The Joys Of Fall II

So, Billy B. was frozen as he watched his ghostly father filming himself as a child and his mom, Jane.  Try as he might…he could not move his limbs.  Finally, Jimmy D. shook him and the apparition disappeared.  Billy fell asleep immediately and slept the sleep of the dead!

The next morning Jeff D. was in charge of breakfast, and it was delicious!  Bacon and sausage along with eggs and grits and homemade biscuits, that Billy B. constructed, and the luscious aroma of campfire coffee…was almost more than the senses could absorb!

Billy had almost forgotten the frightening images that he had seen the night before and assumed that it must have been the moonlight playing tricks with the shadows of the campfire?  When all of the sudden…Ronnie B. piped up and announced that he had seen three ghosts last night and that although he needed to pee during the night…he held it because he was scared.  He then placed a humongous amount of biscuits and gravy on his tin plate and asked if there was anymore bacon.

I forgot to mention Ronnie B. in part I of this camping story.  Ronnie was an especially honest christian man…somewhere in his forties.  Ronnie was from Chester, Illinois and he had worked on the Chester Bridge, Chester being a river town, for many years.  Ronnie lived with Billy B. and Jimmy D. and Doug D. and Steve L., while Carl B. stayed with the group on weekends.  Ronnie was mildly intellectually challenged and yet he had a candor and an honesty that was refreshing and real!

You may not have noticed but; Doug D. and Jeff D. and Jimmy D…..were brothers.  Billy B. had been friends with the family for many years.

Doug D. was like a little brother to Billy B.  He was a stocky guy with a history of challenging life experiences.  Billy marveled at the extraordinary manner that Doug took to the christian life.  Doug D. became the assistant manger of the local furniture store and later opened his own business.

Jimmy D. was one of the kindest people that Billy B. had ever met.  He had such a humility and love for others that his welcoming of all….was contagious!

Jeff D. was admired by Billy.  He considered him one of the most honest people that he knew.  Although he appeared to be stoic…he simply held his feelings close to his vest and was a compassionate person.

Steve L. was Billy B’s friend since they both roomed together in the little church that they attended.  Steve was a big guy with even a bigger heart!

Jeff L. had seen the hard side of life in Chicago, Illinois.  He was an example of the transformational power of the christian walk and a massive dose of willpower and stick-to-the-plan dedication!  A life long friend to Billy B.!

And, so, night two of the weekend camping adventure began.

Billy B. insisted that he must sleep near the campfire and surrounded by his friends in order that they could be witness to any unusual occurrences that might transpire during the night.

As darkness fell Billy B. and Carl and all of the others fell asleep and Billy could hear Carl snoring loudly!  Carl sounded like he was sawing wood and placing it in the corner by the fireplace for future use!

The D. Brothers sounded a bit like the comedy bit of the Three Stooges Snoring…and Billy laughed out loud…and then he heard a rustling to the left of the campfire.  As he put on his glasses and peered through the multicolored flames of the cooling inferno…he saw deer and squirrels and coyotes and raccoons gathered in an audience and intently watching something just beyond the blaze and in a clearing of trees and undergrowth.

There was Billy B.’s father filming his small son and wife in the Chicago suburb of Sauk Village and ….there was a much older Billy…filming his two boys and wife…with a video camera in the 1980’s…in Elkville, Illinois.

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The Joys Of Fall!

Billy B. and Carl had decided that they wanted to go camping.  It was mid-October and the nights were chilly and the days were cool.  The relished the idea of camping under the stars with no more than sleeping bags and a campfire and Smores!  But, first, they had to purchase some sleeping bags…as they had never been camping before.  About the same time as the planning commenced…Jeff L. and Jeff D. and Doug D. and Steve L. and Jimmy D. decided that they wanted to join them in the adventure!

The camping excursion, in the midst of the Shawnee Forest…had become a group effort.  When Billy B. and Carl entered the local Wall-Mart in DuQuoin, Illinois to find the perfect sleeping bags they were undecided when they were confronted with no less than 20 varieties.  There were thermal sleeping bags and canvas sleeping bags and sleeping bags for two, which completely freaked them out, and there were sleeping bags that were water repellent…and that sounded good to them.

