Sodden in Salem

October 12, 2016 — Man, it felt good to be back in Salem in October. Even if it was pouring too hard to [warning: factually inaccurate joke] burn anybody at the stake. I’d been back to the city probably half a dozen times since last Halloween tying up loose ends for A Season with the Witch, but Sunday was our first time back beneath Haunted Happenings banners. And, man, was it wet.

We started our jaunt at the site of the [hanging] executions, but not for that reason. We just needed umbrellas, and there’s a Walgreen's there.

Execution site.

We were there for about five hours. We visited Marshall and Elaine, our hosts for the first half of our time in Salem during the project, stopped in at Wicked Good Books to sign its remaining store stock of the book, met up with a few people who contacted me to get a book signed, got muddy at the Old Burying Ground and Witch Trial Victims Memorial, watched the street kickoff to a Cry Innocent! witch hearing dramatization, ordered a dark n’ stormy at Naumkeag Ordinary in honor of the weather, and hit a few gift shops because every Salem gift shop is a Halloween store.

The entire time, the rain just came down like a vertical tide. I don’t know what the drops were running from up there in the sky, but it must’ve been terrifying. It made me wish I still lived in Salem, so I could just wait it out and try again the next day.

The two things on my list that I didn’t get to do was to get a book to Steve the Vampire and get a photo with him and it. The other was grab a lobster roll and a hot and dirty pickle martini at the Lobster Shack. The rain stopped the former, the latter was stopped due to the crowds. The streets of Salem weren’t as mobbed as usual for a Columbus Day weekend because of the storm, but every restaurant with a TV was still packed. Somewhat from people hiding out from the rain, but mostly they were squeezing shoulder-to-shoulder watch Tom Brady’s return to football. Rain and Tom Brady. Some days you just can’t time right.

We finished our visit by dropping in on James at Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery. He’s added a great-looking Cryptkeeper and a Chucky to his museum of monsters since last October. I went through with Esme, who’s been through the museum probably three or four times in her young life. This time, as we walked by each figure, I was startled to hear her reading the placards out loud. I mean, I knew she could read. I’m not that detached from her education. But the last time we were in the museum, she couldn’t. That was a real “How do I stop everything from changing?” moment of panic. Still, it was fun hearing her say flash poetry titles as The Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Abominable Dr. Phibes. She pronounced Salem’s Lot as “Salem 101” because of the movie poster font. And she still thinks it’s hilarious that I share a name with a slasher villain. We also had an Abbot and Costello conversation about the museum’s Xenomorph. “What’s that?” “An Alien.” What’s it called?” “Alien.” What movie is it from? “Alien.”

Finally, we did something we only had to do once in our 31 days in Salem: leave. We were tired, we were drenched, and we were realizing how much we missed our Salem October.

They were playing Hocus Pocus in the Salem Witch Museum gift shop.