Filed under: Entertaining Kids at Camp, Entertaining Kids at Camp, Holidays on the Road, Uncategorized
SPOOKY CAMPFIRE STORIES
We were pulling our fifth wheel camper with “The Great White”, a big diesel tractor retired from hauling postal mail north to south. It was now our preferred tow vehicle, but turning it around on this road was out of the question.
It was getting dark and I knew we would have to find a place to camp for the night soon.
Up ahead I spied a sign, Robinson’s Farm Family Campground
WOW! This was almost too much to ask for. We made a right hand turn off the narrow road and pulled up in front of the campground office.
Inside the dimly lit area, an ugly old woman greeted me. She had a long pointy nose covered with warts. Her voice crackled as she asked me to fill out the registration card. I figured her nose must be part of a Halloween costume and reached out to touch one of the warts. I was immediately presented with a bony hand sporting long, tangled fingernails that pushed my arm away.
“Don’t try to touch, Sonny, you will catch the virus that made me this way if you do!”
I withdrew my hand and finished filling out the card. It occurred to me that it really smelled bad in the lobby – sort of a cross between rotten pumpkins, mold, and freshly dug swamp dirt.
The old woman took my registration card and money. She then told me to drive straight ahead until I saw a little cemetery with a shiny, black wrought iron fence. I was to turn right and could pick any camping spot along the road that I wished.
I was glad to get out of there. As I stepped off the porch a cat resting near the bottom step darted in front of me. Startled, I almost fell.
Back in the cab of the truck, Nancy commented that she had seen strange lights off in the distance. They were moving rapidly left and right then up and down – sometimes higher than the trees. She had put on a jacket, complaining of a penetrating chill in the air. Oscar was shivering in her lap.
We found a camping site on the left side of the lane. It was level and open. I decided to leave the truck hooked to the camper and deployed the corner jacks before opening the slide-outs. With a thick fog in the air and a hint of rain, I rolled out the awning.
I had just settled down in my favorite chair when I felt the camper shift. My glass of iced tea toppled off the end table and spilled on the floor. Oscar’s ball rolled into the corner.
As I steeped outside to investigate what had happened, I was entangled in a sticky spider web hanging between the awning edge and support rail. I wiped the gooey silk out of my face and looked down at the front of my shirt. There was a huge spider crawling toward my neck. With a swift swipe of my hand, I knocked the spider to the ground and squashed it with my left foot. Red blood came out of the spider, something that I did not remember ever seeing from any insect other than a mosquito.
Both the rear jack and right side wheels were now resting in a depression about 2 feet wide and six feet long. Apparently, the ground was not solid enough to hold the weight of the camper.
I had to retract the jacks and pull the camper forward. As I did the wheels of the truck and then the camper fell into new depressions in the earth. It appeared that they were everywhere! Finally, I found solid ground on the other side of the lane and dropped the jacks once again.
Back inside the camper, I decided to take Oscar out for his nighttime walk and see what all of the depressions in the ground might be.
Oscar refused to go out of the camper door. He pulled at his leash trying to go back into the bedroom. Frustrated, I picked him up in my arms and carried him out the door.
Once more, my face was impaled by sticky spider silk. As I wiped it away, I could see two smaller spiders making their way across Oscar’s back. He was twisting in my arms, trying to bite the spiders, but I knocked them to the ground and squashed them just as I did the first spider. Red blood oozed out from under my shoe.
Crossing the lane to where the truck and camper were previously parked, I noticed pieces of rotted wood poking up from the depressions. On closer examination, I discovered what appeared to be a human leg bone amidst the boards.
“Oh My Gosh”, I exclaimed aloud. “I must have parked on top of an old grave yard – the weight of the camper and truck collapsed the rotting wooden caskets buried underneath!”
Oscar was up on his hind legs pawing to get back in my arms when I heard a voice from behind me. “Excuse me, sir. I have a flat tire on my car out by the main road. Could you please help me change it for my spare tire?”
It was a young woman. She made me think of my own daughter and how troubling the situation would be if she were the one all alone with a flat tire. I told her that I would be glad to help.
I put Oscar back inside the camper and followed her to the road. There was a beautiful, mint condition 1956 Ford with a flat rear tire. The spare was mounted in a chrome and painted steel enclosure on the back bumper.
It did not take long to change the tire. The young woman thanked me and offered money, which I refused. She shared that she was heading home from school. Her house was the one with the red roof and blue shutters just around the bend.
We parted company and I returned to our camper. Inside, Nancy had become concerned about my absence, but was otherwise oblivious to all of the going-on’s outside. I decided not to tell her about everything – just that I had helped a stranded motorist change a flat tire. We went to bed without any further incidents.
The next morning we awoke to bright sunshine. When I took Oscar outside for his morning walk I was surprised to discover we were sitting in what appeared to be a recently cut soybean field. There were no roads leading into the field and there was no building where I thought I had registered the night before. I spied an old family cemetery near-by with a rusty fence surrounding weathered headstones. I decided to walk over to it for a closer look.
One of the headstones appeared newer than the others. Etched into the stone was the name; Julia Smith June 30, 1941 – October 31, 1957. I felt a shiver run up my spine. The young woman I helped last night told me her name was Julia.
As we rounded the corner, I spied a weather-beaten house with a faded red roof and peeling blue shutters. I decided to stop.
An old man answered my knock at the door. I asked if Julia was at home. The old man lowered his head and replied, “Every year at this time someone comes to our door and asks for Julia. She is my daughter. Sadly, she was killed by a passing truck just up the road while attempting to change a flat tire 54 years ago last night.”
As I walked away from the house, I spied a rusting 1956 Ford sitting in the weeds with a rear spare tire kit mounted on the back bumper.
Feeling a chill, I put my hands into my jacket pockets. My fingers found something hard, cold and round. I withdrew two silver half-dollar coins. Apparently, unknown to me, Julia had slipped them into my jacket pocket sometime during our brief encounter, after I refused her offer of money for my help. Both coins looked as if they were freshly minted. Their date was 1956.