Copyright © 2017 Bill W. All Rights Reserved.
“Hunter, Ryder, and Savannah, would you please come in here,” my mother called out. “Your father and I have something we’d like to talk to you about.”
By the way, I’m Hunter, Ryder is my eleven-year old brother, and Savannah is my six-year old sister. After hearing our mother call us, we all rushed into the living room to see what was so important. It wasn’t often that our parents wanted to speak to all three of us at once, probably because of the age differences.
“I have some news to share and I hope you’ll all be happy with what I am about to say,” Dad began. “I’ve accepted a position with another company, which means we’ll be moving to another state shortly after you kids get out of school for the year.”
“I don’t want to move,” Ryder immediately screamed. “I like it here and don’t want to leave my friends.”
“I want to stay here too,” Savannah added with a pout.
I’m not sure she fully understood what was happening, but she joined in on Ryder’s protest. Although this announcement had come as a total surprise to me as well, and most kids my age would probably have been upset by the news, I was actually happy with the idea and wasn’t about to complain. Even though I was just finishing up my freshman year, I hated the school I was currently attending. I hated the other students and I hated the teachers, but most of all I hated the principal and other administrators. For that reason, I was ecstatic that I would soon be escaping from my private hell.
“When did all of this happen?” I wondered, since I hadn’t seen it coming.
“I believe you know that I've taken several trips out of town over the past few months,” Dad explained, “and even though I told you I was going away on business, I was actually being interviewed. I'd spent several months sending out my resume in an effort to find a more responsible position with better pay so I'd be able to put more aside for you three to go to college. Whenever I was offered an interview, I would take a vacation day or two so I could travel there. In the end, I received a couple of different job offers, so your mother and I talked it over before I accepted the opportunity that we both felt would be best.”
“So where are we moving to?” I followed, since I was curious if we’d be going someplace that was more open-minded than where we currently lived.
“We’ll be moving to Maryland, where I’ll be the Mid-Atlantic regional human resource director for a larger company. Even though I’ll be working in Baltimore, we won’t be living in the city. I’ve purchased a home for us in the suburbs where you three will have plenty of green grass, fresh air, and lots of room to be kids.”
“But doesn’t that mean you’ll still have to do a lot of driving to get back and forth from work every day?” I wondered, since Dad had always complained about the time he spent in traffic.
“Yes, that’s true, but I'll feel better knowing the three of you aren’t enrolled in an inner-city school. I don’t want you to have to put up with attending crowded, under-funded schools, and I don't want your mother or I to fret about the crime rate and other things you might be exposed to if we lived in the city. I’ll put up with the drive, as long as it makes life better for you kids.”
I was satisfied with what I’d heard thus far, so I went up to my bedroom, which I shared with my brother. I left the other two still arguing with Mom and Dad, as they attempted to talk them out of doing this. I felt sorry for them in a way, because I’d hate to leave my friends too, if I had any, but this was definitely going to be better for me.
Maybe I should take a minute to clarify the situation and explain a few things. As I said, I’m a freshman in high school and just turned fifteen a couple of months ago, but I happen to be one of the shortest guys in my grade. I’m barely five feet tall (153 cm), and I don’t even weigh 100 pounds (45 kg) soaking wet. Even though I’m small, I’ve been told I’m cute, but I’m afraid the girls telling me this were thinking of me more as little-boy cute, rather than boyfriend cute. It doesn’t really matter, though, because I’m gay, and that brings me to the reason I hate my school, teachers, and the administrators.
Since I’ve always been small and not very athletic, the other kids have always picked on me. They call me gay, homo, and faggot even though they’ve never had any real basis for those taunts, but it’s been a constant problem for me since fifth grade. Although it was fairly obvious that I was being bullied, none of the teachers or school officials ever did anything to stop it, even though my parents and I had lodged formal complaints. Besides being called those names in public and having had similar slurs posted on my Facebook wall, I've also received numerous threats, both in person and in cyberspace.
At school I’ve been pushed, punched, and tripped, but I’ve also had my belongings defaced with homophobic slurs. One day in P.E., just as the class ended and after the teacher had left the gym, I was grabbed by some of the macho jocks in our class and they pulled my gym shorts and underwear off. Then, they took those things back to the locker room with them, laughing as they went. I was left trying to pull my t-shirt down to cover myself as best I could as I made my way back to the locker room to change.
When my parents found out about what had happened, they came to school and filed another complaint, but nothing was ever done about it. Everyone there treated the incident as a harmless prank and none of the boys involved were ever disciplined for what they'd done. The incident, however, left me emotionally scarred and totally humiliated. That was due to the fact that a lot of others, including a group of girls, had either seen it happen or they saw me trying to discretely sneak back to the locker room. Quite a few of them even saw my privates, so I became the brunt of a lot of jokes. Besides the usual slurs, I was now called stubby, baby dick, and moon man, and I was mocked incessantly.
The only bright spot at school was a cute boy who’s also gay, even though no one else knows about it. I’d talked to him a few times and he'd admitted to me in private that he was gay, but that happened before I got pantsed. After that incident he started to keep his distance, and now he'll only talk to me on the phone. He'll also text, tweet, and send emails, but that's it. He’s afraid if he’s seen hanging around or talking to me then the bullies will start treating him the same way. He definitely wants to avoid that, if at all possible, so he figures discretion is the better part of valor. Of course I understand his concerns and won’t hold it against him, but it sure would be nice to have at least one friend while I’m locked up in this educational prison.
