Halloween is close and this makes me think of my dad, the storyteller. Mostly, he told us funny stories when my sister and I were kids. The real scary ones he saved for when we were older.
One dark night, Dad and my cousin George sat in our living room watching a Vincent Price film called The Tingler. This creature was in everyone and fed on fear — if you ever feel a chill go up your spine when you are afraid, that's the Tingler.
I did not join in watching this movie with Dad and George. Horror films weren't for me and still aren't. After The Tingler was over, I came back to the living room only to find George putting on his jacket, getting ready to walk home . . . in the dark . . . down the gravel road to his house.
"Watch out for the Tingler," Dad warned George. Of course, my cousin laughed. He wasn't afraid.
Dad gave George a head start before yelling, "The Tingler's going to get you!" Later, George told me that he ran so fast his feet hardly touched the ground. Still, that didn't stop him from coming back for more movies with his Uncle Chuck (Dad).
One story Dad told me and my sister Karen was about a drive down the back road he took.
In those days (1950s), there were no houses or lights on Hunter's Road (we called it Hunter's Road because of Mr. Hunter's farm at the end of the dirt road — years later we found out it was North Avenue).
Anyway, Dad said he was taking the short cut, driving home when a bright light shown on his car from above. The light made the car glow and when it did the engine died.
The light hovered above him, not moving and no matter what he did, his car wouldn't start.
Finally, the light zoomed away at a great speed and winked out in the night sky. With a shaking hand Dad tried starting his car again. This time when he turned his key the engine started and he drove home.
I always thought this was one of my dad's made-up stories, one he told to give us chills. Years passed. I became an adult and again Dad told me the story about the light.
That time the way he told it was different. That time I believed him. That light had really been there on that dark country road and it had scared the dickens out of him.
The truth was that Dad came home in a cold sweat and never found an explanation for the light except that it was a UFO.
Our dog, Sunny, doesn't tell stories, yet he has scared Bob and me.
One evening we were all in the living room, watching television. Suddenly, Sunny stood up, looked into the dark dining room, and started growling.
Bob and I looked into the shadowed area Sunny was looking toward. We saw nothing, not even one of our cats. In fact, all three cats were in the room with us, curled up and sleeping in different corners.
Sunny continued to growl, but he didn't move forward. Instead, our big brave dog backed up closer to Bob's chair. Now the hair was standing up on his back. Sunny was scared. He backed up even more and was nearly behind Bob's chair.
Bob and I didn't move. Neither of us wanted to go see what was scaring Sunny. Maybe a burglar had sneaked into the house thinking we weren't home. The only light on came from the television. The house looked empty.
Not a sound came from the dining room. None of the cats woke up. As usual, they ignored the dog.
It occurred to me that Sunny was seeing a ghost. Stranger things have happened.
Finally, I was the one who got up and went to investigate.
When I got to the doorway between the rooms, I switched on a light. Our brave dog was still behind Bob, and still growling, which didn't help me summon up courage.
I crossed the dining room and almost tripped over a toy left by visiting grandchildren. A very short wood rocking horse had been moved from its shelf. This turned out to be Sunny's ghost.
After turning on more lights, I called the dog over to show him there was nothing to fear. It took a lot of coaxing, but eventually he came and smelled the toy.
The issue was resolved, but I'm sure if he ever reacts like that again, my hackles will rise along with Sunny's. Happy Halloween everyone!
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net; http://www.facebook.com/susan.manzke.