Done in by a ghost
During our elementary school days, Slick and I gained the reputation of being adventurous. We were the ones who dove off the 16-foot tower at Carr’s Pool or reached under a rock in a creek to see if there was a crawdaddy waiting.
Looking back, I realize it was less fearlessness and more lack of good sense. Little did we suspect that a couple of our “country friends” would test that adventurous spirit. They excitedly told us about an old country school near their farm that was haunted. They asked us to check it out to see what kind of ghosts had taken up residency. Seems they wanted to use it as a clubhouse but were afraid to share the space with something from another world.
After a little negotiation over the price of the ghost hunt, Slick and I started plotting our course of action. To be truthful, neither of us had ever seen a ghost.
Back then people were more superstitious than they are now. Some believed cats were really devils and were afraid to be around them. Slick and I weren’t afraid of cats, so we had cashed in on other peoples’ fears. Then again, we had heard tales about other creatures, such as owls, being possessed. Those stories had a way of making one think twice when one hooted in the night.
We each spent a couple of days thinking about the possible consequences before finally venturing out to the abandoned school house. The building wasn’t very big — just one room with a couple of closets, but it did have a cellar below it. The main room was filled with cardboard boxes containing everything from old books to clothing. The boxes had been lined up to form a sort of path where one could wind around until reaching the blackboard at the far end.
The four walls did have enough windows to allow sunlight to light the interior. This helped ease our fear. The closets were jammed with so much junk there wasn’t enough room left for a skeleton — let alone a ghost. Slick and I looked at each other and chuckled. No way was there anything to be afraid of in this old building.
Evidently, the reason our buddies thought the school was haunted was because of a strange noise they’d heard when they got back near the blackboard, sort of a buzzing sound. Something like bumblebees only louder and scarier.
About the time Slick and I were busy joking over the easy money we had just made, the buzzing noise began in earnest. It got louder and louder until we started getting second thoughts about the wisdom of our project.
Just below the blackboard was a trapdoor which evidently led down to the dirt cellar. The sound seemed to be coming from down there.
After plenty of discussion, Slick finally volunteered to check it out. With flashlight in hand he stuck his head down inside the cellar with the rest of his body firmly planted on the upstairs floor. Through the darkness Slick spied a set of eyes lighting up when the flashlight beam hit them. Slick laughed and said, “It’s nothing but a lousy cat!”
Immediately my courage returned and we climbed down to chase it out. It didn’t take long for us to discover that the noise was coming from something a lot bigger than a cat. When we finally got close enough to see what it was we nearly ran over each other making a mad dash out of the cellar.
The noise had come from a huge raccoon who had decided to take up residency. Neither Slick nor I (nor our country friends) were about to argue over who had squatter’s rights.
So ended our one and only venture into the ghost buster business. We decided there were better ways to make a buck — such as scooping manure.
Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times.