Soon came the night of the great Camp-Off and Billy B. and Carl and the two Jeffs and the D. brothers and Steve L. proceeded to the rustic campgrounds.  As they walked onto the grounds it was already dusk.  Jeff D. began constructing a campfire and Carl and Billy B. began searching for fuel for the fire.  Steve L. had the Smores pack…and was guarding it with his life!  Doug D. and Jimmy D. began rolling out the sleeping bags and retrieving the cookware from the van that they all came in.

The evening wood’s noises were plentiful and a harbinger of what awaited the intrepid campers that night.  First, they heard the mournful howl of a coyote…and another answer him from, seemingly, far away.  They heard the chittering of squirrels and the rustle of deer.  As darkness fell and the campfire glowed…an owl began to hoot and the bull frogs began to croak, lustily!  Jeff L. began to tell us stories from his life in Chicago and Carl said that he felt a spiritual presence in the woods.  But then again, Carl was inscrutable!  The young men had dined on campfire coffee and hot dogs and hamburgers.  Steve L. had been in complete charge off the Smores…and they had been resplendent!  The night sky was without clouds and every star was in full view of the campers as they retired  for the night.

Billy B. awoke to a definite feeling that someone was watching him.  He looked to his left and there was Steve L. sleeping the sleep of the guiltless, and to his right was Carl…staring intently at the starlit sky.  But in front of him was a man filming him with an eight millimeters movie camera.  When Billy B. called out to the man…he did not answer.  Instead he stopped, periodically, and changed the film in the camera and resumed filming…an unseen family.  The ghostly cinematographer gestured with his free hand for his movie subjects to move into the frame of the film and smiled at what he was seeing.

Billy B. shook Carl and asked him if he was seeing the spectral man filming something that was invisible?  Carl answered that not only did he see the man….but he saw the people that he was filming.  Billy asked who is he filming?  Carl answered that the man who was filming was Billy B.’s father and he was filming Billy B. and his mother, Jane, when they lived in Chicago…many years ago!

 

 

 

The Haunted House

Billy Bump and his mom and dad moved to El Dorado when he was five years old.  The house in Sauk Village, near Chicago, had been a delight to him.  It was on Peoria Street and he had wiled away many happy hours with Danny and Pauly and Steve and Susie!  Billy had loved to have Steve come over and be the master puppeteer of his marionettes.  There was Punch and Judy and Pinocchio and Blackbeard and Frankenstein and Dracula.  Billy was hypnotized by Steve’s expertise in maneuvering the arms and legs of the stringed performers…and his multitude of voices for the actors was extraordinary.

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At times, Billy would experience a bit of a waking/sleep as he sat with his eyes glued to the puppets performances.  He became a member of the theatre troupe and was a member of the performance.  When Count Dracula was about to bite the white and supple neck of Judy…Billy was there with a small crucifix to ward off the evil!  When Punch drew back to strike Judy with his permanently affixed bat…Billy would stand between them and take the blow!

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Now, the Bump’s were residents of Grandma Askew’s home of El Dorado.  The Bump’s had moved into a large gothic house on Illinois Avenue that was directly across from El Dorado High School.  They had moved into a house that was already occupied by Billy’s mom’s sister, Wanda, and her husband Bill and their children, Gene and Brenda…Billy B’s cousins.  The first night in the gothic manor…Billy stayed awake most of the night.  He heard footsteps walking up and down the, rickety,  basement steps, and indistinguishable voices coming from somewhere in the structure!

The following morning, Jane, called out to Billy to come and see the biggest rat that she had ever laid eyes upon.  Billy had never seen a mouse…so a rat was a real education!

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Billy walked to Hillcrest School with his cousin, Brenda, and could not help but reflect on is scary first night in their new home.  It was Billy B’s first day of school and he and Brenda separated at the front door as she was an eighth grader while he was beginning first grade.  Brenda promised that she would check on him…and he felt like he was on Mars…or the moon!