Fortunately for him, he has never had to face the same type of ridicule and abuse that I’ve endured. Even though he’s not much taller or more muscular than me, he is definitely more athletic. He plays soccer and baseball, so the others tend to leave him alone. Maybe I should have tried harder to fit in, but I probably would have been so bad at sports that no team would want me. If I did get chosen, I’d probably stand out just as much as I do now. I guess it would be a no-win scenario for me.
You see my family has lived in Texas for the past several years, after my dad became the district human resource manager for this area. It isn’t a particularly gay friendly location, and those suspected of being gay aren’t generally treated very well. This is big football country, so as long as you’re an athlete you pretty much avoid scrutiny, unless you’re caught doing something totally unmanly. Unfortunately my size, build, high squeaky voice, love of reading, interest in the arts, good grades, and lack of coordination and athleticism all worked against me. I might as well have painted a target on my forehead, because that's what I’ve become.
It’s also the reason it didn’t bother me when Dad announced we were going to move and why I was the only one who didn’t complain or throw a tantrum. I was hoping a new environment might give me a fresh start, and hopefully I won’t be treated as badly at the new school I'm enrolled in.
Over the next couple of days, my dad told us about the house and even showed us some photos of it too. He said it was originally a brick farmhouse, built in the 1800s, but a contractor had recently gutted the interior and completely remodeled it. The best part about it, at least according to my father, was that it came with ten acres of land. He said the former owners had refused to split the property into smaller lots because it had been passed down through the family for generations and they wanted it to remain as one parcel.
Although the last owner had been in a nursing home and hadn’t lived in the house for a number of years, he'd put a stipulation in his will that anyone inheriting the property had to keep it intact. His primary beneficiary happened to be a contractor, and he decided the only way he was going to make any money on the place was to gut the house and completely remodel it. He knew it would increase the value of the property and help attract a buyer, otherwise he realized he'd only be paid for what the land was worth. Since he and his crew could do the work, he felt it was worth the investment of time and labor, and it paid off for him in the long run.
I have to admit that the photos of the interior looked really nice, and the house was huge. It had four bedrooms, so my brother and I wouldn't have to share a room any longer, and an addition had been built onto the back of the first floor. The exterior was brick and constructed in the Federalist style, but it also had a huge porch that ran across the front and along one side of the house. Since it had lots of land, we would have plenty of privacy, and that was a major plus in my book, in case I wasn’t accepted at the school there either.
If that happened, I could invite any friends I made over to the house and we'd have plenty of room to do things close to home, where other people would be less likely to bother us. Otherwise, I could just hang out alone, or do stuff with my sister and brother. That wouldn’t be ideal, but it would be better than being totally isolated again.
When school was finally out for the summer, we started getting ready to move. Unbelievably, we didn’t have to do very much, because the company my dad would be working for had paid a moving company to do most of the work. We merely packed up our personal belongings, most of which we took with us in the cars. The moving crew packed up everything else, loaded it all in an 18-wheeler, and drove it to our new home. When they got there, they carried everything inside and placed each item in the correct room, so all we had to do was unpack the boxes and put things away.
The living room, dining room and kitchen, which also had a breakfast nook, were on the first floor, along with a bathroom and the den, which my father was planning to use as an office. Built onto the back of the original house was a pretty big addition, which contained a sunroom and a family room. The sunroom had windows along the two outer walls, which would let in the sunshine and fresh air, and it would primarily be used during the spring and fall seasons. The family room had a huge fireplace located on the outer wall and would be the room where the family would spend most of our free time together.
Upstairs were the four bedrooms. My parents had a large suite, with a huge, private bathroom, and the rest of us had our own rooms too. I got the biggest of the three, seeing I’m the oldest, and my sister was given the smallest. There was also a full bath the three of us were going to have to share, but I didn’t feel that would be a big deal. By the time my sister got old enough to start hogging the bathroom, I’d be in college or on my own, so it was a problem my brother would probably have to deal with, not me.
The first night in the new house was kind of strange, though, because it was totally different. Since the neighbors weren’t close by it was kind of quiet, but the house seemed to make its own noises. I guess all houses do that, and even though this one had been completely remodeled, it was still an older home. I guess that’s why my little sister woke up in the middle of the night and started screaming for my parents. It didn’t, however, explain why she accused me of coming into her room and trying to scare her.
“I saw Hunter in my room and he was making noises to scare me,” she kept insisting as she flashed me a disgusted and hateful look.
“I didn’t come in here, I swear,” I countered. “I never left my room until I heard her screaming for you guys.”
Fortunately, my parents believed me and did their best to calm her down. “Savannah, you probably just had a bad dream and thought you saw Hunter in here. Go back to sleep and I promise everything will be ok,” my mother offered soothingly.
“Don’t come in here again!” Savannah yelled, directing her comment at me.
After assuring her I wouldn’t leave my bedroom, things calmed down and we all went back to sleep. That was until Savannah started screaming again, just before sunrise. We all rushed to her room and found her trembling and crying.
“What’s the matter, honey?” my mom asked as she caressed my sister and attempted to calm her down.
“When I woke up there was a boy in my room, but it wasn’t Hunter,” she sobbed. “He was looking at my things and disappeared when I called for you.”
She was visibly shaken and it was obvious that she believed what she was saying, so we all attempted to allay her fears. While Mom stayed with her, Dad, Ryder and I searched the house for an intruder. Dad went to look around the first floor, while Ryder followed behind me as we checked out every nook and cranny on the second floor. None of us discovered anyone or found any signs that an intruder had come inside, so we concluded that Savannah had just awakened from another nightmare.
