The Breadcrumbs widget will appear here on the published site.
By Julian Drury
Being the victim of Pumpkinjack is a bad sign during Halloween season. I first learned about the tradition of Pumpkinjack in New Orleans, many years ago. Pumpkinjack is not a “who” more as it is a “what” and “when.” Pumpkinjack is an act in which someone who has placed a carved pumpkin on their stoop, and has it stolen, if the pumpkin is not replaced, the Pumpkin Ghost would visit that person and do him or her ill. My girlfriend always put a pumpkin on our stoop, so I never worried about it. My former neighbor, though. Now there’s where the story gets interesting.
I only knew him as Rob, the name he introduced himself with. It was only Rob, and nothing else. Rob lived in the shotgun next door to me, on Burgundy. Strange dude, very strange. He always stayed in his apartment, except on Fridays where he’d get so drunk that he’d scream all sorts of things into the night air. He even confronted people on those nights, saying things like “This is my street. This is my fucking street.” He’d repeat this over and over. Though, for the most part, I suppose he was an average guy. Rob didn’t do holidays, though. Never decorated, never answered the door for trick-or-treaters. This one year, though, my girlfriend decided to carve a pumpkin for Rob. She offered it to him as a Halloween gift, a few days or so before that fateful day.
Rob didn’t refuse the gift, though he certainly didn’t seem to care much about it. He was that kind of rough trucker face, that chain smoked and drank whiskey for breakfast. He even dressed the part too. It was about a day before Halloween, though, and Rob’s pumpkin was stolen in the night. He didn’t say anything about it, per say. My girlfriend took notice of it being gone, and assumed that Rob was just an asshole who threw it away himself. She wanted to go ask him about it, but I told her no. I gave her the idea, mostly, that Rob was an asshole. The truth can be politically-incorrect sometimes. So, we left it alone.
Halloween night, my girlfriend and I go to a party, get a little wasted. We went home, had sex, and then passed out. Next morning comes, nothing unusual. No sign of Rob, pretty typical. The day went by, yet by nightfall, I realized something. I was Friday. Normally Rob would be drunk by six PM, screaming at formless monsters that crawl on the cracked sidewalks, and hide in the trees. By ten PM, no sign of Rob. Strange. I lived next to Rob for three years, and never did he diverge from his Friday stomping. The Friday after Halloween, though, Rob was not to be seen or heard. The following morning, Saturday, paramedics were at Rob’s apartment.
Rob was dead. I didn’t know how he died, only that he had died. It took a few months before I heard the story, the whole story. It came from the mouth of Ira, the old black lady that lived behind Rob’s apartment. I was cleaning out some stuff in the backyard when she approached me and began to tell me what she saw. She placed her hands on the fence in a claw-like fashion, told me the night Rob died, Halloween, she saw a man in Rob’s backyard. Or, at least she said it vaguely resembled a man. She described this being as wearing nothing but black, and that his eyes would shine in the dark, like lit candles. She couldn’t see a face, though. She could only see a body and eyes. Ira got so scared that she turned off her lights and ran straight to her bedroom, locking the door behind her. I made the passing joke that maybe Rob was the victim of a Pumpkinjack. I told Ira how my girlfriend gave Rob a Pumpkin, and how it was stolen and never replaced. Ira was not amused by my comments.
That’s not the worst part. Ira told me, that a friend of hers, who works as a medical examiner, was disgusted by what she saw when she saw Rob’s body. According to Ira’s friend, his face had been horribly mangled and carved up. It was as if someone took a carving knife and tried to make a jack-o-lantern out of Rob’s face. Truly gruesome, if you ask me. I bet it took a while to clean the blood out of Rob’s place. I grew a little unnerved after Ira told me that. I finished my yardwork and went back inside.
The Pumpkin Ghost, who’s to say it couldn’t be true? I never believed in anything like that. But, at this point, it’s not an unreasonable thought to have. Who doesn’t want to believe in the fantastic, the crazed or insane? We make these stories for good reasons, I suppose. Maybe sometimes there is a kernel of truth to them. I am a good example of how easily belief can be changed.
My girlfriend and I had been fighting for a couple of months. She wanted to get married, while I was not a fan of that proposal. I told her I still loved her, but I saw no point for us to get married. She did not take kindly to this, of course. We fought a lot, and I tried to keep it civil. Yet, my girlfriend had a vindictive spirit in her. I tried to put up with her ignorance, and tolerated the abuse as long as any reasonable man could. She had a way of making you feel small, and unimportant. She dwelled on the past too much.
One night, on Halloween to be exact, I did not go back to my apartment. I stayed out and got drunk at Vaughn’s, doing as much as I could to avoid going back to my girlfriend. I perhaps hoped that she went out somewhere too, so I could go lay in bed and try to sleep off my alcohol consumption. I remember going back to my apartment, but not going inside. I was very angry, hateful even. I saw the pumpkin sitting on the stoop, the same type my girlfriend put out every year on Halloween. I was angry and spiteful. I took the pumpkin in my hands, began cursing at it, and released my inner hate towards my girlfriend. I knew she never loved me, even though I loved her. I took the pumpkin and smashed it against the pavement. I laughed a little, and wandered off somewhere. When I drink heavily, I black out. I woke up in my backyard.
I didn’t even think about Pumpkinjack. I know it’s my fault now. I was so full of rage, and I never believed in ghost stories. It was Pumpkinjack that killed her, and I brought it out. The Pumpkin Ghost came. It killed her the same way it killed Rob. The same way Ira told me. My girlfriend’s face…I can barely even think of it. Her face was carved up, like…like a pumpkin. I know how bad this looks, but I swear that this is my fault. I may not have killed her myself, but I caused her death. It should have been me. The Pumpkin Ghost should have taken me instead, I was the one that destroyed the pumpkin! In a way, I deserve this.
These things are real. I’ll turn myself in, and take the blame. If I get the needle, then it is the price I pay for my ignorance. But, you should know that I did not murder my girlfriend. I deserve what’s coming, though. Pumpkinjack is real, and the Pumpkin Ghost too. Follow my warning, and respect the tradition. Don’t smirk. I did that once, too. Now, I’m telling you this, not just for me, but for you as well. This is not a ghost story.
You are a good friend, and I’m happy I could tell you this story. This season has many monsters. You believe me, don’t you?
#Unreal #Fiction #Halloween #HalloweenHangover #Pumpkins
Visit our shop and subscribe. Sponsor us. Submit and become a contributor. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.