Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tell Us a Story, Grandpa

Our grandfather was a war veteran. He fought for the North during the War Between the States. My twin sister and I had since the age of 5 spent All Hollow’s Eve at his home. All 14 of his grandchildren would attend these parties.

We would play games, eat sweets and have the best time of our lives. These evening were made extra special for we were allowed to stay up way past our bedtimes.

Tired from all the excitement at the end of the evening we would gather around Grandpa as he sat rocking and smoking his favorite pipe. A hush would fall over the room as we waited in anticipation. He knew what was expected but he always acted like he didn’t have a clue.

Soon voices would ring out urging, “Tell us a ghost story Grandpa. Tell us an exciting one!”

Grandpa would raise his eyebrows and tilt his head. “Well you all know I don’t believe in ghosts but when I was your age my parents did tell me some pretty scary stories.”

“Then tell us one--pleasssse.”

“I’m not sure your folks would appreciate me scaring you all.”

This banter would continue for awhile, us begging and Grandpa making excuses but we all knew that he would relent eventually for every Hallowe'en he told us a ghost story.

After we had all settled down and were sitting still, Grandpa started to talk in a quiet tone. We leaned forward so we would not miss a word.

“I guess since you are all older now it is about time I told you a true ghost story.” We nodded solemnly in unison agreeing that we were certainly old enough.

The firelight in the room shined almost as brightly as Grandpa’s eyes. Before he said another word my cousin Billy--always the doubter--stated, “What makes this story true, Grandpa?”

Grandpa put his large hand on Billy’s head gently and smiled, “Because I really saw this ghost.”

Several of us gasped for Grandpa had never said before he had actually seen a ghost.

The White Ghost

It was one night while I was on picket duty. I was out in the open but there was a thicket of trees near where I stood.

It was dark and in the middle of the night when I first saw the ghost, glowing white standing at the edge of the woods.

I didn’t think anything of it at first--you tend to see strange things in the army. Seeing a little thing like a ghost didn’t bother me.

After awhile the ghost just disappeared. This did make me pause since it had vanished right before my eyes.

A brief span of time passed then it appeared again--but this time it was closer.

Several of my cousins shrieked. Grandpa nodded, “I must admit this frightened me too.”

The ghost just vanished once more. It then proceeded to appear and disappear several more times--each time it came closer to where I stood. I can tell you I was nervous now.

Hearing this, I felt shivers run up and down my back.

Grandpa continued. I wanted to run but I was on duty and couldn’t leave my post. I had to stand there and watch this ghost come closer and closer each time it appeared.

I started to imagine all kinds of terrible things...

I calmed down by convincing myself that it must be a rebel soldier in disguise. After all, the enemy--Johnny Reb-- was always trying to trick us.

I now became afraid that if this imaginary soldier came close enough to me that he would run me right through with his bayonet.

We all jumped as Grandpa acted this action out.

He then said, “I could feel the sharpness of this point and the pain that would ensue.”

The next time it appeared this white apparition was now just a few feet in front of me. “I raised my gun and fired not caring if the noise roused the entire camp.”

Within moments an officer was standing before me demanding to know what had happened. How could I tell him that I had shot a ghost? He wouldn’t believe me.

Billy shook his head no. “I wouldn’t have.”

Well he didn’t believe me, he ordered another soldier to stand with me at the post until morning.

As dawn broke I spotted a large white form. I went over to inspect it and discovered I had shot a fat cow. It was white on one side and dark red on the other.

In the dark, when she turned her red side to me I couldn’t see her but when she turned her white side to me--well she didn’t look like a cow.

I guess she was just wandering the wood eating the grass. But she sure did scare me. 

Billy always practical asked, “What did you do with her? Did you have to pay for her?”

“Nope, the army was grateful for the meat. I can tell you eating that good beefsteak I was downright happy that I saw that ghost.” 

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