This happened a couple more times during the following week, but we assumed Savannah was just having difficulty adjusting to our new house, which in turn was causing her to have these nightmares. That was until things started to disappear. At first it was some of Ryder’s belongings, but then some of my stuff went missing too. There were also a couple of times when my mom or dad couldn’t find their car keys or other items, but they figured they'd just misplaced them, because everything turned up again later. Even though their keys were found in really strange locations, like in the refrigerator or under the couch, my parents figured they'd just been distracted and absent-mindedly left or dropped them there. It was either that or one of us kids were playing a practical joke on them.
After a couple of weeks, Ryder confided in me that he also thought he'd seen someone else in the house, but every time he went to see who was there, he never found anyone. The following week, I thought I saw someone lurking about too. When I didn’t discover an intruder, I concluded Ryder’s suggestion had thrown my imagination into overdrive and I'd begun to hallucinate those imaginary sightings. Although Ryder had mentioned these occurrences to our parents as well, I never did. I figured it was merely my imagination – that was until I heard my parents talking about seeing shadows moving throughout the house. Could it really be that this old house was haunted?
Although my parents didn’t believe in ghosts or paranormal events, I was open to the idea that there were things that couldn’t be explained by other means. I’d seen enough of those paranormal programs on TV that highlighted events that couldn’t be explained by science or logic, so I felt there might be something to this. Even though I didn’t want to spook my sister or brother, I considered there might be something supernatural going on here.
As we got settled in, I started investigating the property to see how much we really owned. I quickly discovered the land went back quite a ways and there was a pretty sturdy old barn fifty yards (about 46 meters) behind the house. I had just finished a cursory inspection of the barn and was getting ready to check out the area behind it when I met one of the neighbors. I guess he'd seen me looking around and thought he’d come over to introduce himself.
“Hi, I’m Jacob and I live over there,” he said, pointing at the house about 100 yards (about 91.5 m) to the right of our house. “Did you just move in here?”
“Yes, my dad took a new job in Baltimore and bought this place for us to live. I’m Hunter and I’m glad to meet you.”
“Same here. You look to be about my age, so are you going to be a freshman too?”
“No, actually I’m going to be a sophomore.” My response caused Jacob’s face to contort into an odd expression. “I know I look a lot younger, but I’m really 15.”
“Oh, it wasn’t that. I was just wondering if you’d mind hanging out with someone a year younger.”
“Not at all. It’s better than hanging out with my six-year old sister or eleven-year old brother.”
“That’s good, because I don’t have any brothers and sisters, so it gets kind of lonely around here, especially during the summer.”
“Aren’t there any other kids who live nearby?” I challenged, while staring at him intently.
“Not our age, except for the asshole who lives a couple houses down from you, but on the other side of the street,” he spat out.
“I take it you don’t get along with him?”
“Nah, he’s a real bastard. He’s a year older than you and he’s making it his goal to carry out Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest, but not the brightest. His name's Dirk, but he calls himself the Terminator and says he’s out to exterminate all of the males who don’t meet his standards. He calls them fags, so he and his friends call him the ‘Faginator’ in private, but they try not to let others hear them use that term.”
“Fuck, he sounds like a complete jerk,” I muttered absent-mindedly.
“He is, and his father is just as bad. I guess that’s where Dirk gets it from.”
“I can’t believe someone’s finally living here again. Your house has been empty for longer than I’ve been alive, at least until they began fixing it up.”
“Yeah, my dad said it had been abandoned for a while.”
“Yep. After that kid was killed here, the other people who moved in never stayed for very long. Most people around the area say the property is haunted, so that’s why I was surprised when your family moved in.”
“Wait! They think our house is haunted?” I gasped as I thought about all of the unexplained events we'd already witnessed.
“Yep. No one has ever lived there for more than a few months before they got scared and moved out. I’ve heard my dad talking to my mom and some other people about it. He says a couple of the families even moved out in the middle of the night and only came back long enough to get their things a few days later, but they did it in the daylight.”
“So what happened here?” I wanted to find out what my family might be up against.
“I guess it all began on Halloween night back in the 1980s. The boy who lived here was murdered, but they didn't find his body until a few days later. He was a boy around our age, and he lived in this house with his family at the time he was killed. They never learned the reason why it happened or found the person who did it.”
“Did it happen in the house?”
“They didn't think so, because they found his body in the old well that once stood about halfway between your house and the barn. It’s filled in now, but at one time I guess there was an old, open well there. You know, the kind with the round, stone base about waist high with the wooden roof and a crank with a rope and bucket attached to it that they used to haul up the water.”
“Maybe it was an accident and he just fell in." I preferred to think that he died in an accident, rather than having been murdered.
“Nah, he was killed. When he went missing everyone in the area started looking for him, but they never found him. Then a few days later his father spotted the body in the well. When they pulled him up, the medical examiner said he'd been severely beaten and part of his skull had been crushed. The coroner also explained that there wouldn’t have been so much damage if he’d just fallen in.”
That dashed my hopes, at least about how he died, so I had to learn more about the other people who had lived there.
“So how many people have moved out and what did they give as a reason?” I was hoping he had the answers.
“My dad says that once the boy's family moved out, because they couldn’t stand living there knowing it was where their son had been murdered, they rented out the place to others. Dad said there were about half a dozen other families after that, but none of them ever made it through a full year. They all said strange things were happening inside the house and they were seeing a figure moving around. They also said there were too many accidents and other incidents happening that couldn't be explained or written off as purely coincidence, and they thought that whatever was there was trying to harm them.”
