The Hell you say. What’s the big deal with Halloween? Halloween was a big deal to us kids when I was growing up. I mean, wow, an excuse to get candy from the neighbors and eat it until you threw up. Who could pass up on that? And back then you could eat the apples and oranges you got in your bag without examining them for needles and razors. And the dressing up was kinda neat. I loved trick or treating until I was about 12. After that, a Halloween dance at school was always nice. I liked school dances. I wasn’t afraid to get out on the floor and was considered a good partner by the girls. I always had dance partners. And sometimes we’d meet in the upper bleachers or behind the bleachers. But that’s a story for another day.
All the dorms and frats had big
Halloween parties in college and that’s when I began seeing outlandish and
frequently group costumes. It was off the hook crazy. And I loved it. I was
less adventurous. Just give me a sheet and I could rig up a toga. Twine some
ivy around my head and, hey, I’m an ancient Roman. Not to mention the toga
parties. But again, a different issue for a different day.
parents never put up Halloween decorations. Come to think of it, I don’t know
anybody that did. I mean some people, like us, put a Jack o’Lantern on their
front porch, but that was about it. This was the 1960s and 70s South. Everyone
I knew was Baptist and they had decreed that Halloween was of the devil. Maybe
they were right.
we celebrating, anyway? All Hallows Eve. The night before All Hallows Day, the
day all the saints are worshipped and any saint that doesn’t have a special
day, well, this is for him or her. If it’s a Catholic thing, then Baptists are
sure it’s a thing of the devil. In Mexico it is El Dia de le Morte, the Day of
the Dead. It’s a particularly ghoulishly named celebration of our ancestors.
While the whole shebang seems wrapped up in Christianity, somehow Halloween has
taken on the trappings of the other side. Who wants to be an angel for Halloween
when he can be a first class Satan?
These days Halloween has morphed into a major holiday. Maybe Hallmark and Hersheys are to blame. It seems nearly every house in my neighborhood has their trees, bushes and porches wrapped in orange lights. There are larger than life blow up black cats, headless horseman on his steed, with a pumpkin as his head, ghoulish demons or is it demonic ghouls. What is a ghoul, anyway? Ghastly and ghostly heads and streamers hanging from trees. And one house has about twenty skeletons trying to get in. Or are they trying to get out?
Hope your neighborhood is properly decorated and hope you don’t get TPed. Remember doing that? Of course you do. Happy Halloween to all. This week my story is actually a memoir. It’s about a fun time I had on a Halloween about 46 years ago. Enjoy!
The Ghost of Halloween Past
The summer after I turned
sixteen I was allowed to buy a car. We lived way out in the country so becoming
self-mobile was an important step. The sudden freedom to come and go as you
please was wonderful. No more asking Mom or Dad to take you “to town” to buy
things. No more borrowing the family sedan for dates. It was just incredible.
turned out one of Mom’s friends at work had a son who was entering college and
couldn’t carry his car so he wanted to sell. It was a metallic blue 1966 3-speed
Mustang. Probably one of the sexiest cars ever. It’s now a classic. But back in
1973 it was just a seven-year old car. I got it for $500. I was soon
recognizable far and wide by my “blue ‘stang”. And it didn’t hurt that girls
didn’t mind being seen riding around in such a cool car. I can’t say that I was
ever cool, but my cool factor sure moved up a few notches with that purchase.
story isn’t about the car, only what the car made possible.
My friend and I were casting
about for something to do on a Thursday night. It happened to be Halloween
night. Two sixteen-year-olds and Halloween are usually a recipe for trouble but
we were (fairly) good kids. I came up with an idea.
you have to understand the situation out in the country where I lived. Our
community was about a dozen houses stretched along a couple miles of country
road on both sides of a country church. Then there were the outliers farther
out or on even further back roads. Our church boasted a constant population of
about 100. The local kids wanted to be part of “trick or treat” (free candy,
duh) but they had to get their parents to take them to nearby villages where
they really didn’t know the people. Also, the people in our community were
always disappointed that we couldn’t participate in giving out goodies because
no one trick-or-treats in the country. Our church came up with a nice idea. All
the members of our church who wanted to give out Halloween goodies would leave
their porch lights on. All interested children would meet at the church at
sundown. An elder with a pickup truck would pile the kids in the back and drive
to all the church member houses so the kids could do their thing. And along the
way, they would pick up information about other neighbors, not members of our
church, who might also have some treats. Of course, that wouldn’t work in 2019
because it’s illegal for kids to ride in the back of a pickup, but this was a
about sundown I picked up my friend and had an old white bedspread. While the
kids were inside the church for a required prayer and mini-sermon before the
main event, he and I pulled up behind the church. I took the spread and went
out into the graveyard beside the church. I crouched down behind a tombstone
all came filing out of the church in their various costumes. There were about
ten of them ranging from about 4 or five up to about 12. They climbed in the
back of the truck all excited. As the driver turned on the engine, I rose up
from behind a tombstone with the bedspread over my head. I raised my arms and
started loudly moaning. At the squeal from the first kid who spotted me, I
began moving toward the truck. Soon all the kids were screaming in fear and
glee at the Halloween ghost. The driver, seeing what was happening sped off and
the chorus of squeals died into the distance.
pleased with myself, I got back in the car and drove about a half mile in the
opposite direction the truck had gone and pulled off into a wooded road so my
car was hidden. I stood beside the road in my white disguise. Soon I heard the
roar of the old pickup coming my way. I raised my arms and waved them back and
forth. The truck driver began blowing his horn to get the attention of the kids
in the back. As they sped by me they were all shrieking once again in glee.
they had passed, I drove to an old farm house and parked behind the barn. I
went out into the field beside the house and hid behind a bale of peanut vines.
This was one of the last stops. As the last kid was climbing into the back of
the truck, I stood up and began running toward the truck waving my arms and
howling. The kids all began screaming, “Go! Go!” to the driver. He timed it and
pulled away just as I was getting close. I ran after the truck a little ways
still carrying on. The kids were loving it.
it for the night. My friend had only gone along for the company. He stayed in
the car and told me alternately I was “weird” or I was “crazy”. But he had a
smile when he said it.
there was still a little chatter among the young kids about the ghost they saw
Halloween night. My friend and I never told anyone. So, if you were a kid who
saw a ghost while trick-or-treating on Halloween night in 1973 in eastern North
Carolina, I’m the Ghost of Halloween Past.
