Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Day of Listening

Moonrat mentioned the “National Day of Listening” the other day. She suggested we send her links to our own “Day of Listening” stories, which are stories we’ve heard from others rather than ones that actually happened to us (or that we remember happening to us at least), and she’d post them. Most people who took part told either heart warming or heart wrenching stories. Well, I’m behind the times as usual, but it was such a great idea that I’m going to do it anyway. And I’m going to tell one that isn’t so heart warming or wrenching. I had the following tale from one of my brothers.

There was an old house a couple of miles from where I grew up called the Slavely house. Nobody had lived in it for a long time, not since Old Man Slavely hung himself there. One of the gorier details is that he hung there for four days in the summer’s heat until he was found and taken down. Some say he was buried in the yard without a gravestone to mark the site. Some say his rope was buried with him. I can never think of that part of the story without imagining the buzz of flies.

Years passed and the house became a source of scares for local kids, and for many adults too. There were dares for people to spend the night. None did. The usual excuse was that the basement had partially filled with rain and water moccasins and the floor was none too sturdy. You didn’t want to go crashing down among the snakes in the dark.

The weak floor theory wasn’t completely true, because one local family sometimes used the house as a barn to store hay for their cattle. As you might imagine, no one liked hauling hay to that house. Now, I was too young to haul hay at the time this story took place, but I later did go by the Slavely house a few times. One evening I was there at twilight, and the house certainly projected a dark atmosphere as it squatted amid its grove of gnarled oaks. I left the vicinity pretty quickly, wondering if I might, by chance, be stepping on the old man’s grave there in the yard. Believe me, I was glad to shed the aura of that house as I made my way rapidly toward home and light.

On the day of the event I’m relating, two brothers were hauling hay to the Slavely house. I’ll call them Jerry (the older) and Willie (the younger). It was an overcast day, and Jerry made Willie go into the house to actually stack the hay. Willie wasn’t happy with this and kept glancing warily around as he placed the bales one on top of the other on the scratched old wooden floor.

Jerry, knowing his brother was nervous, began repeating, and no doubt embellishing, terror tales of Old Man Slavely’s hauntings. They were unloading the hay through a broken out window into the house, and as the stories grew in horror Willie started stacking bales closer and closer to the window where the sun shone rather than farther back in the gloom-laden room.

Jerry, sensing his advantage, began maneuvering for the kill. He began to unveil the most grotesque of the stories, the one about Mr. Slavely’s anniversary. The anniversary of his suicide, that is. Some claimed that every year on the day of his death, Mr. Slavely would claw his way up through the dirt of his front yard and return to the home he’d once known. He’d drag along his old rope and would then suspend himself from the rafters and hang there for exactly four days.

While Willie’s eyes bulged further with each dreadful word, Jerry suddenly looked past Willie’s shoulder in terror and screamed: “AND THERE HE IS!”

Willie leaped for the window with a shriek. But he jumped so high that his head hit the top of the windowsill and he knocked himself out cold.

Jerry was still laughing when Willie finally came around. And then the younger brother came close to killing the older and burying him in the yard with Old Man Slavely. I’ve always thought it would have been justifiable homicide.

I’ll end with one last thing. Some say that anyone who hears or reads a story about Mr. Slavely will get a strange visit within 48 hours of the experience. The lucky ones will hear no more than the sound of a heavily laden rope creaking slowly back and forth in the shadows away from the light. The unlucky ones? Well:



laughingwolf said...

cool tale charles, but i know nothing of moonie's ndol... not in the loop

pattinase (abbott) said...

There were houses like that in my neighborhood, too. One in particular had ferocious dogs. Kids were dared to run up to the door and knock, thus incurring the dog's wrath. Every so often the door would be unlatched and the dogs would charge out.

Rick said...

Nice, Charles- really nice. Love the punch at the end. And the name Slavely is too good not to use in a horror story. Have you used it yet?

jed said...

Hi Charles,

I'm just dropping by to thank you for supporting and listening to Middle Ditch. It is appreciated by all of us.
I hope that you enjoyed episode 23.

Cheers, Jed

AvDB said...

