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Thank goodness October is here, the rains have come, and the old air-conditioner is getting a rest. But our joy will be short-lived, I fear; winter is just around the corner and fickle us will soon forget how bad it was, as we long for the warmth of summer again.

By the time you receive this I will have purchased another wing at our local hospital. Erika and I had planned to go to W. Va. and set out on the morning of the 14th, altho I did not feel well. Unfortunately, the farther I drove the sicker I became and, after 100 miles, had to turn back. Having suffered with a urological problem for some time, I sought a second opinion and found an operation is needed. I am told it is a rather simple one, and I should be in the hospital only one or two days. Now, if I can persuade some kind soul to slip me a cheeseburger and shake occasionally I am sure I will be ok.

By the time you read this issue we will have celebrated National Poetry week. I have been invited to read at our new library headquarters and next month I speak to a group of writers in south Georgia. The latter is a paying job and the fee goes to KUDZU and her sister PARNASSUS.

Happy halloween!

– Denver

Time is Fleeting
by George Givens (MSB)

Time is an evading thing
Before we know it’s here
And gone.

Both heartaches and happiness
It can quickly bring.

Time is fleeting, it keeps
Moving on.

Monk and the Haunted House
by Denver Stull

I doubt whether I will ever forget the Halloween my boyhood friends, Monk, Tommy Smith, and I spent the night in the old Maxwell place, a vacant two-story house that stared down on us from a hill on the other side of the Middle Island Creek.

It all started the Saturday night we were roasting hotdogs and marshmallows in Monk’s backyard. As usual, someone had started telling ghost stories and I had offered the opinion there was no such thing as spirits.

“Is, to,” said Monk, “an if you don’t believe it, why don’t we go spend th’ night in that old house over there on th’ hill? Everone says it’s ha’nted.”

“Ah, I’ve heard that story,” I said. “Uncle Elmo told me Mr. Jesup started it so us kids would stay away.”

“Then why is he a’ tryin’ to sell th’ place already? An they ain’t stayed there no time a’tall.”

“Mrs. Jesup told Mom she didn’t like crossing that swinging bridge every time she came to town, and I can’t say I blame her,” I replied. (I had always been afraid of swinging bridges and the one that connected the Maxwell place to our side of the creek was especially long and scary.)

“I’ll bet if th’ truth wuz knowed the Captain paid her a visit,” growled Monk.

“The Captain? Captain who?” asked Tommy, who had only arrived in our town the month before. “What are you guys talkin’ ‘bout?”

“You know… that big house over yonder on th’ hill,” said Monk, pointing. “Y’see while th’ man that lived there wuz away in th’ civil war (he wuz a cap’n in th’ Union Army) this bunch uv Johnny Rebs camped over yonder in th’ meadow an some of ‘em raped ‘n killed th’ missus an her two kids…. Killed an took all th’ livestock too.”

“And the Captain committed suicide when he came home and found them,” I added. “Now he roams the house crying and looking for his family.”

“Gee,” said Tommy, “I didn’t know we had a real haunted house here.”

“It’s all a bunch of nonsense,” I said. “Uncle Elmo says there’s no such thing as ghosts.”

“Well, let’s go find out Monday night,” said Monk. “It’s Halloween, an we’ll have a good chance. You all ask your folks if you can spend th’ night with me… an bring a blanket an some snacks.”

It had started raining as we arrived at the swinging bridge, and I was having second thoughts about crossing it. “The creek is not deep; why don’t we wade across?” I suggested. “This old bridge is dangerous.”

“Go ahead if you wanta git bit by a cotton mouth,” said Monk. “C’mon Tommy, les go.”

I wanted to fall down on my hands and knees and crawl, but I had a sack of snacks in one hand and a flashlight in the other. The bridge was bucking and swaying like a bronco. On top of that, I almost broke through a rotten plank. “Let’s go back,” I begged. “It’s raining harder.”

“No use turnin’ back now. ‘Cides, I think someone has done beat us over here. I seen a light up there,” Monk called.

“If it’s Mr. Jesup we’re in trouble,” I said.

“Ain’t him,” said Monk. “I seen him gittin’ on th’ train this mornin’.”

“Reckon’ it’s th’ Captain?” asked Tommy.

“Just hope it’s not one of our parents,” I panted. “If Mom find out about this she’ll skin me alive.”

The steps were almost as rickety as the bridge and I know there was at least a hundred of them. It was the first time I had seen the house up close and I was surprised it was so run down.

We found a window unlocked and were soon inside. Looking around, we found no sign anyone had been there. I told Monk he must have seen a star, but he reminded me it was raining. “Then it must have been lightning you saw,” I suggested.

Monk started a fire in the living room fireplace by breaking up an old box he had found in the kitchen. We were wet and cold. I wished for one of Uncle Elmo’s hot toddies.

Tommy had dozed off and Monk was tending the fire while I opened a tin of sausages. Suddenly the front door started creaking as it slowly opened. “Didn’t we try this door?” I asked, pushing it shut.

“Yep, it wuz closed.”

“Well, it’s unlocked now.”

“Listen, what’s that?” A strange moaning had begun upstairs, and Tommy was wide awake.

“It’s him,” said Monk, “Just like they say, he’s back.”

“It’s just the wind blowing through the trees,” I reasoned.

“You wanta go look,” Monk grinned as he reached for a sausage.

“Uncle Elmo says there’s an explanation for everything,” I said. “Yes, I’ll go look.”

“I’m scared,” said Tommy, wrapping his blanket around him and shaking as though he was cold. “You all go ahead.”

I felt a cold breath of air as we started up the stairs, and thinking the door had opened turned to check it. To my surprise, it was locked. Monk was at the top of the stairs. “C’mon… you scared?” he called.

“This is crazy,” I mumbled. “the door is locked.”

“Still think they ain’t no such thing as ghosts?” he grinned.

“I don’t know what….,” a scream from the first floor interrupted me. As I rushed back down the steps, Tommy came running from the living room shaking and muttering, “It was him… it was him.”

“It was who? What did you see?” I asked putting my arm around his shoulder and trying to calm him.

“It was him… the Captain,” he started, talking excitedly. I know it was him… He had on a blue uniform and was carrying a sword.”

“You’ve been dreaming,” I said. “There’s no such thing as…” Suddenly the front door started creaking again and there was the sound of footsteps on the stairs. Monk looked at me and grinned. “Let’s get out of here,” I said, starting to gather my things, with nary a thought of crossing the covered bridge in a rainstorm.

Big Dome
by Keith Rogers

We’ve an absent-minded professor
To his face it’s “nosir” and “yessir”,
But we’ve called him “Big Dome”
Since he left his wig home…
He forgot it one day on his dresser.

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October moon –
I think of her
And the old covered bridge

– Denver Stull

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