“Fuck! This is unbelievable! My sister said she saw a boy in her room the night we moved in and thought I was trying to scare her. Then my brother and I thought we saw someone in the house as well, but we could never find anyone. This is getting spooky.”
“Damn, I always hoped they were wrong about this, but if you’re seeing things too, and the house has been abandoned for about twenty years, then maybe the stories are true.”
I talked to Jacob for a little while longer and got to know him better, but I was pretty shaken up by what he’d told me. That night I took Mom and Dad aside and filled them in about what I had learned. My father was still unconvinced.
“Hunter, I think nearly every community has at least one place they claim is haunted, but it’s mostly because the various stories have been embellished and certain facts fabricated to make it believable. I’m sure there's a perfectly logical explanation for everything that has happened, so don’t go blowing this out of proportion.”
I wasn’t buying it, but I promised I wouldn’t continue making a big deal about it or tell Savannah or Ryder about what I'd learned. I wasn’t convinced Dad believed everything he'd just told me either, and sensed he might be having his own doubts, but I knew he wasn’t about to admit it, at least not to me.
Things went about the same for the next few weeks, but then the situation began to escalate. It all started when the entire family was sitting in the family room one night watching TV. The only light in the room was a small lamp, since we wanted to avoid the glare on the television screen.
“Hey, quit poking me!” Ryder called out, sounding annoyed.
“Who’s poking you?” Dad asked confused. That was because Savannah was sitting on the couch between Mom and him, and I was in a chair on the opposite side of the room from Ryder.
“I thought Hunter had snuck over here and was doing it,” Ryder admitted, but now he looked shocked and embarrassed when he realized I had never left my chair.
“Are you sure it wasn’t just springs in the chair pushing against you?” Dad followed, in an attempt to put this behind us.
“I don’t think the chair could poke me like that or reach over my shoulder and poke me in the chest,” Ryder reasoned.
“Well there’s no one near you, so I’m not sure what you felt,” Dad responded, while looking at him puzzled.
Ryder looked perturbed that no one seemed to believe him, so he slunk down in the chair as he continued to watch the program. A few minutes later it was Dad’s voice that garnered our attention.
“Very funny, Ryder, but you’re not going to convince me by playing those types of tricks,” he stated, but then abruptly stopped when he saw Ryder looking at him from his chair. Then, he quickly looked over at me.
“What’s up, Dad? What are you talking about?” I asked.
“I felt someone slap the back of my head and thought Ryder was doing it because I'd downplayed his claims,” Dad answered. “Now I’m confused, since none of you have moved from your seats.”
We had just started watching the program again when Dad jumped up and faced the back of the sofa. It caused the rest of us to turn and stare at him.
“What’s wrong, dear?” Mom asked concerned.
“It happened again,” Dad announced. “Something slapped the back of my head and it obviously wasn’t any of you.”
At this point, we all got up and began running around the room looking for the culprit, but of course we didn't find anyone there. After several minutes of this futile effort, we all sat down again. I never brought up the possibility of a ghost or that the house was haunted, because I didn’t want to upset Savannah or Ryder. It was still in the back of my mind, though, and I think the same thing had occurred to Mom and Dad as well.
Over the course of the summer, Jacob and I became close. It turned out we had a lot in common, including that we were both gay. That particular discovery came purely by accident, when our neighbor, the ‘Faginator,’ passed by one day. He yelled out some really rude comments to Jacob before he disappeared, but once he was gone, Jacob broke down. I guess this wasn’t just an isolated incident. A couple of tears even escaped down Jacob's cheek as he began talking to himself.
“I wish he’d just leave me alone. I can’t help it if I’m gay.”
Once he realized what he’d just said, he turned and looked at me, with an expression of shock and horror etched upon his face. He couldn’t believe what he'd just done because he'd accidentally outed himself.
I didn’t immediately respond, since I didn’t know if I was ready to come out to him yet, which made him begin to question the reason for my hesitation. Eventually, he decided to ask me, point blank.
“You don’t hate me now, do you? I’m still the same guy you’ve been hanging out with, it’s just that I like boys instead of girls.”
After he was brave enough to admit this, I found the courage to reciprocate. “Me too. That’s one of the reasons I hated my old school, because they wouldn’t accept me for who I am.”
I then went on to tell him about the awful things I'd endured where we used to live. I told him that even though I’d never done anything with another boy and the others had no justification for their actions, they had judged me solely on my appearance and other attributes. He quickly admitted that he’d never done anything with another boy either, and our neighbor, Dirk, was pretty much doing the same thing to him.
"Other than ‘Dirk the Jerk’, that's what I call our asshole neighbor, he and his handful of friends are the only ones who are like that. The rest of the school is fairly cool about things like this. It's just worse for me, because he just lives down the street, and it will probably spill over to you as well, now since he's seen you with me."
I continued to commiserate with Jacob, while assuring him that we’d stick together and protect each other. He was thrilled that I'd agreed to do this, but then he began to wonder how it would work, since we were in different grades. After I pointed out that Dirk and his friends were in an altogether different grade, since they were all a year older than me, he didn’t seem to worry as much. The only drawback was that the three of us would be riding the same bus every day. I told him we’d sit together near the front of the bus, after he told me that none of Dirk’s friends rode the same bus.
After that had been settled, we spent nearly all of our time together until school started. Although Jacob was willing to come over to my house during the day, he refused my invitation to stay overnight. I guess I can’t blame him, since I might have done the same thing if our roles had been reversed.
