mother was around.2
She soon grew bored and stopped.
1 E501.13.1.4.Arrival of spirits heralded by ringing of
bells. Schweda 21.




2 C51.6.Tabu: falsely claiming the powers of a spirit. Greek:
*Frazer Apollodorus I 80 n. 3; Jewish: Neuman.
RUPTURES

In 2009, after a week’s worth of thunderstorms and
tail-ends of tornadoes swept through town, the local
cemetery burst into the Syndenham River. The
deluge of rain had flooded the graveyard. The water
covered the tombstones. The cemetery was located
along the edge of the river bank, so when the coffins
slid from their slots underground, they burst with
force out of the soft embankment and into the water.1
They slowly bobbed down the river and through the
center of town. Utility workers were enlisted to clear
the log jam of coffins, and place them in a warehouse
until the bank could be secured. For years, pleasure
fishers had been pulling up coffin handles along with
walleye and catfish, so it should not have come as a
surprise that the infrastructure holding the dead in
place was failing.2

Her grandmother was buried there, but her grave
was safely inland and unmarred. The night the
cemetery exploded, K. dreamed of a luminous boat. In
the hull of the boat was a coffin. She did not find the
dream to be disturbing.3 She had felt the boat’s
presence her entire life, chasing her in lockstep, but it
had never been made visible to her until now.4 The
material effects of the dead had besieged her life, but
to see the invisible made visible brought
1E477. Body in coffin moves so as to make room for his
recently deceased friend. *Loomis White Magic 92.




2   E783.4. Severed head opens eyes. Irish myth: Cross.




3   D2161.4.4. Person cured by image with same deformity.




4   Z13.4 (j). Man chased by coffin, which follows him.
 comfort.5 Seeing it, she knew it to be a portent, an
unbreakable chain. In the dream, the anchor
wrapped into the stern of the boat was made of
wood, carved and engraved with a message, written
in her dead grandmother’s hand. It was a reminder:
“The wooden anchor would hold, if only it were
larger, thinks the fool.” Her many eyes were opened.6

Her personal timeline is defined by ruptures in
reality, through interactions with the mysterious and
the questionable. K. likes to tell people “I’ve seen and
experienced a lot of things that might have
happened,” or “I don’t believe in ghosts, but I’ve met
them plenty.”7
5E781. Eyes successfully replaced. Jacobs’ list s.v.
“Eyes exchanged”; Fb “шje” III 1166a;
Kцhler-Bolte I 434ff.; Irish myth: *Cross; Gaster Thespis
333f.; India: *Thompson-Balys; Africa (Angola): Chatelain
139 No. 13.


6 E561.1. Sight of dead woman spinning drives people
insane. *Fb “spinde” III 492a.




7 E386.4.  Walking around a grave twelve times backward
will raise the ghost. England: Baughman.
1A642.1. Woman cut in pieces: houses, etc., made from her
body. India: Thompson-Balys.

2J2171.1.1. Ship built with a wooden saw. The ship has no
bottom and is so narrow that nothing can get into it. Type
1274*.

3E272. Road-ghosts. (Cf. E332ff., E582.) Ghosts which
haunt roads. Lappish: Qvigstad FFC LX 40 No. 10; England,
U.S.: *Baughman; New York: Jones JAFL LVII 248; North
Carolina: Brown Collection I 674.

4D469.2. Transformation: weeds to bridge. Africa (Vai):
Ellis 191 No. 8.

5D2121.13. Sailing in a leaky boat without sinking. *Loomis
White Magic 90.

6   A689.1. Dark puddles in hell. Irish myth: Cross.

7F171.6.6. People in otherworld thatch house with bird’s
wings. Thatch blows away while they go for more. Irish
myth: *Cross.

8 N655. Waves break caul of abandoned child. He is rescued.
Irish myth: Cross.

9F811.15. Upside-down tree. Branches in ground, roots in
air. Africa (Bambara): TravР№lР№ 205ff. No. 66.

