New England in the fall time is amazing. There is really no place like it. The leaves have changed colors, the wind is crisp, and winter is coming. There is something to be said about having to wear warmer clothes and drink a hot beverage. Halloween is and has been a big tradition back home. Kids and adults dress up, go trick or treating, and head to some kind of festivity. At the end of the night, we usually gorge ourselves with the candy that we got or have left over. For the most part it is usually an enjoyable time. However, it isn’t like that for all.
Because of the time of year, I want to share a story that was told to me. It takes place around this time of year and it happened in New England back in the early to mid 70’s. It is a story about a man named Earl and how he wanted to make his wife Sarah happy by getting home from work at a decent hour. What happened may leave you speechless.
Now for your feature presentation.
Every night after work Earl takes the interstate home. Each night he stays at work a little longer than he should and gets stuck in traffic. When he gets home, his lovely wife Sarah complains that dinner is cold, it is too late, and this needs to change. This pattern has been happening for years. After a pretty heated argument before he went to work, Earl decided it was probably a good idea to get home earlier than normal. After all, it was Friday and they had plans for Halloween weekend.
Much to Earl’s dismay, he lost track of time and stayed at work much longer than normal. He grabbed his fall jacket, hat, suitcase, and keys and rushed down to the parking garage to get into his rusted and beat up Ford Escort. As he pulled onto the interstate he saw the line of cars. Not only was it rush hour, it was Friday night on Halloween weekend.
Now remember this story takes place in the 70’s, long before cell phones and navigation equipment. Trying to think quickly, Earl remembered a back road to his town from the city when he was a kid. It was a dirt road that went up along side the interstate a bit, but he vaguely remembered it coming down in the back of town. It had been years, but he thought it would save time and he may make it back home earlier. Quickly he pulled off the interstate and turned on a dirt road into the mountains.
As he drove uphill for a few miles he could no longer see the lights from the city or the interstate. It was he, the leaf covered dirt road, and trees on both sides. The moon would shine every now and then through the cloud cover. After 30 minutes or so he admitted to himself he really didn’t know if this was going to take him home. He thought to himself, do I turn back or keep going? Either way he was going to be late. In mid thought….BANG!! THUD!…His tire popped. “Oh great!” he said out loud as he pulled over the Escort.
He got out of the car and saw the flat tire on his driver’s side. “Son of a bitch!’ he said as he made his way to the trunk. He found the trunk key, opened the trunk only to see the jack, tire rod, and a blanket. No spare tire. “SON OF A BITCH!” he repeated. Just then he noticed a small faint light to his right in the forest. This time of the year all the leaves have mainly fallen off so you can see through the thicket a little better. Since he hadn’t seen a car since the interstate or a house for that matter, Earl decided that the best option was to head into the woods to find this light.
He shut the trunk, locked the doors, grabbed his hat and was on his way into the woods. As the leaves crunched and the branches broke at each step he kept heading into the direction of the light. Every now and then he would lose sight of the light because the trees would get a little thicker. After a 5-minute walk through the thick leaf covered forest floor, Earl noticed an opening up ahead.
As the opening got closer he noticed the clouds had scattered a bit and the moonlight was now present. Once Earl got to the opening the moonlight illuminated an interesting sight. There was a small pond with a dock at each end. The dock closest to him had a small rowboat tied to it. He could also see where the light was coming from. A few hundred yards from the pond was a large 3-story mansion. The only light coming from this enormous house in the middle of nowhere was coming from a small window on the 3rd floor.
Earl decided he was this far and was hoping to find a phone or someone who could help. He entered the rowboat, untied it, and headed for the other end. After a 3-minute paddle he arrived, tied the rowboat to the dock and made way to the house. The closer he got to the house, the bigger it seemed. Finally he reached the front door.
This door was about 12 feet tall and made of oak. There were some ancient designs carved into this massive door and in the center of it was a head of something that looked like King Kong. In the mouth of the head was the handle to use when knocking on the door. Earl reached up for the handle and with a powerful motion knocked on the door. The sound echoed. He repeated the motion and this time the door opened slightly. Clearly the door was not shut tight.
