Halloween is upcoming; so how about a ghost story? Now I’m not vouching for the truth of this tale, but it was put to me as something that really happened. So take it for what it’s worth.
Joe was a kid, probably 6 years old and he took a car trip with his family to visit kin folks in the Missouri backwoods. In those days, there was no east/west interstate through Oklahoma, so you had to crawl through every little town on the way to your destination. It took a long time and Joe was worn out and sleepy when they finally pulled onto the long rutted driveway leading up to the old farm house back off in the trees.
His parents took him up to a tiny attic room where a musty smelling bed was all made up for him. They tucked him in and went downstairs to have coffee and catch up on family gossip.
Joe fell right to sleep.
Somewhere in the night, he started having trouble breathing. He felt a heavy weight on his chest and he just couldn’t get a breath. When he opened his eyes, there was a small wrinkled face just inches above him. It was the face of an old, old woman who was kneeling on his chest and panting hungrily for his breath.
The combination of her desperate noisy gulping for his air and the weight of her body on his chest prevented him from calling out. In speechless terror he tried to struggle free, but he was paralyzed and suffocating.
In a last act of tearful panic, he managed to cry out, but his cry was weak and he was afraid no one down stairs would hear.
Fortunately for him, his aunt was walking by the steep stair case and heart his weak whimper. She called for his parents and rushed up the stairs.
As the footsteps clamored up the stairway, the tortured old face hovering over Joe cried out in desperate and pitiful agony, then she flew off his chest and disappeared into the dark corner of the ceiling just as the lights were turned on.
His mother grabbed up her terrified child and comforted him while he sobbed and struggled to normalize his breathing.
When he was soothed and breathing easily, he tearfully related the entire horrifying event in as much detail as he could. His parents, his aunt and uncle starred at him in disbelief. His aunt hugged herself as if she had a chill and started to cry.
They bundled Joe up and took him downstairs where he spent the night on a pallet by his parents’ bedside.
He wasn’t told at the time, but later he learned this story. The room where they put him to bed had, for years, been occupied by his invalid great-great grandmother. She wasted away up there and didn’t leave the bed for the last months of her life. Not long before Joe’s visit, the4 old lady had become tangled in her bed clothes--and suffocated.
Even as a grown man, Joe would shiver every time he told that story.
Ok, what’s this got to do with manliness? Quite a lot really. See, when a manly man goes to the amusement park and rides “The Death Drop,” it’s ok to be thrilled--but not scared. When a manly man watches Alien, it’s ok to be startled when the monster pops out of that guy’s chest--but not scared. BUT, when a manly man wakes up to find himself face-to-face with a wrinkly little ghost crouched on his chest breathing up all his air, it’s ok to be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
I’m Hink. And I’ll see ya.
Download this column
Thu, October 30, 2008
by Michael Hinkle