And it dawns another new day in Salem, Massachusetts. The day before Halloween and all seems to be well. As I look out the window, everything is unchanged although that bright sunlight is clearly not necessary. I shield my eyes and walk away from that window. It looks like the tail-end of the storm out there. The sun is trying to break through the clouds. At this point I feel like Bela Lugosi throwing his arm up to shield his eyes to protect himself from either the sun or a crucifix. It just dawned on me that I don’t think I’ve ever actually written the word “crucifix.” Hmm, idle minds, busy fingers . . . oh hell, I don’t know.
So it certainly looks like I will be able to accomplish what I have planned on this day. I want to walk up and down Derby to catch some more photos of the Harbour area that’s for sure. Next stop PIZZA then visit a bookstore, go to a wine tasting and catch more photos of the Witch House and stuff. Oh, and mustn’t forget, I have to cash in my gift certificates for winning 2nd place in the photo contest right here in Salem in 2010. I’m really excited to buy myself something that I really want here in Salem for winning the contest. Hmmm, why am I having this feeling of pending doom? Oh, but I shant give too many hints of things to come! Okay, first stop Derby Street!
Very nice to be walking outside today. I don’t see any storm damage at all. The beautiful Friendship is right where she was and looks simply splendid. This shot here, well, I’ve literally seen hundreds of these. For photographers this building is perfectly placed for beautiful photos. Perfect angles, rule of thirds! And here’s one of mine! On second thought, there does seem to be some new wood on this building. Damage indeed? Oh and here, this lady told me to take a picture of her dog. She didn’t ask me, she told me. “Here, take a picture of my dog.” Alrighty.
As I continue down Derby I am reminded once again how beautiful Salem can be but at the same time look run down and old. It is lovely nevertheless and here are a few photos I captured.
So there it is. The weather is quite strange today. As I am walking, it starts to rain, stops, starts, stops and stops and starts! Shit, I’m so confused! I’m trying to take pictures AND not get my camera wet. In, out, around, shit!
Another thing I’m experiencing. There’s been some sort of crossover here. Tourists are not much welcome anymore. I remember that once I was backing up to get a shot of the Witch House and I stepped back on the sidewalk and accidently stepped in front of an awful looking witch/lady/resident and she told me off but good. She really creeped me out. She looked like a bad old witch for real! I apologized and got away from her. The old hag. Yes, there are witches in Salem!
But back, I am noticing that the store merchants around here pretty much suck. Not friendly, cold, barely talk . . . until you pull your money out. Oh ya, they warm right up then. This particular dude, what a disappointment this. Of all the times I’ve been to Salem, I’ve always admired his fucking storefront. I’ve taken about a hundred of photos, one being what I think is a pretty good ghostly event. So, I now decide to go on in and see just what this is about. I am looking for gifts to bring home, and here? No witch shop this! I stop in, lots a stuff here. I see this grumpy looking dude sitting behind the counter at a cash register. As I’m walking around, looking at this and that, I keep looking at him trying to catch his eye so I can smile at him….. No dice. He’s looking everywhere but at me. Just like in Red’s. Won’t even look at me. I walk this way in front of him and that way in front of him and nothing. Not one glance. Just stares out the window. Well, shit. Why do I expect these people to be nice to me while I’m trying to buy something from them? Tell me, who’s wrong here? Ya, I know, they’re sick of tourists like me trying very hard to not only have them like me but to take my money for his little trinkets that are made in China for fuck’s sake. I continue my bewildered searching and I’m really having a tough time here finding something. For some reason, I really do want to buy something from here. Don’t ask me why! Eeez a mystery to me, Senor. Ah, ha! I love these! Little pewter key chains with a witch on a broom and Salem, Ma on it. What a fucking novel idea! I’ve just got to have it! Fuck that, I must have it! So, I grab two and then grab another version of the said witch/broom combo for a friend of mine. (Yes, I have friends….) Oh, now, we’re warming up. I make my way to the counter and I smile at the dude. He gives me this, “if I smile, my face will crack” sort of look as I gently lay my treasures before him. I am now full on staring at him, looking for some sign of life and look … yes, there it is! A full on bona fide glance up in my direction! Oh, I feel so special, so, so lucky! He rings me up in silence and then actually tells me how much I owe him. And, and could it be? A shadow of a smile plays across his mouth. Oh, I just shiver all over at this . . . and hand him a bill or two. He makes my change, places my treasures in a little Halloween bag and almost, what? He, yes, I can almost see it! And with great effort put forth, the man mumbles, “Thank you,” with just the touch of a smile again playing around his lips. And that’s it. That’s all I get. I can actually see the curtain close across his eyes. I’m so out of here, after-life kid!
Ok, probably will not visit that place again even if I really like his storefront. Now, which way? I take a few more photos and I decide on going to this bookstore that I’ve had my eye on every time I’ve been here. Halloween is actually tomorrow so I need to get these small journeys out of the way.