During that same time things began to escalate with the ghost and the incidents began to grow even more severe. Suddenly, we found ourselves being pushed and tripped, which for the most part was just annoying, unless it happened when we were at the top of the stairs. My mom and dad were worried that one of us were eventually going to get hurt, possibly seriously, and I had to agree with them.
Things remained at that level when school finally started, which meant we’d now be gone most of the day. I waited outside for the bus to arrive that first morning and before long it appeared and stopped for me.
“Hi, you must be new,” the bus driver greeted me. “I’m Miss Shirley and I’ll be handling this route this year.”
“Nice to meet you, Miss Shirley. I’m Hunter, Hunter Benjamin, and my family moved in here at the start of the summer.”
“Nice to meet you, honey. Now take your seat and we’ll pick up your neighbor.”
I plopped down in the first empty seat I came to and soon the bus was stopping in front of Jacob’s house. He hopped on, walked down the aisle and plopped down beside me.
“Hi, Hunter. Are things going alright this morning?”
“Yep, it’s been smooth sailing so far,” I replied, but our playful banter was interrupted.
“Hey, Jacob the fag has a new faggy friend,” a husky voice announced from behind us.
We immediately knew who it was without having to turn around. It was ‘Dirk the Jerk,’ as Jacob liked to refer to him, otherwise known as the ‘asshole’. He didn’t seem to be able to resist making the start of the school year miserable for us. We didn’t say a word and chose to ignore him, but he wasn’t about to let it go that easily.
“I guess you two must be boyfriends, since I’ve seen you together all summer long. The new kid moved into the old Dauberman place, so I want to know if it’s really haunted, like everyone says?”
I didn’t bother to respond to his question, which seemed to piss Dirk off.
“Hey, dickhead, I asked you a question,” he snorted.
“If you want to speak to me and do it like a human being, then I might answer you,” I finally responded, “but I don’t respond to name calling, harassment, or threats.”
“You’ll answer me or I’ll fuckin’ make you sorry you ever moved here.”
“You’re already having that effect on me,” I stated, tongue in cheek. “I didn’t mind this place until I ran across you.”
“Listen up, smart ass. You’d better stop fuckin’ with me or I’ll kick the shit out of you.”
“So you want to kick the shit out of me so you can fuck me?” I asked, knowing it would piss him off even more. “You’ll probably do that anyway, but it’s up to you. However, I’ve promised my parents that I would avoid dealing with people whose age is greater than their I.Q.”
I probably shouldn’t have said that, but he was annoying the hell out of me and I wanted to get back at him. I heard a few gasps and a few titters after I made that comment, so I knew the other kids had heard me too.
“What’s that suppose to mean, fuckhead?” He obviously didn’t understand the meaning behind my comment. Maybe someone else would explain it to him later.
“As I said earlier, if you wish to speak to me as a fellow human being, and not act like some cartoon ogre, then I might consider answering your questions.”
I think he was ready to walk up and pound the crap out of me, but we reached the school and everyone stood up to get off the bus. That put several people between us, so I hurriedly followed Jacob inside the school so he could show me where to go. I had to check in at the guidance office first, even though my parents had enrolled me during the preceding week, and one of the counselors welcomed me and handed over my schedule. After that, Jacob showed me where my homeroom was and told me he’d meet me at the front entrance at the end of the day, if we didn’t run across each other before then. That sounded fine to me, so I went inside the classroom and sat down.
The day went by fairly quickly, and during that time several people introduced themselves, so they were obviously more open and accepting than my last school. I happened to run into Jacob at lunch, since we had the same lunch period, and we agreed to meet and eat together every day. Luckily, it seemed that Dirk didn’t eat at the same time, so we didn’t have to worry about him, although we did discuss what the ride home might be like.
When the final bell rang, I hurried to the front entrance to meet Jacob and then we rushed out to get on the bus so we could get a seat close to Miss Shirley. We figured Dirk would be less likely to bother us there, because she would see what was going on and could use the radio to call the bus garage for assistance. Surprisingly, he didn’t even get on the bus for the ride home and we had no idea why he wasn’t there. Jacob said he didn’t think he played a sport, so either he'd gotten in trouble and had to stay after, or he went off somewhere with one or more of his friends. Either way, we benefited from his absence.
We each got off the bus at our own place, but then we met up again after we’d changed our clothes. We decided to hang out in the old barn after that, so Dirk wouldn’t see us if he passed by. I think we both had the feeling we weren’t alone in the barn, which made us slightly uneasy, but that was better than being out where Dirk could spot us. We felt he might be out to get us by now, since I'd talked back and insulted him this morning.
While we were in the barn, we talked about Dirk, what it was like being gay, and how we had both felt totally alone before my family moved here. We also agreed that we were thankful my dad had taken this new job.
The afternoon flew by really quickly and I didn’t even hear Dad’s car pull in the driveway, but I heard my mom call me in for dinner.
“Hey, I’ve got to go eat now, but we’ll do the same thing again tomorrow,” I assured Jacob.
He agreed that would be fine and we headed off to our own homes. I sat down with the family to eat, and then I went upstairs to do my homework afterward. I basically just had to read the first chapter of each textbook, but I had the strangest feeling while I was doing it. I felt as if someone or something was watching me, but as far as I could tell, I was totally alone. It was a really eerie feeling, but I attempted to put it out of my mind and didn't pay attention to it, as I finished my required reading.
After I'd done that, I went downstairs to say goodnight to my parents. Savannah and Ryder were already in bed, so it was just the three of us, and they used the opportunity to ask me a few questions about my first day at the new school. I told them what they wanted to know, and then I explained I was tired and headed upstairs to go to bed. After going through my nightly preparations, I jumped under the covers and quickly fell asleep.
