In a small haunted village, which resembled a “dia de los muertos celebration,”(day of the dead) lived guitar-playing skeletons. The only song they knew was “la cucaracha.” Witches flew in fancy brooms. Jack lanterns were laughing in their orange grandeur. Somewhere beneath the hidden nooks of the town, scary fire breathing monsters resided. They were part Muppet, part Godzilla spawn.
This is the world I imagined downstairs in my childhood home. When the lights went out I figured these ghouls of Halloween ran a-muck. For me the dark always represented a genuine fear of the unknown. I imagined this haunted civilization could live easily in my parents’ home while we slept in the depths of the pitch-black house and quiet neighborhood.
The monsters I imagined downstairs subsided. I grew into an eccentric and equally imaginative adult. By my mid-twenties, I figured that I had grown passed my fear of the dark. However, one day my bravery would be tested.
Like any twenty-something in New York, I felt a sense of confidence and jadedness. I took many jobs to survive in the city. One day, I accepted a three-day job working as a production assistant on Staten Island, New York’s most mysterious isle. The job paid in pizza and Dunkin Donuts coffee. So naturally, I accepted the position.
I arrived on Staten Island through the legendary ferryboat of the same name. Quickly, I was driven to set. I figured we would shoot in one of the many craftsman style homes in the island.
“Holy shit,” is what I said internally. Our car drove into an abandoned looking hospital, Sea View. It looked terrifying from arrival. I joined my other crewmembers and walked in with a heavy load of filming equipment.
The hospital reeked of old medical equipment, haunting photos covered the wall and it looked like the set of the “Shining” (only in hospital form) of course.” Everyone around me looked spook, but we went straight to work.
I wandered Sea View Hospital. There was a chill in the air and everywhere I turned old medical equipment was left like a ghost of time gone by. Later, I found out lobotomies were performed and many people had died right where we were to film our slapstick comedy.
The shoot went successfully. While we wrapped up, the director wanted me to fetch some booms (microphones) that were left in a desolate wing of the hospital. Suddenly, my childhood paranoia returned. “Oh no, what happens if I run into guitar playing skeletons, witches on brooms & laughing jack lanterns appear? Worst of all I may really see a ghost, since terrible deaths had occurred there.
I bravely swallowed in my fear and walked into the darkness. Using flashlight, I climbed down the stairs, but felt a cold chill in the air. That fear of the unknown returned. Therefore, I walked up to one of my crewmembers, a tough talking gal from Staten Island.
“Can you come with me? I’m scared of the dark,” I asked. “Oh c’mon, really?” she replied. Finally, she obliged. We walked toward the dark, picked up the equipment and didn’t see a ghost.
Mission was accomplished. Before we left, everyone gathered for a group photo. When the director looked at his camera, a dark shadow was seen. He proclaimed, “ I think there are really ghosts here.” I thought captain obvious just came in for a landing.
While we drove back to Manhattan, I was thrilled to never go to a haunted hospital again. These days, I would love having a secret ghoulish village living in my pad. In fact, if my pad turned into a real life” Rocky Horror Picture Show” set, I would be thrilled. Having a drag queen greeting my guests with “I’m just a sweet Transvestite from transsexual Transylvania” would tickle my fancy.