10D1571.1. Magic ashes revivify trees. (Cf. D1271.1.)
Japanese: Mitford 182.
11E262. Ghost rides on man’s back, whispers secret
knowledge in ear of carrier. *Fb “ryg” III 103a,
“spшgelse” III 520a; E. H. Meyer Germanische 76;
Schцnbach Sitzungsberichte d. Phil. Hist. Classe der
Kaiserl. Akad. d. Wiss. zu. Wien CXXXIX (1890) 135;
Icelandic: Boberg; Lithuanian: Balys Index No. 3511.

12 E555. Dead man smokes pipe. Fb “tobak” III 814a,
“spшgelse” III 520a; U.S.: Baughman; N. A. Indian
(Seneca): Curtin-Hewitt RBAE XXXII 219 No. 41, (Teton):
Dorsey AA o.s. II (1889) 150.
1 E761.4.2. Life token: picture burns black. *Bolte Zs. f. Vksk.

XX 70 n. 4.

2F1032. Person walks unceasingly for year. Africa (Angola):
Chatelain 33 No. 1.

3Q552.21. Woman vomits heart as punishment and lives
without it till her death.India: Thompson-Balys.

4   K231.1. Refusal to perform part in mutual agreement.

5   E34 (Resuscitation with misplaced head)

6B16.1.1.2. Cat leaps through man like arrow of fire and
burns him to ashes. Irish myth: Cross.

7E281.3. Ghost haunts particular room in house. England,
Scotland, U.S.: *Baughman.

8F470.1. Spirits pull off person’s bedclothes. *Kittredge
Witchcraft 217, 524f. nn. 37--44; England, Scotland, Wales,
U.S.: *Baughman.

9E568.1. Revenant leaves impression of body in
bed. England, U.S. *Baughman.
10D1385.9. Magic horseshoe keeps off devils, trolls, and
witches. (Cf. D1286.) *Fb “hestesko”; Hdwb. d.
Abergl. III 437ff.

11A2004. Insects from devil’s post-hole. Devil is given
enough land to dig a post-hole. From this come all kinds of
insects. To stop them a burning log is put in the hole.
Insects therefore hate smoke. Dh I 173--Finnish: Aarne FFC
VIII 21 No. 120, XXXIII 55 No. 120.

1D479.7. Evil smells transformed into sweet fragrances, and
vice versa. *Loomis White Magic 81.

2E555. Dead man smokes pipe. Fb “tobak” III 814a,
“spшgelse” III 520a; U.S.: Baughman; N. A. Indian
(Seneca): Curtin-Hewitt RBAE XXXII 219 No. 41, (Teton):
Dorsey AA o.s. II (1889) 150.

3X251.1. Why no weavers in hell. Devils annoyed at their
noisy trade. Flemish: DeMeyer FFC XXXVII 84 No. 27a.

4E557.1. Ghost writes on wall the answers to problems of
person in trouble. U.S.: Baughman.

1   F402.1.6. Spirit causes weakness. Irish myth: *Cross.

2   J1803. Learned words misunderstood by uneducated.

3 E593.3. If no lamp is lighted in a house for a period of
fourteen days, ghosts take it for their dwelling. India:
Thompson-Balys.


4E281.2. Ghostly horse enters house and puts hoofs on
breast of sleeper. Tobler 50.
5E487. Glowing beds of dead. Youth in land of dead puts
staff into one of the beds. The iron glows and the wood
burns. Irish: O’Suilleabhain 63, 102, Beal XXI 324, 333;
Swiss: Jegerlehner Oberwallis 309 No. 7.

6E554.1. Ghost plays organ. North Carolina: Brown
Collection I 676.

7F401.3.3. Spirit as black dog. Swiss: Jegerlehner
Oberwallis 310 No. 25.

8E593. Ghost takes things from people.
1E472. Revenant sleeps in same bed with living but without
contact. U.S.: Baughman.

1 E593.3. If no lamp is lighted in a house for a period of
fourteen days, ghosts take it for their dwelling. India:
Thompson-Balys.

				
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