AMAZON

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Woods

I first wrote this about 3 years ago. I don't remember writing it, but I remember the story it tells.




There have been quite a few "scary" programs on TV this week. I've watched a few of them. A couple I even found of interest, such as those on the History Channel's Seven Nights of Fear. None of those programs frightened me.

Perhaps becuse it was all audio with no video to impose itself on the images my mind created, I found certain programs of the National Public Radio (NPR) series Halloween Tricks And Audio Treats a bit more blood curdling. (You may follow the link in the last sentence to listen to the programs and judge for yourself).

With the approach of All Hallows Even, I have been think of the most frightening Halloween that I ever experienced.  It was 58 years ago, when I was eight years old.

The first ten years of my life were spent in a small cottage in the West End of Louisville, behind which was as area known to us either as "The Commons" or "The Woods." I have no idea to whom the tract of forest belonged. It was about one block long and a half block or so deep. For us kids, it was a grand play ground; I knew every path through it, even glade in it, and was on speaking terms with most of the trees.




Dark Woods by Narcostock

For all of my familiarity with The Woods, I only entered it in daylight. There was something intimidating about The Woods when night fell. My bedroom window overlooked our back yard and beyond that, The Woods. At night I seldom looked out my window into The Woods. Strange and often scary sounds came from The Woods that, in summer with the window open to cool air, had me pulling the covers up over my head.

As an adult I now realize that most of those sounds were made by the night creatures, such as owls and a fox or two, whose homes were in The Woods. When I was eight years old, buried in my bed beneath my covers, my mind imagined more gruesome creatures beyond my bedroom window.

By the age of eight I was allowed to go Trick 'r Treating on my own at the two houses north of us and the six houses south of us, all on the same side of the street. For two of those visits I was saddled with-- accompanied by--my four-year-old sister. Being four, she quickly tired of all the walking. At least I convinced her that she was tired and that she wanted to go home and explore the treats in her bag. So I returned her to our house and headed back out to join with some of my peers in visiting the houses south of my house.

Of course, even with the neighbors complimenting each of us on our costume, Trick 'r Treating at a half dozen houses didn't take much time. When we finished, I still had at least half an hour before I was to be home. What could three costumed eight-year-olds do on Halloween night?

I believe it was Jimmy, who was, at nine, the oldest of us Three Musketeers, who suggested that we explore The Woods. Since The Woods chilled to the bone even when I was in bed with the covers pulled up over my head, I didn't think that exploring The Woods in the darkness of Halloween night was a very good idea. However, Jimmy had a flashlight and Roy Rogers pocket knife and I didn't want to be seen as a cowardly little kid, I accompanied Jimmy and our comrad into The Woods.

Since I knew every path in The Woods by heart, I found that our expedition wasn't as eerie as I had expected. Until--isn't there always an until?--we walked over a little knoll and the beam of Jimmy flashlight disclosed something (someone) white and waving in the branches of a tree in front of us. Jimmy screamed, turned and knocked me down was he retreated at full-speed back down the path.

Knocked on my back, I found myself alone in the darkness of The Woods, the white whatever fluttering in a tree a few yards from me. I don't remember getting to my feet; I do remember navigating the paths in The Woods as fast as I could run, until I came to the gate that led to my backyard.

I did not stop running until I was inside the house and in the brightly lighted living room where my mother, father, and sister were exploring the treats she had collected. It was then that I realized that I no longer had my Trick 'r Treat bag. And, that I really didn't care.

It was another two or three days before I again entered The Woods. It was daylight, of course, and my dog, Boo-Boo accompanied me. Secure that my dog could protect me from anything, I again climbed that little knoll. I looked up into the branches of that tree. Yes, I knew which tree it was because I was friends with all of the trees in The Woods. Nothing was there. No white, fluttering anything.

As Boo-Boo and I turned to go back down the path, I spotted my Trick 'r Treat bag on the ground. Not one piece of candy had fallen from it. So Boo-Boo and I made our way to my "secret place" in The Woods, a very small glen that couldn't be seen from the path. There I ate enough candy to make me not interested in dinner.





10 comments:

  1. Ooh..so never found out what it was...wow"

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    1. No, Sandy, I never learned that had been there.

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  2. Lots of scary tales take place in woods. I think that is because woods are themselves scary.

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    1. I agree, sir. BTW that picture of Woods in the post does look an awful lot like the woods of my childhood.

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  3. Oh what a great story Nick. You were very brave to go in the woods with your friends - I would have chickened out I know! LOL

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    1. Thank you, Akelamalu. Not brave, just a silly little boy. When three boys are together, none of them wants to be considered a chicken.

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  4. Did you get a lot of candy from each house you visited since you only had a few on your route? We had an entire neighborhood when I was a kid and I would bring back a paper grocery's bags worth of candy to last me until Christmas.

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    1. My nearest neighbors knew me well. None had children of their own, so the heaped the goodies on my sister and me.

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  5. Scary story. Thanks for sharing it.

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  6. You're welcome, Tonya. I hope you enjoyed it. I wish I had the where-with-all to write stories now.

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