Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Good Place to Dump a Body

Across a corn field, north from where my parents lived was a deserted farmhouse. Weathered. Grey. Dreary. The place looked like the house behind the Bates motel.  At night, I thought I saw lights in its windows.  In the daytime, dark figures moved around the perimeter.  My parents said the place was abandoned long time ago. No one lived any longer in it. And they said, "Never, never go there."

One Sunday in autumn, my best friend Jimmy and I stared across the field at the old house. A local farmer, renting the land, had harvested the corn a week earlier, and we had a good view of the house. Nearby trees had lost their leaves. Heavy clouds blotted the sun. And the wind carried a chill.

Jimmy took few steps in the direction of the farmhouse. "Bet it's haunted.”

"No such thing as ghosts." I shook my head.

"Who told you that?"

"My mom."

But I had my doubts, especially late at night when everyone was in bed. That's when the house creaked and shadows seemed to move. The safest place was in bed, under the covers, which somehow seemed to ward off the evil spirits.

Jimmy watched the house for a long time. "Want to go there?"

I knew my parents wouldn't like it, probably get me in trouble. Even back then, kids still got grounded.  "Sure."

Off we went, hiking through the corn field, now just bent stalks. The trek seemed to take forever.  When we reached the house, we stood in front of the rundown building in awe that we finally had made it. The windows were broken out. The steps to the porch rotted. The front door hung askew from one hinge.

"Wanna go in?" Jimmy flashed a grin.

I didn’t want to look like a coward. "Sure."

Cautiously we made our way up the steps being careful to stay on ones that looked solid. When we reached the front door, we looked at each other.

Jimmy craned his neck to see inside.  "You first."

"This was your idea." I stepped back.

"Are you chicken?"

 "No." I swallowed hard thinking what could be the worst thing we'd find. I stepped inside and Jimmy followed.

The inside was in ruins.  Curtains fluttered from glassless windows. Faded wallpaper curled away from the ceiling. A worn staircase led to a second floor.  In the middle of the living room gaped a gigantic hole in the floor, the edges worn and decayed.

Jimmy moved closer and peered down into it. “Wow!”

I joined him.  The bottom seemed a long way down. Stuff lay scattered below. Bulging bags. Old boxes. Newspaper stacks. And something else.

“Do you see that?” I pointed as something.

Jimmy stared for a long time. “It’s a dead body.”

“Can’t be.” But I wasn’t too sure. In the shadows, I could make out something that looked like a human torso missing a few things.  “If it’s a body, where’s the head and arms and legs?”

He scratched his head. “In the bags.”

Was it just the shadows? Or did our eyes play tricks on us? Yet I could see it clearly now.

Jimmy gasped and pointed. “Look.”

Farther inside the living room was a red stain on the floor. I didn’t want to say what it looked, but Jimmy said it for me.


The sound of two twelve-year-old boys screaming could be heard five counties away. We nearly killed each other trying to get out the front door first.  The rotting steps no longer mattered, because our feet barely stayed on them long enough. It wasn’t until we were half way across the corn field that we stopped.

I looked back, breathless. “Someone was murdered back there.”

“And the body dumped in the hole.” Jimmy shivered.

“We got to tell our parents.” But we didn’t, too afraid we’d get in trouble.

On Monday at school, we told the story to our friends.  Of course, the details changed over time. Many bodies in the hole. Blood everywhere. A man with a hooked hand chased us.

The story gained momentum and our fan base grew, until Pamela Wicks interrupted.

“That’s the old Smith farm. My dad and I went out there a few weeks ago. Figured no one would mind, so he dumped some trash down the hole. Bags and boxes of stuff from the garage. He also threw an old dress maker’s form down there that my mother no longer used.  Wasn’t no body.”

Jimmy raised his chin and glared at Pam. “What about the blood?”

Pamela sniffed. “I had a can of grape juice with me. It spilled it by accident. Made a big mess.”

Soon the gang was murmuring. “Stupid story…I didn’t believe it…Let’s get out of here.”

Jimmy punched my arm. “I told you it wasn’t a body.”

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