Friday, May 04, 2007


Rufus Rastus Moses Brown lived on the edge of town, been here since the court house burned down, living in an abandoned boxcar rusting on a railroad track that hadn't heard a clickity-clack since way, way back. To folks in town he was known as just plain Mose. He liked that name and chose it for his own.

Mose didn't live alone. He had neighbors everywhere. Rats and cats who played catch to his delight. At night he'd hear them running around on the ground and in his home. There were skunks, quite a few. Smelled a bit, he did admit, but so did he and so did we. A lone raccoon who stared at the moon. Bats who hung on trees by day and flapped their wings and soared in the dark looking for a place to park. And dogs that barked in the church graveyard night and day and cried for masters who had passed away.

And a ghost there was. Mose knew. It came out at night in full view when Mose was alone and had no-one to show it to.These, the roaches, flies and fleas, the spiders and the stinging bees, were Mose's family. He loved them all and, in return, they learned he was their friend and would creep on him in his sleep and keep him company.

Mose was poor but was needy, He shared his meager wealth eagerly and what he craved as much as tears were fresh ears of sugar corn. When Mose needed salt for his food he'd think of his lost love and start to cry the saltiest tears his one good eye poured forth.

Moses had a special friend, a squirrel he called "My Girl," even though he didn't know whether it was a he or she. He didn't care. My Girl was his love who talked to him and walked with him and taught him how to store his food like squirrels do so when the snow and winter winds began to blow and he couldn't search for food and craved a snack he'd reach into his burlap sack and put two acorns in his hand. One for him, one for My Girl. And they would munch on squirrel food.

In the spring Mose would plant his rows of corn between the tracks and on the hill and anywhere a seed might grow and all his friends would know not to disturb his corn, to let it grow. Because when it was ripe and ready to eat he'd feed not just them but the folks in town. They'd crowd around old Mose Brown and if the rain came pouring down they'd crowd into his boxcar home to hear his tale about the ghost that only he could see.

"What's it look like?" kids would ask.

"Big and white, not black like me. The biggest ghost you' ever meet. 'Course, I can't rightly tell. It wore this sheet. Not the kind your momma spreads on your bed. Big and flappy. This one had happy, dancing feet."

"Aw, come on Mose. Ghosts don't have feet."

"This one do, I'se tellin' you. Once it stepped on my big toe and...ooh, ooh, ooh! I told that ghost a thing or two. Do you know what it say to me?"

The children crowded close to hear. Mose smiled with a twinkle in his eye started to reply, but from a great oak way up high, they heard a "BOO! BOO! BOO!" More like a roar they'd never heard before.

The kids were scared and didn't know what to say. But they never forgot that day, the day the big ghost went away and never returned to the scene, not even on Halloween.


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