A Pocket of Resistance: Ghost Story

once upon a time, in a place far away, a time long ago,
us’n boys were old enough to drink beer
after obtaining it illegally from the store man way out in the country,
and
pee on the side of the roads with the cigarettes we couldn’t smoke at home
hanging out the sides of our mouths:
oh, we thought we were grown up
but
young enough to still believe in ghosts
or
at least some of us still believed,
and
there was a run-down log shack out on Hickory Ridge Road,
on the corner of a rock road they now call Crowell’s Lane
and
the baseball players were goofing around in a 1953 sludge green Studebaker,
when they decided to mess with George:
they told him the shack was haunted by the black man who died there

but they were young and in the South in 1959;
so it ain’t likely they said “black man”
but, as i recall we did use the proper term of “negro,”
not the now infamous slur

and
they dared George to go into the shack to check it out;
not knowing the plot, i felt sorry for George,
and
volunteered to go with him into the haunted shack,
so,
like the dunce that i am,
i asked him if he would like me to go with him;
somewhat frightened it seemed to me, he agreed
while my buddies urged me to let him go it alone;
i did not
and
when we crossed the threshold of the log hut,
the old Studebaker peeled out, gravel flying,
and
George and i were alone in the country, sitting on the threshold of a ghost shack:

a half century later, i do not recall the meat of our conversation,
but
i remember after the boys returned in an hour or so laughing as they picked us up
and
i realized George was a great guy
and
i learned more about him than i would have ever known
had i not joined him in the dare to enter
the ghost shack.

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