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And, so, it was Friday evening and uncle Bill and Billy’s dad and mom and Billy sat on the wrap around front porch of the creepy house and had a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the football field and the El Dorado Eagles playing under the coaching of  Boz Adams.  The field lights illuminated the night sky and the cheering was exciting.  Billy had never seen a football game and reveled in the wonderful location of his new home in relation to the football field.  Billy’d dad seemed happy and enthused and uncle Bill cheered the El Dorado Eagles and Billy heard him speak more than he had ever, previously!

There was an October chill in the air!  Many of the houses along Illinois Avenue had carved Jack-O-Lanterns on their front porches and corn and dried flower and fauna arrangements to accent the gratuitously  grinning  pumpkins!

It was once again time to go to bed…and Billy’s room was a storage closet that had been fashioned into a makeshift bedroom until Bill and Wanda and family had the opportunity to move out…to Beulah Heights and nearer Grandmas Askew.

Billy B. was awakened by someone turning the doorknob to the storage/bedroom that he was sleeping in!  He called out, ‘who is it,’ and there was no reply!  Later that night he awakened and Punch, of Punch and Judy fame, was leaning over his bed and asking him if he had seen Judy?  Billy, responded, and asked Punch if he was real, and Punch replied, ‘You see me…don’t you?’

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Saturday morning it was so cold in the big house!  Billy had three of Grandma Askew’s homemade quilts on him…and when he attempted to move from their heavy warmth…he was accosted by a bitter chill that he had never felt in Sauk Village on Peoria Street!

Saturday night….Billy B. swore that he would not fall asleep…but he did and in the middle of the night…there was a voice that said, ‘You are meaner than the devil!,’…and Billy looked all around him to attempt to find the person that had said the terrible sentence to him…but no one was there!

There stood a young girl at the foot of his little bed.  She did not, so much, look at him….as look beyond him!  She was pale and her large eyes were haunting.

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Billy B. was happy when he and his mom moved from the haunted house on Illinois Avenue and began to reside at 116 West Street…where there were no ghosts!  The macabre house made such an impression on him…that he remembers it at almost 62 years of age!

 

Michael Meyers…Deflated

It was a dark and forbidding Saturday morning.  The clouds covered the sky like a quilt that grandma Askew had made for Billy Bump many years ago.  It was the last Saturday in September and it was ninety degrees in the shade!  Billy met his sons, David and Daniel, and they proceeded to the Student Center for Comic Con, which had been renamed Saluki Con.  This was volume #3 of the event…and Billy had attended all of them.

One of the most enjoyable elements of Saluki Con is watching all of the people, young and old alike, dressed in their various costumes of Star Trek characters and Star Wars names of renown, as well as famous horror figures such as; Freddy Kruger and Michael Meyers.

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As Daniel and Billy waited for David they observed Cat Woman, who had aged gracefully, as well as Super Girl and Batman.  There was the most delightful Wall E who appeared to have just stepped out of the movie with his name as the title!

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In walked Michael Meyers, brandishing a long knife, covered in blood, held in his right hand.

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‘Micheal Meyers is a fictional character from the Halloween series of slasher films.  He first appears in John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) as a young boy who murders his sister, Judith Meyers, and then fifteen years later, returns home to Haddonfield to murder more teenagers.  In the original Halloween, the adult Michael Meyers, referred to as The Shape in the closing credits, was portrayed by Nick Castle for most of the film, with Tony Moran and Tommy Lee Wallace substituting in the final scenes.’    Wikipedia

Michael was walking slowly and deliberately and with a sense of purpose and pride in  the notoriety that he had attained over the years in the Halloween Movie Series!  He turned not his head to the left or the right…but exuded the air of the Star among the throng of costumed horror aficionados!  It was a bit like watching the president enter the room!

