Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Demonic Mirror

In October, 2007, the Modesto Bee (the newspaper of Modesto, CA and the surrounding area) asked its readers to share their ghost stories for the usual Halloween scare-fest that most media attempt to put out.

Included in this story was one from a fellow Named Gary Metzger, who worked in an Italian Restaurant run by an older Sicilian man near Sacramento during the 1970s. The following is taken directly from the article:

“My boss told me to clean all of these gilded mirrors along one wall of the restaurant. He told me to leave alone one really old, dusty one at the end. Well, by the time I got to it, I forgot his orders. I dusted it off, squirted it with water and wiped it down.

“There was one smudge in the lower bottom corner that wouldn’t rub off. I looked at it real close, and it was like I was looking through it at this tiny pinpoint of light. And then the pinpoint got larger and this demonic face was jumping at me. It stayed in the mirror, but I yelped and my boss heard me. He came and took me to a table. He asked what I saw.

“He told me he had bought it in the old country and the salesman warned him there was a demon trapped in the mirror. He said the salesman also told him not to break the mirror or the demon would go free.”

Commentary: I'm not really sure how to classify this particular story, but it is a good one. On the surface, it appears to be a variation on folktales concerning evil spirits trapped in objects. The fact that it's a mirror fits, as these objects often have rather sinister natures in folklore as well as folk magic, and breaking this mirror would certainly bring bad luck.

Going with the folktale angle, the idea of a successful businessman purchasing a cursed item that will ultimately be his undoing is an old one. Though, in this case, the purchase is not claimed to have done him any good at all. I have to wonder why the Sicilian man doesn't claim that the mirror brings him business success due to the demon being trapped inside.

Another folktale angle is that of the apprentice dabbling into things that he isn't yet meant to know. He was told to clean the mirrors, but not one in particular. He forgets this admonition, and pays a fearful price for his lapse in memory. It's played out on a small scale, but the basic story arc is a familiar one.

On the other hand, depending on the religious leanings of Mr. Metzger, this story of the demon in the mirror might have another meaning. I have written in the past about how members of certain types of religious backgrounds use stories of demonic encounters as a way of proving their own worthiness, and it is possible that this is just such a story. However, without information concerning the religious background of Mr. Metzger, it's impossible to say if this is the case here.

Of course, one has to ask whether or not Mr. Metzger experienced something or not, and if so, what he experienced. It is, of course, entirely possible that this was simply a good, and very creepy story that he had come up with, and the newspaper's request for stories was an excellent opportunity to share it. If so, my hat's off to him.

It's also possible that he perceived something weird. In that case, one has to wonder what he perceived. Given the rather odd nature of both human memory and human perception, it is possible for someone who is both perfectly sane and perfectly honest to experience or remember experiencing something vividly that never happened. So, that's a possibility. The flipside is that something truly weird really did happen. However, without providing us with the name of the restaurant, or even which Sacramento-area town it was in, we can't check up on the story. So, we are at a dead end.

Sources: Newspaper

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