Do You Believe in Ghosts- The Things That Follow: Part III
A brief rehash: We found a cemetery in the summer. I encountered a swinging light bulb in my basement, that decided to turn itself on and off, in the winter. Then, there was the next summer…
The next summer a few things happened.
Every year, my family liked to come together and visit my mother’s house when my brothers and I were in town. One of the things we like to do is have a bonfire in the backyard. In those days, there was an old sour apple tree that hung over the back of the house. It extended its branches up towards the heavens, reaching skyward and draped over the second story of the vinyl paneled home. Apples would fall into the grass below and either rot away, or become missiles with which my brothers and I could torment each other.
The fire pit was of our own making. It was a hole in the yard with some slate rocks my brothers and I had carted up the hillside from the creek down the road. In preparation we would go out to the surrounding wood and search the forest floor for dry twigs and branches. We would also raid my mother’s cabinet for the old edition of the phone book. Then, when no one was looking, we would go to the detached garage and grab the gasoline can, and pretend we were expert fire builders.
Isn’t everyone when they have a can of gasoline?
The festivities began; family members came from all around. It was a good time.
Dusk descended, bringing the country stars to a shine above us in the black night sky. I remember the moon had an ethereal glow to it, not quite a white gold, but not a bright orange you sometimes see in an enlarged moon. Usually, on nights like this, the clouds make an appearance and cover the moon in wisps of grey shadow that are jealous of her glory.
Not on this night.
She was bare for the world to see. The clouds had left her alone as if she had dropped them to the floor like so many encumbering robes. Most of our family admired her beauty with a passing glance, for the fire at our feet stole their attention.
As children are wont to do, we began to tell stories around the campfire. My cousin Joey had a habit of scaring us in such a setting. He would poke at the fire with a stick or with his foot and regal us with stories of poisoned ivy in the wood around the home. Poisoned berries were a staple of his as well. Wearing his black T-Shirts and a grin that instigated us to acts of mischievous nature, he would poke at us the same way he poked the fire.
In an attempt to get him back I said, “Well we found a cemetery.”
And before I knew what was happening, we were walking out into the woods with a set of flashlights.
Everyone knows that in horror stories the one thing you don’t do is visit cemeteries at night with a pair of inconsistent flashlights, but this wasn’t a movie, it was real life. Besides we had a pair of adults with us in Aunt Cathy and Uncle Clem.
When we made our way through the dark and along the dirt path that led to the cemetery, we split up and walked along the rows of stone that marked the passageway between the living and the dead. A cottontail deer bound away as we shone the light on the final resting place of those souls encamped six feet under.
We were there only a few moments when my Aunt Cathy turned a shade of white paler than the whitest moon. A very levelheaded woman she said, “We need to leave. I don’t feel well.”
Uncle Clem led us from the cemetery, and being a stupid young man, I asked over and over, “What is wrong? Are you sick? What is wrong? What is wrong?”
I was shooed away by Uncle Clem a few times. Until finally, my Aunt Cathy said, “No, I feel nauseous. I feel as if someone was very angry we were there. We are not wanted there.”
I stopped asking questions. My younger brother walked next to me, unsure whether he heard correctly. My older brother and my cousin just made spooky ghost noises from us as we made the walk home.
After the gathering, we said our good nights and went to bed.
I woke up the next morning, feeling great.
My younger brother did not.
He woke up with bright red eyes because, well, he hadn’t slept at all.
“What’s wrong with you?” I asked.
“I couldn’t sleep. That’s all” He said.
“Why not?” I really didn’t care, I just liked finding out what bothered my little brother. If I could find out, then maybe I could pick on him later.
It wasn’t until sometime later that I found out the truth. He had been lying there, that night, trying to fall asleep. The only problem was the pacing going on in his little five-foot by five-foot bedroom that used to be a closet. He could hear somebody or something walking around his bed. He thought he made it all up, but he covered his head with a blanket hoping that it would go away. He hoped he had imagined it, you see. That is why he was so shocked when he felt it sit down on the foot of his bed. He felt the bed compress and lower to the ground, while he lay there. Then he felt it decompress, and the pacing continued. A few moments later (or was it hours? He couldn’t tell) it happened again. This went on through the night until just before dawn.
Dramatic rendering of my brother's bed and room
To this day, he barely talks about it.
Sometimes, when you go to cemeteries, things follow.
Fortunately, after that week, we went back to Florida. My mom wasn’t so lucky. These things that were minor occurrences during our summers she lived with year round.
That was when the bees began to show up.
[The Things that Follow Part IV – Monday]