Jacob sat next to me on the bus the next morning, and I'd been lucky enough to find an open seat close to the front of the bus again. Dirk was sitting in a seat about halfway back and shouted out right after Jacob joined me.
“Hey, dickhead,” he snarled, “you’re going to pay for that comment you made about me yesterday. I’m not saying when or how it’s going to happen, but you’re going to be really sorry that you ever fucked with me.”
Obviously, he had found someone with enough intelligence to interpret the meaning of my verbal slight. I could only imagine what he was going to do, but I actually began to feel that making the comment had been worth any future pain it might cause me. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be lucky and find a way to avoid him long enough for him to forget about it. Since he isn’t very bright, I was hoping he had a short memory too.
I didn’t see Dirk at all that day and he wasn’t on the bus that afternoon. I’m not sure why he only seemed to ride the bus in the morning, but it didn’t matter. Jacob and I were both thrilled that he wasn’t with us for the ride home and prayed that maybe he would stop riding in the morning too.
I don't know if it was just luck or if someone was watching over us, but that's exactly what happened. Dirk stopped riding the bus altogether, and we managed to avoid him at school as well, so the next several weeks went by quite smoothly.
As it was getting closer to Halloween, Jacob and I talked it over and decided to dress up and go out trick-or-treating this year. We were both shorter than the majority of our peers, and we looked younger too, so we decided to do this even though most kids our age had stopped going out. I agreed to go with Jacob, instead of with my brother and sister, and I'd let Mom and Dad go with them.
The day before Halloween, the teachers assigned us more homework than usual, but they said it was because they weren't going to give us any homework the following day. Although it meant I had a lot to do, I felt it was worth it, since it would free me up to go trick-or-treating with Jacob. I spent a couple of hours working on it before dinner, and a couple more hours after we ate, and I was exhausted by the time I finished my last assignment. Instead of going downstairs to join my parents for a while, I went through my nightly ritual and jumped in bed. I was so tired that I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Sometime during the night, I started to have this really strange dream. I wasn’t actually part of it, just sort of an outside observer, but I could see a strange boy and he was living in this house. The thing was, the house was the same on the outside, but the inside was completely different. The interior was really old fashion and not nearly as nice as it was now, but the boy wasn’t dressed in old-fashioned clothes. He had on a tee shirt and jeans, and they were somewhat modern looking, so those two things just didn't seem to fit together in my mind.
My thoughts were interrupted when a car horn honked and the boy raced outside to greet the person. The driver was in a big, older model car, maybe from the 1960s, and it looked like a squat military tank. The boy rushed over to the driver’s door and spoke.
“Hi, I’m glad you made it. I was surprised that you wanted to do this today, since it's Halloween. We've got to be quick, though, cuz I still have to get ready to go out. Aren't you going trick-or-treating too?"
"Nah, that's kid's stuff and I'm too old for that shit."
"Oh, I was going to go out, but maybe I won't now. Do you want to come inside?”
“Nah, I don’t really want to run into your folks.”
“But they’re not home yet.”
“But they might come home before I leave, so isn’t there someplace else we can hang out. How about doin' it in the barn, Edgar?”
“Yeah, I guess we could do that.”
As soon as Edgar agreed, the driver parked the car on the opposite side of the street, and then Edgar led him out to the barn.
The second boy seemed to be keeping his distance behind Edgar as they made their way there, but Edgar kept talking to him, just the same.
“I’m so glad you asked if you could come over, because I didn’t know you were like me until you told me that earlier. I thought I was the only one around here.”
The other boy let out a snort after Edgar said this, but it didn’t appear as if Edgar had heard his ‘reply’, if that’s what you call it. Instead, Edgar kept chatting away until a couple of others popped out from inside the barn. They were dressed in homemade costumes and wearing masks.
“Hey! What’s going on here?” Edgar yelled as he looked at the two figures blocking his path, and then he turned to look at the boy behind him.
“Did you really think I was queer like you,” the boy scoffed. “I ain’t no fuckin' homo and my friends are here to help me teach you a lesson. You'll get a trick, but no treat today.”
After hearing this, Edgar tried to run, but the driver blocked his path and held onto him until the other two could reach their location. After they came charging up from behind, they grabbed Edgar and held him in place, while the driver started punching him, first in the gut and then in the face. After working him over like this for a few minutes, the other two released Edgar, thinking he was too injured to fight back, but they were wrong.
Unbelievably, Edgar summoned up the strength he had left and punched one of the two who'd been holding him, striking him squarely in the nuts. After doing that, Edgar spun toward to the opposite side and did the same thing to the other masked figure. Then, he staggered to his feet and attacked the boy who had been punching him. He got in a couple good licks before another individual came racing up behind him. This person was dressed entirely in black and wearing a 'Lone Ranger' type half-mask, and that had kept Edgar from spotting him as he stood in the shadows, just inside the barn.
When that individual first emerged from the darkness, he picked up a 2x4 he found laying on the ground, and when he reached Edgar, he swung that piece of wood with all the force he could muster. There was a sickening dull thud when this happened, and Edgar dropped to the ground.
As soon as the others had recovered from the blows Edgar had delivered, they went to confront him again. After kicking him a few times in retribution, one of them suddenly spoke up.
“Hey, he’s not moving and doesn’t seem to be breathing either. I think he’s dead.”
They quickly checked Edgar over, and sure enough that seemed to be the case. They all looked incredibly shocked and began to panic, and then the boy who'd driven the car spoke up.