“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing.” This quote from MacBeth is an apt opening for today’s
offering. I can’t call it a story because it has no plot, just a slice of life.
But not only full of fury, also full of venom and bitterness.
Facebook has become today’s version of Jerry Springer.
People seem to have no qualms about saying or doing anything in public, as long
as they feel they are getting attention. An innate need to matter, to be heard.
But some of our thoughts don’t need to be heard. They should lie unspoken in
the junkyard of our minds.
I have taken this little psychodrama directly from
Facebook. I’ve made no changes except for names. Punctuation seems to be a
fading convention, its lack sometimes making a thought difficult to follow or
parse. I’ve added no help. The spelling was sometimes erratic, but I’ve made no
changes to that either.
My only regret it that, alas, I am actually related to some of these people. But then, as I say every year at Thanksgiving, oh god, I hope I’m adopted.
Sturm und Drang
Branson – subject of much of the discussion
Carter Oaks – Bobby’s former fiancée
Branson – Bobby’s mother
Lane – Chrissie’s best friend
Oaks – Chrissie’s husband
Branson – Bobby’s brother
Branson – Chad’s wife
Branson – Bobby’s sister-in-law
Branson – Bobby’s brother
Branson – Bobby’s cousin
Branson – Bobby’s cousin
Laws – Bobby’s cousin
Allen, Donna Walls, Josey Gardner, Mike Rawls – Bobby’s friends
Branson: To all my FB friends
Ethel Branson and the late Milton Branson proudly announce the engagement of
their son Robert Branson to Chrissie Carter. Please pray their marriage will be
blessed by GOD.
Branson: The weekend is here
going to spend these two days off spending some much needed time with my soon
to be wife Chrissie Carter. I love you baby from the moon and back counting the
Branson: What you find out in the
end the love hurts the most. The wedding got called off I’m single again and
this crap sucks. But I know I will always have my mama and my brothers to try
and pick me up I love all of y’all.
June 6 and following
Chrissie Carter: Take
the pic off. It has my child in it.
Mary Lane: Ok retard. For 1 this is not ur
child take it down 2 ur being a fucking child this is not ur kid so take it
down im not playing ur nothing but a perv taking someone elses kids pic and
putting on ur facebook really grow the fuck up she don’t want ur perv ass so
leave her and her kid alone and take the pic down or ill make sure u regret it
and im not one to play with so u better take it down right now u fucking perv.
Chrissie Carter: Mary
Lane get into this with us girl.
Mary Lane: Hes fucking stupid girl.
Randall Oaks: You’ve got till Saturday to get the
fuck picture off your Facebook page.
Katie Allen: What the fuck are you gonna do?
Donna Walls: Exactly.
Randall Oaks: You fucking perv you will never
have the chance to be with her she going to be my wife in a few weeks.
Chad Branson: All I can say to this is good luck
with that shit. She’s about the most useless thing called a female I have ever
met and thank you for taking one for the team and getting her out of
circulation. You’re alright in my book.
A few weeks pass
Oaks: Bobby take the pic off
your page stop being a spiteful asshole. Take my daughters pic off your
Facebook so I can move on with my life and be happy with my husband.
Oaks: This dude is sick in the
head I think and has a thing for kids. I think that’s why he won’t take it
down. what ya think Randall Oaks.
Katie Allen: If you really think that, why on
earth would you agree to marry him? Take family pictures? To make his mama
happy? No, bitch. You did it just to fuck with good people because you are scum
of the earth and ain’t got a lick of common sense.
Randall Oaks: He’s a piece of shit.
Oaks: Oh I agree but think
about it he won’t remove a pic with a child that is not his. It kinda screams
that he has a thing for children. And woman that are way outta his field.
Mary Lane: Ya its gross damn thats y I
called him a perv lol. Right u dont want him he needs to move on damn plain and
Oaks: I think deep down he
really is. He has no life and all he is doing is trying to fuck with my child.
Mary Lane: Ya i know its rediclious.
Chrissie Oaks: It sure as hell is. I think this is
what he does in his free time.
Randall Oaks: You one thing you don’t do a fucking
post pictures of my wife and child.
Brandy Laws: When this fucking picture was taken
your “wife” was with Bobby. Shes got shit to answer to. Faking a pregnancy and
using this families good nature then saying this shit.
Branson: At least until the
next sucker comes along. Then she’ll move on from you like she did Bobby.
Mary Lane: He just needs to remove the pic is
all and this all will stop.
Donna Walls: She sure as hell didnt mind when
she was using his house as a resting place when she was out leaving hoeing
around y’all all better back off.
Randall Oaks: No bitch she was with me so you
need to get the fuck out of it. My wife ain’t a hoe.
Sally Branson: I
beg to differ.
Donna Walls: Wow he pulled ur wife from u? Some
kinda scam y’all got goin.
Donna Walls: Randall tell that to the guy she
brought out here and was in camper for 3 hrs.
Branson: She is a hoe. And nothing
more. Bitch only knows how to hoe round and use people.
Mary Lane: Horing around really with no vehicle
get a life.
Sally Branson: She
didn’t need a vehicle. I saw the men coming by to pick her up.
Randall Oaks: Yep it was me and it’s not your
Mary Lane: Ya cause she choose to leave
and thats her choice u cant make someone love someone they dont.
Mary Lane: And thats not men thats a big deff.
Branson: Then why does she keep
coming back to his place. What about the “gay” best friend. What about the
“brother”. And she slept with Bobby. All in the course of 2 months. Wow!!! My
family, my business.
Mary Lane: K well i know nothing about
them i only know about Randall and Bobby no one else and i talk to chrissie
just about everyday.
Donna Walls: None of y’all know what the hell
is going on but the shit that flowing out her mouth which isnt nothing but
Oaks: All you fucking do is use
Bobby for your personal shit and make him feel bad when he won’t kiss your ass
over your child. The dude needs to take the pic of my child down before I have
her father involved in it.
Katie Allen: Oh so kinda like you did?
Donna Walls: No the mf would come get her thats
why she had everyone stay in the house. So y’all get a life. Grow up.
