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 by Frank Shortt
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C
Early Risers
        At another time I was visiting with a partner of my dad’s in the mining business, Sherman Whited. He was the son of our former pastor, Bud Whited. After Supper we went out on the porch where Sherman commenced to roll a cigarette using Prince Albert tobacco and OCB papers. Sherman told me about his latest purchase in guns, an ‘awfulmatic shotgun’.[1]
        “Where did you get the shotgun,” I asked.
        “I traded it up at the Raven ‘free market’,[2] was his proud reply.
        As the evening wore on, and as more than likely happens in the south, our conversation turned to ghosts we had encountered.
        “What is the most unusual encounter you have had with ghosts, Mr. Whited?” I enquired.
        “I s’pose it’d be the time at Mountain Top Lake over in Russell County that I saw the weirdest thang ah evah seen.”
        Dad and I wuz fishin’ there one night, night fishin’ was legal in them days, when all of a sudden lights came on in a lil’ cabin crost the lake. I cried, Dad, do you see that? Them folks air getting’ up mighty early!
        “Musta been ‘bout one in the mawnin’.”
        “There’s no one livin’ over thar, dad replied. All that’s there is an old dock house for changin’ clothes when a person wants to swim.”
        “Well, they’re thar just the same,” I replied.
        “Why, looky thar, thar’s a maid servin’ some men suppah.”
         “We could hear the dishes a’rattlin, the spoons and forks a’clankin, we could even hear the men talkin’ and a’laughin.
        “After the meal was served, the men sat back and lit up seegars, they continued to talk and laugh. I thought, these men shore have got a lot to talk aboot.”
         “As suddenly as the lights had lit up, they turned off. We halted our fishin’ for the rest of the night and sat around discussin’ the recent happenin’.”
        “What do you thank ‘twas, dad?” I asked.
        “Well, more’n likely ‘twas some folks that died heah’bouts, and their souls are caught between earth and paradise. They can’t go forward and can’t come back. They’re like in limbo searchin’ for somethin’,” was dad’s solemn explanation.
        “Anyhow, Sherman continued. At daybreak, we went around the lake to check out what had happened to see if thar wuz any human explanation. All we found was the deserted dock house, with a few mice runnin’ ‘round, with not a human bein’ in sight.”
        I could only sit wide-eyed with wonder and amazement!
        I believed what Sherman Whited told me as he didn’t have any reason to lie to me. After all, his dad was our pastor.





Haints in the Graveyard
        “Thar’s one other thang that happened t’me one night when I was a young’un that was awful hard to explain.” He continued.
        “I had been down to Raven, Virginia settin’ ‘round with some buddies of mine, maybe havin’ a beer or two. The trail I had to take back to Mill Creek was a windin’ cow trail leadin’ up past the Newberry grave yard. Anyhow, that was the shortest way.”
        “When I come to the gate headin’ through the grave yard, I reached out to open it. Quickly, it opened of its own accord. I was a little shuck up and stood thar a little bit, then perseeded on my way. The gate swung back into place, I said, Thank you, and went on up the hill to Mill Creek.”
        “Who opened the gate?” I asked.
        “I ‘spose it was one of them haints in the grave yard. I had heard before whar that same thang had happened to other folks, but this was the fust time it had happened t’ me.” Sherman smilingly replied.