Summary: What is there to do on a dark and rainy evening on a fall cattle drive than to tell spooky stories to entertain each other. Some have humor, some have mystery, and some have a bit of a fright factor. Some may be familiar but keep reading because there’s more added.
rating = T WC = 11,760
Halloween Campfire Stories
Relentless rain, mud, and swollen streams slowed the cattle drive to a crawl and then a stop. They couldn’t press on safely and had to hold the cattle for a full day. They rigged tarps in the trees and the men used those as refuge from the rain for meals and a chance to sleep and rest. To pass the time in the gloom, Joe suggested that they should tell some stories. The discussion of what kind of stories to tell brought up a few stories that Joe wished would have been buried forever. The land sharks story was one he would have preferred would never have been told and knew the men were likely to be laughing about it for quite some time. Adam and Hoss however relished the telling of the tale and their father joined in and helped them. Joe couldn’t do much but fill in any parts that he could and try to make the story not quite so bad in the telling. It went something like this with their father telling them a story one Halloween evening when he had been quite young.
“Yes, Hoss, that shark was as long as our ship. Its mouth could have swallowed a dinghy!”
“Papa, what’s a dinghy?”
“Little Joe, it’s like a rowboat. Just like the one that Adam uses to give you and Hoss a ride on the lake sometimes?”
“Oh, Papa, I’m scared. What if Adam gives us a ride, and a shark comes up to swallow our thingy?”
“That’s what I said, Adam, you don’t have to repeat everything I say.”
Exasperated, Adam went back to reading his book. The weather was too awful to do anything else on this Halloween. The wind threw small branches against the windows occasionally or they could hear the hail pound down on the roof reminding them of the storm’s fury. Ben got back to his storytelling.
“There are no sharks in Lake Tahoe. The sharks I’m telling you about are in the ocean, and we are a long way from the ocean.”
“Weren’t you scared, Pa, that the shark would eat you?”
“Mostly that would be a problem if the ship ever sank. Luckily every ship I was on returned safely to port. So, no, Hoss, I was never in any danger of being eaten.”
“So there ain’t no sharks in Nevada, is there, Pa?”
“Aren’t any, and are there.”
“Adam, why don’t you just keep your nose in your book like you always want to do. I can talk just fine without any of your help.”
Getting even more irritated with his six-year-old brother, Adam began to plot, and a plotting Adam is a dangerous thing for six year old boys.
“So, Pa, right, there ain’t no sharks here, is there?”
“No, Little Joe, there are no sharks here.”
“Well, Pa, that’s correct except, what about the land sharks? You know, the ones that lurk in tall weeds in the garden because no one pulled them for Hop Sing like they were told to do or in caves little boys aren’t supposed to sneak into but do anyway?”
Realizing the game Adam was going to play with Little Joe, Ben played along. “Oh yes, and how they do like to be in soiled bedding under horses. That’s why we have to clean out those stalls every day without fail. Why one stall where someone has covered up dirty straw with fresh straw instead of cleaning it out could be home to one or even two land sharks.”
“Why, Pa, I have even heard of land sharks slipping into a house and hiding under a bed where someone has tossed trash and dirty clothing instead of taking it out and cleaning up the room. Why I believe it is most likely when that stuff has been there so long, it is collecting dust too.”
Eyes wide with astonishment, twelve-year-old Hoss had some questions now. “How big do land sharks get, and what do they eat?”
“Oh, Hoss, you don’t have to worry. Land sharks don’t have the teeth to bite someone who is say, eight-years-old or older.” Hoss was reassured by Adam’s words.
“Pa, that ain’t right, is it? What Adam said, that can’t be right, Pa, can it?” Joe was very worried now because those land sharks seemed to infest areas for which he was responsible and places he liked to play, and he seemed like just the right size for them to eat as well.
“Well, now, Little Joe, I don’t think you have to worry if you stay out of caves, do your chores, and clean up your room like I asked you to do. All of us will certainly be safe because we don’t do things that would put us in places where those land sharks lurk. It’s getting late now. I think we should all head to bed.
The next morning, Little Joe was up very early. He had cleaned up under his bed the previous night before going to bed thinking he would not be able to sleep if there was a risk that land sharks might want to move into his room. After he was dressed, he gathered up the soiled clothing and wadded up paper that had been under his bed to carry it downstairs. He put the soiled clothing in the laundry baskets and got a thank you from Hop Sing for saving him the trip upstairs. Then he heard his father and Adam walk down the stairs talking and laughing quietly.
“You really had your little brother going last night.”
“Well Halloween is a good time for scary stories, and it wasn’t like he’s been doing his chores and behaving like he should.”
“Did he really sneak off to that cave when I told him he couldn’t?”
“No, not that I know, but I was just trying to add a little reinforcement to that one.”
“Adam, I am really going to miss you when you go off to school next year. You really are a big help not only with the ranch but with your brothers too.”
“Thanks, Pa. I think I’ll head out to the stable to do my chores before I have any breakfast.”
Thinking for just a minute, Little Joe headed out through the kitchen door to go to the stable. Once he was there, he greeted Adam and then grabbed a rake before moving to stand behind his pony’s stall.
“Adam, do you think you could back my pony out for me? He seems a bit skittish this morning, and I don’t want him to bang me into the side of the stall like he did last week that one day.”
Adam smiled and did that for Little Joe.
“Adam, could you help me rake out this stall? What if some land shark got in here last night cause the bedding was dirty?”