Chrissie Oaks: All you do is stay fucking drunk so
don’t tell us to grow up.
Donna Walls: Wow u don’t know me I don’t drink. I
believe u got drunk at my house.
Mary Lane: he needs to take this pic down
its not his daughter and none of this would be going on right now get the big
Brandy Laws: None of this would be happening
right now if your so called friend wasn’t a con. All she did was use him and
you’re here like a blind puppy.
Chrissie Oaks: Mary Lane is one of my closest
peoples and knows everything about me.
Branson: It’s funny how Chrissie
injected herself into Bobby’s life & his family bent over backwards to try
to help her out. They were rewarded with nothing but lies from her for their
good deeds. She is a manipulator & a con artist & a compulsive liar.
This is the behavior she shows after all she had done.
Chrissie Oaks: Look here you crazy ass crack hoe
bitch stay outta it.
Branson: I’m a crack hoe?
That’s funny. You’re just a straight up con artist whore. I’ve seen you first
hand bringing men in the camper, leaving the house for weeks with different men
just to beg to come back. Faking pregnancy. Stealing jewelry. Should I keep
Chrissie Oaks: At least I didn’t put drugs before
Branson: Funny I still have my
kids. No you put everything before your kids or you would still have them.
Chad Branson: Exactly.
Donna Walls: Ashley Branson, Katie Allen look at
Chrissie Oaks: Donna Walls, get everyone in it why
don’t you let’s have a big fuck fest
Donna Walls: Heck u did.
Donna Walls: All lies tell I’m pulling the truth.
Brandy Laws: You fucking tagged your damn friend
into this shit.
Donna Walls: What about the pic u had Bobby pay
Oaks: Mom wanted that taken I
didn’t want that fucking pic taken for shit. So therefore I made her happy.
Donna Walls: More lies.
Randall Oaks: Look at the picture he looking at
the child inappropriately.
Chrissie Oaks: omg it’s true.
Brandy Laws: Doesn’t matter if its not his
daughter he treated this crazy bitch and her daughter like they were damn on a
pedestal. They were automatically added into the family and showed love and
this woman was treated like family.
Randall Oaks: Yep i was the men she left with and
had a lot of fun with I’m the daddy of the baby’s and the one she’s married to
Oaks: You don’t know a damn
this all I want is my child’s pic removed off Facebook it’s not his kid he has
no rights to her nor will he ever. So therefore it needs to come down and
everyone needs to stay outta it.
Brandy Laws: I know everything of whats going on
and i know you’re a conniving bitch that only lies. Saying you’re pregnant and
then faking a miscarriage saying you feel kicking and that its twins, then 3,
then 4. You’re a dumb bitch that thought no one would be smart enough to see
through your half assed lies.
Mary Lane: He just needs to take this pic
down plain and simple that’s y i got involved its not his kid it shouldn’t be
up on his facebook at all and i know how it feels when someone does this shit
cause im going through the same shit so if he just takes it down it will all be
done and over with on my end.
Sally Branson: Maybe
if she would just give the ring back it will all be done & over with.
Randall Oaks: The ring is gone lol lol
Branson: Warrant for her arrest
cause it wasnt paid for. I have a good lawyer who will help you Bobby Branson.
Mary Lane: Ya and they had a plan to give
it back and for the pic to be taken down and he refuses to do so and if i
remember correctly he told her she could have the ring and that he didnt want
it back so u dont know everything either. What men exactly huh? Were u there?
Can u say what they were wearing or what they looked like? How tall? Cause if
not then u dont really know then now do u?
Sally Branson: I
saw enough from my house.
Branson: She a fuck whore and dont
deserve a good man. Bitch need to give the ring back her lying cheating ass.
Randall Oaks: She don’t have the ring it on the
side of the road since it’s a fucking lie from his mommy that said it was a
mommy’s day present.
Sally Branson: More
Oaks: What no one understands
is the ring is lost I lost it last night and can’t find it at all it’s insured
they will give another one it have a life time warranty.
Brandy Laws: You mean you pawned it. Give the
money that was spent on the damn thing back. All this could easily go to the
law in 2 seconds. Y’all wanna threaten to press charges when there was nothing
wrong done on Bobby’s part at all.
Mary Lane: Just have him take this pic down and
im out thats all i want.
Randall Oaks: I fucking trashed it since it was a
lie about it being a present.
Branson: It wasnt a present or gift.
The bitch promised to marry him and due to her cheating and hoeing around. It
is owed back to Bobby Branson cause she is a trashy slut.
Brandy Laws: I think your bitch is lying to you
Branson: Yeah whatever all lies
just like everything you ever told him. Lies about being pregnant and
everything. Lying ass bitch.
Randall Oaks: She is pregnant I’ve got pictures of
Sally Branson: I
need to see that to believe it.
Ethel Branson: If she is pregnant then post
picture. When baby is born we will DEMAND a DNA test and if it is Bobby’s. We
WILL see you in court.
Gardner: Take him to court
anyway mom he said he trashed the ring that’s right there shows he destroyed
someone else’s property she’s all up here saying she married someone else. She
needs to give the ring or take her ass to court. Got proof up here screen shot
Randall Oaks: let’s go.
Branson: I wouldn’t try to act
so cocky if I was you. Josey is right. The proof is all right here for everyone
to read. I am ecstatic that you have taken her off of our hands. You two are
perfect for each other. She looks like trailer trash & you look like a
straight up drug addict. You two belong together. I hope you both get
everything that you have coming to you.
Randall Oaks: You don’t know me and so good luck
Branson: hahaha…Can’t you be
any more original than to just repeat what I say? Oh hunny, you need to get a
clue. This girl is using you just like she uses everyone else. You’re just too
blind to see it. When she has used you up she’ll leave you just like everyone
else. You think you are special? No. You’re just her next victim. But who
knows? Maybe you’re just as sick in the head as she is. Maybe you are just as
worthless as she is. All you two do is run your mouths & spread your lies.
But don’t have the ass to back up what comes out of your mouths. You want to
get up here & try to bully someone but can’t take it when the table is
turned. He took the photo down. Now she needs to return the ring. She needs to
suck it up & realize that her scam didn’t work this time. Bobby has all the
proof he needs to take her to court. I’ve seen her records. I don’t think she
wants another charge.
