Monday, October 18, 2010

Basement Santa


My body is tilted off balance with the laundry basket propped on my hip one handed, while I struggle to slide the bolt lock to the basement door back with the other. I hesitate before opening the door as a shiver played my spine like a xylophone. A sign of bad karma, bad luck? Open the door already wimp.

Without a doubt, basements hold their own element of suspense; they’re damp, cold, concrete enclaves’ playing guest appearances in almost ever horror movie ever made. Creepy basements don’t bother me. However, a dirt encrusted, soot smudged, unblinking mannequin, in a bad version of a 60’s Santa suit scares the crap out of me. We’ve all encountered ‘that’ Santa at one point or another in our lives and balled our eyes out, convinced there was no freaking way Santa was anything like the mall version. The problem - ‘my’ version of evil Santa is lurking in the basement.

My laundry had no sympathy for my fear, growing into a mountainous heap more threatening than Santa. The laundry and the smell won, hands down. Ascending the stairs into the bowels of basement hell, cold air wafts up to greet me. My eyes fall on Santa in high-water red overalls, missing his boots. I do believe he was missing a few toes as well. His beard a rat’s nest gray, fingers posed into claws. Why anyone ever thought this spectacle could entice someone into a music store during the holidays is beyond me. On closer inspection, I realize the paint on one of Santa’s eyes has been scraped off and I can’t help but shudder.

I hugged the contour of the stairs, trying desperately not to brush up against Basement Santa and rush to put in a load of laundry and be done with it. When I turned around, there he sat in all his demented glory, bent forward into the passage between the wall and the stairs. Had he moved?

I refused to run back up the stairs, squaring my shoulders and forcing myself to walk stiffly by. Santa’s hand lifted up off his lap. I ran like the wind up the stairs and slammed the door shut, leaning against the door with all my weight and breathing heavy. Thump, thump, the door bounced against my back from the weight of something on the other side. Holy crap on a cracker (trust me, my profanity would turn virgins into heathens – this is the polite version).

Imagine every horror movie cliché you’ve ever watched. Now remember screaming at the screen, “Don’t open that door…don’t go outside…look out…” - you get the idea. Now start screaming at me. So what do I do? Make like a cliché and grab a pan and open the door. My cat Socrates flies out of the dark snarling and screeching like a banshee. I slam the door shut behind her, slide the bolt home, and avoid the basement until Santa’s evicted.

Was Socrates the guilty culprit? Probably. In any case, I hate mannequins.

The moral of this story? I’m deep in the midst of revisions and I’m finding more words are getting evicted in the same fashion as Santa than not. Does it scare me? I’d say it’s on an even keel with Basement Santa. On that analogy alone, cleaning out the basement (first draft) of my manuscript is bound to have the same profound effect. Useless words and structure bog down a storyline. Just like Santa wouldn’t be half as scary if he actually had a twinkle in his eye and rosy cheeks, my words will flow into lyrical prose.

I’m much happier writing the horror on the page in front of me than living it. Anyone remember Silent Night, Deadly Night? (Winks) Don’t let your fears keep you from finding out what’s on the other side of the door.

*On a side note: Basement Santa is a more appropiate story for Halloween than the holidays. I’m really not a Santa prude. Where did he end up? On someone else’s porch.


  1. Love it! In place of a basement Santa, we have attic Dolls. Creepy things given to my daughter that she never wanted in her bedroom. But they were gifts (expensive gifts) from family members. For years they stood on her highest shelf BEHIND her tall stuffed animals. Now they scare the pants off us when we need to venture into the attic!

  2. Lol. :) You should write a horror short story about your Santa.

  3. I am inclined to agree with LR... this will one day make a wonderful story!

  4. Oh! To revise and review all those written words and discard some of them into oblivion when you gave birth to them originally must give you many a headache. It is so easy to change the tone with a word placed or taken out. At least if the words are written in pencil or ink they are still there but on the computer there is no chance of going back again to the original thought.
    Good luck my lovely friend.

    Your creepy story had me imagining all sorts! Great work.
    Jeanie xxxx

  5. Nice Halloween story! Absolutely loved it. There was a horror movie from the 70s about a killer who dressed as Santa -- I think it was called Christmas Evil.


  6. hahahahahaha.

    That is brilliant-- I don't do our laundry either for fear of the nasty scary "basement santas" in our own basement. That's what Curty is for :)

    Miss you my friend.

  7. I dont like going down our cellar ~ but I am sure everything will be OK :o) I hope so anyway ~ and yes I think you could write a horror story about the basement :O) ~ Ally x

  8. I do love mannequins. I used to have a few of my own, and I even still use the forms for mosaic. But I'm not a fan of Santa (an anagram of Satan!), so I guess a Santa mannequin is probably a little creepy. I'd pretend, though, if it would get me out of laundry.

  9. I don't like attics or basements...perhaps because I've never had one and movies/books play them out as fraught with peril.

  10. We don't see many basements here in south Texas although the house I was born in had one. My Mama always said my baby shoes disappeared and they found them in the basement. They thought a rat carried them down there. I don't know about that, must have been one large rat.

  11. We don't see many basements here in south Texas although the house I was born in had one. My Mama always said my baby shoes disappeared and they found them in the basement. They thought a rat carried them down there. I don't know about that, must have been one large rat.

  12. There's a great kid's story about a boy who is afraid of the Scary Thing in his basement, until he confronts it and it shrinks. He, too, is stuck with laundry duty.

    I do not like basements much either, and that Santa would have freaked me out. My neighbors had a basement with, are you ready for this? Deer heads.

    And they all STARED at me. (The deer heads, not the neighbors.)

    Thank God I now live in Southern California where they don't even make basements in homes. Hah! Dodged that bullet.


  13. ooooo, chilly. but you always offer a way out!

  14. Basement Santa! This is so great. I was riveted to the end when you masterfully tied it in with the work of revising. You amaze me, Indigo.

  15. Love the analogy to the first draft! We have a dusty crawlspace under our house. There's got to be a Santa lurking in there somewhere.

  16. I love this post! I, too, am not overly fond of mannequins. And I hate basements of all kinds.

    Good luck with your revisions!

  17. Just what I needed to read today!!! Great post!

    I have a fear of unfinished and dirt basements...

    Thank you for your comment today it meant SO much to me!!!

    Thank you!!!

  18. This I almost do not believe...BUT--today I was walking down from a mountain top--really tiring, but not so much as on the way UP--grin! And there before me...a real live old, old cave. No Peeps around, so what did I do?

    Well, I walked down into the dank darkness (or dark dankness?). Weeds were overtaking the jagged rocks.

    Anyway, I just HAD to tell you my experience of today, in light of your 'basement SANTA excursion'.

    Glad to 'see' you again, Indigo!

    Steve E

  19. I love this! Especially the part about virgins turning into heathens. ROFL

    Love how you tied this to revisions. Geez, you're brilliant. :D

  20. Don't let anybody fool you. Santa IS scary!

    This was really cute! (I hate basements, BTW, for exactly that reason.)

    Also, I have a blog award for you! :D

  21. I recall as a child the basement was scary for me. The smell, the stillness, creepy.........LOL

    Yet, the attic was warm just filled with storage space to dump your junk!

    Your Santa story is great for a horror movie!

    Hugs, Rose

  22. This is GREAT! And I like the comparison to cleaning out the basement of your manuscript!

  23. Mannequins have always creeped me out. Hideous things.


Thank you for giving my silence a voice, my muse your words, and taking the time to discover my prose.