The Haunt


Rain was coming, that was for sure. I should have known better. I should have checked the gas gauge. I’d been walking for an hour and still had 8 kilometers to get to Cooksferry. I hadn’t seen a single car.

You know that part of the road? That place with the long sweeping curve that just keeps getting sharper and sharper. Yeah, that’s the spot. Dangerous curve that. I was just beyond that curve, ‘bout a hundred yards beyond, when I heard her coming. I stepped off the side of the road and looked back. It was an older model MG cabriolet, painted that dark “English Racing Green”. The top was down, the engine was roaring, tires complaining as she barreled around the bend.

I think her mistake was downshifting as she came out of the curve. I think she didn’t need to do that. She should probably just have stepped on the accelerator and she would have come out OK. She would have flown right past me merely tousling my hair with the slipstream that tailed behind her car.

But, that’s not what happened. I could hear the whine of the engine change as she stepped on the clutch, separating the drive train. I could hear the engine rev when she tapped the gas with the clutch depressed. I heard the pitch of the engine change when she finished her downshift and dumped the clutch. It screamed in protest and the front end of the roadster veered immediately to the left putting her into a slide. I watched her fight the wheel to no avail until she quit sliding and started rolling.

The car rolled over and over right up to the sign. You know that crooked sign.

Cooksferry Roadhouse
Live Music – Dancing
Cold Beer

What little was left of the roadster came to rest up against that sign post. I thought sure she was dead. No one could have survived that crash. Imagine my surprise when she crawled out from under her ruined automobile. She saw me coming and waved me to slow down. “I’m OK,” she said.

Her blonde hair was worn in a shingle cut, she was probably in her early twenties, and she sported long white leather boots and a miniskirt. One eye squinted as she looked at me, “Who’re you? I’ve never seen you before.”

“Are you sure you’re alright?” I asked.

“Yeah, I do this all the time.”

“What do you mean; you do this all the time?”

“I mean everyday at this time I crash this car right here. The first time was 1964 and I was killed. That was the worst one. My private hell is to repeat it every day until I make the bend and get to the roadhouse. The roadhouse was my haunt in those days, apparently this is my haunt now.” She grinned at her own joke.

I tried to wrap my mind around what she was saying, “You’re dead?”

“As a doornail, honey,” she laughed and began to fade.

I looked at the car and it was already gone. She was fading fast, “Don’t downshift!” I shouted but I didn’t know if she heard me.

***

Well, I got my gas, I got my car, I settled into Cooksferry and took a job at the roadhouse, tending bar. I never went back out to the sign. I didn’t want to see that horrible crash again. Then one day about two years later, it happened.

I could hear the car coming, I knew from the whine of the engine that it was her and she was moving fast. Leaping the bar, I dashed to the door and into the gravel parking lot. The green MG was barreling down on the roadhouse. She swerved into the lot, spraying pebbles on the cars in the first row as she came to a stop.

She saw me and waved as she nosed the convertible into a spot, “I finally took your advice,” she yelled, “Thanks, you were right.”

I followed her into the building. I had lots of questions but when I got inside she was nowhere to be seen. I looked back at the lot. Daryl was pulling his truck into the spot where she had parked. The MG was gone too. I guess the roadhouse is her haunt again these days. Occasionally a customer will send a drink over to the blond at the table in the corner but I never see her.


2nd Place in the Inaugural Grammar Ghoul Press Writing Challenge – Whoo-Hoo

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29 thoughts on “The Haunt

  1. I like your description of how she maneuvered the car into the turn. I never learned how to drive with a manual transmission, so the details are lost on me- but still cool to read 🙂 I’m glad she finally gets to haunt her old haunt!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love all the details as she hits that corner! I could see and hear her coming. And I love that she’s such a matter-of-fact ghost. Cleverly done, and well paced too.

    Thanks so much for linking up with our first challenge! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One of my favorites of yours! Maybe it’s the matter-of-fact tone and all the technical details mixed with the ghostly. Really fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a fabulous use of the prompt and I love the story. I could see a short being filmed of this story in a sec. Just an excellent ghost story.

    p.s. my first car was a ’55 MG… Racing Green.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Ted – good to see you – thanks for the great comment. Bet you wish you still had that 55 MG? I used to have a 55 GMC truck but that is not quite the same!?

      Like

  5. Wow. This was fantastic! I read it a couple of times. I love how your words flow, and hit a rhyme at just the right moment. The ending was great. Glad she didn’t downshift. I think this left room for more if you wanted. Well, it may be just me, but I liked the ghost. So now I’m wondering why some of the customers see her? lol

    Like

    • Thanks Donetta. I’m really kind of surprised that this story seems to be so well liked. I may have to explore them a bit more.
      Again, thanks.

      Like

  6. Thom, I agree with Jenn. This was definitely among my favourite stories of yours, if not the favourite. I love her character, the narrator’s voice and the easy rhythm of the piece. It sounds so natural. And the idea of the ghost trying to get to the roadhouse if only she could figure out the turn is so SMART. Very very well told! This is one of those stories that makes me think I shouldn’t even bother trying to respond to the prompt.

    Like

      • You’re too kind. I’m in the midst of a parenting crisis which has sapped my will to write. And live! So I may not get my head around any of them this week. I may just be a reader and a commenter instead. And as I said, I really enjoyed this so I think it’ll be a good week 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Excellent use of the prompt. Reading your piece was a great way to start my Monday morning. I never thought of tires “complaining” before, but I like that they did and she didn’t. Even when she crashed over and over and over. The last bit was just priceless!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thom – I suppose you are tired of hearing this by now but this is wonderful and right at the top of my favorite things you have written. Very clever, well paced and fun to read! Very fine work, sir.

    Liked by 1 person

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