Monday, March 19, 2012

Bloody Fingers

One of my favorites ghost stories, "The Ghost with the Bloody Fingers," is one that I shared with students of all ages over the years. 

This story is more fun than scary. Despite the title the story is not gory. My students always loved it. I never used it as a read aloud since it is short enough to just tell. It is not a jump story but it does have a surprise ending.

Stephen Gammell
Schwartz's Books
I first heard it as a young girl scout and then years later I read a version of it in Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

I love this story because the main character is a free-spirit 1960’s hippie who just like the family in Oscar Wilde’s The Carterville Ghost is unfazed by the presence of a ghost. I also love it because you can act it out as you tell it.

Another reason I always liked this story is it conveys a useful message—which is that often fears can be conquered by just not taking them too seriously. This message I feel is a great one to impart especially to children.

“The Ghost with the Bloody Fingers” story fits into a classic ghost category—that of a person who is brave enough to stay in a haunted house overnight. 

Many ghost stories from around the world focus upon this theme. Another example of this kind of story is entitled “Wait Until Emmett Comes” a traditional African ghost tale.

The following is my version, which I call “Bloody Fingers.”

There is an old Victorian House in the Eastern part of my state that was converted to an inn several years back. It is off the beaten path, but it gets quite a few guests as it is the last lodging for eighty miles in any direction. 

Because of this many a weary traveler has stayed there for the night. This fact in itself is not unusual but what I am about to tell is.

Because it was a small inn with only six rooms, the house would fill up quickly especially in the summer months. On one such summer evening a weary businessman entered the Inn looking for a room. 
The bored clerk at the welcome desk stared at him.
 "I have no more rooms available."
The businessman not accepting no for an answer persisted. 
“Listen son, I am bone tired do you have a couch or something I can use for couple of hours."
The clerk hesitated. 
“I do have one empty room in the attic but the owner doesn’t like me renting it because it is haunted.”
Relieved, the businessman slapped him on the back. 
“I’ll take it. I don’t believe in ghosts.” 
The man paid, the clerk gave him the key and then he pointed the way. 
“I don’t believe in them either.”

The businessman settled in quickly and climbed into bed grateful that he would be able to get a good night’s sleep. A few minutes later he heard the closet door open with a loud creaking sound. Annoyed he turned toward the closet. To his horror a wispy figure floated out of the closet, it was holding it’s hands outstretched and it was moaning,

“Bloody Fingers, …Bloody Fingers.”

In a panic the man grabbed his car keys and ran.

Several weeks past and then late one night a young women entered the inn. The clerk informed her, “Sorry, lady we don’t have any vacancies.” 
The woman sighed, “I can’t drive another mile.” 
The clerk taking pity on the pretty young woman stated, “Well, I do have one room available but some say it is haunted.”
The woman shrugged her shoulders. 
“I am just too tired to care; I will take it.” 

Finding the room neat and tidy the woman forgot about the clerk’s warning. She changed into her pajamas and switched on an old TV set in the corner. She lay down on the bed watching an old black and white movie. She fell asleep leaving the set on.
Awakened moments later she noticed the TV was now off. Hearing a loud creaking sound she came fully awake. She glanced over and noticed the closet door was slowly opening. A transparent figure floated out moaning softly,

“Bloody Fingers, …Bloody Fingers.”

She froze in terror. As the ghost came closer she saw that blood was dripping from its outstretched fingers onto the carpet. It moaned louder,

“Bloody Fingers, …BLOODY FINGERS!”

Gathering her wits she ran from the room. She awakened the clerk and insisted he retrieve her belongings and then she quickly left the inn.

Later that month a violent summer storm hit the area. Rain poured from the sky relentlessly. A young hippie with a long beard, his hair tied back in a ponytail, holding a motorcycle helmet with a peace symbol attached and a guitar case rushed into the inn’s lobby. Water dripped from him as he approached the clerk.
“Man I haven’t seen a storm like this in the desert in years. I need a room so I can dry off.” 
The clerk shook his head. 
“I don’t have one.” 
The young man glanced over at the lobby couch. 
“How about that?” 
The clerk again shook his head in the negative. 
“The owner wouldn’t like that.” 
The young hippie set down his helmet and guitar and spread his arms. 
“Come on man,” he indicted the storm outside, "You are not going to send me back out into that?”
The clerk reached for a key. 
“There is one room at the top of the stairs but most folks say it is haunted, and none of them stay long.” 
“Cool!” The young man grabbed the key, saluted the other man and went upstairs.

Grabbing towels from the bathroom the young man dried himself off. He then removed his boots and took his guitar out of its case. He propped the pillows up on the bed and stretched out. As he started to play his guitar the closet door opened with a loud bang.

The young hippie glanced over briefly as a ghost floated out of the closet with its arms outstretched and then turned back to his playing. The ghost moaned,

“Bloody fingers, …Bloody fingers”.

The young man continued to play so the moaning became louder.

“Bloody fingers, …BLOODY FINGERS!”

The young man continued to ignore the ghost. Agitated it floated right above him, and wailed even louder,


As blood dripped down upon the guitar from its fingers, the young man stopped playing, looked up and announced,

“Cool it man, …get yourself a Band Aid.”