The weather has been changeable but frankly it feels good even with the slight chill in the air, watching the clouds from my either my office window, or seeing it through my Living Room window, scuttling across the sky, the wind whipping the trees, blowing one’s hair out of style, with trash and dust flying up and irritating one’s nose.
Last night I was sitting in my comfortable overstuffed chair with Belladonna, my little rescue dog, in my lap as I stroked her soft fur, she was enjoying the “full body massage”. I was listening to soft music designed to not intrude into one’s thoughts as I stared into the flames that was burning my fire place drinking a dark red wine that was sending a mellow warmth through my body and thinking about when I was growing up, what was fun or important, or even event changing, what led to my eventual Gothicness.
More than one event or epiphany led me down this path of knowing that in life there is death and in death there is life, of knowing that for us to know Good we have to have Evil, that in life we have choices placed in our path and the betters ones are not always the easiest ones to take, that all of Life is a learning lesson, that there are no immediate answers as to why evil or tragic things happen but they are there as a reminder to seek a higher path, that those who are good that die young have because their life was presented before us so that we can take something good from it even if that person’s death seems senseless, that in Light there is Darkness and in Darkness one cannot escape the Light, that Death should be welcomed as a necessary friend and that beyond Death’s threshold is another world waiting for us.
One event that happen was during the Summer before my High School Sophomore year, when one of my girl friends(and I didn’t have many), asked me to help her clear out her Grandmother’s attic, actually it was her Great Grandmother, but Millie’s Mother and Grandmother needed help wanted us to go into the attic and bring down to the 2nd floor level what ever was up there, if anything was too heavy for us then Millie’s Dad would bring it down. My Parents knew that this Summer was not going to be much fun for me because my Mother was ill and going to have an operation, but anything to help give me a distraction or some fun was always welcomed.
Most of the stuff was broken, but we brought it down anyway, even old 78’s records, we found a few old dolls that the stuffing was falling out, Millie boxed them with the idea of repairing them, and she did too.
We had fun finding old board games with their instructions and remarkably all the pieces for the games, it was declared that they should be kept; her folks thought that the games looked amusing. You have to remember Darklings, we didn’t have the internet, no cell-phones, no apps, no Face book, no video games…this was the way we enjoyed life.
We found an old crank-up phonograph in the attic and its’needles and played the records, some of them were old Blues and Jazz, even an old tube radio that still worked, we played first the phonograph and listened to the records to see if they were in good shape and then we turned on the radio and listened to music, it helped pass the time as we worked.
While we went through stuff sneezing and blowing our noses, Millie told me how sad she was about her Great-Grandmother dying, that she was quite a woman, Millie was hoping to find things from the old lady’s young life that she wanted to preserve. She decided she wanted to keep the old phonograph and the records, we even found a table that went well with it to hold it and the records.
There was also mis-matched dishware, old photos which Millie’s Grandmother recognized the people in them and said she would label them, old picture frames, curtains and drapes crumbling to dust, old clothing so fragile that if you blew upon them would seem turn to dust, our greatest find was her Great Grandmother’s wedding dress and picture… and we came across a box of books.
We went through this box of books, mostly children stories of boys in the navy or something like that, a couple of murder mysteries which I found fascinating, I was told I could keep them if I wanted them, but near the bottom of the box was the book that would be another turning point in my life. This book had a red lambskin cover and imprinted in gold gilt was the title “Dracula”.
I had vaguely heard of this book, back then the word ‘vampire’ wasn’t mentioned often, mostly ghosts stories, but a vampire? I was told that if I wanted it I could keep the book, since everything that wasn’t kept was going to a 2nd hand dealer.
After washing our hands, having a quick snack to hold us till dinner, I went home to shower and wash the dust off and get into clean clothes before going back to my friends’ house for dinner. I checked in on my Mother she hadn’t been feeling well and my Grandmother was caring for her, Dad was working late. We found out that it was Mom’s gallbladder and she was going to have to have an operation to remove it, but the operation was still several days away and Grandma was going to stay while Mom got better.
My younger siblings were staying at a cousins’ farm down South for the entire Summer, a place that was fine to get their energy out, until Mom was fully recovered, but I was to stay with the Folks in case my Grandmother needed help during the day when Dad was at work, it was something I didn’t mind because it gave me a chance to have ‘talks’ with my parents and my Grandmother.
So for me to have dinner at my friends house was fine, it took pressure off of Mom and Grandma and they knew where would I be and it gave me a chance to have some fun with one of my few friends. Grandma knew I wouldn’t stay out too late and could walk home.
Remember Darklings, back then it wasn’t so dangerous to walk home at night, we had street lamps, people still kept their front doors unlocked, but provided that I came home by a certain time. And during the Summer it was still light until 8:30 or 9 p.m., an innocent period of time when there wasn’t a rapist around every corner, or serial killers, and most sociopaths were locked up and lobotomized.