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Suddenly…a young woman who was working the front desk of the movie and television show extravaganza called out…’Michael Meyers….Michael Meyers,’ and he slowly turns his masked head.  The event authority figure motioned for him to return to the desk…which he did…slowly.  As she began to whisper in his ear…he bent the blade of his, rubber knife, backwards and forwards.  The boss…spoke to him some more…and he slowly placed his, faux, blood covered rubber knife in his back pocket and turned on his heel and commenced his deflated walk forward to the throngs of his adoring fans.

I commented to Daniel that Michael appeared deflated…whereupon he responded that he, really, looked the same….and the lady sitting next to us…laughed!

And, so, we entered the cornucopia of; vintage comic books and action figures and photo opportunities with R2D2 and others.  Along came Deadpool with two swords strapped on his back and a knife that was longer than what Michael Meyers had been forced to pocket, in his hand…and held in a menacing manner!

Michael Meyers, Upon seeing Deadpool with his three rubber weapons…he slowly shook his head with the frightening visage and pointed to Deadpool…and then to the woman who had made him put his knife in his pocket…..

Billy B. was a Star Trek fan dating back to the original series in the 1960’s.  He watched it weekly on his 12 inch screen black and white TV that he had received for a Christmas gift and kept in his bedroom.  Mr. Spock looked just a glorious on the small screen as he did on a massive 20 inch console color television!

David told him while they were siting in the Student Center Starbucks, that he was going to buy him a beer after the Saluki Con…and that he should purchase a Mr. Spock action figure…if he desired one!

Billy B. always wanted anything that was associated with the actor Leonard Nimoy’s depiction of Mr. Spock.  This was a fictional character that so impressed young Billy that he patterned his life, in some measure, to the vivid characterization of the logical half Vulcan and half human…Mr. Spock.  During many times of chaos or confusion Billy B., to this day, seeks the logical rationalization of the knotty problem that is before him!

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Billy B. had attended Saluki Con alone last year.  Daniel had won a free pass for both the Saturday and Sunday event, and Billy B. had attended on Sunday.  He had searched for over two hours for a Mr. Spock action figure and had been found wanting.  Thus, he had returned home and subsequently ordered a magnificent Spock action figure on Ebay!

This year had had observed a vintage scene, from the original television series of Mr. Spock…and it was priced at $25.  Billy B. inquired if that was the vendor’s best price and he responded that he would accept $20 for the item.  Billy said that he would think about it.

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When he returned, two hours later, with David…the vendor said that he would take $22 for the item.  Billy B. had been schooled to save money by his loving wife, Mary Jane, and he reminded the kind seller that he had originally priced the item at $20.  The old gentleman said that it would be his pleasure to sell him the item for $20.

As we left the festivities….there was Michael Meyers…sitting by the entrance….watching Wall E…..

 

 

Christmas @ Poor Boys

Billy B.’s mother was insistent that she was not going to make a Christmas dinner that year…1969!  She proclaimed that she worked like a dog each Christmas to bring off a luxurious dinner and that this year…they were going out to eat!  Now, Demetrius, Billy’s step-father knew that there were no restaurant open on Christmas day, especially in the 1960’s!  He attempted to reason with Jane and assure her that they would be without dinner…if they did not make a dinner or if they were not invited to a Holiday feast.

Billy’s mom was dedicated to the proposition that she could not be bothered or troubled from Thanksgiving Day until Christmas Day…as there was simply to much work to be done in preparation for the yuletide revelers!  She hosted the annual Santa Claus extravaganza each year and her sisters, Vema and Guelda and Wanda attended…but not her brother Gene, who she called Fetch, because he was a Jehovah’s Witness.  Also, Demetrius family of; Little Granny, who was Mike’s mother, and Murph, who was Mike’s brother, and Tressie, who was Demetrius’s mom.  Also, cousin Bill and cousin Brenda, Wanda and uncle Bill Hayes, children, also attended.

The primary meat of the feast was crock pot roast…that was the most delicious roast that you ever have placed in your mouth!  There would be Jane’s holiday coffee cake…as well….and it was to die for!  There were mashed potatoes and stove top dressing and hot cross buns and broccoli casserole and iced tea and coffee to drink…as this was pre knowledge that we would not die and enter Hell for drinking wine!

