Part 8 of an 8 part series

by Philip Wallace

. The Dead Walk Among Us .

The nights are getting chilly and the mornings begin darkly. Spider webs glisten in the morning dew that will soon turn to brittle frost. I hear the melancholy sound of the leaves falling. The burnt orange season is open us. Store shelves are sagging from all of the candy. There are pumpkins, hayrides, cheerleaders in sweaters at homecoming football games, bonfires, hayrides, baseball playoffs, corn husks that smell like spiders, haunted houses, monster movies, and all the leave covered paths are leading toward October 31st.

Memories long thought lost suddenly appear at the tip of my wistful tongue. They insinuate their way into my head with a kaleidoscopic grandeur and I can’t help but notice. The dead are supposed to walk among us on Halloween and what are memories, if not dead moments living again?

The 1980’s come into focus and I see a Domino’s Pizza delivery man bringing a pizza late at night. I wasn’t present when everybody in my gang first met Joe Why, but I feel like I was since my friends told the story about this first meeting so often. They were all hanging out watching videos and drinking beer and about midnight they got hungry so they called up Domino’s. They lived in apartment E and they used to tell the order taker they lived in apartment B so they could get a free pizza. On this night they were good and Joe Why was at their door in twenty minutes. As they always did with delivery people, they invited Joe to come back by after he got off work. Joe made history at 3 AM when he became the first delivery person to ever come back.

My friends were still up drinking and they welcomed Joe into their twisted AM world of drunken nonsense. Joe was a burly dude with horn rimmed nerd glasses and shocks of curly hair framing a chubby face. One thing my buddies had in common with Joe was they were all pizza delivery guys at a rival chain. I was training to be assistant manager, but that wasn’t going so well since I spent so much time drinking at night I often couldn’t make it in due to hangovers. They spent some time running down the pizza business and then the talk got around to ghosts. What led to it, I don’t know. My friends couldn’t remember even back then. We all loved horror movies and one of the guys was from Adams, TN so he was always going on about the Bell Witch. They learned that Joe Why was absolutely terrified of ghosts. What would any self respecting college aged punk do with this information? The whole crew decided to prank mild mannered Joe. That’s when they brought me into the deal.

There were several old abandoned houses on Church Street. There weren’t little rundown shacks; they were very large homes that I would have described as mansions when I was a kid. They decided to bring Joe to the spookiest looking one of all and give him a real scare. It’s probably a little late for introductions, but let’s introduce the participants of this prank. There was Bob, a smiling cherub faced lad with a slow burn style of humor, Doug, the guy from Adams who loved comics, horror movies and novels, and a talented artist who has to be one of the most sarcastic individuals I’ve ever known, and Ronnie who was a very quiet laid back fellow. I was a couple of years younger so I was the follower. Doug and Bob briefed me and Ronnie.

They were going to invite Joe over and then they were going to start talking about haunted houses. Bob and Doug were to fake an argument about the house on Church Street. During this time, Ronnie and I would be hiding out at the old home while Bob and Doug convinced Joe that the only way to resolve their argument would be to visit the house. We parked across the street and entered the moldy house. It was pretty creepy. I could easily imagine the place was spooked. We decided to hide upstairs so we could keep a lookout. We extinguished our flashlights and proceeded to light our insides up with a bottle of wine.

A half hour went by and we saw them drive up. Doug and Bob had convinced the ghost shy Joe to come check out the place! We heard them enter the back door. We slammed some doors upstairs on their creaking rusty hinges. We rolled the empty bottle of wine across the floor. Ronnie made some ghost moans. Our friends kept coming up. They reached the top of the stairs with Doug and Bob arguing over what they were hearing. Doug was pro-ghost and Bob played the skeptic. We could hear Joe pleading with them to leave. We hid behind the open door to the room we were in, and when they reached the threshold we slammed it in their faces. They tore back down the steps, out the back door, and back into their car. We were laughing so hard I’m amazed that Joe didn’t hear. My sides were aching and I was rolling on the dusty floor.

We thought that was it, but Doug and Bob got back out of their car. They started toward the house. Ronnie and I thought the joke had been discovered. It was just Bob and Doug pushing the gag as far as they could. Once they’d gotten back to the car, they had begun arguing again about whether the house was truly haunted. Joe kept asking them to leave, but they weren’t having it. So back they came, but they didn’t make it into the house. Ronnie ran downstairs and starting throwing shards of glass out the back door. They ran back and it was over. Now it was time for Ronnie and me to visit Bob and Doug.

We arrived to find our friends still arguing about the house while Joe sat in a corner looking apprehensive. They tried to get Joe to tell the story, but he was only concerned about the argument ending. I felt a little bad at having fooled the guy. He was obviously a decent dude. As soon as he left, we all replayed the night from every perspective and had a great laugh at Joe’s expense. Doug would get paid back a few months later when he mistakenly invited a couple of Mormon’s into the apartment. I bet he’s still dodging those guys.

That happened one summer long ago, but it seems like it should be an autumn Halloween memory. Every day can be Halloween if you like. You don’t have to dress up or give out candy, but you could remember Halloweens of the past. You could tell a ghost story or read some H.P. Lovecraft. You could even go out ghost hunting yourself. Watch a horror movie. Visit this website and others like it. The spirit of shivers and chills need never die.

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