Ashley Branson: You
sure you the daddy?
Donna Walls: it’s the one in the camper. Hell or
one of the 3 guys.
Randall Oaks: Hell yeah she been with me since she
moved up there.
Sally Branson: What
Mary Lane: This crazy r u sure ur the daddy
really come on now lmfao right now.
Donna Walls: U keep thinking that buddy.
Ashley Branson: She is just a slut lying ass bitch. She
dont know who the daddy is. She a slut.
Mary Lane: Now thats enough cause shes not
and she can sit here and say the same shit about u all.
Donna Walls: Doubt it. We all stay with our same
Brandy Laws: Shit I dont go and find people
online and lie to them just to have a place to live while i sleep with other
people and get married to the other person knowing damn well that im gonna run
off with the ring.
Mary Lane: Ya well i know what happened
and they worked shit out thats how it rolls would us stay with someone u
thought u loved but dont? She thought she loved him and she didnt and he said
she can keep it so how is that running off with it?
Sally Branson: Lies.
Mary Lane: Well i know what she told me so
im just saying from what she told me and ive been down that road to thinking i
loved someone but then really didnt so i broke it off but the only diff is he
never bought me anything so.
Brandy Laws: Would you go through marrying them
and then the next day you’re apparently engaged to someone else? Then while
you’re with this new person you’re asking for them back in the SAME DAY.
Mary Lane: Hell no i would not but i would
try to be friends is what i would do cause thats who i am i have a big heart
and care a lot and when i do sometimes i get screwed over and shit.
Oaks: I am a slut but honey you
know that’s a lie. Hey look everyone get their panties outta a wad or dicks
outta their asses.
Branson: Chrissie I do think
that you brought all of this on yourself. Everyone is tired of being quiet
while you take advantage.
Branson: If she does have any
babies they all gonna have different daddys cause she cant be faithful to one
man. Lmao. YOU ARE JUST A HOE.
Oaks: I know who my baby daddy’s
are bitch. So don’t even go there with my kids that’s crossing the line you
Mary Lane: So damn true it is crossing the
Brandy Laws: Plural, bitch? Lmao.
Sally Branson: “daddy’s”…
Katie Allen: I’m dying with her multiple baby
Randall Oaks: I’m the daddy been in there every
night since she moved up there when people sleep daddy plays.
Sally Branson: You
are only making her look worse. Keep talking.
Chrissie Oaks: I like it when daddy plays it’s fun.
Sally Branson: Wow…
How weird is that.
Ashley Branson: Exactly.
Chrissie: I don’t wanna take it off (the engagement ring)
Bobby: Why not?
Chrissie: Because I still have hope of us.
Bobby: I have hopes of us to but I won’t to
hold on to it so I can get down on my knee again and place it on your finger.
Chrissie: Please just let me hold on to if for
Bobby: I won’t to hold on to it.
Mary Lane: Whats the date on this. Cause there
Bobby Branson: Yesterday.
Donna Walls: Yesterday.
Branson: Exactly what I was
thinking, she begging to keep the ring and keep the wedding date. But fucking
every dick she crosses.
Donna Walls: Oh its gets better she just
messaged him and asked us to stop she will give ring back next Friday! Sooo who
lies on this.
Branson: She should have gave it
back. She shouldn’t have even got it in the first place. How many dick already
been in her before she moved there. Lol. Well its funny how she begging Bobby
to still let her back just yesterday right. Bitch don’t know what she wants.
Donna Walls: Damn how many daddys do u have.
Ashley Branson: To
many for her to keep up with obviously.
Chrissie Oaks: Y’all can all go fuck yalls selfs my
two kids are none of your business
Mary Lane: Damn right girl.
Katie Allen: But its every other man out theres
Branson: Right. I bet father’s day
is very busy for her. Must have to make appointments. Lmao.
Branson: Enough is enough. She’s
gone and its nobody’s business but theirs. The situation is bad enough without
continuing to drag it out.
Donna Walls: They shouldn’t have attacked him
nor threatened him. We didn’t say anything until then. Sorry but we don’t stand
back and let family get done like that.
Branson: Johnny is right. Bobby
just let her go, cuz. Let the ring go too.. if she can live with it then you
can live without it. God has someone better for you I promise.. someone whos
got her shit together.. this girls just looking to validate her fuckedupness.
Idk her at all but watching ur posts is painful.. stop giving her all this
power and give them all one of these (middle finger emoticon).
Chad Branson: I agree with Johnny on this one.
Glad the bitch is gone though.
Ashley Branson: Good
riddance. To unwanted bullshit.
Branson: Some people come into
your life and teach you a LESSON. And I hope you learned from this one Bobby.
Y’all need to block each other and move on! And stop giving your heart to shit
Donna Walls: Amen!
Randall Oaks: Amen. She been with me from the day
she moved up there. Sorry Bobby.
Steph Branson: Randall
Oaks you can move on too. Take her.
Branson: Randall Oaks please keep
her. Cause her ass ain’t wanted here. I mean how many other men has she
promised to marry. Lmao.
Donna Walls: Who ever they run scam on.
Randall Oaks: I’ll be happy to so fuck off and end
the childish name calling.
Brandy Laws: Yall are perfect for each other.
Both dumbasses. You’re just proving that she’s a slut.
Randall Oaks: No she a good house wife so don’t
you worry about that Plus she loves my house and land and animals I have she
loves my tractor no Reasons to leave my farm.
Sally Branson: Then
why did you have her living in another man’s house.
Brandy Laws: You just said she was sleeping with
you while she was engaged/dating another man. Like I said BOTH DUMBASSES.
Randall Oaks: No y’all are dumbass i was fucking
her when she was living there then she find the love for me and moved to my
Brandy Laws: Exactly you stupid adultering fuck.
Branson: Can’t fix stupid yall.
Their comments show how ignorant they are. Perfect match for each other. I’m
just glad she is out of Bobby’s life.
Katie Allen: Randall Oaks. ARE YOU LITERALLY
STUPID?! Omfg WHY WOULD YOU LET YOUR WIFE SLEEP AND GET ENGAGED TO ANOTHER
MAN?!?! Like.. both yall stupid asf.