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Vema, upon entering the Bump home would immediately withdraw a cigarette from her pack of Salem cigarettes that were ensconced in her purse and subsequently light it and begin to draw manically from it’s abundance of nicotine and tobacco goodness!  Then she would announce that she and Ed, her rich Stonewort farmer husband, must leave in time to drive home before darkness fell…as they did not see well after dark.

Guelda would enter the Bump home as a Jewish grandmother and taste the food and inquire as to our health and assure her baby sister that she had nothing to be worried about as everything was exceptional!

When Mike and Tressie arrived….Mike assured Jane that she had accomplished the best Christmas ever…and that she was to be commended!  Murph, Mike’s brother, proclaimed that the Holiday feast was such an improvement over his usual lunch and dinner of hamburgers from Mr. Hamburger, which was a hamburger joint next to the old folks apartment that he resided in!

Wanda was grateful for anything that Jane, her baby sister and her favorite sibling, did…and Jane knew it!

Little Granny was beloved by Jane!  She was Demetrius grandmother, Mike’s mom, and she was delightful!  She had lived much of her life in the 19th century and she said whatever was on her mind…she was a true feminist!

But, Jane, had chosen to lay all of the regular holiday party excitement aside for a dinner out at Two Tony’s in either West Frankfort or in Carmi, Illinois.  And, so, the Bump’s began traveling early on the morning of Christmas Day!

Not only were both Two Tony’s Smorgasbords shuttered for the big day….but there was not a hamburger joint nor a hot dog stand or a bagel kiosk open for Christmas traffic.

Finally, the Bumps drove by Poor Boys Supermarket in Harrisburg, Illinois…and they were open.  Demetrius quickly exited the automobile and went in to Poor Boys and purchased some ground chuck and some hamburger buns and some potato chips and the Christmas Dinner plans were set!

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As we were enjoying the Poor Boys hamburgers…Denny…Demetrius’s brother… telephoned and subsequently asked us to join he and his family for some Christmas evening holiday treats at his home in El Dorado.  When we entered Denny and Florence’s home…it was like a magical holiday world!  Before us was a majestic Christmas Tree and garland through out the home and Santa Claus and reindeers and the nativity!  There were cakes and cookies  and fudge and divinity and hard candy and soft candy….and candy that was in-between!

So, it was a Poor Boy’s Christmas….with some welcome assistance from Denny and family!

Friends Are Special

Billy Bump was thinking about his friend since first grade, Carl.  He had first noticed Carl when he entered the first grade classroom on the first day of class and proceeded to sit down at his desk, when the teacher had told him, ‘Carl take your hat off in the house…and hang it in the cloak room.’

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Soon, Billy discovered that he and Carl had the same last name, Bump.  Now, Bump was not a common name and Billy marveled that he had the same name as another of his classmates.  Billy determined, at that point, that he was going to get to know Carl, better.

Carl was a quiet boy.  He was was a bit heavy in body…in a day that most American children were not, and he wore thick, what were called in the early 1960’s, coke rimmed lenses!  Carl welcomed Billy B’s. friendship and Billy thought it was great as well.

Carl’s dad was a brick mason and his mom was a homemaker…as many moms were in that day and time.  His dad was named Carol and his mom was Thelma.  Carol was a swarthy man, with a quiet and pleasant disposition.  Thelma was enthused and welcoming of Billy B. as she often commented that Carl had not had any friends before him.

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Carl could do the most fantastic rendition of the Robot on Lost in Space!  He was a hit with all of our first grade classmates.  He had the voice down, perfect!  His robotic arm movements and shuffling step were sublime!

When Billy B. went to visit Carl at his house…they had uncooked hot dogs on buns.  Thelma said that was the way that Carl liked them…and Billy B. thought that…they were pretty good!

Carl and Billy B. enjoyed playing with action figures that were pre-G.I. Joe!  There was Daniel Boone, based on the popular television show starring the actor Fess Parker, and the figures; Johnny West and Chief Cherokee and the pre-G.I. Joe acton figure, Stony…a army man.

