Beggin’ yer pardon, folks, but I thought I heard you say y’all just moved into the old McKenzie place up by the quarry. Thought to myself, can’t be. Ain’t seen young folks in the old McKenzie place in—well, must be goin’ on 30 years now. That’s right: 30 long years since a livin’ soul done set foot in that house.

Emphasis on the livin’, if y’all catch my drift.

Now, to be perfectly clear, t’ain’t no ghouls rattlin’ ‘round up there. Why, t’ain’t no threat at all. But I’m gonna lie to y’all and say that there is—just for a half hour—so’s y’all have an excuse to sit a spell with me at this here combination A&W-Long John Silver’s-Exxon gas station.

See, I’m lonely as hell. Why, I’m lonely as a bear in a bear trap whose bear friends are all somewhere else. T’ain’t the prettiest metaphor, but it’ll t’werk.

Yes, sir—must be goin’ on 30 years since Plaque McKenzie moved into that house with his young bride, Alberta. “Bertie,” she was called, on account of it bein’ shorter than “Alberta.”

Wasn’t long ‘til Bertie had a baby. “Ugly,” baby was called, on account of the baby bein’ ugly. T’were a sad lookin’ couple, they were. “Sad” on account of their baby bein’ ugly and both of em’ havin’ names stranger’n a sarsaparilla in a snowstorm. Could be because names were diff’ernt back then; could be because I’m bad at makin’ up names when I’m weavin’ an afghan blanket of pure lies in an attempt to connect with others.

Nobody knows for sure—’cept God, of course.

I’d like to tell yer that Plaque and Bertie McKenzie lived for a number of years in their house by the quarry, experiencin’ an increasin’ number of forebodin’ supernatural occurrences—things that made ‘em question their sanity and whatnot. I’d like to tell yer that Plaque McKenzie was beckoned into that sinister wood by the sweet whispers of a wicked lil’ ghost and came out with his esophagus stickin’ through his right eyeball, babblin’ about somethin’ big and horrible. I’d like to tell ya that he twern’t never the same, young Plaque McKenzie.

But thems’d be falsehoods. Lies I’d be spinnin’ so’s y’all would sit with me and make small talk and the like.

Still, t’ain’t no shame in pretendin’ that Plaque McKenzie really did see somethin’ big and horrible and foul-smellin’ in that there sinister wood. T’ain’t no shame in bein’ too spooked to head up there now—because you’d rather stay here with me drinkin’ some of them fancy Coca Colas in glass bottles that I’ve been waitin’ to share with friends.

Don’t see too many of those, now-a-days. Glass bottles, I mean—though I s’pose you don’t see too many friends, neither.

Y’see, my best friend Dooley don’t talk to me no more on account of my bein’ annoyin’ and whatnot—specifically, my excessive reliance on other folks for approval and a sense of identity. “Don’t leave me, Dooley,” I pleaded with him. “There’s terrors untold up yonder road.” But Dooley just shook his head and told me t’weren’t his responsibility to enable my dwindlin’ mental health, irresponsibility, and under-achievement. Them remarks sure was cuttin’ nonetheless.

Cuttin’ on account of how true they was. Was and is.

Yep, sure is mighty fine seein’ young folks in the old McKenzie place again. Y’all be careful, now—sure would hate to see one of y’all fall victim to the Meggie, the ghost that dwells in yonder well just a few feet from that darlin’ wraparound porch. Lore says Meggie’s eyes turn b-hole brown—b-hole as in the butthole what everyone has down south and such—and leak blood as she croaks out, “I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”

Which sounds like somethin’ downright fearsome that y’all probably wouldn’t want to mess with—if it were true.

‘Course, it ain’t true—but wouldn’t it be some interestin’ lore to discuss for hours on end? Y’know, the three of us? New best friends, all livin’ in fear of the same well ghost? Could be neat.

Yes, sir. Could be neat.


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