Great tale. When I was growing up we had the witch--an aging free spirit who probably should have bathed more, and had the misfortune of living a bit closer to the swamp than the rest of us. Because of her proximity to the marshes, she had a surplus of toads in her yard in the summer. We used to scare one another with tales of missing children who had unwittingly approached the house and been turned into toads, doomed to stand sentry on the witch's lawn, living a brief toady life, unable to ever reunite with their grieving parents.

moonrat said...

awesome, charles. i've added the link to my post! thanks!

Middle Ditch said...

I shouldn't have read this then, should I. I might wake up screaming in the middle of the night hearing the rope coming up the dark stairs.

Here is one of mine.

In 1992 I was told about the White Lady at work, in an old manor house converted to a boarding school. She, a most beautiful kitchen help, and the son of the lord of the manor had an affair for some time and, of course, the inevitable happened. She fell pregnant. Marriage was out of the question to the heir of the estate and soon she had word that she was to be dismissed. The son was send away. Distraught, she committed suicide.

One day I and four of my fellow workers were having our break in the garden and we all saw the ghost of the White Lady standing there, staring at us, before she turned and moved away. We were all in awe.

Soon after I left the workplace and thought no more about it.

Fifteen years later my daughter's friend was collecting ghost stories from Dorset. I remembered, and told her, my sighting years ago. "Yes" she said. "I know about the White Lady. When she appears and is seen by several people, she heralds a suicide". "Really?" I said, racking my brains. It was such a long time ago.

Coming home I looked for my ancient diary. At the time I kept one where I recorded my daily adventures and looked up the date of the sighting.

Eagerly I turned the pages, and there it was. Exactly three weeks after the sighting one of my bosses, having lost his entire family in a most tragic accident a year previously, committed suicide.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,

This is just what I needed to wake up today! Love it and plan to tell it to any small evil children who come around me!

Scott said...

Charles, great story!

Charles Gramlich said...

Laughingwolf, she's an editor. Often has some great stuff to say about writing and publishing.

Pattinase, release the hounds! Whoa.

Rick, I have actually. I wrote a story based on the scene years ago, one of the first horror stories I ever wrote called "Your Nightmare or Mine."

Jed, thanks for stopping for a visit. And a reminder. I'd missed that episode until now.

Avery Debow, that's a great story too. Love the idea of the guardian toads.

Moonrat, thanks.

Middle ditch, excellent. I used to visit haunted houses deliberately to see if I could observe a ghost. I never did but I enjoyed the stories. This is a good one, and weird.

Michelle, Mr. Slavely really likes evyl children. ha haha hahahahahahahaha

Scott, thankee, glad you liked it.

Miladysa said...

Delicious :D

A local tale:

The cream kept disappearing during the night from a local farm. The farmer and his son decided they would catch the thief and waited up all night.

In the middle of the night a cat pushed open the dairy door and jumped on the stone shelf.

Well the farmer and his son threw everything they could get their hands on at the cat and during the act the cat's front paw was injured. The cat then ran for the door and disappeared into the night.

The farmer at the neighbouring farm woke up in the middle of the night and discovered his wife was missing. This was not for the first time either.

He stayed awake waiting for her to return and eventually she crept into the bedroom full of scratches and with an injured hand.

When he asked her where she had been she denied that she had left the house. The next day he heard the story of the cat and the cream and put two and two together - his wife was a witch.

For the rest of his life he kept his eye on her but she never disappeared again.

A century later the graves of the farmer and his wife were discovered at the farm. In the wife's coffin was the skeleton of a cat...

Lisa said...

Eeeek!!! That's a great story, but now I'll be listening for the old man for the next two nights...thanks for that...I think ;)

Barbara Martin said...

Great story, Charles.

I know many second-hand cop stories but I'll have to tweak most of them before retelling or posting.

G. B. Miller said...


Nice way to finish up a dull hump day.


Cloudia said...

Very nice, Charles.
Looks like I'm gonna hafta dig up one of your books . . . Aloha-

Charles Gramlich said...

Miladysa, I like that one alot.

Lisa, excellent!!! lol.

Barbara, I can handle bad language myself. ;)

Georgie B, glad you enjoyed.

Cloudia, I will pick yours up next time I put in an order.

Lana Gramlich said...

What? You're saying YOU'RE Mr. Slaverly? Y'ain't so bad...

the walking man said...

Mr Slavely swinging from a rafter
heard round the neighborhood
four days ever after.

David Cranmer said...

Me gusta! It reminds me of the chills that went up my spine when I was a kid and heard the old Who Has My Golden Arm tale. Didn't sleep for days.

