Blogiversary Special: Sarah Latchaw Shares Kaye and Samuel’s Tales of Terror and Romance

Kaye and Samuel’s Tales of Terror and Romance

We all have those tales from our childhoods that sent shivers up our spines. The urban legends we told at slumber parties. The local ghost stories with some element of truth. Hydraulic Level Five—a story about two friends destined to love each other—wouldn’t be complete without a few of those creepy tales.

So here they are, just in time for Halloween, Kaye and Samuel’s spooky stories:

A Tale of Two Ghosts
Halloween and The Day of the Dead hold special meaning for Kaye and Samuel. Samuel’s Latino heritage plays a large role in their relationship, and with that heritage comes a reverence and fascination with the afterlife. We learn in Hydraulic Level Five that they first met as young children at the Cabrals’ costume party, both dressed as ghosts. But Samuel’s fixation with ghosts has a more traumatic history that goes beyond Kaye’s playful desire to be scared…

I told him my mother was taking me trick-or-treating. He said his mother was taking him, too. ‘She’s not here yet. She’s in Boston, but she’ll be here tonight.’ I scowled, asking if she was going to live with the Cabrals, too — I already had to share them with this new boy. But all of this happened before I discovered his mother was dead…

Every year after that fated Halloween, Samuel and Kaye (aka Caulfield and Aspen) coordinate their costumes: angel and devil, bee and beekeeper, hula girl and boxer (get it? Ha ha ha). Samuel writes of one particular Halloween and a different kind of scary:

Aspen sits on the crumbling front steps of her mother’s farmhouse on the edge of town, a large plastic witch’s cauldron filled with fun-sized candy resting in her lap…Caulfield hits play on the scary sound effects tape and takes his post next to his friend, “accidentally” brushing his thigh against hers. But the autumn wind is brisk tonight, and Aspen doesn’t seem to mind the extra warmth.

…Por Dios, he wants to kiss her…

“Caulfield sucks in his breath and blurts it out. “If I kissed you, would you kiss me back?”

Hazel eyes blink once, twice…“Yes,” she breathes, her eyes bright with excitement. Her lips curl, so soft…

He rests a boxing glove on either side of her face, and leans…

It is Halloween night, on the farmer’s front porch, when Caulfield kisses Aspen for the first time.

And the second time.

And the third.

Halloween hold special meaning for these childhood sweethearts. So, what sort of creepy things capture their imaginations?

The Stanley Hotel

Redrum, Redrum, Redrum. Oh yes, The Stanley is THAT hotel—aka, The Overlook from Stephen King’s The Shining. The Stanley Hotel is located in Estes Park, a quick jaunt north and west of Lyons. Kaye and Samuel have probably toured the Stanley Hotel more times than they can count. It was featured on Kaye’s favorite TV show, Ghost Hunters, at least twice, both with chilling findings. It also has a ghost tour that’s worth a pull-over on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park.

This beautiful, century-old hotel was built by Freelan Stanley (“Stanley Steamer makes carpets cleaner!”) and has a plethora of ghost sightings. Children’s laughter that echoes in the halls. Piano music tinkling from an empty ballroom. And let’s not forget the pervy ghost who gooses guests!

The Hollywood Roosevelt

Kaye loves ghosts, old movies, and Elvis. So what better way for Samuel to show her a good time in LA, than to book her into the legendary Hollywood Roosevelt? In the upcoming Skygods, Kaye and Samuel pay a visit to this classic place of celebrity.

We walked into the softly-lit lobby, a bellhop rolling my luggage cart behind.

“Normally we stay at the Biltmore, Caro’s favorite,” Samuel whispered. He shifted his guitar to his other hand. “But I thought you might like to stay here, given your love for ghost hunting and all things old Hollywood.” He placed a key card in my hand and wrapped my fingers around it. His eyes searched mine. “Your suite is next to mine. Charge anything you like to it—food, dry cleaning, spa time. Enjoy yourself while you’re here.”

For years, rumors have persisted that the Hollywood Roosevelt is haunted. Some say by Marilyn Monroe, some say Montgomery Clift.  Others have said it’s haunted by a little girl in a blue dress (scary!). It’s been reported that strange calls are made to the hotel operator…muwahaha.

Ridge Home for Mental Defectives

Old mental institutions have a scary factor of a gazillion.  Ridge Home is one such place. Ridge Home was once nestled in the town of Arvada, between Denver and Boulder. The building itself was demolished in 2004, but its urban legends live on.  I imagine once Kaye and Samuel obtained their drivers licenses, they paid a clandestine visit to Ridge Home for a solid scare.

Most mental hospitals were a source of horrendous patient abuse and neglect until the early 1900s, perhaps later.  Those whom society deemed “mentally defective” were sent to these homes to be forgotten. Ridge housed children as young as five to patients in their seventies. Locals have reported ghosts in tunnels, screaming and moaning, shadows and a general sense of despair.  There is a legend about a boy who supposedly escaped from the home, only to be hit by a train on the edge of the property. Other gruesome legends persist about children in cages and patients used for science experiments. Hello, American Horror Story.

The Weeping Lady

Every town has its cemetery ghosts and the Lyons, Colorado of Hydraulic Level Five is no different. Kaye and Samuel are fixated with a stone woman within the cemetery who supposedly cries real tears. In the book, local legend says she “weeps for lost love, stolen from her before life had barely begun.”

“Even in the dark, across the cemetery, he sees two worn streaks where thousands of tears drip from her eyes and slip down granite cheeks. Hers is the expression of a tender mother — the way mothers should look at their children. He obsesses over her expression.

In daylight, Caulfield examines her cold, beautiful face countless times, silently probes her dead eyes with the fingertips of a blind boy. He logically determines that she cries because rain and dew collect in the hollow gouges of her eyes and spill over. It is just science, nothing more…”

Samuel is determined to disprove the legend to Kaye, but only disappoints her. For Kaye, fairytales and ghost stories are magical because of the possibility that they might be real. For Samuel, the Weeping Lady has deeper, more tragic parallels to his own mother. Just as the Weeping Lady haunts the cemetery, Samuel’s mother haunts his mind.

La Llorona

In Mexican culture, there is a popular legend about a weeping woman, or La Llorona, who is said to have drowned her children to be with the man she loves. When he rejects her, she drowns herself as well. Some say if a person hears the wails of La Llorona, they are marked for death. You can bet that Samuel and Danita are familiar with this very creepy tale, and have passed it along to Kaye over campfires and sleeping bags.

The legend of La Llorona is loosely threaded through Hydraulic Level Five, and becomes more prevalent in Skygods. We see it in the tale of The Weeping Lady, in Samuel’s writing and tragic past, and in Kaye’s reflections.

There are numerous other tales Kaye and Samuel could share—Colorado is rife with old mines, ghost towns, and mountain legends. This Halloween / Day of the Dead, if they aren’t chasing ghosts of their own, I imagine Samuel and Kaye will be curled up on a front porch, handing out candy to little buggers and swapping some of those frightening stories.


That was awesome! Thank you so much Sarah!

A little later today we have a giveaway from Sarah for you to enter 🙂

Tamie Xo

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