Background

Monday, October 29, 2012

Conclusion: Ghost of Kilarney Park

 If you missed Part One, check it out here.

 

Haunted houses and Halloween go together like dots on dice, but the haunted house on our street never did anything to attract trick-or-treaters. So why was there a light burning on Verna’s porch?
     
 My feet began pulling me to the light. My head swirled with thoughts of murder: rat poison, asphyxiation, throat slashing, but I was more interested in candy than my safety.
     
 I inched up the front steps to her porch and peered into Verna’s kitchen window. She was seated at her kitchen table, her head resting in her hands. Her back was to me and I couldn’t see her face, but I could hear her crying, a raspy soul rending sound, not the depraved rant of the undead or the wailing tirade of a guilt-riddled wife who’d murdered her husband. 
     
 Instead of ringing her doorbell, I turned to go. As I did so I saw something on her table that made me squeak like a mouse finding a wheel of cheese—treasure. Edible treasure.
      
On Verna’s kitchen table was a large pirate chest made of cardboard. Among the pirate images painted on it was one of the most cherished names in a chubby kid’s lexicon—Hershey. Inside the chest were countless bars of chocolate. Not the penny-size ones—these big boys fetched upwards of a quarter each. I felt like Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo as I eyed such treasure.
      
Verna must have heard my squeak. She turned around and looked at me standing there on the other side of her kitchen window.  I’d never seen her up close and I noticed she was totally opaque without a ghost’s translucence. Her eyes, while red, didn’t look otherworldly. She swiped away tears with the back of her hand and waved me in, saying, “The door isn’t locked.”
      
The door opened with a moan, as if it wasn’t accustomed to swinging open. My costume didn’t make entering any easier. Verna’s house had the same floor plan as ours which meant I was practically inside her kitchen when I stepped through the threshold. She stood up and gave me a watery smile. She looked…rather pleasant, even with puffy eyes. But then Hansel and Gretel would never have entered the witch’s house had she not also appeared pleasant.
     
 “That is a very nice costume. Did it take you long to make?”
     
 I nodded.
     
 She turned to the chocolate chest. “I ordered this from a catalog a few months ago.”
     
 “It’s a lot of candy.”
     
 “I was planning on handing it out to trick or treaters this evening.”
     
 “But you never give out candy on Halloween,” I said.
     
 “True. True. But this year I decided to make up for all the years I sat in this dark house without handing out treats. Unfortunately, I had to work late tonight and by the time I got home all of the children had already passed through the neighborhood. All the children, except you. You’re Stephen, from across the street, aren’t you?”
      
The costume didn’t disguise me as much as I’d thought. I nodded.
     
 “Would you like some candy?”
     
 Another nod.
      
She reached into the chest for a foil-wrapped chocolate bar, dropped it into my pillowcase.
      
I thanked her and headed for the door, but her sniffling stopped me. “You should come to neighborhood barbeques and block parties next summer. And my birthday party is in two weeks. Why doncha come?”
     
 “After all this time, I don’t think people would want me to come,” she answered.
      
I want you to come.”
     
 She looked kinda pretty as she smiled at me and closed her door. I headed home, where my mother waited with her sweet tooth.
      
The next day I awoke to find a Hershey’s treasure chest on our front porch. An attached note said:

For Stephen, my only Kilarney Park friend.
Don’t get a stomach ache.
       
That afternoon something sprouted on our street that we hadn’t seen before. The bright red paint seemed out of place in front of the gray house that had once haunted my feverish imagination. Hammered into Verna’s front yard—a FOR SALE sign.
      
A few weeks later, the Ghost of Kilarney Park moved away.
             

32 comments:

  1. Aw, that was so sweet of you. Too bad she decided to move away.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That story truly is haunting. Very good!

    ReplyDelete
  3. How bittersweet, with the sweet part being not only the candy, but your act of grace and compassion towards her. That must have been better for her than any dose of medicine. As always, so very well told~

    ReplyDelete
  4. A very touching story. Wonder what ever happened to her?

    S

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a delightful post. Sometimes we just need to reach out a bit to find a new friend. One who needs us so very desperately. You're a good person. Just saying.

    Have a terrific day. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sad story...which really tells us not to "judge a book by its cover". She was just a lonely older lady that need some "friends".

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was hoping you'd end up with some candy! Good story!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Awes.... Love it! that's too bad she moved away though!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Somehow i thought she would turn out to be a nice person to know, but i'm sorry she moved away after finally reaching out.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh gods.......now I'm crying.............

    This was so....so....lovely.........

    *sniff*

    More....?

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am sure you wonder what happened to her and if the move made for a renewed life for her.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Your parents did a fantastic job raising you. Good on you at such a young age to show consideration and thoughtfulness to someone who was likely a lonely person. Go out and buy yourself a giant Hershey bar to celebrate.

    ReplyDelete
  13. A real, heart-warming story. The old lady is a modern-day Scrooge (from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol")who finally sees the light.

    ReplyDelete
  14. awww that's so sad. poor Verna. i bet your costume was fab. how did you go in your maths test the next day? :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. That's so sweet it makes me want to cry. I cried when I took my kids to see "Up", the movie where that old man's house floated away on balloons. And that's before the opening credits were over. Kid stories should not make me cry! Shame on you and your writing skills.

    ReplyDelete
  16. A touching story. A sad note about loneliness.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Beautiful. I wonder if kids around here think I'm the ghost of Murray Hill.

    Love,
    Janie

    ReplyDelete
  18. Nice story Stephen, too bad she moved away.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wow, I didn't see it coming that she moved away! I was hoping that she would participate in neighborhood activities and make a niche for herself there. At least you befriended her before she moved!

    betty

    ReplyDelete
  20. What a lovely story! I wonder if she was happier wherever she went.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Great story. I love hearing the stories of the old people in the area. When I was a kid there was a mean old man down the road that everyone was scared of. When I was about 12, he bought a car from my dad. He told the best stories about the war. After that I would go to his house just to listen to his stories. He was great.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I like how once a year Americans poison children with treats designed to give them obesity and diabetes. It's also a well known fact for child molesters to offer candy out of vans to children so they can kidnap them.

    Great story though. Really, Halloween is one of those holidays that is becoming increasingly unsafe for America's children--a sign of the times. And we should be handing out brussel sprouts and broccoli on that night.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Great story. Perhaps your kindness gave her the impetus she needed to move on and start over where she wouldn't already have a reputation.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I second Daniel's comment. You were a kind, sweet, caring kidlet.. even if you were led by your sweet tooth. Such a touching story. I'm sure she remembered you fondly for many years afterward.

    ReplyDelete
  25. What a great story. Poor Verna! I would be curious as to what the rest of her story was. A widowed lady in a neighborhood where she felt like she had no friends had to be hard in that era.

    And what a sweet boy you were to talk to her and invite her to your birthday. Compassion is a wonderful trait.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Poor woman! I'm so glad you did get caught peeking in the window and that you invited her to your party, even if she never came. She showed her appreciation for your kindness. She must have been a decent lady. Some people get angry when you catch them in a vulnerable moment, but she was kind. :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Everyone loves a happy ending. :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. I too am a sucker for happy endings!

    ReplyDelete
  29. That's an incredibly sweet, touching story. Glad you befriended her (and got a load of chocolate) before she moved.

    xoRobyn

    ReplyDelete