A spooky tale to frighten!

Published 4:16 am Wednesday, October 18, 2017

White strips of cotton float across the otherwise clear blue sky on this October morning. A pleasant breeze causes the oaks across the lake to bend and bow as if to say “good morning”, and “Old Glory” waves proudly in the neighbor’s yard. My thoughts turn to autumn mornings of the past, and soon I’m transported to a day in my childhood.

“Daddy, tell me a story. It’s almost Halloween so make it a spooky one,” I pleaded.

“January, I don’t know a spooky story.”

“Please, Daddy. Think really hard. I’ll bet you know one.”

“Well … I guess I do have a story to tell. When I was a little boy we lived in Summit, Miss., in a two-story house with a big front porch and a yard full of oak trees.

“One night around this time of year I had gone to town to the picture show. It was a little walk to our house, and in the daylight I never gave it a thought. But I was not very old, and the idea of walking through the cemetery made me a little nervous. This shortcut would get me home much sooner, and I didn’t want to make Mama worry by being late so I whistled a little tune, straightened my back, and started on my way.

“The sky was growing darker, and beads of perspiration formed on my brow with the thought of the approaching cemetery. Now Mama took me to church, and I knew the people buried in that graveyard couldn’t hurt me, but I still began to notice every little noise.

“An owl hooted, and I almost jumped out of my skin! My breathing had just slowed down from that fright when I reached the gate of the cemetery. As I entered I heard what sounded like chains rattling behind me.

“In my mind I saw visions of ghosts following me dripping with heavy chains. I picked up my pace thinking I couldn’t get home fast enough. Funny thing was the chains behind me picked up the pace, too. I began a slow jog, and the chains seemed to be closing in.

“Finally, I started picking them up and putting them down as quickly as I could. I was a pretty fast runner, but I was so frightened I practically flew through that old graveyard with the chained apparitions steadily closing in.

“My lungs were burning, and I was drenched in sweat even in the chilly weather, but I was almost home. I could see the lamplight burning in the parlor window, and I bounded up the steps two at a time! I flung the front door open and turned to slam it when my dog jumped on me almost causing my heart to stop!

“I kneeled down catching my breath and giving his neck a tussle. That old boy had somehow broken his chain, but part of it was still attached to his collar. He had come to town to find me and walk me home.”

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at lilsisjan@yahoo.com.