Small towns have a paranormal bouquet all their own. What exactly precipitates that sensation remains mercurial to me, but I have a few elements nailed down. You see, I spent the first 22 years of my life in a small town in rural Indiana. My parents still live there, so I revisit it from time to time, just as I've done this past holiday weekend. During this time, I've given thought to what a great breeding ground for stories this wee hamlet is...despite my hating it for so long.
The land surrounding the town limits is nothing but miles of cornfields, lending a sense of isolation. When October comes around and the ears are harvested, there is the smell of what Dr. Seuss called, "The Sour-Sweet Wind." It's the husks and stalks rotting in the fields. All that gets mixed together with the odor of manure and you've got quite the potpourri cocktail.
There are houses here that are over 100 years old, not to mention the small, Catholic college adjacent to the town that boasts of heading towards its 150th year. Its central building is a church made of red brick. At night, the floodlamps at its base turn the facade blood red and the place looks postively evil in the dark. Then there are the ghosts. Yes, to hear the students tell it, Ghost Hunters would have a field day on campus.
So it sparked my thoughts into motion and snippets of character profiles came to me, many of them through the filter of being a fan of David Lynch's Twin Peaks:
Mr. Rosebottom is an award-winning gardener, known for his skill at cutting hedges and shrubs. He professes that his secret is to wear fuzzy pink pajamas while trimming and to only work the sheers at midnight.
Mrs. Kressler has the state's largest collection of lawn ornaments. She attends First Methodist Church every Sunday and is active in the church social clubs. When no one's looking, she practices Wicca.
Clem Michaels married his high school sweetheart, Jill Taylor. They've been together for three years, but Clem still can't get Ekie out of his mind, a girl with whom he had a tryst and who is now "resting" in White County Mental Hospital due to complications with behavior centered around puppets.
Tyler is a small town cop. He used to be a beefy football star at the local high school and now that limelight has faded away. He used to drink to party with girls. Now he drinks to forget the dark secrets he knows.
Alfred runs an antique store in town. You can find old things there, older than anyone would believe. In fact, Alfred seems to be about as old as his collection.
Every couple of years, a high school girl is found dead. The only thing that links the cases is the fact that they are always found wearing saddle shoes and bobby socks...items that none of the girls ever owned.
Is the old mill haunted? Sometimes, they say. But only when a tragedy is about to strike.
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