The Gooky Man

Posted: October 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

When I was 17, I might have made a monster.

My friends and I rummaged through an old abandoned house, and now my town is haunted.

It was a legend, misinformation, and the imaginations of now 16 graduating classes.

Angola High School has the Gokamon.

I don’t know who found the house, it wasn’t me. I came a couple of weeks later to sip whisky and smoke cigars at a creepy house some underclassmen had broken into. We were all very very scared.

A kid named Ben Darnell, who was always cool for no reason had told me about it on the bus. “There’s all kinds of devil shit, and a mannequin with real teeth and fingernails!” he swore to me. My best friend Don was more interested than anyone. Don Zimmer has considered himself the leader and moral compass of any group he’s ever been a part of, and this affront to God and County would not stand. We packed at up and trekked out that afternoon. I wish I remembered who was with us. It was probably Ben, and maybe Ray Sterling, a tall kid who might have disappeared after high school. I’ll bet Andy Gitzendanner was there, and I think I remember three sophomore girls I desperately wanted to see naked and never did. We walked around this creepy old house and barn for an hour or two and engaged in the tiny vices kids with new licenses engage in. Those cooler kids could have gotten laid.

The place is on 200 East, a road that goes to nowhere and connects two other seemingly worthless roads. It’s set a bit back from the road surrounded by cornfields and an old burnt down house that’s never fallen down completely. It’s obscured by branches from ashy walnut trees that look like the sentries of secretive forest. It’s a house, three stories tall, with a door hanging from it’s hinges. Whatever color it was is lost, and it’s now grey like old bones. There’s a trailer that even then, in fall of 1998, was missing all of its windows and most of its floor. Every part of it is stained with mildew. There’s  swamp that stretches into reeds that stretches into muck that stretches into the back yard with no discernible boundaries. People lose shoes there. There’s also a barn. That’s where the murders or black magic happened. You can tell.

The place is undeniable creepy, even if only in the sad scary ways Depression era photos make you feel. The place reminds you things fall down.

The Barn had the mannequin, and boxes and boxes of astrology plaques stacked up to the ceiling. It had a kiln and a pottery wheel, and saw blades of various sizes lingering on tables with no purpose or explanation. The mannequin was paper mache, and when we broke it open, we certainly broke it open, there was nothing inside but more paper. The fingernails were press on nails, and the teeth were clearly those for dolls or old dentures. There was nothing sinister about the place, except the young deviants inside. The astrology plaques were nonsense items you’d win for breaking balloons at a fair, but in a town as overtly christian as our sweet Angola, that “devil shit” would not stand. We all stole a couple and whipped saw blades through the windows.

The underclassman called it the “Gooky Man House,” which was, and is, a stupid, stupid name. What the fuck’s a gooky man? I don’t know either, and I fought valiantly to change it, but was dismissed. The place became a hangout, a curiosity, a place to go that didn’t cost any money, and where no parents saw you smoke. We went there most weekends.

Spooky stories sprung up, people would park there and their car batteries would die. There always seemed to be an unfinished bottle of whisky on a table upstairs that no one remembered bringing or leaving. People heard voices, and that mannequin changed rooms or expressions. We were delighted with the haunt.

I found out the real story later that year, when my mother asked where we were going, and why I smelled like smoke. She laughed at our suspicions. The place was abandoned by a family with some money, and once my folks tried to buy it. The family had a hippie kid who lived there in the trailer. He made arts and crafts, apparently those of the zodiac variety. He didn’t hook up the electricity or water and my mom said once, when she picked him up walking down the road, he smelled like “marijuana.” She put her hand up to her mouth and whispered when she said it.

It was a pretty tame origin for the Fiend of Steuben, even a fiend with a terribly stupid name.

I didn’t think about it again for 16 years, until I came home recently, and a kid who’s now a man told me the story he had heard. He told me all about the Gokamon. The monster house that lit up for no reason, and screamed at you when you were leaving. He’d acquired more stories of car batteries and flashlights and phones all dropping stone dead on the property. And that paper mache Indian might not be there anymore, but there’s no question as to its existence, and it’s a fact that it’s wrapped around some dead kid’s corpse. The swamp in the back will trick you into walking there, and don’t even try to spend the night.

I laughed my balls off. What the fuck’s a Gokamon? The idiots either Japanesed our ghost story, made it some wet haired blank faced monster, or worse, married it to a trading card game I’m just too old to understand. Regardless, kids still go there to get scared, and I’d wager, drink a little stolen whisky. I’ve never made a valid contribution to anything in my life, but that story I’m a part of took root and is still growing. I’m a weird sort of proud.

The day after the young man told me about the Gokamon, I drove past the house with it’s crooked frame and whispering elm trees, five vultures sat on the roof. I swear to god I’d never seen vultures there before. Five buzzards looked at me, and smiled like they were part of the joke. Maybe all our fear, and the fears of those behind us birthed a monster or a wind or some sinister vapor that grew into something almost real, an aggregation of nightmares. I would have taken a picture, but my camera phone wouldn’t hold a charge.

  1. Hardy says:

    Neat story especially with some minute details.

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