Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ghost Story

The story below is excerpted from my novel, Just for You to Know, (set here in Independence, Missouri, 1963), available on Kindle:
and in paperback from my website:

Dad rubbed his eyes and began telling us about the Halloween night "back in '39 out in Tennessee" when he crawled into a boxcar and met an old man named Sam.
"He told me a tall tale 'bout - well, you all know the statue of General Andy Jackson on his horse up on the Square, right there by the courthouse?" The little boys nodded, open-mouthed.
"Well, there's statues like that all over the country. All over the world in fact. That old Sam told me that every hundred years, all those stone and metal horses and riders come alive!" Daddy strengthened his voice a notch on the last word. Velvet stirred in his arms.
"Those horses go leapin' off their pedestals down onto the streets. You can hear them clip-cloppin' and clatterin' 'round town carrying their ghostly riders on a search for one another to make an army. Fight their old battles and smell the gunsmoke one more time. Sam told me they go gallopin' all Halloween night. 'I seen 'em wid me own eyes,' he said, 'back in 18 and 63, in the time of the turr'ble war. I was nought but five year old,' Sam told me, but..." Daddy paused for effect and Mr. Beeler squeezed Aunt Bevy's hand.
"Came the dawn," he whispered, "the statues were back on their blocks of stone, each and every one, nothin' to show for the gallivantin' but the mud on the horses' hooves."
Jimmy broke the stillness after the story. "Say Dad, this is 1963."
"Oh gracious," said Miss Lillian.
"This is the year they ride." Robin's voice was creepy.
"Halloween," said Dad. He glanced at the wall calendar then slid a sly glance over to me and said, "Thursday night."
"Now that I'd like to see," said Mr. Culpepper as my dad got up and hurried off to the kitchen...
Right then I was so glad Dad was my dad, even when, later on, he and I had to go calm Larry's nightmares. On the morning after Halloween, Dad got us all up out of bed before school so he could pile us into the station wagon and take us over to where I did all my crying. He showed us the hooves of General Jackson's horse. It was impressive even though I pretty much guessed that he'd driven by the courthouse in the middle of the night after he got off work just so he could muddy up the statue. I put my hand in Dad's rough hand. I felt sure that he was himself again.

1 comment:

  1. What a great novel you wrote, Cheryl. It is one that becomes part of the reader's life. I have read a couple books by Jeanette Walls. Her straight forward style reminds me of your story. Have you read her books, The Glass Castle and Half-Broke Horses? Good reading.