Lucius begins his haunted antics, but he keeps getting interrupted.
“Lukus, you best get up before a varmint gets you.”
I quickly pulled my head back, and high tailed it on into the old bedroom turned control room. I quietly shut and locked the door, but I don’t know why. After all, that confounded thing had already stuck once, and it wasn’t likely to easily open for Lukus even if he gave it a hard shove. Still, a fella can never be too sure.
I started shiverin’ like a calf born in January. I blew the fog comin’ out of my mouth into my hands. Great day in the mornin’ I could kick myself for not bringin’ warmer clothes. I should have known the old house was drafty. A clap of thunder had me prayin’ that the roof wouldn’t leak. A noise caused me to look over my shoulder.
Now, I ain’t too scared of many varmints, but whatever the thing was that went walkin’ across the floor sounded like it was the size of a full-grown man. Scannin’ around the room, I don’t see nothin’, so I’m hopin’ it was just some branches up on the roof blowin’ around.
After sittin’ around for a few minutes, I didn’t hear Lukus downstairs, and about that time, there was a knock at the door. I held my breath. I couldn’t let my friend find me this soon. I hadn’t even started with the special effects I had been workin’ on all week. A second knock came, and the doorknob jumped as the door bounced against the doorjamb.
I reckon Lukus was tryin’ to give me a scare and force me to look out the door. I held my ground. I guess the stress of the situation warmed me up because pretty soon, I didn’t notice any cold air at all. There were a couple more claps of thunder, and I could hear Lukus moseyin’ around the kitchen. A smile spread across my lips as I turned on the system.
With a flick of a switch, the small electro-magnets that I had sittin’ around for a rainy day came to life. I heard the cabinet doors slam. I turned off the magnets so the doors would loosen up, and I did it again. Then I cut them off. I could hear Lukus wanderin’ around the kitchen for a moment. To my surprise, he didn’t sound panicked.
About that time, the weather went catawampus. The wind howled so loud it sounded like Wobbly when I refused to give him a soup bone. The rain was pounding against the walls and the roof like a nine-pound-hammer. You ain’t never heard such a fussin’ outside. What made matters worse, I couldn’t tell where Lukus had gone.
I decided it was time to crank up some music. I doubt my buddy would wander upstairs with such a ferocious storm. I couldn’t tell if the speaker was workin’ under the broken piano, but the light on my control panel said it was. I thought I heard Lukus right below me in the kitchen for a moment. The distinct sound of the same critter I heard before caught my attention. He had to be huge to hear over the din of the storm.
I quickly stood up and moved my flashlight all over that room. I picked up my hammer, just in case this varmint decided to come closer. I thought a saw a shadow by the window and swung my light that direction, but there wasn’t nothin’ there except dust. Frustrated, I walked the perimeter of the room twice. I couldn’t find any holes that were big enough for an animal that size. In fact, the cracks were barely big enough for a field mouse.
I looked up towards the ceilin’ but didn’t find any gaps their either. The thought occurred to me that a varmint could be in the attic. An opossum spooked by the storm could very well be the source of all my angst.
I stopped, took a breath, and listened hard for Lukus. I couldn’t hear the piano, much less, my friend. With the storm still ragin’, I decided to leave the room and look downstairs to see if there was anythin’ goin’ on. I was sure ole Lukus wouldn’t be up around my parts until this storm blew through.
I prayed hard to the Almighty that I wouldn’t find myself with the door stuck again. Much to my relief, it slid open real easy. Holdin’ my breath, I peered into the blackness. I didn’t hear nothin’ but the rain, and I didn’t see hide or hair of my friend. Easin’ out, I made my way near the stairs and slowly peeked around the corner.
I could barely make out the sound of piano music playin’ from underneath the broken instrument. It sounded like the cabinet doors in the kitchen were makin’ a racket. I reckoned that was on account of that broken window and the storm. With no sign of Lukus, I headed back and locked myself in, waiting for things to calm down a mite.
Lucius continues with his haunted Halloween prank.
“Quit your whinin’.”
