not in our stars, but in ourselves
There’s been a trend on Tumblr recently: various regions of the U.S. and their own particular “gothic” varieties. Inspired, of course, by Southern gothic, it’s yielded some good stuff. Here’s one for New England gothic:
the coyotes are much too big, but you never really see them except for gnawed deer bones and footprints in the mud. you can hear them howling and yapping on nights when the moon is bright
dunkin donuts appear where there was none before. no one questions this – dunkin donuts are everywhere anyways. people flock to them, favoring them because they are new.
in the old ones, few customers gather, and then only for a few moments sheltering from the weather. they studiously ignore the growing stains in the corners, and sip their coffee while watching the news. there is always talk of murders and violence on the television, or warnings of a massive storm approaching.
the ancient millponds you find in the woods are always too still. there will be a tree, or several, fallen into the water and reaching towards the center of the pond. you have to fight the urge to climb onto the log and follow it to where it disappears into the pool
people raze sections of the forest to erect sterile new houses. the dull grey boards stare mockingly at passerby – it knows how much its ugliness is an affront to the trees that died to build it, but it also knows that there is nothing you can do about it. (the stench of money is too strong and the bricks in the chimney are too red. besides, it is only a flat imitation of the hallowed old buildings that truly are deserving of your love)
summer comes and everything is far far too green. the light shining through the leaves and the smell of growth calls you to the woods, following the rushing streams and blue-green ponds, and you return hours later with bug bites and mud on your ankles. all you can remember is the green light
on the day after a cold cold night, you find strange patterns in the ash from yesterday evening’s fire. you ignore them and open the hatch to send the soot down the chute
also the flue is always closed when you start a fire. you could’ve sworn it was opened yesterday but it’s too late now, the smoke already billowed out of the fireplace and you have to open a door into the snowy outdoors to get it out
the basement is flooded again. you turn on the lights at the stairs and shine a flashlight down into the dark water. it’s impossibly dark and things are floating in it. as long as the water isn’t rising, you figure it’s fine. you leave and close the door
whole towns lose power as massive winter storms and hurricanes hit the coast. roads are washed away in the rural mountain towns, sand from the beaches is pushed blocks up through the coastal suburbs, people huddle in their homes. they laugh and joke uneasily about how the power’s out yet again, but there’s more snow than there should be at this time of year.
It’s real. It’s so real – the basement one especially.
Today, I found one called Boston gothic:
You head down the stairs to the T to find that the Red Line is gone. It’s just gone. The Orange Line is there, and you could take it, but you are scared of clowns. You decide to walk instead.
You walk 20 minutes from North Station and find South Station. You walk another 20 minutes and find North Station again. You have not turned around.
You find a parking space but as you get another foot closer the parking space is now occupied. There was never any parking space. There are no parking spaces. There is no such thing as a parking space. Cars pull over and blink out of existence.
A chill rolls down your spine. You thirst. You are surrounded by Dunks on all sides. You go in and order an iced coffee. As you take your first sip, it begins to snow.
You struggle to pronounce the ‘r’ in “clam chowder” but it evades you. You choke out an order for anothah bowl of clam chowdah. You can’t remember what an ‘r’ sounds like.
It is a beautiful sunny day, clear and cloudless. You close your eyes. You open them. It is now pouring. A man turns to you and says “haha only in New England.” He is weeping.
You are driving out of the city for the day. You follow the signs that say I93. You follow the signs. You take your exit. You follow the signs. You are now entering the Mass Pike instead. A decrepit hand reaches from the darkness to collect your toll. No turning back now.
It’s pretty good, too, but I would add a few of my own:
There is a Ben Franklin “re-enactor” on the Orange Line – who refuses to let anyone take his picture. Why? What will happen to him?
North Station smells like rotten eggs in the winter. Like sulfur. What deviltry abides on those subway platforms?
There seems to be just one homeless guy with no legs sitting in front of a semi-abandoned storefront in Downtown Crossing. Where does he go in the winter? How does he get there?
The Filene’s building, speaking of Downtown Crossing, has been an abandoned skeleton for ages. What’s inside? Why won’t they remodel it or knock it down? What’s stopping them? Or who?
On the Orange Line, between Community College and Sullivan Square, the elevated tracks slope to one side. What would happen if, one rainy and/or snowy day, with a packed train, it just tipped off the rails? The trains try to keep their grip, but they’re getting so tired, so very tired.
The “quaint” brick sidewalks in the South End and in Harvard Square are as lumpy and uneven as a carpet covering a dead body. Food for thought.
When the overhead supporting beam in the tunnel to Logan fell and killed that woman, it was just a snack. The tunnel is hungry for more.
During the height of tourist season, the Freedom Trail suddenly leads not to historic Boston landmarks – but inexorably into the Charles River. The Harborwalk does the same, into the sea.
All the mumbling homeless people suddenly look exactly like dearly departed Mayor Menino. They always did. Who was the mayor, from 1993-2014?
The pigeons in Back Bay station begin divebombing humans. First they do it for food, then just for fun. Local emergency rooms are inundated with head wounds.
The LED signs in T stops stop displaying the time and the next train’s estimated arrival time. They begin instead to display increasingly specific threats to people waiting on the platform.
The Long Island Bridge wasn’t demolished because it was structurally unsound. It was to keep whatever was on Long Island from reaching the hapless people of Quincy.
If any of you are actually reading this, feel free to add your own. There are allegedly quite a few of you following this silly blog, and it would be interesting to hear from some of the more farflung among you.
P.S. For a genuinely horrifying event that really did happen in Boston: the Cocoanut Grove fire.