It’s that time of year. Here’s my ghost story.
Dealing with a haunted chest of drawers and The Laughing Man as a kid. (ft. My Bro)
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The Laughing Man
This episode falls on the Friday before All Hallows Eve. Next week I have plans to talk about this time of year’s most important days. All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. Days of the very special dead and the very dead respectively.
Tumblr witches can prattle about Sow-wen and the veil and what not. But All Hallows Eve is for divination, mirror work, cleansing, mummers plays, and storytelling. It’s a time for banishing spirits not invoking them. Anyways, that’s the rant I shan’t be going on next week.
One of the things that time of year does encourage however is – telling scary stories.
Especially ones that are true.
When I was a kid. Probably about 7 or 8. My bedroom had a digital clock radio with numbers lit in 80’s krypton factor green. It would project a milky green light from the other side of the room. Throwing harsh shadows in the dead of night. The light would catch the lampshade hanging from the ceiling: casting a deep inky black of darkness across bedroom ceiling.
And from this shadow I was terrorised by: ‘The Laughing Man’.
It wouldn’t happen every night. But I remember being absolutely terrified of it when it did.
Within the shadow would be a face, or a skull with the idiot grin that they have. From deep in the darkness, an endless laugh would emanate in the dead of night.
The laugh was maniacal and mocking. The laugh was a cackle, it was the sound of someone who knows your secrets. It delighted in my terror. The more scared I got the harder it would laugh.
The laughing man would be inside the lampshades shadow. But its presence felt like he was inside my room at my doorway, pointing and laughing, telling me I wasn’t good enough. It would go on for hours until I couldn’t do anything more except go to my mum and dads room and then they would come back and put me to bed.
Sometimes he would still be there grinning at me with feelings after they head left. But after all the lights had been on and I had settled down usually he’d be gone. Like he’d turned his back and left, just as a person would leave a room.
Then one day I remember being on the worn out brown and orange carpet of the grandparents house by the fire and I remember telling my Nana about the laughing man.. She didn’t question my experience or tell me he wasn’t real. She simply said ‘Ask him to leave’ or something like ‘Ask him to go somewhere else where he won’t bother you’. She didn’t miss a beat and went about the rest of her activities.
Before I go on, I must explain that also in my room was my great nana’s chest of draws. A piece of furniture that was most definitely haunted.
I asked my brother who lives in Asia about it over DM’s and he sent me the following: Prefaced with his usual disclaimer of course.
I preference this with the fact I have a terrible terrible memory.
I remember it making me feel very uncomfortable and being quite scared of it and I think I remember once being in my being in your room on my own and staring at it and wondering why it made me feel so uncomfortable and why it made me feel so scared.
In the wooden paneling either side of the mirror in the furniture were faces. Faces made from the knots and grain in the wood. It wasn’t just my brother who was creeped out by it either.
I remember talking to mum about it once, and she said that she used to be frightened of it when she would see it at little nana’s house our great nana’s house when she was a child.MY BRO
And she did something about it:
Mum said that she’s in a bit but the way that she stopped being scared that she started to think about it as if it was from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. (…) because she knew that if she hadn’t she said that if she didn’t give it a positive va Association that should be scared of it.
One night I simply asked the Laughing Man to leave with a stern voice. And I felt him move across the room. I put him in the cupboard – into one of the faces. And then of course I stuck a poster of a Space Wolves Space Marine over it. I now think of this as my first act as a magician. ‘The Space Marine Working’.
So from then on, I lived in that room with the Laughing Man trapped in the wardrobe behind the poster.
Many years later, about 10 years ago now, I made the effort to throw my childhood life away. Emptying out the room and boxing up old treasures. Eventually we got to the point where the furniture had to go.
When I took the poster down, I saw the face again, and still got a slight chill. The shows cover today was taken during this process. It was on black and white film but i’ve boosted the contrast so you should be able to make out the face between the 0 and 1.
I said goodbye to him, and told him he could stay in the wardrobe or go somewhere else but not to bother me again or I’d do something worse now I’d grown up.
Bullying spirits is 99% of the job after all.
The Laughing Man is a common spirit encounter, reported across all cultures, all around the world.
The internet is full of stories of Laughing and Shaming Ghosts. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to the conclusion that probably just patiently lived in the cupboard waiting for someone to be alone with him.
He went off to the Princess Alice Hospice Shop. So perhaps he’s laughing at some poor kid right now.
But who cares, at least he isn’t bothering me.
The above is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in audio due to time constraints.
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