The Joke

It all happened one night. It wasn’t your ordinary night; the darkness had a special feeling about it. The air had a little breeze that carried a scent of autumn, and the sound of dried leaves rustling over the ground. At the time I didn’t know that this was going to be the scariest night of my young adolescent life.As I walked toward the house of my best friend Jake. My mind was on nothing but what he and I were going to do that Friday night. “That’s right!” I thought, two whole days of no school, two whole days of not having Mr. Trezier looking down my neck. But that was all behind me for now, I was going over to get my best friend and we were on our way to reign havoc on the whole town. You see, it wasn’t that we had two days off from school, but that it was the scariest time of the year, it was Halloween.It seems like when you’re young; Halloween brings out everything your young mind can imagine. The movement of a shadow, the slightest noise, the full moon on a graveyard. Yes, even the little monsters that come out of their homes once a year to go door-to-door growling those three scariest words ever uttered by the voice of monster or human, “Trick Or Treat,” and we wanted it all, the darkest street, the eeriest house, and the scariest graveyard. And we knew just where to go to get all that. Let the little tots have their babyish fun of going door-to-door pleading too receive their rewards. They could have all that, for Jake and I wanted the ultimate Halloween night, we were headed for the Hancock Estate.What we had planned would boggle even Mr. Trezier’s mind. As I went around the side of Jake’s house, and opened the gate to the backyard, I heard him whistle at me. He was up in our tree house that we had built on our summer vacation. As I climbed up the swinging rope ladder I thought about the first time we hung this swaying puzzle. There’s a trick to climbing one, which Jake couldn’t master, and being a little overweight didn’t help him any either. But after a few weeks, and what seemed like hundreds of falls, he finally got the hang of it. Luckily for me I had learned how to climb two years before at summer camp. As I got to the top, I could see Jake sitting on the wooden floor, flashlight in hand, and a nervous look in his eyes. “Well do you have everything?” I asked, “I got everything you told me to get.” He replied. As I looked to his left I could see the rope, small pulley and a white bed sheet he had taken from his mother’s clothesline. “You think we can get away with this?” He questioned. “Don’t worry, this is going to be the best night of your life.” I reassured him. But little did we know what lay in store for us that night.As Jake and I walked through the alley between Hillcrest and Main Street, we could see the little goblins and witches running from door to door playing their kiddy charade, but our minds were on something more sinister. When we came out of the alley we crossed Swings Drive. From the school there was a walk path that lead beside a small creek, which ran through the back part of town. But mainly it went beside the old Hancock Estate, which was about one half mile from the school.While we walked along the path, I noticed the wind had picked up a little; the full autumn moon was just beginning to come out from behind some clouds. Which threw an eerie cast of light over everything. Jake was the first one to catch sight of the Hancock Estate, with his voice sounding like that his young heart was up in his chubby little throat, he looked back at me and squeaked, “There it is!”As I crawled up beside Jake I could see over the little rise. My young eyes fell upon most freighting sight that would make even the bravest mortal grimace, “The Hancock House.” It was an old Victorian style structure, in which the years had not been kind. The paint had long peeled off, leaving the wooden boards to weather in the wind. The windows were gray and dirty looking, some of which had cracked or fell out and through the panes of glass and wood you could faintly see the torn and tattered drapes, which outlined them. The moon was high overhead, and looked like a spot light shining down and outlining the old house.Rumors have stated that years ago that Mrs. Hancock and her four children were found dead in their bedrooms. Their bodies were terribly mutilated, it was said that Mrs. Hancock’s head was never found. The Police never found Mr. Hancock, some say that he was the one that killed them, went berserk over failed crops and a nagging wife. Other’s say that the dead came back to life, crawled out of the graveyard, which is out to the left of the house, next to the gravel road that lead’s out of town, and overtook the house and killed everyone except Mr. Hancock, they say you can still see the ruts, where heel marks dug into the ground, as if someone was being dragged against their will. Some of the old farmers I’ve heard talking, state that the dead had dragged him into the graveyard and pulled him down into some hellish abyss, to this day I’ve heard them say, that late on a full moon night you can see the ghost of Mr. Hancock still walking the graveyard carrying the head of his dead wife.As Jake and I laid there, looking at the most bone chilling sight our eyes could behold, I put my mouth to his ear, and ever so softly whispered, “And it all happened on a Halloween night!”Even though our hearts were working overtime and we could feel the thumping in our throats, we had work to do, and we were running out of time. So as we hurried up over the rise, and headed towards the graveyard, we knew what we had to do. As we ran past the weathered headstones, I noticed that the full moons glare was hitting the grave markers, creating shadows of unspeakable horror. But, I had to put that all aside. I had work to do, and I had to put my feelings on hold.As Jake pulled the pulley, rope and sheet out of his gym bag, I climbed up the old maple tree in front of the cemetery, Jake handed one end of the rope to me and I laced it over the branch above my head. I handed the end back down too my friend, who kept looking over his shoulder, as if someone was going to sneak up behind him. I jumped down with a thud from the tree and ran toward the waist high picket fence, which was starting to collapse from the age of time. Jake then threw the end of the rope over the fence to me. “Jake!” I hollered but in a soft tone, “throw me the pulley!” He never was any good at throwing anything; the pulley hit the gravel road two feet in front of me. The noise it made seemed like it echoed over the whole valley, I glared at my pudgy friend who just hung his head and threw his hands above his