Lucius’ Halloween Prank Episode 1

A bump in the daytime is not nearly as frightening.

I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t appreciate bein’ alligator bait. Ole Lukus took me fishin’ and the next thing I know we got no motor, no fish, a boat lit up with dynamite, and an alligator on our tail. It’s a miracle of the Almighty we made it out of there alive. Of course, you know I can’t let that whole episode go by without helpin’ Lukus remember that fishin’ requires poles and bait, and not explosives. Bein’ mindful that a good prank can produce a valuable lesson, I put into play a scheme to teach Lukus the value of respectin’ your environment.

Now the old Price farmhouse had been abandoned for decades. Back when we were kids, there wasn’t a girl or boy among us that would get within a thousand feet of that property. The story around town was that old man Price sold it to this couple from up north. I reckon Yankees don’t know much about proper manners, as this couple from New England got to yellin’ at one another. The next thing you know, he pulls out his shotgun from the closet and shoots her. Overcome with grief, that northerner took his own life as well.

Since then nobody wants anything to do with that house or its property. Well, leastwise nobody until now. I did me some diggin’ and discovered there ain’t one single news article about the killin’s. You’d think somethin’ like that would have made the papers back in the day. Since I discovered this lack of evidence, I’ve been lookin’ for who owns the place to see if they’d sell it to me. The house ain’t worth nothin’, but that farmland has sat fallow for decades. I reckon I could grow me a mess of corn, and probably find me a couple of new still sites out in the woods. That’s assumin’ I can get Darla to agree. I have kept things quiet until I have all my ducks in a row. Goin’ to Darla without all the answers is a bit like havin’ somebody drive over your foot. You ain’t goin’ to get very far afterward.

Of course, there is always a chance the old place is haunted. After all, with nobody livin’ there all this time, some wanderin’ spirit may have taken up residence. It is a right sizeable old farmhouse, and if I were dead and stuck down here, I’d likely set up shop inside.

I will be the first to admit that walkin’ up to the dilapidated home had me a bit rattled. I’d left Wobbly at the homestead on account of possible snakes or other varmints I wouldn’t want him confrontin’. Even with my shotgun, I was feelin’ mighty vulnerable. I walked up to the front porch and noticed the boards looked a mite rotted, so I headed on around back. The kitchen door was locked, but the boards coverin’ its windows came off easy enough.

Some right thoughtful person had broken the glass at some point, so I reached inside, unlocked the door, and let myself in. The abundance of droppin’s on the floor told me there were more than a few mice and probably some rats. A right thick layer of dust covered the counters and cabinets. I was glad I had decided to show up in the morning as I don’t think the place would look nearly as benign in the dark.

I walked into the dinin’ room and tripped on a loose board. The dust was so thick it rose up off the floor as my boots scooted along to keep me upright. After coughin’ out some unknown particles, I passed a broken-down piano in the family room and made my way into the foyer. I peeked my head into the parlor. A creepy old velvet couch and a curio cabinet with some photos sat in the room. I decided I could do without investigatin’ who was in the pictures.

I headed on upstairs to see what I could find. There wasn’t nothin’ but a lot of dust, empty bedrooms, and one bedroom with a bed in it that looked like it was still usable. Finished with the tour, I headed on back out to the truck and got my tools, speakers, wires, and microphone to set up a surprise for Lukus’.  I drilled one hole up through the ceiling in the kitchen to the bedroom above it. Just as I was puttin’ down the drill, I heard a door slam. Walkin’ out to the foyer, I noticed the bathroom door at the far end was shut. I was sure it was open earlier, but I reckon a fella’s nerves can get the better of him in a place like this.

I finished placin’ the speakers and wires about the downstairs so Lukus wouldn’t see them and headed upstairs to put together my little control room. It wasn’t until I had the cables hooked up to the sound panel that I realized I had plumb forgotten my battery and chair. I was madder than a hornet and went stompin’ down the steps. I hit the bottom when it dawned on me that somethin’ was echoin’ behind me. It sounded like a fella with prickly heat walkin’ down the steps. I looked over my shoulder, laughed at my fear, and headed out to the truck.

Before I grabbed my chair and battery out of the bed of the vehicle, I reached into the cab and found my half-filled mason jar. I took a slow sip to calm my nerves. It ain’t right drinkin’ before lunch, but this was for medicinal reasons, so I reckoned the good Lord understood. I headed back inside and on up the stairs with my load.