“We’ve got to hide his body,” he uttered, while looking around to see if anyone else had noticed what they'd done. “Do you see any place where he won’t be discovered quickly?”
"How about the barn?"
"Nah, that's one of the first places they'll look."
“How about that old well then?” one of the others asked. “I don’t think they use it much any more, so how about we throw his body in there?”
“Yeah, I suppose that’s as good a place as any,” the driver agreed, “but let’s do it fast, before someone else sees us.”
The four of them each grabbed an arm or leg and carried the body over to the old, stone well. Then, they unceremoniously dumped it down the opening and listened to the splash as it hit the water. Just as soon as that happened, they all raced out to the car, hopped inside, and then the driver sped off down the street.
As soon as that happened, I awoke in a cold sweat, panting and completely terrified by what I had just witnessed in my nocturnal vision. I couldn’t be certain about it, but I had a feeling that I had just witnessed what had happened to the boy who was now haunting our house. Apparently, he had been gay too and the other boys had planned to beat it out of him, in an effort to teach him the error of his ways. Obviously, they went too far, but I doubt they ever shed a tear over what they'd done. That was probably aided by the fact that they were never caught. I’m sure that spending time in jail or prison might have elicited some remorseful tears, but since they got away Scott free it never happened. Ironically, the term ‘Scott free’ originated with the Dred Scott case, when he gained his freedom from slavery.
Having seen what had happened to Edgar shook me to the core and made me realize it could have just as well been me, if I had lived here at the time. It was a startling realization of how far some people would go when unleashing the hatred that resulted from their bigotry. In most of these cases, it was an unreasonable and unfounded hatred, since no one had ever approached or done anything to the person lashing out. It was, however, a hatred fueled by other’s comments and the belief that being gay was wrong, along with the erroneous conclusion that a gay person had made a conscious choice to be gay. The only way to counter such ignorance and hatred was through education, but unfortunately doing that takes a very long time.
When I went down to breakfast later, everyone immediately noticed something was bothering me, but I didn’t want to discuss it in front of Savannah and Ryder. Instead, I told my parents that I’d tell them about it later, and then I went upstairs with my siblings to get ready for school.
As soon as Jacob sat down next to me on the bus, he wanted to talk about what we were going to do later, when we went out together. My mind was still dealing with the dream I'd had, so I told him we'd discuss it later, after school. He seemed confused about why I didn't want to talk about it now, but he agreed to do what I asked.
As soon as we got off the bus that afternoon, we changed and Jacob came over to meet me. We went out to the barn to make our plans, and we stayed there until we heard a car pull up later. Even though I thought it was a little early for my dad to be getting home, I felt maybe something was wrong, so I urged Jacob to join me as we went out to see what was up. Just as soon as we walked out of the main entrance to the barn, four individuals dressed in costumes and wearing masks roughly accosted us. One of them grabbed Jacob's arms and held them behind his back, while two others grabbed my arms and held me in place. That’s when I noticed the fourth figure approaching.
“I saw you two fags come out here yesterday, so I figured I’d find you here again today,” the voice hissed, and I immediately recognized it was Dirk. “I told you that I was going to make you pay for insulting me and your bill has finally come due, so I’m here to collect.”
I think he felt superior as he made this comment, but the part about the bill coming due and he was here to collect sounded rehearsed. I was certain one of his friends had given him that line and he must have practiced saying it to himself until he'd gotten it to sound the way he wanted. I couldn’t think about it any longer, because he removed his mask and got right in my face. It’s also when he delivered the first blow to my gut.
I doubled over in pain, because he had not only punched me, but he'd also knocked the air out of my lungs. As he got ready to deliver a second blow, a hollow, disembodied voice filled the air.
“Not again,” it said, just before Dirk’s hands shot up to his neck.
The rest of us watched in horror as Dirk seemed to be fighting with an invisible foe. He was clawing at his neck, as if he was trying to break the grip of someone strangling him, and this went on for a couple of minutes, until his body fell limply to the ground. I think we all wondered if he was dead, but then we saw the slight movement of his chest rising and falling, which indicated he was still breathing. It seemed that whatever had just happened, it had only rendered him unconscious.
After that happened, Dirk’s three friends released Jacob and me, possibly because they were afraid that this unseen assailant would attack them next, and then they slowly made their way over to check on Dirk. After a couple more minutes had passed, he began to cough and sputter, and then he sat up and began rubbing his neck.
“What the hell just happened?” one of his friends blurted out.
“Someone grabbed me from behind and started choking me,” Dirk gasped in a hoarse voice. “Did you see who it was?”
“There was no one there,” one of the others answered. “You seemed to be fighting with yourself.”
Dirk looked bewildered and began to glance around, as if he thought he’d see the individual the others hadn’t noticed. Still, no one was there. Turning back to me, Dirk spoke again.
“Let’s get this over with so we can get the hell out of here.” After saying that, he started toward me again.
His friends hesitated briefly before they moved to assist him, and the voice suddenly spoke again.
“Leave him alone,” it demanded as a rock flew at Dirk’s head.
“Who the fuck is doing that?” Dirk yelled after the rock grazed his scalp.
“There’s no one else around,” one of his friends observed. “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m getting the fuck out of here.”
That boy then hightailed it to the car, and soon the other two were in hot pursuit. Dirk was the only one who remained, other than Jacob and me.
“I don’t know what they’re so fuckin’ frightened about, because it’s me that thing is after, not them,” Dirk scoffed.
“It’s only after you because you want to hurt us,” I pointed out. “If it’s the boy who was killed here, he’s only reacting because what you were doing to me was the same thing that happened to him on the day he was killed.”