Donna Walls: I was thinking the same thing but
obviously they don’t understand intelligent things.
Mike Rawls: Him and Bobby was hitting it. What
Donna Walls: Hoe.
Branson: Nasty hoe. And he
bragging about it. I just wish Bobby knew how trashy she was before all this.
Steph Branson: Yalllll.
Let it goooo.
Branson: Im done. I have a
graduation to take care of. Plus fun family trip tomorrow.
Oaks: Everyone just stop the
shit. Johnny said leave it be so everyone keep my damn name outta your mouth.
Branson: Just my opinion nobody
would have had anybody’s name in there mouth if they would have just kept there
legs closed but that’s my opinion can’t expect to go around and be a whore and
continue to think everyone is peaches and cream love you Bobby keep your head
Jenny Branson: But
it’s not my business just stating facts.
Johnny Branson: Why???
Just let it die down please!
Sorry, I missed posting last week. Life got in the way. Not much to say about this story except that it is true, bizarre as that may seem. It is one of the few stories from my time in college I can tell. Statute of limitations and all that. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Billy and the Bush Ax
(caution: contains underage drinking and partial nudity)
Back in the 1970s I went to college at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’ve heard people speak of their
‘misspent youth’. Mine was definitely not
misspent. I had a helluva great time. I came out of my shell and became a
hardcore party boy. I raised hell with the best of them and still managed to
graduate with honors. You just have to pace yourself.
While at UNC I joined a fraternity. I
didn’t come in thinking I would join one; I didn’t really know what they were
about. It just kinda happened. Has to be one of my better decisions.
I lived in the fraternity house for 3
years. Now that gave me plenty of stories, most of which I can’t print. Most of
the degenerates I hung out with are now pillars of their respective
communities, which still boggles the mind.
My fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, was on a
little side street in Chapel Hill. We had four fraternities and two sororities
in our little two block area (plus a small daycare and a Lutheran Church. Go
figure.) Our house, a huge Victorian
with a wrap porch was on a corner and faced onto a little street, which
connected two of Chapel Hill’s main thoroughfares. To our right was the Lambda
Chi Alpha fraternity. We called them the Lambchops; they were our buddies.
Behind our house, facing on a main street were the Tau Epsilon Phi’s, the Teps.
We did some service projects and street parties with them. Great guys. Across
the street to our left was the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. The Thetas. They
looked upon us with the sisterly affection and tolerance one has for a wayward
little brother. Diagonally behind us, between the Lambchops and Teps was Kappa
Delta sorority. KD. These were the hardcore 70s preppies. You know the kind.
All about pink and green, sweaters around their shoulders, adda pearls and lavaliers
and way too much makeup. They pretended that the Delts, Teps and Lambchops
didn’t exist. The final fraternity in our little neighborhood, across the side
street from the Lambchops were the Alpha Tau Omegas, also known as ‘the Enemy’.
I’m not sure why the other 3 fraternities and Thetas disliked them so much. The
KDs just hated everybody. It could have been because the ATOs were mostly
lacrosse players or mostly from New Jersey. My guess is that is was because
they were mostly arrogant pricks. But that’s just a guess. It was an
established hatred when I came into the fraternity and who am I to buck
Directly across the street from us was a
Lutheran church. All three years I lived there, I had a room with a window overlooking
the church. When that bell started ringing at the crack of eleven o’clock on a
Sunday morning, it could be sheer hell. I, like most of my compatriots, was
usually a hungover mess on Sunday mornings. More than once I cursed that
blasted bell. And if you stood in my window and looked closely, you could just
see the red and green fletching of two of our darts sticking in the wooden
statue of Mary on their second floor.
The Delts, Lambchops, Teps and Thetas got
along fine. We did things like the aforementioned service projects and street
parties together. The Thetas would call on the guys if something needed fixing
or if a girl needed an escort after dark. Their pledges made us chocolate chip
cookies, our pledges cleaned their house, we booby trapped their door with saran
wrap or a pyramid of beer cans. That kind of thing. The KDs had their noses in
the air and were above it all. The ATOs just grunted and scratched their
One of my favorite brothers was Billy. We
roomed together my junior year. He was full of life and a boundless source of
energy, fun and stupidity. If there was a bad decision to be made, he had
probably already made it. Like the time he was at a local bar and, in his
words, “this short dude on crutches was mouthing off at me.” He said, “I
figured, you’re short and on crutches. You don’t need to be mouthing off at
people. That’s probably why you’re on crutches.” So the guy keeps it up and Billy
finally has enough and pops the guy in the jaw. It turned out the guy was on
the UNC football team. The rest of the team was in the bar. The night did not
end well for Billy. The other brothers and the townies joined in a general
brawl. Some of the brothers managed to grab Billy and drag him out while the
team was busy with the townies. Such a character, just fun to be with. But not
at a bar with the football team.
Billy had a special hatred for the ATOs.
It stemmed back to a time he got a black eye when hit in the face with a
snowball thrown by an ATO. There was a rock in the center of the snowball. He
was ready to brawl but we held him back. But the seed of enmity was sown.
I believe it was just before school
started in 1977, maybe ’78. We had arrived early to work on the house. There
were grouting guns and putty knives and other implements of mass construction
laying about. We also had several large slabs of sheetrock propped up against
the wall in the hallway to replace the wall in a bedroom. There were a couple
of rocking chairs and a sofa on our porch. We liked to sit there on afternoons,
drinking beer, rating the girls who walked by. Well, one morning we found that
one of the rocking chairs was missing. Billy immediately said, “It was the
ATOs. Let’s go get ‘em.”
Our president was more prudent. First he
asked the Lambchops, Teps and Thetas if they had seen anything. No one had. He
talked with the ATOs but they claimed to know nothing. Billy just ‘knew’ they
A day or so later we awoke to find our
sofa missing from the porch. We were pissed, but Billy was livid. He said our
honor was besmirched. Our president once again asked around with the same
results. Billy wanted to force our way into the ATO house and search it. Our
president counseled against starting a war. Billy could not be mollified. It
was a matter of honor. He was a volcano ready to explode.
