by Molly Jo Realy @MollyJoRealy
Last week it was cloudy. Windy. A bit rainy. And, yup. A carnival came to town. Did I go? Puh-leese. Do ducks eat hippopotamus? Of course not. I’m all for a good scare, but on my own terms. I certainly don’t need my own version of Something Wicked This Way Comes.
But all y’all know I love thriller suspense and ghost stories, yah? I’m not talking those icky, gory, demon-possessed movies, although I wouldn’t mind seeing Stephen King’s IT before it leaves theatres. [Note to self: buy movie ticket for friends. There’s safety in numbers.]
So for those moments I can’t find someone to go to the movies with, [translate: Ain’t no one wanting to sit next to me when I get scared. I go home still scared. They go home with bruised and decirculated limbs.] it’s safer for everyone when I hunker down in the soft chair and read a good book.
This time of year, my two go-to favorites are The Haunting of America by Jean Anderson, and Great Southern Mysteries by E. Randall Floyd.
I didn’t have a passion for the South (that I know of) until the last five or so years. It tickled into me as I began to write NOLA, and grew into my lifeblood as I attended the Blue Ridge conference and met so many wonderful Southern people I now consider family. But looking back, it’s evident I have always been a displaced Southerner. [Read: By The Pricking of My Thumb.] It’s spooky how something from my childhood could be reclaimed with such impetus; how something I was unaware of took root decades before I recognized its force in my life.
I’ve been reading The Haunting of America since I was in grade school. I used to check it out of the libraries regularly. Remember when you’d sign your name on the lined card and the librarian would date stamp it so you’d know when to return it? My librarian always joked I should just keep the book for as often as I checked it out. The card had my name, my name, my name, someone else–wait, what?! Someone else dared to borrow my book from the library? I was appalled. Worse, I was restless. There was no substitute. It was a long two weeks before I had my treasured book back in my hands. Some years ago I was thrilled–no pun intended–to find a used copy on Amazon. Needless to say, it was a short two days before I had my treasured book back in my hands.
The Haunting of America is a collection of 24 “true” ghost stories. It’s written for children, but adults will appreciate it as well. It’s where I first met the Gray Man and Marie Laveau. It affirmed what I already knew about Lincoln, and orbs. And it’s where I first visited the Winchester Mystery House. Each story is just a few pages long, making them easy to read, and just as easy to thrill.
Great Southern Mysteries is another collection of short ghost stories, but this is written for adults. The Riddle of the Mounds and In Search of Cofitachequi are just two of the unexplained happenings that fill the book. Lost islands, Flight 19, ghost lights.
The Gray Man and Marie Laveau are here, too.
The beauty of short story collections is you can reread only the ones you know will raise the hair on all y’all’s cackles. Which, come to think of it, is every story.
What do you like to reread this time of year?
With a reading lamp and security blanket,
And Frankly, My Dear . . . That’s all she wrote!