was born and raised in Rector Arkansas, the northeast corner a few miles from the St. Francis river. My folks on both sides (Cavanesses and the Sheltons) all believed in (and many have seen) ghosts. Back then it was just a part of life.
Dad went back and forth to Corcoran, California numerous times to find work and finally settled there in '61. Being poor Arkies, we'd lived in the work camps until we finally were able to move to a huge house "uptown". This is where my story starts.
We moved to 1412 Main St. in Corcoran, California in '63. The name of the street was actually Whitley Ave, but, all the locals referred to it as Main St.
The reason I mention this is simply for the sake of those not knowing the area, looking for it on the map, and possibly disbelieving the story not being able to find the location.
The story I relate here is absolutely true and I have chill bumps running up and down my spine as I write. I've often considered the experience and am prone to different opines each time, all according to whatever frame of mind I could relate it to at the time.
The bottom line is this; for all I know, it was a physical manifestation of a demon.
Because of the stories I'd heard all my life I definitely feared ghostes (more than one - as my Dad would say it), ill spirits . . . whatever you want to call 'em. Let me get to the story and leave the rambling for another time.
We lived directly across the street from the Optometrist, Dentist and a Drs. offices which were all in one building. It was a long skinny building which sat perpendicular to the street. It was on a very skinny parcel but the area next to it was quite wide, just a huge grassy area.
Next to that on the corner was a large old house and quite run down; single story but had a windowed dormer overlooking Main street. The porch spanned the entire width of the house running parallel to the street.
The house sat on a lot which ran lengthways to the side street all the way to the alley which was half a block. The entire back, side yard, and a large part of the front yard was extremely overgrown with small saplings, large hedges, large bushes behind a tall wooden fence. It looked like a jungle in there.
Us kids always thought of the place as being haunted and Dad didn't seem to object to our description. All I know, is that we steered clear of the house; especially at night.
Being bored one night I jumped on my bike, rode west to the corner, turned south across Main St, then turned back east in front of that old house toward the Drs. offices. I rode my bike down the side of the medical buildings on the sidewalk a couple of times.
On the last turnaround, I was headed back toward Main St when something caught my peripheral vision on my left. I glanced around looking toward the haunted house when through the bushes where no one was able to get through came this figure. It came right through the fence . . .
I didn't wait around for another look. I just stood up on the pedals and started pedaling for all I was worth. It couldn't have been more than 100' to the sidewalk on the street, and that thing was at least a couple of hundred feet away, plus, I was on a bike and pedaling hard! It wasn't going to catch me!
Now I rode the bike all the time, and I was good! I made a slide, skidding the back wheel of the bike to the left so I could turn right in the direction of town and light. I wanted away from whatever it was coming at me.
I stole a glance at it to see what it was and I still feel the chills that went up my spine that night. I was 6'1" in height, and with me standing up on the pedals of the bike it was eye level with me. And it was huge - thick all over more than any place else and black - no clothing. I never noticed if it was male - all demons are male . . . Aren't they??
The eyes were blazing, red coals of fire, the mouth drawn up in a devilish mocking grin. It carried a very long lance at its side in the right hand and easily paced me just casually trotting along beside me as I was hurtling down the sidewalk at breakneck speed.
I was leaving the safety of my house across the street but I wanted light! And town, where all the lights of the businesses were, was only another block.
That thing was right next to me for over a block, and never tried to hurt me although it could have at any time it chose. All I know is that it scared me so bad I nearly hurt myself! I was oblivious to the traffic or pedstrians.
I went tearing on down the next block and on into town to the business section. Under the mezzanine of the theater I barreled into the well lighted places. As I approached the lighted areas, the thing just disappeared out of sight, slowly fading into nothingness in the bright light.
But I was still very scared, shaking uncontrollably and almost in tears. I didn't know what it was, what it wanted, where it was or if it was coming back.
I proceeded through town all the way to the tracks, then crossed the street and headed back toward home. Caddy corner from the theater was the Jolly Kone, which sat across the alley from the city park.
Running caddy corner through the park was a foot worn and crooked dirt path which meandered along gracefully through the park. It was lined by tall park lights which were quite tall but being more decoration than anything as they afforded little light.
Since I wanted to stay away from that thing, I went past the Jolly Kone and intended to go up the alley which ran right past the back of our house. I did not intend to go through the park as it would take me further from my house, but there was LIGHT in the park!
Although it was quite dark in the alley, suddenly, standing between me and the direction I needed to go to get home, was that thing again. So, I took a right in the direction of the only light around; across the park, corner to corner on the little path that meandered so peacefully along.
Only tonight, there was no peace between me and that thing, and the peace along the little path was torn up as the adrenalin pushed me to pedal that bike almost to the breaking point. It wasn't being traveled peacefully that night! I was doing at least a hundred . . . (well, it seemed like it. It seemed as though the lights posts were going by like a picket fence . . .).
But still the thing ran quite casually and even gracefully along, easily staying within reach of me the only sound was the creaking of the bike and me gasping uncontrollably. It was so close I could feel prickles on my skin, as if static electricity was passing from it to me.
It made no sound whatsoever, but, out of my peripheral vision, it never was out of being close enough to reach out and slap me off the bike. It still carried the long spear in it's right hand.
When I busted out of the corner of the park onto the street, I was a block north of my house and it was gone. I pedaled like a mad man one block west, then turned back south on the same road that lead back down past the house.
I slid around the corner of the alley, went the half block to my house, and pedaled furiously right up to the large concrete steps leading up to the back door.
When I leapt off the bike, the door which opened out slowed me down in my mad scramble to reach safety. When I rushed past it, I looked around but the thing had not reappeared. I rushed through the back bedroom where Joey and I slept (which was little more than the back porch boxed in), through the kitchen, and on into the house.
Mom knew something was up because I was white as a sheet, and could not sit down. I was completely winded, taking huge gulps of air trying to catch my breath. Even after my breathing slowed I was still so antsy I just could not sit.
Mom and Dad were incredulous at my story, and looked at each other as if to secretly glean what the other was thinking. Finally, I grabbed me some clean clothes and headed for the bathroom for a bath. I fully expected that thing to appear in the house with me and I was still extremely scared.
I have never seen the thing again, but have thought about it thousands of times. I've even written about it numerous times, and people have read my story with varying degrees of believability. But, I don't care! I know what I saw, and what happened that night. I do know this: I sure stayed clear of that place ever since.
Recently, my wife and I ambled around Corcoran a bit, visiting all the places where I lived while growing up. As a kid I actually lived in two of the work camps, not unlike those described in the Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck.
On the way out of town we drove by our house on Whitley Ave, both front and back. I paid special attention to the 'haunted' house across the street, and all the jungle has been removed. The house has been restored and looks quite nice. But, I can guarantee you this: You could not give me that house, nor pay me enough money to live there!!
The whole scene is so entranced in my psyche that I'll never be able to forget it, even though it happened in 1965, the year before I went into high school. That was more than 56 years ago, and I can remember it like it was yesterday, and I still get the same chills I got that night.
I have also wondered how, in the dark and the thing being black . . . how I could see it so plainly and how I can remember the details (although I can't splain it very well) so vividly.
What was it? I wish I knew. Would I want to go through that experience again? Not on your life. But, now, I would stand my ground and rebuke the thing in the all powerful name of Jesus!!! You know why? Cuz I'm too old to run, too fragile to fight, and my trusty dusty XD45 I now carry wouldn't hurt it AND I can't pedal that fast no more!!(grin)
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