I’m not sure if it was the following night
or later, but Billy and I sat up drinking, as we were wont to do. At some
point, after many beers, he became convinced the ATOs were going to come that
night and steal the remaining chair. I reminded him we had moved it indoors for
safe keeping. Not good enough. He had a plan. He went downstairs and put the
rocking chair back on the front porch as ‘bait’. He was going to wait and catch
them in the act. He was kind of fuzzy on what was to happen then. He decided he
needed a weapon to protect himself. He went looking through our garden tools.
He came upon an old bush ax. If you are unfamiliar with the tool, it was a
wooden handle about four feet long to which was attached a two foot single edge
blade. Kind of like a machete on a stick. It is used mainly for clearing
ditches of undergrowth. I should have been concerned that he had picked up such
a deadly weapon, but I refer you back to the beers mentioned above. I went to
bed. The rest I pieced together from various witnesses.
Billy came down to the living room near
the front door to wait. He brought a sheet to wrap up in and he was wearing his
usual sleeping attire – his tighty whities. However, these were no longer
tighty, nor very whitey. I can attest that these had seen better days. But, he
rolled up in the sheet on the sofa and laid in wait.
Meanwhile, another brother, Bubba, had
scored a date with a Theta. He and the Theta
had come back from a club and Mick asked them up to his room to share a
joint before Bubba walked her home. Now, Mick was a big guy, about six feet
tall, three feet wide, mostly muscle and at this point, already three sheets to
the wind. Bubba was talking about his summer job selling Bibles door to door.
He was bragging about how he could go into poor areas and convince people who
had virtually no money to shell out what they had for a Bible. The Theta
exclaimed that it was despicable and how could he and that he was awful. That
kind of thing. She stormed out, down a flight of
stairs, clip, clip, clip, a 180, down the hall and out the front door. Bubba
was hot on her heels, down a flight of stairs, clop,
clop, clop, a 180, down the hall and out the front door, apologizing all
the way. Mick, barely cognizant at this point, figures they’re all going
somewhere. So he went down a flight of stairs, clump, clump, trip, tumble,
tumble, crash into a pile at the foot of the stairs. The old adage that God
looks after drunks proved true. Giggling, Mick sat up, and grabbed the sheetrock
leaning against the wall to pull himself up. He overbalanced it and the slabs
of sheetrock propped against the wall fell over. Luckily it missed Mick. But
the crash was loud and shook the entire house.
This finally woke Billy who was lying in
wait in the living room. He leaped to his feet shouting “ATOs!” He raced to the
front door waving his bush ax in the air with his war cry. As he reached the
front door, it opened and the Theta ran in to see what the noise was. She ran
headlong into Billy, nearly naked in his not so tighty whities, murder in his
eyes, waving a bush ax and whooping. She screamed, turn and ran from the house,
knocking down Bubba in the process. Billy also screamed and ran the other way.
He tripped on Mick who was lying on the floor giggling. He went airborne and
did a belly flop beyond the pile of sheetrock. The bush ax flew from his hand,
skidded along the floor and buried its point in the back door. Billy apparently
decided the tile floor was comfortable because he just laid there, passed out.
A few moments later, Dan and Jeannie were
coming back from a date. They tried to come in the back door but Dan had to
push mightily to get it to open. Once inside, he found a bush ax stuck in the
door. Looking up he saw Billy laid out on the floor, his underpants slipped
down showing half his butt, a pile of fallen sheetrock, Mick laying on the
floor giggling and Bubba standing at the front door, bent over laughing his ass
The next morning there were two very
hungover brothers feeling a bit sheepish. The other rocking chair was gone. But
the sofa was back. And the Theta was never seen at our house again.
Once again, this is mostly memoir. I’ve changed the names and rearranged a few things to protect the guilty. I realize upon re-reading it that I might come off as a person who dislikes women. Not at all. I really like women. It’s just that I’ve been burned a few times. Refer back to the Charlie Manson reference in Sharing Christmas.
In case you haven’t heard the term before, schizophrenogenic basically means ‘crazy making’. I think the title is apt for this memory.
live to be a thousand years old I’ll never understand women.” I heard my father
say this time and again growing up. In my life I have found this to be so true.
I know all the men are from Mars, women are from Venus crap, but we’re all the
same species. We should be able to communicate. It’s like we speak the same
language with different words. It would just be nice if I knew what the heck
was going on in their heads.
in point – Miranda. Back when I was between wives I got a little lonely. My job
consumed a large amount of my time and I wasn’t meeting
women. I got depressed and looked at the Independent
personals. It was a big thing at the time. After a few weeks I found one message
that seemed relatively sane and it seemed we had some things in common. I left
her a message and in short order she replied and we set up a date. On the day
of the date she cancelled, complaining of a migraine. I have had migraines and
understood. So, I figured she either was blowing me off or really sick. The
fact that she offered to reschedule made me go with the latter. As the time for
our rescheduled date approached she called and said she had found someone and
couldn’t go out with me. Okay, I understand. But she said she had a friend who
was looking and she had passed my number along to her. She hoped I didn’t mind.
Actually, I did mind. I minded a whole lot. I wasn’t into being called up by
some random woman. But since it was a done deal I just told her it was fine.
or so later the friend, Miranda, called. It seemed we had similar types of work;
both in human services. We were both mid-thirties and single. Aside from also
both being homo sapiens there didn’t seem to be many more commonalities. We
decided to give it a try and made a date to see a movie. She recommended “The
Piano”, a kind of artsy film. I’m not an artsy film kind of guy, but what the
heck. Well, it was probably one of the worst films I have ever seen. I don’t
mean “Plan 9 from Outer Space” or “Attack of the B Movie Bimbos” bad. Those
movies are so bad, they’re good. This movie had good production values and
decent acting. It was just an awful movie. Most of it was so dark you had
trouble seeing what was going on. After the mean husband got killed everyone
dressed in white and all the windows were open and you could actually see what
was happening. Why not just hit me over the head with symbolism? We took a walk
and talked about the movie. She wanted to see it as a deep artistic statement
but eventually agreed that it was really a dreadful movie. Now we had something
else in common.
So, we continued seeing each other. I
discovered that she liked dancing. Seeing as I’m an accomplished dancer, this
was a real plus. We went to a number of dances. She was a fairly good swing
dancer and could do some ballroom. That should have cinched it, but it didn’t.
