Halloween Haunts: Souled by Tonya Hurley
We almost drove past it until I noticed the line snaking around the side of the nondescript-looking Dutch Colonial house on the canal. It hardly looked like the scene of any crime let alone that crime — The Amityville Horror.
“112 Ocean Avenue. That’s it!” I shouted with half excitement and equal parts guilt.
The latest family to own the house was moving out and this was hyped as a yard sale guaranteed to top them all. Shoppers and rubberneckers from miles around gathered to land a piece of horror history, joking with each other, retelling tall tales, mixing myths with fact about the house and the crime like a demonic game of telephone as they waited.
A quick walk through the home yielded little contents owned by the DeFeo family, the original owners, who were famously murdered there. There was no blood dripping from the walls, hordes of flies in the bedrooms or sinister sounds emanating from, well, anywhere. No pigs.
In fact, given the circus-like atmosphere of this event it was sometimes hard to remember that this was the scene of one of the most horrible domestic slaughters ever. Two parents and four siblings, killed in their sleep by their older brother who was either drunk and high on PCP or possessed by the devil — pick your truth.
As soon and I entered, I noticed an old light fixture sitting in the corner. It was made of blue glass blown into the shape of bunches of grapes. Tacky in a 1970s sort of way and innocent looking enough. To our great surprise we were told it was an original fixture that once hung from the third floor ceiling. The same floor as the DeFeo kids’ bedrooms.
“We’ll take it,” I said reflexively, as if I were hitting a buzzer on a cheesy TV game show.
“It’s yours,” the homeowner said. I handed over $300.00 and headed for the car.
“You didn’t buy glass did you?” one of the shoppers called out ominously from the queue. “Spirits are carried in glass.”
“Jealous!” my husband Michael, a bit of an Amityville Horror skeptic, shouted back at her, hoisting the fixture up like a first place trophy.
“Do you think that’s true?” I asked as we laid it carefully in the back seat.
My husband said nothing. Nor was there a word spoken between us on the ride home. When we arrived he just asked, “Sitting room?” I nodded yes.
It felt wrong. Just like the feeling I got when I entered the house.
He removed a few chain links from the fixture, grabbed a chair, and raised the lamp to the ceiling. I have to admit, it was a perfect fit for the room.
“I’ll connect it now then,” he said. “Just turn the light switch off.”
I flicked the switch and went into the kitchen to start dinner, reflecting on our little trip. I was startled by a sudden angry shout from the sitting room and I ran toward it.
“Goddamn it I told you to turn the switch off!” Michael shouted. “Scared me to death and damn near electrocuted me!”
I looked at him and at the lamp blinking randomly, only one wire connected, then looked at the wall switch.
“It is off,” I said quietly.
Michael carefully disconnected the wiring and chain from the ceiling, got down from the chair and left the lamp on the floor in the center of the room.
That night we were awakened by some noises.
“Did you hear that?’ I asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
The floor creaked with the distinct rhythm of footsteps.
“Go put the lamp on the porch,” I demanded.
“You do it,” he said. “You bought it.”
“I don’t want to piss it off,” I said.
We lay awake that night, all night, eyes wide open. Waiting.
The next morning, we put the lamp in the garage in a box and sealed it.
It’s still there.
TODAY’S GIVEAWAY: Signed set of the ghostgirl series – ghostgirl, ghostgirl: Homecoming, ghostgirl: Lovesick. Signed set of The Blessed trilogy – Precious Blood, Passionaries and Hallowed. Giveaway includes special edition bookmarks and t-shirts.
TONYA HURLEY is the New York Times bestselling author of the ghostgirl series (Little, Brown) and The Blessed trilogy (Simon & Schuster)–Precious Blood, Passionaries, Hallowed. She has created two television shows for ABC Family and ABC and has written and directed five independent films that have premiered at film festivals around the world and have been broadcast on outlets such as PBS and IFC. Tonya is a founding board member of the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn.
Read an excerpt from HALLOWED:
“I just don’t know how much longer I can stand it, CeCe. I feel like I’m on Death Row instead of a hospital, waiting around for my head to be chopped off or something.”
“Yeah, it’s a kind of terrorism. The meds, electroshock. Threatening your sanity or your life. Scaring you into submission. Compliance,” Cecilia said, looking up and flipping off the omnipresent camera lens mounted in each corner of the psych ward lounge.
“Aren’t you afraid?” Agnes asked almost embarrassed, voicing the one thing Sebastian had expressly warned them against.
“No,” Cecilia said, finally turning to Agnes. “Only thing I’m afraid of is the unknown and I’m pretty sure I know how this story is gonna end. For better or worse.”