Another Jack!!

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by AdamCarlton

A simple Irish legend got a little out of hand.

The year was 1958.  October the tenth.  It was a Friday.  My Irish grandmother was my best friend.  However, at the age of seven, my imagination always seemed to add a little to whatever story she read to me or told me about.

Our discussion before nap time was the history of carving pumpkins for Halloween.  It seems the legend started with the Irish.  She would know about these things.  She told me about a man named Stingy Jack.  Another Jack!!!

You must understand.  I had gone through Jack and Jill breaking crowns and going downhills.  I had gone through Jack being nimble and quick but not before jumping over candlesticks.  Still another Jack played a fiddle but apparently not when asked.  Little Jack Jelf was put on a shelf.  Don’t forget Jack Horner who sat in corners, or the house that Jack built, or Jack of all trades but good at none. There was even a Jack Frost who brought snow with him every time he showed up.  I made a mental note to add Stingy Jack to my list of reasons not to like Jack.  I would not even let my sister name her kitten Jack.  The only Jacks I wanted in the house were the ones you pick up after bouncing a ball. 

It seems, according to the legend, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him.  Living up to his name, he did not want to pay for the drink.  He talked the Devil into turning himself into a coin so he could use the coin to pay for the drinks.  The Devil turned himself into a coin.  Jack, however, decided to put it in his pocket next to a silver cross.  The touching of the cross prevented the Devil from turning back into his original form.  Jack eventually freed the Devil.  under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year.  And also should Jack die, the Devil would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack Lantern.”

Grandmother had no idea she had just laid the foundation for a chain of events that would haunt many that Halloween.

Preparing for Halloween was a big deal.  Everyone loved to decorate for certain.  We had spider webs, witches' hats, tombstones all over the front yard.  I had learned the previous year that my grandmother was the queen of the spooks.  I was very busy myself.  I had learned that the little boy who moved in down the street was named Jack.

Poor dear. He had no idea what he was in store for.  He was also seven.  He, however, had no idea what an Irish nightmare was until he decided to come over that Friday afternoon.

Grandmother was in the kitchen cooking.  My sister was having yet another tea party with her Teddy bears.  I was on the front porch arranging pumpkins.  I had slipped off the edge of the porch to catch one that had rolled off.  Jack shuffles his feet up the steps and is just about even with me.  “Hi, I’m Jack.”  That is all he had time to say.

I stuck the pumpkin I had in my hands over his head.  He was trying to shout but only made a muffling sound.  I looked inside the openings where the eyes had been cut out.  His eyes were popping out.  The pumpkin had caught him just right and he was stuck.  When he tried to fight and take it off, I grabbed his hands and used the ribbon I had to tie his hands and feet together.  I could not pick him up, so I rolled him under the porch.

“Boy, that was a close one.  I all most let a Jack in the house.  I told him I would be putting him in the pecan tree and carving a cross on it so he could not get out.  I felt very satisfied with my good deed for the day.  I also figured it was best to keep all this a secret.  I mean, it might scare my sister.  Poor Grandmother not knowing there was a Jack in the neighborhood.

We ate dinner.  We watched TV.  We were getting ready for bed.  The knocking on the front door told us there was a problem.  Two frantic women and a very frantic man were looking for a little boy.  They described him.  None of the adults said they had seen him.  His mother and grandmother handed out pictures of him and asked if we could look for him.  No one asked me if we had seen him.  I was glad because I am not allowed to lie.

The police and half the neighborhood were looking for one little boy named Jack.  It was getting dark.  I watched as the ladies started crying.  My grandmother put her arms around his grandmother.  I felt so bad about making them so unhappy.  I really was in a pickle now.

My grandmother started watching me.  I had tears coming down my cheek and kept rubbing my hands together.

“Baby, have you seen Jack?”

“Grandmother… Another Jack.  It might be Stingy Jack or one of those other ones.”  Suddenly my grandmother stood up.  She told the woman to go to her house in case he came home, and she would work on getting things organized on her end of the block.  The woman left.  It was just me and one little Irish Grandmother now.

She did not say a word.  She put my coat on me and got behind me.  She followed as I walked out the to the porch and jumped off the edge.  I rolled Jack, complete with pumpkin out from under the porch.  Grandmother instantly gathered the boy kid up and took him inside.  He had passed out while under the house.  She got him warm, made sure he was okay.  She fed him.  She still had not said a word to me.

She held him in her arms and carried him back to his grandmother.  The thrill of him being found was all that anyone seemed to care about.  He could not remember right away how he ended up where he did.  He said there was a witch with a big black hat and a broom that had put a pumpkin on his head.  I realized he had seen me in costume.  By the time he saw me again, I was in pajamas and my curly blond hair made me look like a sweet little girl.

We all went Trick or Treating together that year.  Grandmother never told me another story about anyone named Jack.  She also kept my little secret.  She never told anyone I was the witch who tricked the Devil that night.

We had many talks after that.  I think my grandmother blamed herself for the chain of events.  I truly thought I was defending our home.  My education on angels, butterflies, and all things good began the next day.  That was of course when I had to tell Grandmother that she could not fool me.  She tried to tell me about Fairy tales.  I laughed.  Fairies do not have tails…they have wings.

Love and laughter were the things that were real in our home.  


Submitted: October 08, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Texasjane. All rights reserved.

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Comments

AdamCarlton

That's a great Jack story!

Fri, October 8th, 2021 4:25pm

Author
Reply

Thank you so much. Wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying your writing. Thank you for the review.

Fri, October 8th, 2021 11:45am

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