Friday, August 21, 2015

Ghosts, Part 1

You'll keep your mouth shut if you know what's good for you. Doesn't matter what you've seen or heard on that old dirt road across from the old Watts place.

It's better, in fact, if you don't go up there. Don't drive up there. Go around the hill and take Highway 17 even though it takes you miles out of your way. That's safer. You'll sleep better at night.

I know, I know. It's just an old house. Two-story farmhouse with more holes than wood left in its walls and a roof that allows the rain easy access as well as the birds if any birds dared to enter and they don't. A broken wooden fence that marks off the old yard, the yard the Watts children once played in until they didn't. Weeds up to your waist. And always the buzzing of two or three green flies.

From the road, during the spring when the black-eyed susan and Indian paintbrush are blooming, foolish tourists stop sometimes to take pictures. It's scenic, they say, having seen the house from the highway. But the photos they take never turn out right, and most people find they don't like the pictures. Some people make the mistake of staring at the photos too long, and they see things in those black windows, horrible things that aren't there when they look again.

We old-timers know about that house. We know what happened forty years ago. We know why it was boarded up. And we're afraid we know what lingers there in the ruins of the Watts family home.

Come close. Even though we're a half mile away, it's better to talk softly. Don't attract its attention. No, I don't know what exactly might hear us, but I don't want to find out. You don't want to find out.

Forty years ago, you see, the whole Watts family was destroyed. Jacob Watts, his wife Mattie, Jacob's brother Simon Simple, and the children, Bettie, Nathan, and little Davey. They were destroyed. Not just killed. Killing would have been a kindness. No, they were destroyed. The adults reduced to raving creatures; the children vanished with no sign of them ever found. Only one of the family survived. Just one. And he's mad. Oh, completely mad, they say.

It's late now. Time for me to close the store, but I'll tell you more if you come back tomorrow. I'll tell you how it began. What the children found and what happened next. No one knows the end of it, but I'll tell what I know tomorrow.

Copyright 2015 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

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