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HALLOWEEN ON AN EAST TEXAS FARM
by Ed Parrish
T'was Halloween of fifty one when these events took place,
When Charley Black expired afield yet returned to see his Grace,
Newlywed the couple was, but wedded not to stay,
For cold, gray death did split them up that sorry, drizzly day,
Still one last time, young Charley looked into his Gracie's eye,
Not as a man but in man's form he had refused to die,
Til settled between the two of them, they'd laid their lover's spat,
And peace was made, the future laid, and that was really that.
It's still dark night when day begins for farmers and their wives,
And so the day for newlyweds who've together bound their lives,
The lamps were lit, the clothes were fit, and wood was in the stove,
When Gracie's wants outweighed her need for true and giddy love.
His Gracie said to Charley Black, "I want to cook with gas,
"This wood-fire life is not for me, and you're just so low class."
Such words bespoke, when not a joke, are hard for men to bear,
"We can't afford it, Gracie dear. Perhaps another year."
"I want it now," she made reply, and strident was her tone,
But Charley had such work to do, his brains became a bone,
"I'm leaving now," he grabbed his gun, his granddad's ancient double,
"Got pigs to slop and wood to chop. Don't give me any trouble."
He looped his arm around her waist and drew her body near,
She pushed away, said "Not today. And likely never, I fear,"
Away Charley trudged through the rain, and Gracie watched him vanish,
As his lantern dimmed with the rest of him, so did her love diminish.
"How could I have married such bottom scum, the lowest of the low?"
She stamped her foot, she shook her fist, and tears began to flow,
To think that she, a lovely prize, had settled for such seconds,
Enraged her more. She slammed the door. "Forever!" she did reckon.
And Charley slogged, his mind still bogged, with seething anger smoking,
He heard the door and knew what for, and the drizzle, it was soaking,
And Granddad's gun, for rabbits and fun, was heavy in his fist,
"Accidents happen. I wonder, if she were to blunder, how long until she's missed?"
The day dragged by with iron gray skies, as wet and cold as Hades,
And Charley steamed and wished all day he'd never heard of ladies,
And Gracie packed her things to go, then put them back again,
"I'm danged if I'll run out of here, instead I run out him!"
The couple turned their love around; it twisted to be hate,
And time crawled by that Halloween 'til it was half past eight,
The mules were tired and itchy when Charles unhitched the plow,
They lurched and stomped on Granddad's gun, and one barrel went KAPOW!
The plow caught in the harness, and it bladed Charley's shin,
And both mules bucked and flailed about as panic set deep in,
Hooves flew in all directions, and Charley was too slow,
One boot caught Charley in the skull with a blow that laid him low.
Back at home, young Gracie cried alone in her cold, dank house,
Gonna "Give what-for to stupid Charley for being such a louse,
"Who wouldn't give his wife a stove fit to cook a meal,
"He c'n starve tonight, and then he might just understand the deal."
The clock crept on toward midnight, and Charley came awake,
A tall man stood at Charley's feet; then Charley saw the stake,
The man was just a scarecrow, a bag of straw and hay,
"Well, you're the last I'll talk to, Hoss, so this is what I'll say:
"I'm shot. I'm kicked. My laig is torn. I'm soon to be a goner,
"If I could change anything at all, I wish that I'd learned sooner,
"That when my wife says 'Git me that' I ought to smile and nod,
"Cause we parted bad on my last day, this day ordained by God."
The moon was high that Halloween, and Charley's blood was flowing,
You'll cringe to learn the devilment that evil night was sowing,
For as blood seeped from Charley's wounds, it slithered toward the man,
Of straw and hay, who soaked it up and sprang off the stake to stand.
At Charley's side, and with Charley's voice said, "Go to see your maker,
"'Cause you were right, and Grace was wrong, and this message I shall take her."
For in the blood and straw and hay, a demon had sprung out,
>From hell's black pit, escaped from it, with a bloody strawman's shout!
Back at home, the chill had set young Gracie's shoulders shakin',
The blankets were not warm enough, so she got some wood to take in,
She put some kindling in the stove, and then she lit a torch,
She fed some logs onto the fire, then she went out on the porch.
The scarecrow demon saw her light and picked up Granddad's gun,
One barrel fired, but one not shot; so the gun could still fire one,
And the steel bore ghostly energy of Charley's angry fist,
And the demon echoed Charley's hiss, "How long until she's missed?"
On the porch, out in the dark, young Gracie sought a trace,
Of her mean and thoughtless husband's - young and handsome face,
She held her torch up high to see if Charley was a'coming,
Through the drizzling, chilling rain and the winds that came a pummling.
When of a sudden, lightning struck out in the western field,
And another bolt fair knocked her flat as double-thunder pealed,
And when the dazzle cleared away, and at last she could now see,
A grizzly sight did meet her eye and drop her to her knee.
For there the gory scarecrow stood with Granddad's gun in hand,
Transported through the ether by the lightning's blazing brand,
"Ah Gracie," spake the specter, "You should have been more sweet,
"For anger with your husband has brought your death to meet."
"You should have listened quietly, so listen now and hear,
"We can't afford it, Gracie dear. Perhaps another year!"
With that, the scarecrow raised his gun, he pointed toward our Grace,
He aimed to blow her from her clay, right into outer space.
But Gracie was determined, a deliberate woman, true.
"I'll have my way, you spawn of hell, and I'll get rid of you!"
The torch she'd lit the stove with was still within her grasp,
She flung it at the scarecrow, and the flames bit like an asp.
When last she saw the devil, he was running 'cross the hill,
Burning, howling, screaming, flailing. He's prob'ly running still,
So Gracie owns the farm now, and the wood stove's gone to trash,
And Charlie's a bad memory,
"And now I cook with gas."
©2000, Ed Parrish. All Rights Reserved.
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