One night late at Stone Circle a young woman told a story about her grandfather’s funeral, or rather the dinner at her grandparents’ house after the funeral. The place was in the country not far from a small town. Family and guests were gathered in the living room eating.
Someone noticed a medium-sized buck walk out of the woods. Everyone started watching. For some reason people never tire of watching deer. Normal conversation stopped.
The buck crossed the field, walked through the yard right up to the picture window. The animal put his face to the glass, and looked in at everybody for a long time. Then the buck turned and walked back across the yard and field into the woods.
The young woman who told the story believed it was her grandfather saying goodbye. A lot of her family members did too. That’s my ghost story for the upcoming Halloween.
“Devil’s Night” is a tale I used to hear my dad tell when I was growing up. I embellished the ending a little bit. Picasso once said, “Art is a lie that helps you see the truth.”
The last poem is one of my favorite Halloween love stories. It came out of the Elk Rapids Elders Project. Audrey Kaiser told it to two Elk Rapids High School girls, but I wrote the poem.
Poet Bard Terry Wooten has been performing and conducting writing workshops in schools for 29 years. He is also the creator of Stone Circle, a triple ring of boulders featuring poetry, storytelling and music on his property north of Elk Rapids. Learn more at www.terrywooten.com.
A deep ravine,
an old glacial scar,
cut through the east side of town.
It was full of trash
and discarded toys
that never made it to the village dump.
At the bottom
a poor little creek gurgled
through everybody’s stray garbage.
All the decent, upstanding trout
had moved out.
The old man who owned the pool hall
presided at the edge
of this crevice.
He constantly smoked big cigars,
and didn’t seem to be interested
in anything except poker.
He hardly ever stepped outside
during the day.
If he did
he’d just scowl at the sunshine.
His skin was pale as a corpse
and tinted with tobacco smoke.
the big kids pushed his outhouse
over into the ravine.
It was a local teenage tradition.
One early October
while knocking pool balls around,
the teens overheard this scary old man
growl to his coven of poker buddies
that his outhouse problem
wouldn’t happen again.
Naturally they took it as a challenge.
they crept up quiet as demons
and quickly slammed against his toilet
pushing it over the edge
with supernatural strength.
As the outhouse rolled out of sight
into the dark abyss,
a terrible howling SCREAM
THUNDERED LIKE LIGHTNING!
from the tumbling two-holer.
The kids ran off
scattering like scared rabbits.
when the school bus
full of reformed devils
the outhouse was back in place
as if no one had ever touched it.
The kids never found out
who was in there.
It could have been the pool hall owner,
some strange Halloween being,
or the devil himself
taking a rest stop.
Just to be safe,
the kids stayed away
from the pool hall after that,
and the owner’s outhouse too.
— Audrey Swain Kaiser (84)
I met my husband while running away
from the police.
It was Halloween,
and someone was shooting streetlights
The police were catching anybody
I don’t know how many kids
were locked up.
Irene, and I and two girlfriends
hadn’t done anything wrong,
but have fun.
On the outskirts of town
I crawled under a barbed wire fence,
caught my britches
and ripped a big hole in the rear end.
I tied my jacket around my waist,
and we ran across this cow pasture.
A car drove up
with a bunch of guys.
“You girls want a ride?”
We sure did.
They were two Kaiser brothers
and a friend.
All four of us girls piled into the car
and went riding around.
One of the brothers
would become my husband.
from the old Elk Rapids High School
they tore down.
He was five years older than me,
and had been in the Army
stationed in Germany.
World War II was just over.