The whole thing was just missing that spark, that special chemistry when two
compatible people find each other. I eventually invited her over to my
apartment for dinner. I’m a good cook and she was impressed. She returned the
favor and invited me over for dinner. As we ate she served wine. After the
first glass she offered me more. I declined saying I had to drive. She
countered that I could always stay the night. Whoa, whoa, whoa. When did we get
here? Whether she was talking about hooking up or just sleeping on the sofa, I
was in no way ready to be here. I gracefully declined by saying I didn’t
usually drink more than one glass. It’s true. I’m a cheap drunk.
this time, I had been going to a local country western club and learning to two
step. I was getting good at it and had developed a cadre of partners, or since
it was a country-western club I guess that would be a posse. One Sunday night a
new lady asked me to dance. This wasn’t exactly unusual. She said she had seen
me tapping my foot in time to the music and took that as a good sign that I
could dance. Or at least had rhythm. Her name was Lena and she did
exceptionally well in the swing. We followed up with a two step. Also very
good. I noted that I needed to remember to add her to my list of regular
partners. As she was coming down the floor with another dancer I looked at her
to be sure I memorized her face. As I was watching, her partner said something
amusing. She smiled and her face just lit up. It nearly glowed like an old
Renaissance painting. Very nice.
unsure how to proceed with Miranda, I did what most men do. I procrastinated. I
called her up one week and said I was going two stepping on Saturday night, did
she want to go. I phrased it that way because that’s what I was planning to do,
she could come or not. She replied that she didn’t care for country music. I
just said that was unfortunate, maybe we could do something the next week. I
would call her.
night I was at the nightclub and found a number of my friends to dance with.
Lena also showed up. She decided to sit at a table with me. We both danced with
a variety of people, but danced together a number of times also. I found I
truly enjoyed dancing with her.
an hour after I got there, in walked Miranda on the arm of John, a guy I kind
of knew, peripherally. And she was all dolled up. Hmm, I thought. That’s
interesting. She proceeded to ignore me for the next couple of hours. Okay, I
can deal with that. Then they left. What was that all about, I wondered.
next day, around noon, I got a call from Miranda. She demanded to know who was
“that woman” I was “all over” last night. Okay, first, I wasn’t all over her.
Second, who was with whom? She redirected any mention of John back to me and
why I danced with “that woman” all night. I saw this was going nowhere so
decided it was time to pull the plug. I told her I was sorry she felt that way
and that I hoped we could always be friends. That did not go over well. At all.
But as I hung up I felt a bit relieved. Problem solved, bullet dodged. But
speaking of schizophrenogenic, what the hell was that all about?
of an odd coda, John and I became closer friends. He later told me she had
called him and asked him to take her to the club. He had no idea why. By the
time we were friends, he was steadily dating Betty. One night John and Betty
and Lena (who I was dating by this time) and I were sitting together at a
dance. In walked Miranda, alone. She came over, sat down at our table and
proceeded to stare at us. Discretion always being the better part of valor, I decided
it was time for Lena and I to dance. As I hit the floor I noticed John and
Betty right behind us. After a couple of dances we skulked back to our table. Miranda
had moved on.
finally found Phil and they became serious. I would see them at dances and
finally decided that us avoiding each other was just ridiculous. So I asked her
to dance. We made nice with each other. Once the tension was gone, we found we
got along. I married Lena and last I heard Miranda had married Phil. I’m happy
for them. She found a good man, and they dated long enough for him to know what
he was getting into. But looking back at that time of my life I still have one
question: what the heck was going on?
If anyone has ever sat on a front porch on a sultry summer evening listening to the crickets and bullfrogs, watching the lightning bugs and enjoying the feeling of being snug in your family, that is the feeling I am trying to capture in this story. It is a memoir as well as a tribute to my grandfather, a remarkable man. I am proud to have known him and to carry his name.
He loved to talk and tell stories. He had a story for every occasion. Some he admitted were tall tales. But he always swore this one was true. Maybe it was.
Do This One Thing
A True Story?
I remember sitting on Granddaddy’s porch when I was a child listening to the adults talking. I remember in particular a Saturday evening in summer in the mid nineteen-sixties. Granddaddy’s house sat on the top of a low hill, the highest land in the area. From his front porch we could see the entire community for a half mile or more in every direction. It was twilight, what Grandma always called gloaming. The heat of the day had dissipated and we were outside to catch any cool breezes that might float by. The front lawn twinkled with constellations of lightning bugs providing us with our own private light show. It was a large lawn, stretching about a hundred yards down to the main highway. Granddaddy always called his lawn the avenue. His avenue was dotted with cedars, catalpas and large hardwoods we kids called “climbing trees” because they were great for climbing. Grandma hated us climbing in the trees and would yell, “Y’all come down out of that tree before you fall and break your neck!” We never fell. Well, my cousin Edith fell. And broke her arm. But no necks were ever broken.
A couple of my cousins and I were on the steps that evening. Mom and Dad and my cousins’ parents had gone to the city to dinner and Grandma always watched us for them. So we sat on the porch, watching the sky turn purple, the insect light show, and just enjoying being a family. As sometimes happens in these types of gatherings the conversation turned to ghost stories.
Granddaddy said he remembered one from when he was a young man. Grandma said, “Good Lord, don’t tell that story again. You dreamed it.”
“Dang if I didn’t,” Granddaddy declared. “I know what I saw.” “What?” we all wanted to know. He had us then. We were spellbound.
“This happened when I was a young man. Mollie and I had just been married less than a year so it must have been 19 and 23. Remember, Sweetpea? We’d run off in January and got married. We were still honeymooning. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had Raleigh Bryant run me to Garysburg in his horsebuggy. I had my valise with my birth certificate and a change of clothes. I won’t but eighteen, didn’t know nothing. Excepting that I loved Mollie. It was cold as hell, but I was sweating bullets till your grandma showed up. Lord, you were a sight for sore eyes, Sweetpea. I loved you so much.”
“Still do,” Grandma smiled at him, patting his knee.
“We caught the train to Emporia and checked in an old hotel. I wanted to go ahead and check in as Mr. and Mrs. but your grandma was all prim and proper. A real lady. She insisted on her own room under MISS Mary Grizzard. Cost us a whole extra dollar. And a dollar was hard to come by in those days. We found the justice of the peace the next day and got hitched. Then we went back and used that hotel room.”
