On Saturday, October 27th, on the weekend eve of Halloween 2012, we decided to break away from the television and AMC’s Halloween movie fest and have ourself a very merry Nashville ghost storytelling party! We were well prepared for a big night and it didn’t disappoint one bit.
We were scheduled to begin the event at 7pm. At 6pm, the featured authors- Betsy Phillips & Elizabeth McCellan- showed up to set up and discuss the plan of attack for the audience. That’s when the first surprise happened for the readers. You see; I had already planned a cool idea ahead of time as usual. I had asked artist Jeff Bertrand to get a few friends together to do some art that was specifically related to some of the characters within the short stories that Betsy Phillips had written about in her book “A City of Ghosts.” Anjeanette Illustration brought in a painting on a skateboard called “The Infamous Ghost” and another photo in a frame called “Rachel’s Ghost” (which Betsy bought later in the night after fighting off 3 other people who wanted it too). David Pound brought in a creepy awesome green sculpture titled “The Man in the Backyard.” Charles Bennett had some really cool paintings titled “Church St. Man” and “El Protector.” Needless to say, Betsy was shocked in a great way. Just two nights prior, she had read at the latest “Poetry Sucks!” event at Dino’s in front of The Raconteurs and luckily she didn’t know they were in the crowd until after she spoke because she was speechless after the fact. But in the end, she said that the artwork inspired by her stories was one of the coolest things that had ever happened to her with her work so far!
And just when you thought things couldn’t get any cooler, it did! My wife, the talented and beautiful artist ef harper, walked in the store with a food platter that would make Pippa Middleton (or all over her assistants for that matter) jealous. See the picture to the right and see all of the edible eyeballs, finger cookies, and bloody popcorn alongside some ofter fun and tasty treats. I thought that Betsy was about to explode she was so excited.
Instead of exploding, we opened the doors to the public and had a pre-game tailgating experience of sorts. We opened the water and wine and then opened the discussions of what we all knew about the legendary Bell Witch and other local tales. Betsy is pretty much a haunting historian and I sat in amazement by the candlelight as if I was a scared little boy again was too excited and scared to turn away or get out of the conversation.
Oh yeah, then people showed up to listen to the poetry and spooky readings. I had moved the center shelf of books outside earlier in the evening to make space for the crowd and the crowd filled up the store no problem. We closed the door when the last one showed up as the bell tolled 7pm and began the stories. We had a comfortable audience of 20 good-hearted people ready to hear some quality stories and quality stories is what they heard.
Betsy and Elizabeth took turns reading short stories and poems back and forth like a professional tennis match. The entire audience was captivated and hung on every word. There were people in chairs, on the floor, and on the couch, but everyone was smiling until the end. I say until the end because it did have to end. After the readings, Betsy and Elizabeth took a few moments to talk about the stories, sign some books, and genuinely thank everyone for taking time to come out and enjoy their work.
It was one of the most amazing Halloween moments I’ve ever had and I don’t think I am alone … In fact, I know I wasn’t alone. After I closed up the store that night, I crashed on the couch for more of AMC’s Horror Fest 2012 and never felt better.