Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Headless Horseman

In college, I had a job as a witch at a Halloween hayride. We witches lurked in a dark corner of woods and when a wagon meandered past, we charged out and pretended to attack, screaming and cackling and clawing at the customers. Around 9pm, the kids and adolescents were replaced by teens and young adults, often drunk, who fought back with screaming insults and beer bottles. The tractor would carry them away before anyone got mauled, chugging off through the low, wet fields to do battle with the zombies next door. On busy nights, we'd be chasing one wagon as the next appeared behind us, and we'd have to roar back to the cauldron (which periodically caught on fire), on weekends the local cops would drive through, grinning, to round up an ornerier-than-usual customer. On slow nights, we'd walk down the road to visit with the neighbors - Freddy Krueger, Frankenstein's Monster, the zombies, the mad scientist and his victim. It paid minimum wage, but all in all, it was a highly satisfying job. The only downside was that I was on the opposite side of the property from the Headless Horseman, whose black horse I sometimes glimpsed as I drove into the parking lot.

The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane, by John Quidor (1801-1881)
Oil, 26 7/8 x 33 7/8 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Public domain via Wikimedia commons

The animal he bestrode was a broken down plow horse that had outlived almost everything but his viciousness He was gaunt and shagged with a ewe neck and a head like a hammer his rusty mane and tail were tangled and knotted with burrs one eye had lost its pupil and was glaring and spectral but the other had the gleam of a genuine devil in it Still he must have had fire and mettle in his day if we may judge from his name which was Gunpowder.

Google Books - The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow


Christina Wilsdon said...

What a GREAT job! Thanks for the fun story.

Jane Badger said...

I am envious now... do you ever whip out on Hallowe'en and indulge in a spot more terrifying?

Sarah said...

It WAS a great job. I retired my broom after the hayride, but in later years I worked near Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, which does a massive haunted attraction every year, and I've been tempted.