Three Ghosts and the Outhouse

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic


As a child, the only thing more scary than granny's outhouse was the dentist.

Submitted: April 06, 2018

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Submitted: April 06, 2018

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Three Ghosts and the Outhouse

Close friends have told me that I'm a bit twisted. Most times as a joke, but sometimes in a serious manner, in the spirit of one friend helping another. In both cases I just laugh and admit that they are right, and that I know why.

It happened on a trip to visit my great grandmother in North Eastern Oklahoma. I was seven years old. A family reunion of sorts with my aunts and cousins on my mother's side all congregating on the small farm of my great grandmother. Granny, as we called her, was over ninety years old and had once lived as a Cherokee Indian. She actually knew the language, but to the family's frustration, refused to speak much of it. Or, for that matter, to discuss most anything to do with Indians. Except to pop up with an occasional interesting observation such as “Squirrel Hollow” was obviously a corruption of the term “Squirlalow”, a Cherokee term for a wooded valley with a creek at the bottom.

The nearest town was Arkansas City Kansas, or Ark City as it was know, and it was located about four miles to the North across the Kansas / Oklahoma border. The family reunion had been timed to coincide with the town's fall festival, or “Arkalalah”. “Ark” for the city's name and “Alalah”, an Indian word for “Good Time”. The festival elected a queen, Queen Alalah, and my mother, while a student at the nearby Chilocco Indian School, had served in that position twenty some years prior. And because of this, the festival was big deal to her side of the family.

Granny still lived in the 19th Century. She had a hand pump in the middle of her kitchen and a coal oil fired water heater that you filled with a bucket and lit with a match. The house had electricity, but was often lighted with coal oil lamps to save money. She fed herself with a huge flock of chickens and her garden. I loved to watch her open the chicken coop door in the morning and see the chickens run squawking out onto the farmyard to forage.

I found the lifestyle fascinating and loved it all except the outhouse. I detested the outhouse. Located out back behind some tall weeds and under some dark trees. It smelled horrible and my cousins had told me that black widows lived under the seat. Something that in later years I learned was probably true. There was a huge wasp's nest at the apex of the roof with several large wasps constantly crawling about on it. Rats were seen in the corners. Apparently they ate the plentiful bugs. All in all, a horrible place.

The first day of the visit was taken up with unpacking, making beds on the farmhouse floor and setting up tents outside for the rest of the family. Several of us kids were to sleep in our dearly departed great grandfather's feather bed. It had been impressed upon us what a treat this would be. And it was. I saw nothing really special about the bed. Just a big mattress that was somewhat less firm than those I was used to. But it was great fun having four kids laying there and giggling all night. I was later told that his is how the family had slept in the old days before the house was well heated. And I thought that must have been a lot of fun.

The next morning, after breakfast, and an hour to catch up on family gossip, the entire family headed to Ark City for the Arkalalah Parade. The main event kicking off the festival. There was a strong Native American presence in the area and this was well represented in the parade. Many floats went by representing the local Native American organizations, of which I had zero interest. What did interest me was what appeared to be an antique locomotive that ran on the street instead of on tracks. Something much more flashy than a mere car, and I made a mental note to talk to my dad about trading our station wagon in for one.

After the parade, we went to a collection of tents to eat “Indian Food”, which resembled Mexican Food. And years later this made sense when it dawned on me that a lot of Mexicans were actually Indians.

After eating, my father and I wandered the fair grounds. Looking back, he had probably promised to baby sit me to get out from under my mom's gang of relatives. There were several decrepit carnival rides, complete with peeling paint, burned out lights, torn seats, and operators that looked like refugees from a beer joint. I wanted to ride them but my dad wouldn't let me. He also nixed the pony ride saying he felt sorry for the horse.

We did, however, find something interesting. A semi-trailer flat bed with what appeared to be three huge soup bowels mounted on it. The bowels were pointed at the sky and mounted on gimbals which allowed them to rock back and forth. The base had black grease all around it and looked like it could swivel. On the bottom of each of the three bowels was painted a clown's face. And yellow stars and comets were painted on the side of the flat bed trailer.

“These are old World War Two air raid spotlights”, said my dad. “When the bombers would come over they would use these to light them up so people could shoot them down.”

With this he picked me up so that I could see inside one of the partially tilted bowels. I saw a big, multi-sectioned mirror at the bottom.

“They use them for advertisements now. They're just like big flashlights and the beam goes all the way up to the clouds. At night you can see it for miles. People drive in to see what the fuss is about.”

“Can we come back at night and see them?”, I asked.

“We'll see what the others want”, answered my father.

That night my uncles built a fire pit in the yard and we BBQ'd hamburgers and hotdogs. There were also potato chips, pork and beans and lots of ice and coke. Some of my favorite foods. I especially liked to scoop of mouth fulls of hot pork and beans with ruffled potato chips. And I loved BBQ'd hamburgers with the works. They even had lettuce to put on the burgers. I ate until I was stuffed.

It was hot in the house, and as the sun went down, chairs were set up in the yard and everyone moved outside. We all sat under the stars to the light of two Tiki Torches, which the boxes said would keep the mosquitoes away, but were proving to be a disappointment. And the extended family settled down into one of it's favorite pastimes, discussing the drunks and ne'er do wells that populated the fringes of the family.

I found I had to pee and the fear of wild animals in the dark night stopped me from simply stepping off into the bushes and weeds, of which there were many. I tapped my older cousin.

“I have to pee, will you come with me?”

“Oh, all right, let's go get the flashlight.”

We entered the house and pulled the flashlight from it's plug in the wall. A miracle of technology at the time, a rechargeable flashlight that simply plugged into the wall. My parents had got it for granny last Christmas.

As we left the circle of adults, I could see that my cousin was taking me to the outhouse.

“I don't want to go to the outhouse. It's too scary.”

“Oh beans, you can't pee here on the path where everyone walks. Let's go.”

We arrived. The outhouse door was held shut with a weathered piece of one by two that rotated about a rusty screw. My cousin turned it and opened the door. The smell rolled out. It was dark and terrifying inside.

“Here, I'll hold the light so you can see.”

Not wanting to get too close to the horrible hole, I stood in the doorway and dropped my pants and underwear to my ankles, I then took baby steps to the throne and sat down. My cousin lowered the light. Sitting in terror, my hairs standing on end, I could suddenly see white blobs of light racing across the low clouds above my cousin's head. . There were three of them. Their motion was random, but they never went away and continued to race about in the sky.

“What's that?” I pointed and asked in a shaky voice.

My cousin turned, gave a somewhat contrived scream and yelled, “Ghosts!”. And she took off down the path with the flashlight.

I screamed, jumped from the toilet seat, trying not to touch anything in the now pitch black outhouse. I desperately tried to follow. But the pants around my ankles got me and I fell, half in and half out of the outhouse door. I was beaten and I simply lay there screaming until my parents finally arrived some minutes later.

And I've never been the same since.


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