The action figure in those early days….were a foot tall and came with all types of accruements such as army guns and water canteens and campfire equipment.

Carl was not a jock…and neither was Billy B….!  Carl’s poor eyesight had hindered him from sports and Billy B.’s heart murmur had done the same.

Carl and Carol and Thelma attended the Social Brethren church.  Billy B. and his family attended none!

Carl was a quick study and excelled in accounting.  Billy B. enjoyed literature and writing and speech.

Carol, died suddenly in his sleep.  Carl and Thelma were devastated!

Carl came to stay with Billy B. when he moved to Elkville to work for his church and obtain employment in the area of Elkville or Carbondale.  He signed up for the Accountancy Program at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale, Illinois. He was excited about entering the program and was going to live with Billy B. and some other young men from the church.

Billy B. noticed that Carl stopped attending the little church in Elkville.  Billy B. telephoned Carl and his mom’s house and Thelma answered.  She had at one time been welcoming of Billy B. and his friendship to Carl.  However, when she answered the phone…vitriol was in her voice…and she told Billy B. that she had done Carl a great disservice in encouraging him to enroll in SIUC…that was so far from their home in El Dorado.  She let him know, in no uncertain terms, that she needed Carl to live with her and that her husband had died and that she had to rely on Carl to take her to the store and to the doctor and wherever she needed to go!

Billy B. was speechless…and that is the last he saw or heard of his lifelong friend, Carl, for 20 years!

Billy B. and his wife, Jane, often visited El Dorado to spend time with Billy’s mom and step-father.  They stopped into the local supermarket, the Food Center, that had been there as long as Billy B. could remember.  As Bill B. proceeded to check out…there was Carl…bagging groceries.  He looked 20 years older…and he recognized Billy B.

When Billy B. spoke with him…he was distant and elusive.  Carl was never a big talker…but things had changed…and were different!

Carl had laid aside the friendship that they had enjoyed for many years….things had changed!

Billy B. has not heard anything regarding Carl…for the past 20 years…and he wishes that things had turned out differently.

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Autumn Mysteries III

So, the weirdness of looking like Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon…subsided…some!  Our classmates still wanted to have their pictures taken with us…especially Polaroids!  Our moms and dads did not seem to notice or care, as Carl’s dad, Carol, said…it is just a phase that they are going through.  And we got free movie tickets…every Friday night…to the Orpheum Theatre to see the weekly horror movie!

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It was a bit more challenging taking a bath, as the poor kids in El Dorado did not have a shower, and the masks felt like real skin!  Billy B. and Carl both wondered if they were dreaming or if they had taken a side road into the Twilight Zone.

Carl’s dog, Tramp, did not like the the Frankenstein visage and repeatedly barked at Carl when he was home.  Billy B. was a bit of a comedian by nature and attempted to make a comedy routine out of the paranormal experience.  He performed at the church bazaar and the fireman’s chili supper and even at the Knights of Columbus Friday night Bingo.  One of Carl’s favorite lines was, ‘When I throw you into the lake…that means that I love you!’

Billy B. and Carl returned to the Strip Cut where the time warp had occurred.  The speculated as to why they not had the faces of two famous Hollywood Monsters?  Carl said that he had felt a tingling sensation when the thunder peeled and the lightning struck just a few feet away from he and Billy B.

Carl and Billy B.decided that they must have touched another world that was parallel to theirs and yet different in some occurrences.  They believed that if they returned to the spot of transformation that they would gain new understanding of what had transpired.

Lo and behold when Billy B. and Carl stood on the exact same spot that they had occupied when the transformation had occurred they saw the sun blackened and the full moon rise to it’s zenith.  Wolves began to mournfully how and foxes gathered around them with a doleful look in their eyes.  They each saw their lives pass before them in a moment…and they both wanted their mothers.  They saw the pain of their humanity and the promise of an alternate reality.  Their breath left them and they gasped for air and assurance of life continuing!

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Carl and Billy B.woke up in a world of little monsters.  Decidedly  nice and not-threatening…but monsters…none the less!