Friday, March 31, 2017

Day 151: The First Ghost Story I Ever Heard

Taking a little break from movie reviews today to go into a good memory for me. I was five years old and staying with my Uncle Sam at a little apartment while my parents did...something, I have no idea. I remember three things about that visit: being told I eat like I've been on a desert island, I saw Return of the Jedi in the theater and Sam told me a ghost story. I might have heard other ones before but this is the first one that stuck in my memory.

There is a ne'erdowell kid, let's call him Johnny, living in a small town. He keeps taking dares from his friends to do crazier and crazier things. There is a legend in the town about the grave of Old Man Jenkins. See, Old Man Jenkins was the meanest old man in town. If your ball rolled into his yard, he would keep it. If you tried to ring his doorbell for trick or treating or to sell something for school, he would send his vicious dog after you. When he died, all the kids in town breathed a sigh of relief.

His grave was on a lonely plot of land that all the kids passed on the way to and from school. It was said that anyone who disturbed his rest would be dragged down into the grave with him. This presented a golden opportunity for Johnny. He bet his friends that he could go dance on Old Man Jenkin's grave with no problems. Everyone was eager for Johnny to do the dare but everyone was too scared to go with him to verify his action. Johnny got the bright idea that he would stick his trusty switchblade knife in the dirt beside the grave to prove he had been there. The next day, all the kids would see it sticking out of the ground on their walk to school.

With the conditions agreed upon, Johnny sneaked out of his house in the middle of the night and walked calmly over to the plot of land with the grave. He jumped the fence surrounding it and, seeing no one around walked directly up to Old Man Jenkin's grave. As he approached, the wind grew colder and the moon disappeared behind a cloud. Johnny could hear strange noises in the darkness and suddenly found himself very scared. He decided to get the dare over with as quickly as possible. He squatted down, popped out the blade on his knife and jammed it into the ground as hard as he could. As he turned to leave, he felt it. There was something tugging on his jacket. Old Man Jenkins had reached his hand up through the grave and was grabbing him, trying to drag him down into the grave! Johnny refused to look but he fought and he fought with all his might until, finally, his heart gave out from terror and he could fight no more.

The next day, as the kids walked to school, the first group that passed the lonely plot of land witnessed a horrific sight. There, pinned to the ground by his own knife, was the corpse of Johnny, frozen in a look of eternal terror.

Not bad, right? You've probably heard a variation of it before. Thinking about it now, I can definitely say it influenced my taste in horror stories as I grew up. Movies or stories where there are ambiguous supernatural elements are my favorite. Maybe there is a ghost in the old insane asylum that possesses people or maybe a poor guy just went insane and started killing his friends. Maybe there are ghosts at the Yankee Peddlar Inn or maybe the innkeepers are about to scare themselves to death believing there are ghosts. Movies where you can fill in the blanks with your imagination are some of my favorites but also, movies where the characters can fill in the blanks with their imaginations are the best.

Hope you liked this one. Traumatize some kid with that story soon.

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