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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

A humorous memoir of childhood and the urban legends that terrify us.

When I was a wee five year old Stace, I can see that my mother and father inadvertently made what I refer to as a grave error in parental judgement. With four kids in tow, they moved to May Street. May Street is located in the small mill town of Lawrence Massachusetts. It was a decent apartment, with four bedrooms. There was a small yard and we could walk to school. The problem lay in the location. They moved us across the street, (DIRECTLY across the street!) from Bellevue Cemetery. Bellevue is an extremely large and extremely old place of burial. It opened in 1847 and there are nearly 50,000 souls in it’s ground. 600 Veterans, some dating back to the Civil War. Obviously at five I did not have the benefit of knowing its history, at five I only knew dead people were across the street. As I later grew into an avid horror fan, ironically I was petrified with our new address. In 1978, when I lived there, it was painted a cheerful yellow, it had tin mailboxes hanging askew next to doorbells. There was a narrow alley that ran into a small but private back yard. My mum hung curtains and I unpacked my Sesame Street pillow case, and for a while, it was home. Yet, That cemetary loomed. I avoided it. I can remember averting my eyes to keep from even looking at it. I’d always slip through the alley as quick as my cheap sneakers would allow, to the relative safety of the back yard. Once I’d made it safely, I’d spend afternoons alone with my imagination, and I imagined there was no stinkin cemetery filled with bones just a few yards away. Still, in my precocious mind, I’d picture the corpses climbing out of their tombs and making their way to me; probably to attack me with their rotting limbs all hanging about and empty eye sockets, they’d garble at me in unintelligible languages (I’d seen Night of the Living Dead, and I knew how this rodeo ended). It was worse at night. I'd lie in bed, listening to my sister snor, and I knew with the certainty only a child can muster, that the tree branches which formed silhouettes on the shades in my room, were the arms of a witch ready to pounce and snatch me away.

Sometime in the ensuing months of our stay (in what I now refer to as my own personal Amityville) I heard the story. Having 3 older siblings, two brothers and a sister, I was easy pickens for sibling torture. The two oldest, Steven and Lisa were just entering their teens around that time, and they were often saddled with the task of "watching the little ones". If Ma was running an errand, or having a cup of instant coffee with a neighbor, my brother Raymond and I were forced to succumb to their mercy. Naturally, they resented having to drag us everywhere they went. So naturally they took it out on us.

It was on one of these occasions, the evil preteen duo of my brother and sister, decided to meet a gang of their hoodlum friends deep in the bowels of Bellevue. It was a place the older kids could go to make out and smoke cigarettes. When we crossed the street, and I realized their plan, I dug in my heels and begged they leave me in traffic or tied to the porch. Being run over by a delivery van was, to me, preferable to going into that huge dumping ground of dead bodies. I begged “Don't make me go in there! Please!" “Quit whining or I'll smack you one” (nice huh?) was my brother's go to answer. I tried to cling to the chain link fence, already crying, but they ripped my fingers easily from their white knuckled grip. "Shut up you baby" I had no choice. I followed.

My stomach was in knots, trudging along, looking at the ground. If a person walked long enough along the paved and cobblestone pathways of the cemetery, eventually one would reach the top of a sprawling reservoir. Grassy hills and sun kissed maple trees overlooked the dead below. The older kids loved it there, free from adults, they carried on as they pleased.

My sister and brother met up with 6 or 8 of their gang, while we younger two stood awkwardly looking around. I was just convincing myself that 'hey this wasn't so bad after all' and had begun attempting cartwheels and rolling in the grass, almost enjoying myself. When the older kids took notice of my simple joy, "Don't wander off" one said. (As if!) "Yeah, you know about Pinky right?" I froze. Wait, what? What's this? Even though I was tiny and helpless, freckled and quite adorable the older kids lit into taunting me. "Pinky'll get ya" "Pinky lives here" "He's an albino with red eyes and yellow teeth!" “He lives right here in the graveyard” “Are you shitting me?” I thought. My heart was racing as panic took over. "I want to go home now!" I yelled, my voice was shrill with the sound only a kindergartener could achieve. "Now or I'm telling mom you were smoking" I thought this was pretty good leverage. I was sorely mistaken. My brother stepped towards me, seeing the look on his face, I made a break for it. He was athletic and almost thirteen, I was five and clumsy. I didn’t stand a chance. I was ‘captured’ almost instantly.

Up on the hill of the grassy reservoir, Raymond and I were forced to sit and wait. The evil preteens had discovered our weakness and used it against us shamelessly. “If you move from this spot before we get back, Pinky’ll getcha” “He eats little kids!” And then, they walked off, leaving me sitting in the hot sun yanking chunks of grass out the ground. It seemed like they were gone forever. They were still laughing at their clever ploy upon their return, and I cried some more. (Hey I was FIVE!) They threatened me within inches of my life if I told, and worse yet, they threatened to do away with my favorite doll baby. I would have agreed to anything to go home. I wasn’t going to tell! I wasn’t going to be some weird psycho’s lunch. I never wanted to come face to face with Pinky. They dragged us up there many more times, only now, all they had to do to keep us in line was say one word. Pinky. Raymond and I would sit, bored and hungry, in the spot they chose. Not daring to move. One day though, as we waited for them to stop goofing around, desperately wanting to be home, I heard a shout, followed quickly by another shout, then a squeal, and then my brother and sister came barrelling towards us, running at full tilt. My sister reached out, grabbed me by the arm and yanked, never slowing her speed as she screamed out "He's coming! Pinkys coming!" I ran along, tripping as my feet were barely touching the ground and I surely didn’t risk a glance back. We were a dozen or so kids booking it through Bellevue, yelping and gasping, "He's coming! He's coming!" Finally we reached the retaining wall and dilapidated chain link fence that bordered May street. Not stopping to check for cars, we scrambled across, winded and sweaty, we piled onto our front porch. Naturally, I was still crying, but finally, I braved a glance across the street. There high up in a row of headstones, there stood a man. In my haste, I saw that hair was indeed white, he was carrying a rake, or maybe it was a shovel. He was yelling something, but we were too far away to make out what he was saying. “I knew he was real” the older kids were saying to each other in genuine disbelief. “Yeah, no shit” I thought, and ran upstairs to our apartment and the safety of my mothers company. We moved away from the cemetery soon after that, and not surprisingly I don’t remember Lisa and Steve making Raymond and I go back in. Years later, grown up Stace asked my dad if the legend of “Pinky” was true. He would know, he’d worked for the city for 40 years. My father laughed out loud when I mentioned the albino in the cemetery that stalked small children. He told me that yes, there was a resident caretaker, no he was not an albino who ate little kids, he was harmless and a hard worker. These are the stories which turn into urban legends, perpetrated by older kids to scare younger kids. That's the thing though, a story has roots, true or not, and inside Bellevue, the roots are deep.

Submitted: August 02, 2022

© Copyright 2023 S. Hileman. All rights reserved.

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