4.10.2008

The Crypt

Perhaps what really started my need to tell stories was the old Crypt in Calmes Estates.

There were two folks that owned the property, an elderly couple that threatened to shoot you with rock salt if you ever happened to step foot on their land. Of course, we were young, curious and stupid kids so that threat never really mattered much. Their property held a number of interests for young boys: A relatively undeveloped forest with a quiet pond somewhere in the middle, an old cemetary with head stones dating to the late 1800's, and of course, the Crypt.

Our parents tried to explain to us that the Crypt was nothing more than just an old tornado shelter, but we weren't buying that. Seriously, weathered stone walls and a wooden door that opened straight into the ground! That was no tornado shelter.

The buses usually dropped us off at the start of our subdivision giving us full opportunity to walk past the property and stare at the Crypt. Somedays the door was opened while other days it remained closed. It was just too much of a temptation, but despite my ability to talk a mean game about how unscary the Crypt was, I only went fully inside it once before I was a grown-up.
I must have been 8 or 9 years old when it happened. Curtis, the neighborhood nut (the same kid who once shot one of my best friends in the head with a crossbow), told all the kids on the street that he had snuck in to the Crypt one night and saw red eyes staring back at him. Curtis was a compulsive liar, but this little bit of information gave us the fits. We all needed to see for ourselves.

About 3 or 4 of us, myself included, went into the Crypt. Mostly, because we were dared to do it. All I remember is feeling cold and scared. It was too dark to see, so I can't confirm nor deny the presence of red eyes, but when I ran home that day, I was a changed boy.

I went back with my pregnant wife, and my three-year old son just a couple years ago. I wanted to show them the catalyst for all of my stories. Despite the fact that the neighborhood had sprouted up everywhere and the old folks that owned the property had long since died, the crypt was still intact. It plunged into a hill right behind a young subdivision. I was in my late twenties, with my wife at my side and a video camera. It was even during the early afternoon, but I couldn't linger in that cold, damp crypt for very long. There's just something about unwanted nostalgia that leads to cold feet. Hopefully, one day I can pay my respects to the red-eyed specter of the Crypt on Calmes Estates, but there's only one way I'll do that...

2 comments:

Weston Elliott said...

Hey, whatever works, works!

Who'd have thought an old wardrobe would spark one of the greatest fantasy stories ever told?

If you've got something that cool to draw from, go for it with all gusto!

Frank Cole said...

It was cool. Plus, being a kid transforms everything into something cooler.

I always think its amazing how kids can think exactly the way fiction writers write or try to write.

If only I had more writing classes as a youngster...