“Lloyd!” my Grandma exclaimed. We could see her blush, even in the dim light.
“Like I said, I won’t but 18 and Sweetpea was 19. When we got home, all hell broke loose. But we was married and nothing they could do about it.”
“But, Granddaddy. What about the ghost?” At that age I didn’t care about dumb lovey stuff.
“I was getting there. Hold your horses. We were living in the old Mayle house, just a sharecropper’s cabin with 4 rooms, but it was all we needed. It was August, the hottest one I could remember. Me and Sam Massey and another man, I can’t recollect who, were working the field up by old Miz Garris’ place. Alice Garris, now she was a firecracker. She was supposed to have been a looker in her day. They say old man Garris tamed her, but he died before I can remember, so she lived in that big old house alone. She dressed and acted like she had money. Did you ever see that house? It’s gone now. I don’t even remember if it fell down or got burned. It was up, back of Sam Massey’s old house. That’s gone now, too.”
“Yeah, Granddaddy, I remember Mr. Massey’s house but not any other one. They tore it down when I was real little, but I remember it. I remember Mr. Massey would always bring us a watermelon from his garden every summer,” I said.
“Yes, Sam was something else. Most folks didn’t care too much for him ‘cause he was a picker. Always picking at people, trying to get a rise out of ‘em. I remember when your daddy was young, we were working in a field and Sam started picking at him. I let it go, figuring the boy needed to learn to take care of hisself. Purty soon, your dad up and whaled him on the side of the head with a beanpole. Sam jumped up looking like he was ready for a fight but I stepped in. I told Sam, ‘you got what was comin’ to you. Now get back to work’.
“Now, where was I? Oh yeah, we were working the field side of Miz Garris’ house. One day as we got ready to take a break for lunch we were near her yard. We decided to go over and sit under a big tree by the house. Ol’ Betsy, the mule, won’t having no part of it. When we tried to pull her over to the shade, she just bellowed and dug in her heels. ‘Well, just stand there in the hot sun, you dang varmint,’ I said to her.
“It didn’t take but a few minutes under the tree before we smelled it. If you ever smelled a dead body, you won’t never forget it. Sam and me and the other man all looked at each other. Lonnie Birdsong. That’s who it was. I just remembered. Me and Sam were working with your grandma’s uncle Lonnie.
‘When’s the last time you saw Miz Garris?’ I asked them.
‘She won’t at church on Sunday,’ Sam said. ‘Somebody said she was feeling poorly.’ ‘Reckon we ought to go look,’ I said.
“We went up on the back porch and knocked on the door. ‘Miz Garris. Can you hear me? You all right?’ After a few minutes with no answer I pushed the door open. There won’t no such thing as locked doors back then. We all trusted each other. Not like these days when you got people robbing banks and stealing and all. Don’t know what the world is coming to. Anyway, soon as I got the door open, I ran back into the yard and threw up. She was darn sure dead and after several days in August she was purty ripe.”
“Lloyd, must you tell it like that?” Grandma protested. “The young’uns will have nightmares.”
“I’m just telling what I saw, sweetheart. Ain’t nothing they don’t see on tv these days.
“Anyway, ‘Dammit’, I thought. I’m sorry ol’ Miz Garris died but it was also going to make us lose a day of work. We needed to go fetch either the doc or Sheriff Stephenson. When I said this, Sam said, ‘Why break off work? Let’s finish the field and then go get the doc. The old lady ain’t going nowhere.’ ‘Naw, that ain’t right,’ I told him. That old lady deserved more respect than that. Plus I don’t think I could work knowing a dead body was just a few yards away. So Sam and the other man took ol’ Betsy back home and I headed off to Gumberry. It was only a mile or so through the woods and there was a telephone at the general store.
“They had her funeral the very next day. The preacher told me she had been dead a number of days and was purty far gone. He didn’t know if they would ever get the smell out of the house. They even had the funeral out by the graveside instead of inside the church. Prim old lady that she was, I know she’d a been real embarrassed by all the mess.
“That night was hotter than ever. Mollie and me didn’t have any covers on the bed and all the windows were open. We even had the front door propped open to catch any breeze it could. From where I was laying in bed I could look through the door and down the long lane to the main road. I could see low lying mist down by the end of the lane. It just drifted to and fro with whatever breeze caught it. After a bit it seemed the mist was drifting toward the house. As I watched it, it seemed to get thicker. Suddenly it took form and I could see it was a woman in a white dress standing outside the house. I was froze with fear. I saw her put her hand on the door jamb, lift her skirt and step into the house. I immediately saw it was old Miz Garris. Shit!”
“Lloyd! Don’t say that in front of the children!” my grandmother chided him.
“Well, I was scared half to death, Mollie. She stood there looking at me a minute. Then she walked over to the bed and reached down and touched my hand. Her hand was so cold. I wanted to scream but I couldn’t move or make no sound. She said ‘Lloyd, they didn’t find my will. It’s in the Bible in my study. You need to tell them. Do this and you won’t ever see me again. You don’t do it, I’ll be back. I’ll haint you.’ She disappeared suddenly and I was released and I set to squallin’.”
“Like to have scared me out of ten years growth,” Grandma added. “He was yelling and wrenching around. Talking about ghosts. You just dreamed it, Lloyd. There ain’t no ghosts.”
“I know blame well what I saw, dammit. The next day I went to the general store and Doc Moore happened to be there. I told him a lie. I said Miz Garris told me before she died that her will was stuck in a Bible in her study. I knew he wouldn’t believe me if I said her ghost told me. Turned out there was a second will in a Bible in her study. And like she said, I ain’t never seen her again. And I want to keep it that way.”
My cousins and I loved the story. We grinned and hugged ourselves in mock terror. It was full dark by this time. I don’t know if I really believed in ghosts back then, but Granddaddy’s house was big and dark and had lots of creaks and groans. I wasn’t about to walk back in that house alone until the adults went in.
My granddaddy loved to tell stories and knew many tall tales. But he always swore this one was true. As an adult I don’t believe in ghosts. They’re just tales we use to frighten the children. But poor old Miz Garris has been resting quietly for 96 years now. I agree with Granddaddy. I’d like to just keep it that way.