head.I put the pulley in my coat pocket, crabbed the rope and climbed up the telephone pole. When I got close to the top I hung the pulley on the top metal foot peg, I then ran the rope through the pulley, after which I climbed back down the pole hanging onto the rope. When I got to the ground I looked up and down the road, I then ran back across the road to the fence, swinging myself over the wooden structure, I suddenly slipped on some wet leaves, falling face down onto the ground which was already covered with frost from the night air. As I looked up I could see Jake motioning for me to hurry. I pushed myself up and ran as fast as I could. Jake already had the sheet ready by the time I reached him, I then took the sheet and balled one end up like a head and tied the rope around it. “Do you think it’s going to work?” Jake asked. “Shh!” I said as I put my finger too my lips.Yes, it was Halloween night, the chill was in the air, the autumn breeze was moaning a low dead growl, and the ghosts were running free. The stage was set, for the most horrifying night of our lives.When you’re waiting, time has no prisoners, seconds turn into hours, minutes turn into days. What seemed like a lifetime, but was only ten minutes, our waiting paid off. It was faint at first, it sounded like a cricket calling in the night, but then it grew louder, and louder till it seemed like it was going to bust open the darkness.As we looked down the road we could barely see him at first, but then he started to come into view. It was him, the one we were waiting for. Elmer Comhoist, the victim of our horrifying plan.Elmer was a man in his early forties, lived on a farm outside of town with his brother and sister in law. When Elmer was born they said he didn’t receive oxygen fast enough, so it killed part of his brain. He may be in his forties, but he had the mind of a ten year old.He would always ride his bike into town, to the country store, and sit there the biggest part of the day listening too the old farmers tell their tales of long ago. But mostly they would talk about the Hancock house, this subject was a special interest to Elmer, for he had to ride his bike past the Hancock house on his way home from the store. I would notice his eyes when they would talk about old man Hancock and how he disappeared in the grave yard, they would get as big as plates, and he would utter between his tightly closed lips “ohh!” And then suck in wind through his teeth, making a whistling sound.That’s when the idea hit me, oh I admit that it wasn’t a very nice idea, but when you’re young, you sometimes don’t always think what’s right or wrong.It was to late; we were already committed to do the deed. Elmer was on his way to something he’d remember the rest of his poor pitiful life. As he rounded the curve in the road, my hand clamped tighter and tighter on the rope. I could see small droplets of sweat on Jake’s forehead, and in my mind I knew I had the same thing on mine. As he got to the point of the pole, I could hear him whistling nervously. Then just as he looked toward the cemetery I pulled the rope, the sheet went flying across the road better than any ghost you could ever imagine. While all this was happening, Jake was howling up a storm, like a wolf howling at the moon.The next thing we knew Elmer let out a scream that could be heard back in town, the front of his bike seemed like it lifted five foot above the ground. His legs inside the faded bib-overalls looked like two pistons at high speed, and in a cloud of dust that trailed behind him as far as the eye could see, he was gone. As we ran to the fence and looked up the road, we could still hear him hollering.As we held our sides from laughter, and we thought how our well-planed deed really worked, we had not yet seen what had really scared Elmer, cause the night of terror was just beginning to start.Leaning against the fence, holding my side and wiping the tears of laughter from my eyes, I felt Jake nudging me. As I turned slowly around I could see Jake’s face was as white as baking flour, his eyes were wide and glaring, they looked as if they were going to pop out of his head. He was pointing and trying to speak, but all that came out was a dog-like whimper. My eyes followed down the length of his arm, to where he was pointing. I didn’t see it at first, and then I caught sight of a movement behind one of the tall headstones. Then I saw it, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but, I saw it, a man, tall and ghastly white, his eyes sunk back in his head and his whole body outlined in a foggy mist. He seemed to be floating, as he made his way through the graveyard, but, as I looked down his body, I noticed he was holding a head, “My Gosh!” I thought, it was a woman’s head, “It’s the ghost of Hancock, and he’s going to kill us!” We both said at the same time. Before we knew it Jake and I were across the fence and down the road, back toward town before you could say boo!The dust didn’t even have time to settle; by the time I got home and threw the covers over my head.About an hour later I heard my father come through the door down stairs, I didn’t think much about it until the next morning when I passed my mother’s sewing room, what caught my eye was that her sewing dummy’s head was turned backwards. When I got down stairs I happened to notice my fathers boots, they were covered with mud and leaves, as if he had been in the backyard, or maybe even, a graveyard.I never got to ask my father where he had been that Halloween night; two days later he was killed in an automobile accident. So, was it my father in that graveyard that autumn night long ago, trying to teach his son a lesson about respect of other people’s feelings? Or maybe he was, just walking in the backyard. And then maybe it was the unthinkable, could it have been the ghost of old man Hancock, walking the resting place of the dead, with the head of his tortured wife?I may never know the answer, but whenever I’m in town visiting my mother I make it a point even now not to pass the Hancock Estate, or the graveyard at night. And to this day the towns’ people still say the ghost of old man Hancock still walks the cemetery on Halloween night.

The Joke


Moscow, United States

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Artist's Description

I wrote this as a Halloween story a few years back, some parts of the story line is true I’ll let you guess which parts. Have fun reading.

Image copyright © 2007, Larry Fridel. Copying and displaying or redistribution of this work without permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

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