Originally Published a Few Years Ago,
But The Story was Told Generations Ago
Back in my youth we went trick or treating at night and some of the places we went looked haunted even when it wasn't Halloween. The last thing a bunch of impressionable youngsters needed on Halloween was something that would cause them to be frightened out of their wits on that night of all nights.
That's why, to the day I die, I'll remember the spooky story that my Uncle Russ told us one Halloween. It was just before we changed into our costumes. I was about 10, my younger sister Mary Cay was 6, and my cousin Larry was 8. My Uncle gathered us round and told us the story.
“Let me tell you a story about a boy I once knew.
“This poor boy was left alone in a big scarey house one night while his grandparents went out to do some shopping. A terrifying storm erupted and the power went out. He climbed up on the couch in the living room to wait it out when he heard a far away rapping sound. He tried to ignore it, but couldn't. So he got a flashlight from the drawer in the lamp table and started searching. Whatever was making those sounds wasn't on the first floor, but when he got close to the stairs, they got ever so slightly louder.
“Rap. Rap. Rap.
“Shaking, he climbed to the second floor and shined the light into all the bedrooms, the closets, and even the bathroom up there. Again, he couldn't locate the source of the sounds. However when he approached the door to the attic, he heard the sounds coming from behind it.
“Rap. Rap. Rap.
“Choking down his fear, he opened the door and shined the light around. The sound seemed to be coming from a chest in the middle of the attic. And it was louder now.
“Rap. Rap. RAP!
“Two things happened next. The door behind him swung and latched shut, and the batteries in the flashlight went dead. And the noise was even louder.
“RAP! RAP! RAP!
“He was so scared, that he didn't know what to do. Just then, through a break in the clouds, a sliver of moonlight came through the dirty attic window and shined on the chest. And he decided that, even if it killed him, he had to know what was making the sound.
“RAP! RAP! RAP! RAPITY, RAPITY, RAP!”
Right here, Uncle Russ, In his most sepulchral voice said, “And do you know what was in the chest?”
One of us who was less frightened than the others answered with a question, “What?”
And Uncle Russ, rising from his chair with a horrible look on his face,towering over us, yelled, “Wrapping Paper!”
The three of us then went trick or treating. Every so often one or another of us would yell, “Wrapping paper.” The rest of the kids with us then gave us the strangest looks as we erupted in uncontrollable laughter.
Uncle Russ isn't with us anymore, but that story alone will keep him alive in our memories.
And, Life is good.
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"At the end of the Line with Ed Kelemen."
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