I remember it well ~
I had gotten off work later than usual. Buttoning up my coat, trying to put on my hat, shivering from the cold rain, I ran to catch the 6:20 PM bus. I was too late. From just half a block away I saw my bus as it pulled out and left my bus stop.
What should I do, I wondered. If I go back to my office and wait inside, I might miss the next one, too. They came every half an hour until 7:50 Pm. The one after that would be so late and it was already dark, wet, and windy. Pulling my coat tighter around me and wrapping my long scarf around my neck, I sat down on the bench and waited for the next bus.
Normally I loved the autumn season. The crisp dry leaves crackling under my feet, the gentle winds blowing my hair around my face. It made me feel as if I were in a story somewhere in the old country — a romantic story where I was walking with my love, holding hands and laughing, strolling along a beach and looking out beyond the shore to the churning sea, feeling safe and warm with him near me.
I sure did not feel safe and warm sitting there on that bench with the rain drenching me and the wind fighting with me for my hat. My love, he was not with me that night. He had been shipped overseas to fight in battle fields he had never before seen. Two years! He would be gone two years. Oh, I missed him so much. I could not tell if my face was wet from tears or the rain — but, I felt the tears inside, in my heart. I felt each tear drop like it was a brick, shattering the peace I always felt when I was with him. And the chocolates we always shared. We would stop at Mr. Sorensen’s store and buy a box just for the two of us.
Candy! Oh, no! I would have to stop at the little market when I got off the bus, to get some candy for the trick-or-treaters tonight. I had forgotten it was Halloween night. As I was digging in my purse to see if I had cash in my wallet to buy the candy, I heard the bus coming. My thoughts had made the time go by fast. Quickly I stood up and pulled out my bus pass.
With my left hand clutching my purse and pass, I had to let go of my hat to reach for the bar to help me up the steps onto the bus. As soon as my hand reached up for the bar that wicked wind finally claimed my hat and rushed away with it. I hesitated for just a second, watching my hat swirling up in the air. “Better let it go and get on board, Miss,” the bus driver said. “Next bus won’t be here for an hour and it’s getting pretty wicked out there.”
My hair was wet and stuck all over my face. I got on the bus quickly and swiped my ticket in the box. When I turned to find a seat I saw that the bus was empty, except for one man sitting towards the back. The bus took off and I nearly fell into the closest seat on the side. I heard the man in back chuckle. It was an evil sounding noise, not a chuckle really — it was more like…just evil sounding.
Wicked Halloween ~
“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes,” the man said in a loud, eerie whisper, then made that evil sound again. I tried to ignore him and fussed with my hair, trying to get it in some sort of order. I felt him staring at me and chills went creeping up and down my arms. I slid over to a seat facing forward so I would not be able to see him.
There were nine bus stops before we reached mine. At each stop I prayed that man would get off, but he just sat there in back, whispering to himself and chuckling.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, we reached my bus stop. Oh, please, Lord, don’t let him get off here. I pulled the cord and stood to wait for the bus to stop. Just as I reached the steps to get off, I looked back to the man. He was looking out his window, not paying any attention to me. I got off and let out a sigh of relief when the bus left with that man still on it. As it passed by me I saw the man’s face in the window and he was grinning at me like a wicked being from hell. I shivered and hurried across the street to the little market.
Entering the market I felt safe at last. Mr. Sorensen was at his usual spot behind the counter, reading the evening news. When he saw me, he smiled and closed his paper. “Evening, Miss Parker. Kind of late for you to be getting home, isn’t it? And an awful wicked night for you to be out.”
“Yes, it is late and it is awful wicked out there. I lost my hat in the wind and there was this weird, evil looking man on the bus that really gave me chills,” I shivered and stepped over by the wood burning stove to rub my hands together. “Ohhh, this feels so good I hate to leave again. But, I must get some candy for the kids then rush home as quickly as I can. I’ll have to take the short-cut over Grays Hill.”
Mr. Sorensen looked up quickly at me . “You best not take that way, Miss Parker. Grays Hill is dark and lonely. Not a place to be at night.”
I patted his hand. “I will hurry through and be home in no time. Thank you for your concern, you dear man.”
I bought two bags of candy and, hating to leave the warmth of the little store, rushed out to head for home. As I stepped out onto the sidewalk I caught a glimpse of a man down the street heading towards the store. I stopped and stared at him. He had on a long dark coat and some kind of cap, with ear flaps that waved with each step he took. I shivered again…there was something about him… Stop it! It is not unusual for people to be coming to the store in the evening. I scolded myself.
I gathered my coat tighter around me and turned towards home. The houses in our neighborhood were not very close together. It was an older community with large yards. I had just two blocks to go to reach home. The small park I had to pass by was always well lit and there were usually several couples out walking there after supper.
As I walked as quickly as I could I began to feel uneasy. There was no one around and the houses all had their dark and gloomy Halloween decorations out. The porches were darkened so the candles inside the jack-o-lanterns would shine out to the happy trick-or-treaters, welcoming them. There were no groups of kids out yet. I still had time to get home, light my own jack-o-lantern and get ready for the kids to come to the house.
Suddenly I heard that laugh, that raspy, evil laugh I heard on the bus. I heard his whispering, “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”
I froze, turning to ice, feeling the skin on my scalp tighten and chills go down my spine. I turned to look behind me and no one was there. Aw, man! I am really spooking myself about this. That man! He was so evil looking and sounded so evil and wicked. I just cannot get him off my mind. And he is long gone on the bus. I am just too stressed tonight with this storm and the late hour and..
“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” I was so startled to hear that raspy whisper again, turned and saw no one. <i>But, I heard it! It is not my imagination! I heard…right close behind me. He’s here, somewhere. He’s close.</i>
I began to panic and walked faster. Then I heard that awful, evil laugh and started running. My house, I could see my house just right there on the other side of the park. I can make it — I am almost home. I am almost there.
I did not take time to look behind me again. I just ran as fast as I could.
He is home again ~
It has been so long since I have seen him. I know he was supposed to be gone for two years, but he received permission to come home early on a furlough. I can hardly wait to see him. I stand on my porch waiting for him. It is a lovely day, chilly with winter coming on, but lovely. The little chickadees are chirping and hopping around the lawn, looking for something to eat. I should have brought those bread crumbs out for them, but I am so anxious to see him and he will be here any minute now.
There he is! I could see him driving down the street towards the house. He parked out front and sat there for a minute, his head on the steering wheel. It seemed like forever before he got out of the car. He opened the door, walked around the car and stood on the sidewalk, staring up at the house. I waved and ran down the porch steps, down the path to the gate. Before I got to the gate he turned and got back in the car and left. I stood there, frozen in motion, the smile on my face frozen in shock! Why! Why did he leave?
I ran after his car. He was driving slowly, too slowly. He turned the corner and drove another two blocks and stopped. As he was getting out of the car, I called out to him — but, he did not hear me. Running faster, I finally caught up to him, ready to scream at him with anger and the pain I felt for leaving me like that. He stopped and looked down at something on the ground. I did not understand. What was he doing? I looked around me and saw that we were in the cemetery.
He looked so handsome in his uniform. He took out a handkerchief and wiped his eyes. I walked around in front of him and saw that he was crying. Then he bent over and put some lovely flowers by the marker on the grass above me.
~ ~ ~ ~
© Copyright Phyllis Doyle Burns 2010. All Rights Reserved.
See Wicked Halloween Haunts Still for part two of this story.