Vesper said...

:-) :-) :-)

A very cool tale, Charles!

You should really make a short story out of it.


Greg said...

great story! i wasn't lucky enough to grow up near a haunted house. thanks for sharing!

writtenwyrdd said...

We had a creepy old house near where I lived in grade school. I was too chicken to crawl over the sill and explore.

Loved your story! Bwahahaha!

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana, uhm, didn't mean to say that sweety.

Mark, I'm sure that would have been true if there had been a neighborhood. Closest neighbor was probably 2 to 3 miles away.

David Cranmer, I dreamt of Mr. Slavely when I was a kid.

Vesper, I actually did my first horror story on that tale. It wasn't the first I sold but the first I wrote.

Greg, I feel for you, dude. Living near a haunted house is cool.

Writtenwyrd, I wouldn't have set "foot" in the slavely house for sure.

cs harris said...

Yeah, I could hear those flies buzzing, too. Great story, artfully told.

Barrie said...

That is a GREAT ghost story for a sleepover!

j said...

Excellent Story and well told!

My family has always enjoyed secong hand stories and would ask just the right questions of my grandmother to make her start talking and 'telling'. I miss her and I wish that I had written down the things that she told us. They are fuzzy memories mind now that makes me a little sad.

BernardL said...

Good story, and I agree: justifiable homicide for the brother. :)

laughingwolf said...

thx charles, i have her site linked now...

Charles Gramlich said...

Candy, flies buzzing is such a nasty sound.

Barrie, I've told it to my son, or a version of it at least, during some of his childhood sleepovers, when he had kids staying with us.

Jennifer, I know. I always think I'll remember the story but then I don't.

Bernardl, I generally am not a fan of practical jokes. They're usually pretty hurtful.

Laughingwolf, no problem.

Pamala Knight said...

That was an awesome story Charles. Masterful in its telling and definitely worthy to land in a manuscript of yours someplace.

Lana Gramlich said...

I'm kidding you, baby. Enjoyed the story muchly. :)

L.A. Mitchell said...

Awesome tale, Charles. Even though it was written, I could hear you telling it.

Glennis said...

EEECCCKK so he is!
What a great story!

Charles Gramlich said...

Pamela Knight, thanks for your kind words and thanks for visiting.

Lana, I know sweetums.

L.A. Mitchell, it's a fun one to tell.

Glennis, ;) glad you enjoyed. Thanks for visiting.

J. L. Krueger said...

Great story Charles!

The house I lived in when I was in high school was thought to be haunted. The paperboy would never come up on the porch to get paid, that's how afraid he was.

My sisters could never get friends to stay the night either. Nor would the little friends go upstairs. They always stayed in the living room with a clear shot at the door.

Mary Witzl said...

48 hours, huh? I'll be listening for that dragging rope tonight, you can bet. Good thing we're just starting Bayram here and I don't need to get up early in the morning!

Virginia Lady said...

Nice story, love the ending!

Charles Gramlich said...

J. L., cool. I'd love to hear more about that story. Why was it supposed to be haunted? And how did you kids feel about it?

Mary Witzl, as always with such, you're safe in bed with the covers pulled way up!

virginia Lady, thanks. I appreciate that.

Steve Malley said...

Ooooh, chills!

Given my day at the tattoo shop today, I think I got my strange visits retroactively!

MarmiteToasty said...

We have what everyone calls here in this village 'the haunted house' LOL..... just down the lane from me is this, what would of been in its time a beautiful house, its half thatched and half slated roof stands in disrepair, some windows are broken and the front little porch is ramshackled and leaning to the left.... grass is growing out the back thatch and the upstairs windows are grimy with dirty curtains hanging in the dust.... the house has seen better days....... but someone still lives in it...... as ramshackle and down trodden as the house is...... the garden is immaculate, its well tended, the grass is like a bowling green the edges of the lawn neat and tidy, the flower beds are like a picture from a gardening magazine....

Tiz the strangest of strange things, and no one has ever catch a glimpse of the person that lives there, only just a flutter from behind dirty net curtains....

It is known as 'the haunted house' LOL


Charles Gramlich said...

Steve Malley, is there ever a day at a tattoo parlor that isn't at least a little bit weird?

Marmite Toasty, If I lived there I'd urge someone "Else" to go knock on the door. lol.