“Hello? Hello, is anyone home?” Just as he was about to the push the door open a little more, a big gust of wind pushed it open for him. Leaves blew into the entrance and the moon lit up the great hallway. Earl glanced in and was taken back by the size of this place. “Hello? Hello?” he said a little louder. Still no reply. He stepped into the house. “Your door was open. My car got a flat and I was wondering if there was a phone I might be able to use.” Another big gust of wind blew into the house and pushed the door all the way open. With the moon he could see the great hall. 3 doors on each side 2 staircases on each end leading up to the second floor.
Earl still asking if anyone was home opened the first door on his right. He found a light switch and turned it on. This room was a study with lots of books and book shelves. There was an inch of dust on everything. No one had been here for quite some time. He went to the next door. It was the same thing, a room with books and dust. He crossed the hall and opened another door. This time it seemed to be a dining room. There was a grand wooden table with 10 chairs on each side and one larger chair at the far end. There was a big chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The table was set with gorgeous white plates and thick silverware. Again, everything was covered with dust.
He checked the last door before the staircase. This room was the kitchen. He turned on the light and saw a large granite counter bar in the middle with giant cast iron pots and pans hanging above it. He saw a sink and plenty of cupboards as well as a small door in the back.
This noise, what seemed to come from up stairs caught his attention. He left the kitchen quickly and went up stairs. “Is someone there?” Once upstairs he noticed more doors. Most of them were open and they were bedrooms. However, down the hall he noticed one door was closed. At the bottom of the door, he noticed a little flickering light coming from the other side. He carefully walked down the hall asking if anyone was there. He wanted to make sure that if someone were there, they would know he was coming.
Earl reached the closed door. “Is someone in there? My car broke down and I need help. Hello?” He reached for the doorknob and began to turn. His heart rate elevated as he turned and pushed. As the door opened the light became brighter. There was no one in the room. The light was coming from a small opening in the ceiling. There was a step ladder leading up to the opening.
“Hello?” Earl ascended the ladder. In the small space was a small table, a glass of water half empty, and a small candle in the window. Perplexed, Earl was trying to figure this all out. Was he alone? All of a sudden he heard a muffled sound coming from a distance. He quickly climbed down the ladder and entered the hallway.
“HELLO,” he shouted. Again he heard the noise. It sounded like someone trying to say something but he was too far away to hear it. He ran down stairs and the muffled noise became a little clearer. “Don’t t……………” Earl was terrified and ran to the door. As he ran by the kitchen he heard it again. ‘Don’t t……the….pu….!” Earl stopped. What if someone was in trouble? What if someone needed his help? Earl knew he couldn’t live with himself if he left someone that was in trouble. After all, he himself was in need and was looking for help.
Earl’s fear dissipated and he went into the kitchen. “Hello? Are you ok?” The muffled voice came from the door at the end of the kitchen. Earl made his way to the door and opened it. The smell was very interesting. It was a pantry of some sort with lots of cans and it had a wet and musty smell. “Don’t touch…..the…p….”
Earl still couldn’t make out what was being said but he narrowed down where the voice was coming from. At the end of this pantry was a small door in the floor. He opened it and he saw a small stair-type ladder. The musty smell became stronger. The only light coming was from the kitchen. Looking into a dark hole into the ground, Earl thought it best to go back to the kitchen and find a candle. ‘Hold on,” he said in a loud voice, “I am coming to help you.”
He returned to the kitchen and opened up a drawer. Success, first drawer and he found a candle, a holder, and some matches. He lit the candle, put the matches in his coat pocket and made his way to the stairs leading into the ground.
As he descended into the floor, he noticed this basement was full of crates and boxes. The musty smell had a hint of fruit, very similar to bananas. Despite all the crates and boxes, there was a path that zigzagged. He couldn’t see the end of it, but knew it went around a corner. ‘Don’t touch the….pp.” He heard the voice again.
“I’m coming!” He said in a hurried voice. He ran down the small path made by the crates and boxes. As he turned left around the corner he tripped over a box on the floor. The candle fell to the floor but stayed lit. The box was knocked over and it’s remnants sprawled on the ground. They were brown and old, but they were most certainly bananas. Quickly getting to his feet, Earl grabbed the candle. As he stood up he noticed another wooden door at the end. This one has a small opening about eye level.