I got to the bedroom, and the door was shut. I tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. I felt a chill run down my spine as I began to recollect that I had left the door open.

I spoke out loud to give myself some courage, “Don’t be stupid, boy. You know you probably slammed it shut when you went downstairs. You need to keep a lid on your temper.”

I put down my things and drove my shoulder into the door. It gave way, and I went stumblin’ into the bedroom, tripped, skipped, and hit up against the opposite wall. The door slammed shut behind me. I was fit to be tied. I had done shut it again, and it was tough enough to open from the other side. Expectin’ a fight, I headed over, turned the handle, and gave the door a hard yank. The doorknob and my hand nearly flew into the wall on account of it openin’ so quickly.

Thankful to not have to fight the doorjamb, I finished settin’ up the room. I’d have Lukus over here soon enough, and I wanted to get on home to some of Darla’s vittles before the festivities began.

As I opened the kitchen door to leave, I thought I heard a whisper behind me, “Stay out.”

A shiver ran through me and I shook my head. “Stupid moonshine.”

The Fraud

Some rides in life lead us to lessons instead of destinations.

He was charming. Not in a cheesy or fake sort of way. It’s what attracted me to him as a friend. Everyone enjoyed being around Pete. We were friends before there was an in-crowd. He invited me into his inner circle once it had formed. Who was I to say no? Pete was a smart guy. Hooking our train cars to him seemed like a good idea at the time.

Pete was more than intelligent; he knew how to have a good time. There were office parties and happy hours. Everyone who was anyone wanted to be on the express this guy was building. I remember when our numbers grew to one hundred. We were on our way. Pete would pull us together, and inspire us to do more, build more, sell more, be more. He claimed to be the smartest man in the room, and nobody would argue with him.

The company continued to grow. More ‘A’ list talent rolled in the door. Whatever Pete was doing, it had to be amazing. I would hang around with people from top-notch universities, and the smartest minds in their field. Technology, logistics, marketing, the list goes on. Everyone wanted to be on board the Pete train. One day, we all felt our train cars jostle.

Water cooler rumors that the money was not coming in. Other whispers echoed in the hallways, subjects too obscene to mention. Maybe the train was heading off the rails, or perhaps the tracks were about to end. Pete and his buddies kicked a few off the train. Sacrificial lambs to save face and readjust thinking.

Then more rumors and adverse financial reports. Rumblings of Pete selling off his train of success. Then rumors Pete was a little too close to some of the crew. The party was beginning to end. Top talent started to leave. Then the buyout came. The light shined on the truth. Pete’s train was millions in debt. Debt that he managed to hide even from the new owners.

The inner circle. Those of us who believed in Pete and stood by him. The ones who kept shuffling the coal. The ones promised a piece of the prize when the train sold one day. We were all left in the cold. Everything we thought we had vaporized into thin air with the stroke of a pen. Pete had sucked millions from the sale and had left everyone else behind.

Some stuck around after that. Pete may have been a fraud, but talented people maintained the train. Eventually, it sold again. It was uncoupled and merged with other train cars. Some remained and rolled down the tracks of the new, stable company. Most of us have only memories of Pete’s train to success and his fraud.

A Quick Update

A quick summery of what is happening this week and upcoming events.

Today I am going to do an impromptu livestream on my author channel. If you get a chance, go check out the video: https://www.facebook.com/gmacwriter/

This Saturday, we will appear with other vendors at the Union County Heritage Festival. There are lots of artists, crafts, and other things to check out. The event runs from 9 am to 4 pm. If can get more information here: https://www.mastergardenersunioncountync.org/union-county-heritage-festival.html

I am also very excited to announce an upcoming multi-author event at the Union County West Library in Indian Trail on October 12th from 2 pm to 4:30 pm. We will have four authors, including myself. All of us will be giving a short introduction as well as reading from a featured work. Also, there will be an author panel. We write in various genres, including Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Christian Non-Fiction. If you are in the Charlotte area, come out to this free event. Following the panel Q&A, there will be an opportunity to purchase the authors’ books and speak with them one on one.

More events are coming in October as the fall is a busy month for festivals around the region. I hope to see you there.