A spooky house on the hill, the ruins of a castle, an abandoned theater, a mysterious cottage in the middle of the woods, and an isolated lighthouse—all of them are classic scary places where dark stories are often set.
But there are plenty of less exotic story-worthy locations much closer to home. You just have to keep your eyes open and you will spot them. There is one in my neighborhood that never fails to send a shiver down my spine. It just reeks of danger!
Where is this nexus of horror?
It’s the hallway where the bathrooms are located at a Ukrainian restaurant on Second Avenue a short walk from my home. Do you think I’m kidding? I’m not.
Let me back track a bit, the East Village was once a Ukrainian/Russian/Eastern European neighborhood and there are still many restaurants, bakeries, shops, social clubs and even a historic bathhouse. One of the restaurants is famous for serving authentic borsch and blintzes (and all sorts of fun stuff) 24 hours a day at very reasonable prices. It’s almost always crowded.
There’s also a Ukrainian restaurant with a large party room. Several times a week that room is taken over by New York City’s Tango dancers. I often go there to dance and eat kasha. (Kasha is buckwheat groats, and a pile of them makes me feel sentimental about my Eastern European grandma.)
To get to the bathroom, you have to go through the regular dining room, through a strangely empty lobby, and down a long flight of stairs leading to a corridor with two doors on the right hand side—the first the men’s room and the second is the women’s. Just beyond the door to the women’s bathroom, there’s another stairway (a dark, forbidding stairway) that no doubt leads up to some kind of service entrance with egress through a trap door on the street. In winter cold winds blow down from that portal and in the summer damp air hovers in the darkness.
An entrance for Zombies!
A handy hiding place for Vampires!
A quick exist for a Murderer!
Every time I go there, I have the same unnerving experience. Clack, clack, clack…. the heels of my dance shoes down the stairs to the too quiet hallway. What awaits me? No doubt a story, but what else?