“Lucius, this isn’t right. What happened to forgive and forget?”
I hung a left on to the old country road towards the farmhouse. “I do forgive you, but a deal is a deal. You nearly got us killed.”
Lukus let out such a loud sigh I thought he was goin’ to start cryin’ right there in my pickup. “Forgiven isn’t conditional.”
I slowly turned on to the old gravel road that led up to the front of the house. “This ain’t about Jesus, it’s about fishin’. You scared the wits out of me throwin’ dynamite and runnin’ from gators. This ain’t hardly that dramatic. You just need to spend the night. Besides, Darla has promised you one of her famous breakfast.”
I stopped the truck, and Lukus turned my way. “I suppose you have a point. You will be here at six a.m. sharp, right?”
I squeezed my friend’s tremblin’ shoulder, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll make it five instead.”
He smiled and got out of the truck. I pulled back on to the road nice and smooth, drove a hundred yards back down the byway, turned off my headlights, and headed back towards the house. The moonlight could barely illuminate the open road, much less the woods, but I found an opening in the shadow of the trees and bushes, and I pulled my truck in and shut her down.
After easin’ out of the vehicle, I high tailed it towards the house like I was a cat with its tail on fire. By the time I got to the kitchen door to catch my breath, I could hear Lukus boots running towards the front door. With Lukus still out front, I knew I might get caught sneakin’ in, so I made my way to the bathroom window and hoped it was unlocked.
It took a little coaxin’, but I got it to slide up. It was about three inches up the pane when I peered in and listened. I could hear furniture movin’ around in the parlor. I reckoned Lukus was a mite more curious than me when it came to the belongin’s sittin’ in the house. I had just got the window all the way up when I heard him headin’ back towards the foyer.
I dropped down out of sight and prayed he wouldn’t come this way and close the window. I heard his boots comin’ my direction when a wind suddenly kicked up, and the bathroom door slammed. I looked up to heaven and thanked the good Lord for His sense of humor. However, a moment later, the bathroom door opened.
I held my breath as I listened to my friend amble around the room and then walk out. I dared to peek over the edge. Lukus had his back to me and was actin’ as timid as a mouse in a room full of cats. I slipped into the bathroom. My feet had hardly touched the floor when the window came slammin’ down and barely missed my fingers. I slid in behind the door right quick and dared not breathe.
I could hear Lukus headin’ my way at a determined pace. I panicked and did the only thing I could think to do. I slammed the door shut and prayed the old lock would still work. The bolt slid in easy enough, and when Lukus tried jerkin’ the door back and forth, it wouldn’t budge.
I reckoned Lukus decided he wouldn’t let a silly door beat him due to the sound of his boots runnin’ from the front of the foyer towards my direction. The rapid steps were replaced with a thud on the floor.
The window bein’ opened cooled down that bathroom more than I had anticipated as I could see my breath. I shivered and heard scratchin’ on the walls around me. I knew I was right about those mice, but they sounded a fair size larger than I had envisioned.
Between the cold air and the varmints, I decided it was time to risk movin’ on upstairs so I could get settled into my control room before Lukus found it. I slid the bolt open, turned the knob, and the door wouldn’t budge.
I was madder than a Baptist at a potluck when the casseroles run dry. I doubt there was a single door in this old house that wasn’t stickin’. One wrong yank and that old knob could pop right off, and all my hard work would go to waste.
I remembered the window and gave it a shove, but it was stuck fast. The scratchin’ seemed to be gettin’ more intense, and I did not want to be around when those rodents broke through and came streamin’ into the room. I knew I only had one choice. If Lukus caught me all my work would be for nothin’, but if I stayed here, he was liable to head upstairs, and it would be over anyway.
I turned the knob and tried to pop the door by shovin’ my shoulder into it. I reckon the old wooden frame gave just enough because it opened. I peered into the darkness and saw a body on the ground. Pullin’ out my flashlight I saw my old friend. I was panicked and reached down to make sure he hadn’t left us for Jesus. To my relief, he was breathin’ steady. I carefully stepped over him and made my way upstairs.
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.”