I walk over to the bookstore all the while feeling excited about the book I want to buy. A book, any book, love books! I would quite simply die without my books! No shit, not kidding! So there it is, and I walk in. Oh my gawd!!! Books, everywhere and I’m not kidding, stacks and stacks, floor to ceiling, literally tightly bound so they won’t fall on you. There’s just the tiniest little aisle that you walk down. It’s like a maze because you can’t see out. You only see books stacked around you, tied together so they won’t fall on you. I try to look at them to see something I want and I’m completely overwhelmed. One title blurs into a hundred more, top and bottom and all around. I look up to see where the cash register is. I don’t see it. I can’t see out of the aisle I’m in so I step over into what looks like the main aisle and I still don’t see it. I only see the door leading out. I figure I’ll find it soon enough and I continue to marvel at the actual condition of this place. It’s really filthy in here and suddenly this odor assails me. I noticed it when I entered. I figured it would just go away like all good odors do but this one? No dice. It’s not going anywhere. It’s staying right here and it’s getting bigger. I mean bigger, bigger and bigger. Not sure I can take this but I continue on looking at book titles stacked all the way to the ceiling, way over my head. There’s a few pathetic paper signs hanging here and there telling subjects and such but what a pitiful effort it is indeed. And now whilst dealing with all this, I suddenly hear very loudly a “Jesus-freak” outside on the Mall with his bullhorn full-on telling me that I’m going to fry if I don’t accept Jesus as my Savior. Oh must I deal with this too right here, right now? How much more can I take at this moment? This guy’s horn sounds like he’s standing right in the doorway of this freaky-ass bookstore! I retreat back more toward the back of the store and put a few thousand books between me and the religious, yelling man outside. I look for the proprietor of this place to see his reaction to the unrest but this dude is old, I mean very old. Not much help there! So I continue to fall back more toward the back of the store to get away from that horrid noise! But then, now the odor has become a full-on stench! There’s a back room back there and the stench is very strong the closer you get to it. At this point, I look down and to my surprise (hee!), the floor looks like it hasn’t been swept in probably 30 years or so. Lots and lots of dust-bunnies but not your normal dust-bunnies these! No, no, no, no, no! These are full-grown little evil looking sons-of-bitches. These are not cute! They’re full grown and looking for some ass to kick. Yup, and do you want to know another little unpleasantry about dust-bunnies? Well, do you know what dust-bunnies really are? They are not dust, they are human skin! We shed our skin and it collects into dust-bunnies! Truth! But now, as I draw near to the mysterious back room, I stop dead in my tracks. The stench, the stench has now become so strong! Let me tell you about how it smells. Ok kiddies? It smells like must, yes, there’s that. Must, must, musty old must. 80-year old must, coupled with just pure on, hell ya, stinky, stanky ass smell! Ass that has not been washed in, well, ever. Let me say, it just ass stinks. Mixed with musty, must and it’s strong! As I really hope it’s not coming from their bathroom, I shrink away, moving back toward the front. Whoops, wrong turn but I found where you check out, I think. It’s this tiny opening in stacks and stacks of ceiling-high books. Just a small slit of an opening. You peek through it to see the clerk taking your money but you can’t see him because the slit is so thin. You just have enough room to shove your money through and wait for your change and receipt to be shoved back at you. Now I only observe this because I did not buy anything in the store. Try though as I may, I never saw a single book I wanted. I didn’t want to ask for a book that was tied down up in the stacks. I figured it’s just too much bother, too much trouble. And the stench, well, I just have to go. I am the hell out of here. I wave and wink at the Jesus-freak as I go by. Ah, hell, I don’t know why. I’m sure he gets tired of people hating on him just like he hates on people. Somehow that 80s song “Round and Round” by Ratt comes to mind. “Round and round, what comes around goes around, I’ll tell you why, dig . . . .” Okay out, thank the Lord that sits atop this madhouse, I’m out.
On to the wine-tasting . . . and I missed it by a few minutes but the girl is still there and tells me about the wine that she’s pedaling of which I might add, is still sitting right in front of her … still open. Now you’d think she would have snuck a thimble-full to me but no, nada, nothing. I browse around for awhile but damn it I wanted that little taste of wine. I wanted it bad. Funny, I don’t even hardly drink but I guess my ego still wants it. I mustn’t ever be told no, I can’t have something because you can bet your sweet ass that I will want it! So I buy a bottle of wine for myself. So there, see?
Okay, tomorrow is Halloween and what a Halloween treat is this house! It’s actually quite hard to believe that I’m in Salem, Mass, the Halloween capital of the world! But there it is and I suppose I should get some rest this evening. I’ve walked a lot today, as always in Salem. That’s half the fun, right? I go to the cemetery to hug my tree and tell it good night. I love my tree.
I make my way around to my hotel. Oh boy, I have lots of junk food left over from the storm. I guess I’ll have some cereal and call it a day. It feels strange to not have to watch the weather every friggin’ minute. It still looks stormy out though. Maybe it will rain. I know, I’m never happy!
Love you freakies! I’ll see you on Halloween!