“How the fuck would you know that?” Dirk spat back.
“Because I saw it in a dream. I don’t know if the boy somehow caused me to have the dream, but I saw him getting beat up by three other boys and then clubbed with a piece of wood by a fourth boy, and that's what killed him.”
The blood drained from Dirk’s face after I said this, but I had no idea why. If the rest of what had happened hadn’t scared him, then why would what I just said? Whatever the reason, he took off and met up with his friends at the car, and they soon disappeared down the road. I wasn’t exactly sure what had happened, but Jacob and I talked it over for a few more minutes, before we returned to our homes. We'd agreed that had been enough excitement and opted not to go trick-or-treating after all.
Nothing more happened for a couple of days, but then it seemed as if all hell started breaking loose. I guess that while they were driving away from my house, Dirk told his friends what I had said and they tried to figure out if a ghost had actually attacked him. When they got home, one of those boys must have told his dad what had happened and the following day his father went to the police.
It seems as if the boy’s father had been one of the four boys involved when Edgar had been killed. Even though it shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone, it had been Dirk’s father who had arranged it all, and he was also the one who'd been beating Edgar. The boy who clubbed Edgar from behind with the 2x4 had actually been killed in a car crash a few months after the incident had occurred, and this guy had been in the car with him at the time.
Even though he had survived the accident, he swore that the other boy had swerved because he saw Edgar standing in the road. When he saw him, he lost control of the car and it ended up slamming into a tree. The steering wheel was driven back into his chest, crushing his ribs and driving the bones into his lungs and heart, killing him almost instantly. This guy was never willing to admit to what they had seen in the road until now, but he finally was ready to admit that what they'd seen had been Edgar's ghost. This latest occurrence had confirmed that Edgar's spirit was still roaming about, and he didn’t want it to come after his son to get revenge. Since it had just attacked Dirk, the guy decided it was time to confess.
As soon as the boy’s father went to the police, he voluntarily gave a statement. Using his confession, he and Dirk’s father were arrested and charged with murder. The other individual had moved away a long time ago, so the police started a nationwide search to track him down.
At nearly the same time, Dirk and his three friends were arrested too. Since their charges weren't as severe, Dirk's three friends pled guilty to simple assault and were sentenced to six-months in jail. Dirk, on the other hand, had actually punched me, so he was charged with aggravated assault. Eventually he confessed too and was sentenced to a year in jail. It might not seem like much, but I was satisfied. I was also pretty sure Dirk wouldn't come after me again, since he wasn't sure if the ghost would do something worse to him the next time.
At nearly the same time, the boy’s father also pled guilty to the charges leveled against him and accepted a lesser sentence of fifteen to twenty years in prison for manslaughter. However, Dirk’s father decided to fight the charges and go to trial. Seeing he had been denied bail and didn’t want to sit around in jail for very long, he agreed to a speedy trial date and rejected his lawyer’s attempts to delay the proceeding.
According to his wishes, he was offered a trial date two months later. Not only was it speedy trial, but it was also very short, since the proceeding only lasted two days. After the other boy’s father testified, several of their former classmates volunteered to come forward and testify about how Dirk’s father had acted in high school and revealed some of the other things he had done during the same period. Once the jury was given their charge from the judge, it took them less than an hour to come to an agreement and they returned with a verdict - Dirk’s father was found guilty on both counts. Ironically, his sentencing occurred on October 31st, and that’s when he learned he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison for aggravated assault and murder. I guess his sentence could be considered the ultimate trick-or-treat.
As soon as the sentence had been rendered, he was taken away to spend the rest of his life locked up in a small cell, I felt our ghost would probably disappear after this, but that's not exactly what happened. That night I had another dream, but this one wasn't nearly as terrifying as the one I'd had previously. This time, it seemed that Edgar was trying to show me something.
In the dream, I followed him out to the barn and watched as he climbed up to the loft. He went directly over the far corner, bent down, and reached into the gap between the floor boards and the side of the barn. When he pulled his hand out again, he was clutching a small Prince Albert tobacco tin, which he opened up and looked inside. As soon as he was satisfied that whatever he kept inside was still there, he placed it back in it's hiding place, setting it on the beam that held up the loft.
When I woke up the next morning, I got dressed and raced out to the barn. I hurriedly climbed up to the loft, went over to the same corner that I'd seen Edgar go to, and looked into the small gap between the floor and the wall. I could see something, so I reached down and pulled out the object hidden there. It was the same Prince Albert tin, although now slightly rusty, and I quickly opened it up to see what was inside.
I couldn't tell what it was, so I dumped the contents into my hand. The tin contained a silver chain that was attached to a brass or copper circular frame, and inside the frame was a silver dollar. I immediately climbed down from the loft and raced into the house to show my father.
"Where did you find this?" he wanted to know, so I explained to him about my dream. "It must have been a keepsake that had been given to the boy, but it's worth a great deal more than when he owned it."
"Yes, this is an 1888-S Morgan silver dollar, and I would guess it will probably be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars."
I quickly slipped the chain over my head and let the silver dollar rest against my chest. I felt a warm glow all over my body as soon as it was in place, but it had nothing to do with the value my dad thought it was worth. It felt as if Edgar was giving me a hug, and this was his way of thanking me for helping him to finally bring what happened to light.
We never experienced anything paranormal or supernatural after that day, so I felt Edgar’s spirit was satisfied that it had gotten its revenge and could now rest in peace. I sincerely hoped that he felt justice had been served and is now able to enjoy the sense of well being that he'd been denied in life.