R Brantley

Many years ago there was a house on the street where I lived called the ghost house. It’s still there and as scary as ever.

It was at one time the big house of a plantation but as the area grew the plantation was sold off piece by piece. One of the last families that lived there had a death and, as was the custom, the neighborhood men and women gathered to see if they could be of any help. Someone got up a list of men who would sit up with the deceased that night starting about 6 p.m.

This place looked like it came right out of the movies and was scary in the daytime. There was a big room on the bottom floor, some flimsy see-through curtains, an electric drop cord in the center of the room with a dim 20-watt bulb, five folding chairs Mann's Funeral Home furnished and a fireplace the casket was placed in front of.

I smoked heavily in those days. No coffee or drinks were available and I never hunted any water. As the six to eight sitters figured out their shifts, I told them I had to work the next day and would like to get a little sleep because I had already worked that day and was tired. I got 10 p.m. to midnight.

Six young men lived on my street and many more on the next street so they chose two people for each shift. I made the short walk home across the backyard of another house and got ready for my two hours by taking a shower, eating something, getting a fresh pack of cigarettes and a can or two of Coke. The time came to go over so I used the bathroom because I didn't know where another one was.

I quickly smoked two cigarettes on the way over so I would be smoked up for my stay. If I got down to half a pack I panicked. The two men sitting up when I got there shot out of that room in a dead run, leaving me standing there. Where was my partner? I figured he would be along in a minute but after one hour I decided he wasn't going to show.

By this time I had started talking to the corpse and said, ‘If you don't mind, I'm going to step out for a smoke.’ He didn't seem to mind.

That house made more noises than anything I had ever heard. I put my chair against the wall so nobody or no creature could sneak up on me. My bladder was telling me it needed relied from the Coke I drank. I asked the corpse about the bathroom but he didn't answer and by the time my two hours were up I was dancing around the room.

Finally, I went outside and found a tree. I don’t know why I worried about anyone seeing me because at 12 no one showed up. If I could have found my partner, there would have been two corpses instead of one. As it turned out the 12 o’clock crew didn't show up, nor did the crew scheduled at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. At 6 o’clock some people came in.

“How did it go last night?” they asked. I didn't answer — I just glared at them. To make matters worse, I got a card a few days later that said, “I want to thank all of you men for sitting up the other night.”