Holding the candle out in front and taking small and slow steps, Earl asked “are you ok? Who is there?” The closer he got the more his heart raced. His palms were sweating and his mouth was dry. Earl was scared. He reached the door and noticed there was a small lock on it however, the lock was open. He could remove it from the outside, but whatever was on the other side of this door was locked in. His eyes caught something in the opening in the door. “Hello!” Earl moved closer and saw a pair of eyes retreating to the back of this so-called cage.
“DON’T TOUCH THE PURPLE…A…” a strong voice said as the eyes retreated back.
“I don’t understand,” replied Earl.
Earl reached for the lock and opened the door. “Are you ok? I am not here to hurt you.”
“Don’t touch the purple ape! DON’T TOUCH the purple ape! DON’T TOUCH THE PURPLE APE!”
Earl scared for his life lifted the candle and saw something in the corner. He took a step closer. “DON’T TOUCH THE PURPLE APE!” Earl reached for the figure. “It’s ok, you’re safe now. I’m not here to hurt you.”
Earl touched the figure on the shoulder. “It’s ok.”
Just then the figure turned around. The breeze from how quick this large figure turned blew out the candle.
“You touched the purple ape. YOU TOUCHED THE purple ape! YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE!”
Earl terrified and blind from the darkness retreated backwards. He backed into the crates just outside the door.
“YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE! YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE!” Earl feeling the crates decided to run for his life. As he was blindly running in the dark and crashing into the crates and boxes he heard noises and banging. This figure was chasing him. “YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE! YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE! YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE!”
Earl could see the ladder to the kitchen and quickly scaled up. The noise was getting closer and louder. YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE! YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE!” Earl hurried out of the kitchen and made his way to the door. He slammed it behind him and made his way to the rowboat. Quickly jumping in and untying the rope he paddled for the opposite dock. In half the time it took him to go across the first time he made it to the other side.
He tripped on the dock and he realized it was darker. The clouds had covered the moon and there was little to no light. Earl heard the door slam open and a giant shadowy figure emerged.
“YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE! YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE! YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE!”
Earl started to run into the woods. In the distance he heard water splash. He could only imagine that the large creature was swimming across the pond after him. Earl hurried through the dark forest. Tree branches were scraping his cheeks, he tripped over the occasional downed tree, and the cold breeze was piercing his bones.
“YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE!” he heard again. The creature was still behind him. Racing through the forest Earl was breathing hard. His only hope was to make it to his car and drive away on the flat. Finally he reached the dirt road. He looked to his right, no car. He looked to his left and could just barely see the outline of his beat-up Ford Escort about a football field away.
“YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE! YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE! YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE!” was still coming from behind him, as were the sounds of trees breaking. Earl sprinted for his car. Breathing heavily, sweating, and his heart pounding, he reached into his pocket for his keys. They were nowhere to be found. He reached in his other pocket only to find the matches.
Still hearing the trees break Earl decided to light a match and search the ground for his keys. He lit the match and thankfully he found the keys on the ground. He blew out the match and stood up with his keys in hands. Hands shaking, he dropped his keys. He bent over to get them and as he stood up he felt a warm breathe on the back of his neck. Slowly Earl turned around.
“You touched the purple ape. YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE! YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE!” the shadowing gorilla said in a deep voice.
“I’m s…sorry,” Earl said panicking.
“YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE! YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE! YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE!”
The Gorilla like creature lifted up his gigantic hand and reach for Earl. “You touched the purple ape. “YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE!”
Nothing but pure fear coursing through Earl’s veins, he closed his eyes, held his breathe and prayed. “YOU TOUCHED THE PURPLE APE!” the gorilla said fiercly.
The gorilla monster’s breathe got heavier and Earl was bracing himself for the worst. And then it happened!
“TAG! You’re it!” followed by a childlike giggle. The gorilla ran off in the distance saying, “You’re it. Tag! You’re it!’
HAPPY HALLOWEEN Everyone!