Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sloughfoot's Ghost! ...


Grandpa DooLittle often told frightening tales of a rogue black bear that had roamed the nearby countryside for the greater part of two decades ... a legendary and infamous creature affectionately known as "Sloughfoot" ... duly named for the elusive critter's propensity to prowl the thickets and bogs which bordered the entire length of a craggy trail which led from town all the way to the head of DooLittle Hollow, with sheer cliffs, towering spruce trees and moss covered boulders making up the landscape on the opposite side of the path ... anyhow, rumor had it that Sloughfoot would sleep for most of the day hidden in some secluded lair way back in the wetlands, then come out at night to forage for food which consisted of traveling salesmen, wayward children, drunkards, family pets, lost hikers, wild berries and fruit, or the contents of neighborhood garbage cans ... the most disconcerting thing about Sloughfoot's behavior was his tendency to silently stalk unwary wayfarers in the darkness as they traversed the hills and hollows, often following so closely behind these unsuspecting amblers that his warm, odoriferous breath could be felt against the backs of their necks ... hence, Ol' Sloughfoot had terrified more folks and been the inspiration for more vivid nightmares than even Lucifer himself ... although there were neither recollections nor confirmations that anybody had actually been harmed by the big Ursus americanus.

Luther DooLittle and his pal Lamar Beefeater were both definitely relieved when they heard the welcome news that Sloughfoot had been shot and killed by Luther's cousin Lester DooLittle during bear hunting season a couple years earlier ... although the bear's carcass had never been recovered as evidence, excuse being that it was too large and too far back in the bog for any reasonable recovery to be made ... at least that was the story being told, but you see, the DooLittle clan was known to manipulate the truth whenever it was to their advantage ... scores of hunters had come from miles around each year for the purpose of bagging Sloughfoot, only to return without as much as a sighting, so Lester DooLittle had become somewhat of a folk hero for ridding the community of this mangy, cantankerous menace of a beast ... and Sloughfoot hadn't been seen or heard from since reports of his alleged demise.

Well it was Halloween night, and Luther's daddy ordered Luther and Lamar to walk up to Grandpa & Grandma DooLittle's place to check on their well-being, and to make sure that none of the local hooligans had been causing the elderly couple any trouble ... they had lived in that ramshackle, little cabin in DooLittle Hollow for the past fifty years, with nobody to keep them company other than Grandpa's flea-bitten, old hound dog named Blue ... so up that miserable path trod Luther and Lamar, mindful of the days when Sloughfoot claimed that entire area as his domain ... the trek was uneventful, the boys found Grandpa and Grandma in a jovial mood and healthy as usual ... Grandma had been hanging the wash out to dry all afternoon, while Grandpa had nodded off and on for most of the day seated under an apple tree with Blue ... so after finding the DooLittles to be safe and sound, the boys each had a helping of Grandma's stuffed pumpkin with cranberry-raisin bread pudding and a huge chunk of homemade chocolate fudge, then set off toward home in the pitch-black darkness to report on their findings.

No sooner had the boys made it out of earshot of the DooLittle place, than they heard something sprinting down through the woods in the dry, fallen leaves toward them at a frenzied pace, huffing and puffing, snorting and snarling, popping it's jaws and breathing so hard it sounded like a roaring steam engine ... Lamar squinted his eyes in the darkness in an effort to see what it was coming toward them ... and there it was, a huge white form about the size of a young bull headed straight for them at full gait ... it had to be the ghost of ... SLOUGHFOOT!! ... Luther and Lamar raced down that path screaming like a couple of scalded chimpanzees, with whatever that thing was that was chasing them gaining on them at each footfall ... they hightailed it down that treacherous footpath in record time, Lamar leading by a nose for most of the way ... and more than once, Luther thought he felt something's hot breath and wet nose brushing against the back of his hand ... finally Luther's daddy's house came into view just as they thought they couldn't run another step further... in total exhaustion the boys landed on the front porch as Luther jerked open the door, and they came to rest up against the living room wall!

Luther's daddy was standing there arms folded in a state of immense dismay and perturbation, "What's wrong with you crazy boys?" he demanded! ... Luther breathlessly proclaimed that the ghost of Sloughfoot had chased them all the way down that dark and dreadful path from Grandpa DooLittle's house to the front door, and that Sloughfoot's wet nose had brushed against his hand more than once during the horrible pursuit ... then Lamar chimed in ... "Yes indeed Mr. DooLittle, it's true ... ol' Sloughfoot is standing out there on yer front porch right now a waitin' fer us ... look fer yerself!" ... Luther's daddy opened the door and peered out ... and there it stood ... he slowly closed the door, then turned and looked at the daffy pair lying there on the floor ... "Boys, I don't scare that easy ... now go take ol' Blue back up to your Grandpa before he misses him ... and take your Grandma's fresh washed bedspread off him too!"


--sja

3 comments:

Dr. James said...

Great story. You are an excellent writer.

sja said...

Thank you Sir ... although it's more likely my life experiences tempered with a vivid imagination ... glad you enjoy my posts ...

BOB said...

Dr. James, I presume ...

Some might say the same of you, methinks ... what do you think?