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Hello 'der Dead People

March 2004

It was the fall of 1970 and I was fifteen and working at the local restaurant the Dixie Maid, many times till late. My friend Chester who was the grandson of the owners Doc and Ma Turner was adventurous like me. His little brother Dweeb was not. Since I lived in a small farming community three miles was considered a long distance, so when the restaurant closed I was usually driven home by Doc or Ma Turner; it was considered too long a drive for my parents to come and get me.

Chester and I often got into trouble, either with too-much playful fighting (oops a LOT of water spilled on the lap of a patron!) or because of orneriness (Chester couldn't figure out how I ended up locked in the storage shed). It was great fun.

This October 31st night became memorable because although it was fun, it was both odd and frightening at the same time. This night after the restaurant closed the elder Turner's were too tired to take me home. Since Chester was sixteen and had his driver's license, could he take me home? Absolutely! We jumped at the chance!

It was Halloween night and we had a car with no responsibilities except to deliver me home on-time! Chester's Grandparents were tired after a long day, my parents were asleep and we had the scruples of fresh teenagers, so on-time could mean anything. Sensing this, Ma Turner told Chester to take his little brother Dweeb with us. Well? I guess.

It didn't take too long for us to pile into the the 1957 Chevy BelAir Coupe and take off. As the way home took us past the local graveyard, it didn't also take too much to decide that a drive through the graveyard on Halloween would be great considering the queasiness of little brother Dweeb in the back seat. Of course Dweeb protested. So, as Dweeb huddled in the backseat, we drove with lights off and a full moon shining in the east, through the graveyard. The front windows were wide open on the '57 Chevy.

As we drove Chester and I shouted "Hello ?der dead people!" Dweeb couldn't handle it. He winced, cowered and protested constantly. "I'm scared! Can we go home now, please?" Nope! We drove around in circles through the graveyard a number of times, the lights in the vehicle turned off, yelling and shouting as we drove our chant of "Hello ?der dead people!" The final time we drove through we passed a common gravestone on our left, one that we had passed several times just minutes before. As the moonlight shone brightly in our young eyes we spotted something on the top of this tombstone on our left towards the east. It was interesting so we stopped. Dweeb yelled "Let's go home!"
"Wait! This is cool!" we replied.
And so we stopped the car, engine running, and studied this new fixture on top of the tombstone. Hmmm, it's floating. OK. Cool. Who snuck into the graveyard to trick us, we wondered? It was after 11 p.m. which is really late in our small town. So we studied it. It was wearing a top-hat. The top-hat was really, really tall, probably 18 to 20 inches or so, black and shimmering in the moonlight. Where would someone get a hat like that in this town? There was a black faceless figure shrouded in what appeared to be a tuxedo jacket with a white sheet or shirt underneath. Someone is really pulling our leg, right? Hey Chester do you see what I see. Chester says "Yep."

Now the car is completely stopped and we are three feet from this figure. To the two of us this is really cool, but Dweeb, who is still crying in the back seat finally takes his hands from his eyes and asks "Don, how are they making it float there?" So we studied it for a little longer, not frightened and I ask "Chester that is really floating isn't it?" Chester replies "Yep and I am getting the hell out of here!" So Chester floors it and as the car accelerates, I look back at this figure still floating on top of and slightly to the back of the tombstone. As we drive forward I look toward the back of the tombstone and there is no one below the figure. It is truly floating alone.

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