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.”