Demons, I decided, are adequately scary for my Halloween series. Today I will write about one that lived in our house when I was growing up. The art-carved pumpkins from the Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular in Providence, RI will feature a potpourri of cartoons, historical and Hollywood based themes.
We all have our share of demons, memories of things we didn’t do but should have and things we did but shouldn’t have. They tend to hang around and haunt us long after their significance has passed. The demon I am writing about today was of a more corporeal sort, however, and came with black fur, yellow eyes and a twitchy tail.
She was the family cat.
Demon earned her name because she was as dark as a moonless night, not because of any diabolical traits other than massaging your body with needle-sharp claws. None-the-less, she spent a lot of time in the Graveyard next to our house, catching lizards by day and mice by night. We knew of this by the half-eaten prey deposited on our doorstep. I believe that she viewed this common cat activity as her contribution to feeding the family. My mother, who had little tolerance for Demon’s food preferences, gave me the chore of tossing them back in the Graveyard. I’d sometimes tie a string around a dead mouse and charge around the yard with Demon storming along behind. We both enjoyed the game; it’s questionable as to which one of us was more demented.
Depopulating the Graveyard of varmints was not Demon’s major contribution to the community, however; it was having kittens. She had them often and everywhere, including in the Graveyard. We were in real danger of becoming known as the Cat Family of Diamond Springs. I suspect that half of the cats in El Dorado County today can trace their lineage back to her.
Demon played a more important role for me, however; she was part of a team I recruited to protect me from the ghosts that lived in the Graveyard. I moved outside at a young age and lived in the backyard during the summer. It was ideal. I would go to sleep at night under the stars listening to frogs croak, and wake up in the morning listening to birds sing. If I had to pee, there was a nearby bush; if I was thirsty, there was a convenient hose. Plus, I escaped from having to share a room with my brother.
The only thing that marred my paradise was the Graveyard. There it was, across the alley, maybe a hundred feet away, and looming— a dark presence with white tombstones. And, it is a well-known fact that ghosts tend to hassle little people. As soon as the sun went down, they came out. So, I hired the family pets— a greyhound, a cocker spaniel, and three cats (including Demon)— to keep them away. I paid them by allowing them to sleep on my bed. It was cozy, but seemed to work. I was never bothered by a ghost.
A problem occurred as I grew older and bigger. The ghosts no longer bothered me and the limited space on my cot became smaller. There was little room for five pets and Curt. It was at this time that Pat the greyhound had a midnight encounter with a skunk and snuggled up with me to share her misery. I got a good dose of skunk smell, the bedding was trashed, and I was forced to move back inside (a fact my brother objected to strenuously since no amount of scrubbing seemed to eliminate my new perfume). When I made it out again, I put the menagerie on notice. One more skunk-like incident and they were off. All of them. I began playing San Andreas Fault, rolling over rapidly to see how many animals I could dislodge. I felt a bit guilty about this, however, Demon was pregnant again and ballooning out.
One morning I woke up and my feet were wet. “What the…” I declared, looking down the bed. Demon, who was purring loudly, calmly looked back at me. No problem there. Then I noticed little black things crawling around, little replicas of Demon. She had delivered a litter of kittens at the foot of my bed and my feet were awash in kitty after-birth! I guess I should have felt honored…
NEXT POST: Tomorrow… Halloween! I’ll conclude with a few final pumpkins from the Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular in Providence, Rhode Island and Peggy and I will square off against each other in our annual pumpkin carving contest. You’ll be the judges! 🙂
21 thoughts on “On Growing Up with a Demon… The Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular in Providence, RI: Part 6”
My daughter has a cat that is always having kittens. I stayed at her house one time and slept in the spare bed, in the morning my five year old granddaughter came in to the room and I invited her to give me a cuddle. “Not in that bed Granddad” she said “It’s covered in Kitten Juice!”
Great pumpkins, I must get my carving kit out later this afternoon.
Seems like you had a similar type of cat encounter, Andrew!
The pumpkins have been fun for us Andrew. We were truly impressed with the Spectacular. Peggy and I have picked out a couple of our favorites for inspiration and will begin the carving process this afternoon. They will be traditional; not art. 🙂 –Curt
Love cats, but cannot live with them… they just come and go…
Had a family dog when little and we spent time running all over the neighbour’s houses… but he got hit by a car… could not bear to have another pet since. Sigh. That was all so long ago.
I also suspect, Suan, that your life of travel, like ours, is not conducive to owning a pet. Peggy and I would love to have a dog as well but feel it would be unfair to the pet. —Curt
Love the group photo. Demon looks like she meant business.
The number of pumpkins you could see at any given time was amazing, Peggy. As for Demon, she was a pretty driven cat— loving but don’t mess with her. 🙂 –Curt
The Depression era mother and her two children is a work of art. Yikes! Your cat looks scary in that photo!
These pumpkins are amazing! Love the story of Demon having kittens at the foot of your bed! Not many people can say they’ve had that experience!
One of my followers, Juliann from Browsing the Atlas, reported today that she has had kittens born on her back twice!
Peggy and I were both amazed at the number and variety of carvings. It was quite a show. –Curt
Nicely creepy little tale, Curt! And those carvers have mucho patience! Not much room for error, I’d imagine. Looking forward to seeing yours …
We are totally into traditional carving, Dave. 🙂 I am absolutely amazed at the patience and skill the art-carved pumpkins must take. Be sure to jump on to today’s post and vote. –Curt
Done! Some great work there …
I now feel demonised and need to be cured, perhaps by applying a few leeches here and there!
Oh, leeches will do it for sure, Gerard. Suck the little devils right out of you! 🙂 –Curt
Even more daunting than carving pumpkin: Trying to copy a likeness of a real person. Oh, my, these are good. As for scary cats and continuous litters, we had one, too. Why can’t they all be good little kitties curling up in our laps and purring!
It has to take a lot of skill! As for good kitties, most of mine have been a bit on the rambunctious side. Wonder if that’s a reflection? Hmmm… 🙂
I love all the jack-o-lantern photos, but even more, I love Demon!!! You’re not going to believe this, Curt, but I have had two different cats give birth on my back during the middle of the night. I have always been a cat person; just never realized I was a cat’s equivalent of a birthing room. I think we should both feel honored. 🙂
Wow, what fun, Juliann. And I agree, it probably was an honor. I think animals have a special sense about the nature of people. –Curt
Oh I only imagine your suprise when you found the kittens. Yes, I think Demon selected you for this special event. I am a cat person, although I also love dogs and animals in general. Cats are really quite special. And your childhood near this graveyard calls for a book 🙂
We would love to have a dog or a cat again, Evelyne. But our lifestyle doesn’t support having pets.
My next book will incorporate stories from the Graveyard. 🙂 –Curt