After dinner we got out one of the games and played it, during the fun of working the game, I asked about the books and Millie’s Grandmother said that the old boys readers were her brothers’ and then I asked about the red-lambskin bound book of “Dracula”.
Millie’s Grandmother blushed and said that it was a scandalous book about the Undead that drank the blood of the living, she told me how it made her frightened of the dark, and how her father, Millie’s Great-Grandfather confiscated the book from her and forbade her from reading it. She told me that it had been made into a movie and then she went on about Bela Lugosi and how women were affected by the movie. I wondered how did a film made 30 years before could affect women?
Millie’s Mother and Grandmother just turned the subject away and Millie’s Dad had a stuff and nonsense remark about the “whole business”. But I…I was curious; I had to read the book.
I looked at the kitchen clock and saw it was going on 9 p.m. so I thanked Millie’s folks for having me for dinner, Millie and I made some plans for the weekend which I would call her to confirm and picking up my books I walked home the two blocks to my parents house, the thoughts of the subject of the book about the Undead was rattling around in my head, I didn’t recall my Folks or my Grandmother talking about vampires, were there such things?
Although there still was some light out it seemed that the night was getting darker faster and more frightening for me thinking about some not human creature that “drank the blood of the living” and could never die….Walking those two long blocks I kept looking at houses that had their front porch lights on, in some places people were sitting outside in the front of their homes enjoying the warm weather, at least that made me feel better, there were people out. If I had to scream some one would come running….I hoped.
I felt a certain amount of relief when I walked through the front door and heard the T.V. on in the Living Room, Grandma had her sewing and was working on a dress hem and more listening to instead of watching a detective program called “Checkmate”, I remembered it because I thought Doug McClure was cute. Yeah---cute.
I didn’t talk to Mother that night as she was finally resting from her gallbladder attack and Grandma wanted to watch the program on T.V. Dad had come home tired and was eating dinner in the kitchen, when he was done I washed the dishes and put them away. I remember Dad asking me if I could heat up some water so he could have a cup of (horrors) De-Caf coffee, the instant kind; I did and got out the can of condensed milk that we used back then for cream. I remembered that I poured myself of glass of milk and I set it on the table across from Dad, he had seen the books on the table and remarked about them.
I told him how I got them and then over his De-Caf coffee and my glass of milk I asked him about vampires.
He looked at me and took a sip of his coffee and asked me where did I hear that word. I showed him the book, and he started to chuckle, he told me he read the book and saw the movie years ago, when he was a young man and couldn’t understand why the women would “swoon” over a round faced, overly painted middle aged actor in a tuxedo.
But he said when he read the book he understood how people could become “drained of energy” and told me about what we’d call “psychic vampires” and how some people could fascinate other people, to the point of destruction. It was a very informative and eye opening talk.
My Grandma had come in and made herself a cup of tea listening to our talk, she told me how certain women in her younger days were called “vamps” or “vampires” because they could fascinate young men to their doom making them spend all their money, drinking and doing drugs and other vices.
Dad told me that it is a mistake to “give away my strength, power or will” over to another and that is what vampirism is all about, to dominate and control the will of another person, starting that night he and my Grandmother started teaching me things to keep my will, to watch for trickery and psychic vampirism.
My Grandmother told me about how her sister my Great-Aunt, whose house I now own, had that ability but she would use it for positive purposes, her beauty could make men weak and willing to help out those in need, and in some cases my Great-Aunt would obtain powerful information that helped her make serious money on the stock market. So as a young teen-age girl this made a serious darkly impression upon me.
I did the read the book and found myself slowing losing my girlishness, or the idea of a boy looking cute, I began to view people my age and older and even younger, as those who could manipulate using emotions for their own purposes and it made me very cautious, I learned to not be so trusting. As I got older, especially in College, those lessons stood me in good stead and kept me strong and had me remain my own person.
When my Mother had recovered from her operation she told me about the Burton Abbott Murder case that had occurred less than 5 years before, about this man who killed a young girl who was about my age.
That was when I discovered and learned more about the Dark Side of Life and could never look at people the same way again. I studied and learned about the “Darkness” which added to my Gothicness, but in my own way I also remained in “The Light” and so would lighten it with a touch of “The Munsters” and “The Addams Family”.
But Fear struck again with the Zodiac killings in late 1968 and sent me back into the Darkness, people no longer kept their front doors unlocked and looked at their neighbors with suspicion and over the years I slowly became the person that I am now, a Yin and Yang of light and dark neither defeating nor overtaking the other.
Some day I’ll talk about the Zodiac Murders and how they affected me and the people I know, but not tonight.