Every Halloween, I Have A Story I Like To Tell

Flickr / Brian Ragsdale
Flickr / Brian Ragsdale

I liked Ben, I really did. I mean, he was a nice guy. We had some fun times together in college, messing around the dorm, going to parties, all the dumb shit that college guys do. He was cool and all, but he was a little… pretentious. Well, I guess the word he used was “artistic.” He thought he was real smart, spent a lot of time trying to prove it to everyone. He had his own blog developed to film critiques – not the big ones, though. Just little indie productions because nothing else was “worth his time.” When he got like that, he could be pretty insufferable.

Perhaps the most annoying thing that he did was performance art.

Now, I don’t wanna be the guy who says that all performance art is dumb. But… yeah, no, all performance art is dumb. Oh, look, you’re on display painting a picture of Jesus from your own urine, how original and edgy! Maybe I’m a little jaded, but it always seemed so contrived to me. Unfortunately, Ben really loved it. He thought there was something beautiful in art that was physically living and he devoted an embarrassing amount of time to it.

Anyway, I hung out with Ben a few times after college, but we mostly just met up to do some heavy drinking and maybe hit a strip club or two. He considered THAT performance art as well, which was just fine with me, it gave me an excuse to waste some ones. Since we didn’t hang out very often, I had a bad feeling when he contacted me about a month before last Halloween.

He called me up at about seven in the morning on a Saturday, which is too early to even consider waking up, in my opinion. I answered in a daze and he started running his mouth like crazy, as though afraid that, if he didn’t get it all out at once, he never would.

“Mike, hey, Mikey, listen, buddy, I need your help, okay? Okay, okay, I’ve got this idea for a performance and, well, it’s going to be KILLER, you know? So good! It’s going down on Halloween. Can you come help? Look, I’ll even pay you, man. Fifty dollars. So how ‘bout it?”

Now, I’ve never cared much about Halloween one way or the other, and I’m a pretty easy guy. Fifty dollars to probably just sit there and run a fog machine or some bullshit? Sign me up. For the right price, I could even pretend that I wanted to be there. Besides, what else are friends for?

A few days later, he gave me the details. To be honest, I was a little shocked when he sent the email. I know that performance art is intended to be edgy and can sometimes get a little dangerous, but this seemed downright negligent.


Thanks for agreeing to do this for me! I’ve talked to a few other people, but they weren’t really comfortable with it, for reasons you’ll probably be able to figure out. Of course, I understand if you want to back out, but I think you are probably the most reliable person I know. It’s really not that big of a deal, I’m sure you’ll agree.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, “vampires” have become very prominent in the media as of late. I say “vampires” because they are beginning to deviate so wildly from the traditional myths that they resemble forest fairies more than anything else. Altruistic? Sparkly? Whiny? Give me a break. We need more Dracula! We need more Carmilla! We need more death, destruction, and blood!

My performance will center on the theme of “rebirthing the vampire.” For the vampire to be reborn, he must first be buried. To turn people’s attentions back to the myths of old, I will be doing just that: I will be burying the vampire.

I have a group of viewers signed up already to participate in the performance, so you don’t need to worry about that. I’m going to plant a series of vampire-themed clues around town for them to follow. The clues should be pretty simple, and it will probably take no more than an hour to an hour-and-a-half for them to find me.

Here comes the somewhat… controversial part. Essentially, for this performance to have any semblance of meaning, I need to be buried alive. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe: I have a buddy from back home who is building me a coffin with a hole in the top. I’ll be fixing it with a pipe that will stick an inch or two above the ground. That way, I won’t run out of air. I’ll also have a few necessities in the coffin in case something happens: food, water, and a flashlight.

Once they arrive at my grave – which will be completely vampirized – they will be provided with an array of shovels and will bring me back to life, a reincarnation of the true mythological history of vampires.

Here is where you come in. I need you to bury me. In addition, I need you to be my safety net: if they can’t find me, if something goes wrong, if I become sick, I need you to be the one to get me out or call the police, if necessary. I’ll also need you to decorate my grave, make it really creepy… don’t worry, I’ll send you some blueprints.

I know this is a little stressful and it may take some time for you to decide, but, rest assured, this is a completely safe project. There’s no danger of suffocation and the coffin is sturdy, so it’s very unlikely that it will collapse. I really just need you there for support and the actual hard work of burying me.

What do you say? I’d even be willing to up your pay to a hundred dollars, if that’s what you need.

Let me know!



I stared at my screen for a few minutes, completely dumbfounded.

Once I cut through all the bullshit about art and vampires and “rebirth,” what it came down to… was death.

This guy actually wanted me to almost kill him.

I mean, sure, it probably WAS safe. But my mind went over the plan slowly. What if I couldn’t get him out in time? One shovel and a pit of dirt wouldn’t be a fast job. Furthermore, what if something happened to me?

Before making a decision, I sent him another email asking if he was really sure he was up for this. Of course he knew, he said. And then he said something that would always stick with me.

“Art must be a little dangerous, my friend, for it to be real.”

Rona Vaselaar is a graduate from the University of Notre Dame and currently attending Johns Hopkins as a graduate student.

Keep up with Rona on tumblr.com

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