Joe managed to have his lower lip quiver with that one so Adam moved to his side and helped him. Then the two of them threw in fresh straw before Adam led the pony back into the stall. Adam then moved to finish his chores as Little Joe ran back to the house. When Adam entered through the kitchen and washed up, he heard Little Joe excitedly talking to their father about how he had turned the tables on Adam. Adam headed back to the stable to do Hoss’ chores for him. He finished just as Hoss reached the stable.
“Gee, thanks, Adam. My stomach was growling, and now I can go back and have them flapjacks.”
“That’s good, Hoss, but I have a favor to ask of you. There’s something I would like you to do after breakfast.” And Adam talked quietly to Hoss as they walked back to the house. As they ate breakfast, Little Joe several times thanked Adam for his help that morning each time smirking with how clever he thought he had been. Ben just smiled for although he had participated in the prank, it appeared that Little Joe’s enmity was all for Adam. He wondered what the rest of the day would bring. He reminded Joe that he needed to do the last weeding of the garden for the year so that the seeds from those weeds would not fall to sprout in the spring. Sighing deeply, Little Joe nodded. Then he was inspired. He asked Adam to help him just in case there were land sharks lurking there.
“You’re my older brother. I need you to protect me.”
Agreeing after only a little cajoling, Adam left with Little Joe to head to the garden. Shortly after that having eaten three helpings of flapjacks, a helping of bacon, and some biscuits, Hoss followed them outside. Ben suspected there was going to be some kind of surprise, but not knowing who would be the most surprised, he stood at the window and watched Adam and Little Joe working. Well Adam was working. Little Joe was mostly talking. In the garden, Adam was being his usual exasperated self with Little Joe.
“Little Joe, you have to help. This is your chore, not mine, but I’m doing all the work.”
“Adam, I’m so scared that one of them land sharks is gonna eat me, I can’t go in there.”
“Joe, it was just a joke. There really aren’t any land sharks.”
Just then two large arms covered in red splotches reached up and dragged Adam down into the tallest weeds. Adam screamed once, then twice, and then no more. Little Joe stood frozen for a moment and then went screaming to the house calling for his Pa to come save Adam from the land sharks. In the garden, Hoss and Adam lay on the ground laughing hysterically after they had peeked through the weeds to see their little brother’s reaction. Hoss pulled off the canvas strips he had wrapped around his arms before he had stained the fabric with splotches of red paint.
“Adam, you know Pa is gonna make us pull all these weeds now, dontcha? He’s probably gonna be mad.”
“Yes, but it was all worth it. Hoss, did you see that look on his face and then the screams. That’s the best Halloween prank we’ve ever pulled.”
“Adam, I’m really gonna miss you when you go off to college.”
“Hoss, I’m really going to miss you too, but next year, just for me, will you pull a Halloween prank on Little Joe? Then write to me and tell me all about it?”
Then Adam proceeded to tell Hoss a number of ideas he had before they heard their father’s bellow and needed to go make the appropriate apologies that they would make sound so sincere. Then later when pulling weeds, they would repeat the story over and over laughing hysterically each time as Little Joe watched from the house happy that he didn’t have to do the weeding, and wondering just how he could get back at both brothers for being so mean to him and especially because he saw them laughing together and knowing they were laughing at him.
The story got the round of laughs all the way through just as Joe suspected it would. He had to admit it was a good story but wished he wasn’t the center of it. His insides clenched as he hoped no one would ask the inevitable question and then there it was.
“What did Little Joe do to get even with you boys?”
With relish, Adam and Hoss got ready to launch into that story. It wasn’t such a funny story though as much as one with a message. The men wanted to hear it though and nodded as the two talked and Ben filled in his part with Joe reluctantly explaining his part and trying not to make it sound too awful reminding the men that he was barely seven years old at the time.
“Pa, Adam keeps laughing about those land sharks. It’s not funny, Pa. He’s just being mean.”
“Now, Joseph, you laughed about tricking Adam into doing your barn chores for you, and then you tried to get him to weed the garden for you too. Isn’t that correct?”
“Yes, Pa. But I ain’t laughing no more and he is.”
“Just wait til tomorrow. It’ll all be over.”
Thinking that it better be done soon, Joe got back to thinking about what he could do to Adam. Most of the ideas weren’t that good, but he had one ready for the next morning. It wasn’t all the revenge he planned to exact, but a kid had to start somewhere. The next morning, Adam sat down for his breakfast and found a full glass of milk by his plate when he arrived at the table. Thinking that someone had been kind, he dug into his breakfast, greeted his father and Hoss when they arrived at the table, and the grabbed the glass of milk to drain it before heading out to work. In seconds, he spit milk all over the table in front of him and some splashed onto Hoss’ plate and onto his shirt.
“What is the meaning of this?” was Ben’s bellow as soon as he found his voice to react.
From the top of the stairs, there was an hysterical giggle that answered several questions. Adam stood to go deal with the little prankster, but Ben grabbed his arm.
But, Pa, that milk was full of salt and something very hot. My mouth and stomach may not recover anytime soon.”
“I will deal with our young prankster. You will go in the kitchen to get some rags to clean this up after you get a nice cold drink from Hop Sing. Cool down that temper of yours, do as I say, and then get to work.”
After Adam left for the kitchen, Ben turned his attention to Hoss. Before he could say anything, Hoss resolved the situation himself. Staring forlornly at the flapjacks that had been splashed with some of the milk Adam had spit out, Hoss decided that being hungry was worse than anything else, so he dabbed up as much of the splatter as he could, poured a lot of syrup over them, and began eating.
Still laughing and surprised that his prank had affected both brothers, Joe was quite proud of himself until he looked at his father’s face. Then Joe realized he might have a problem. He was correct, and sitting at breakfast wasn’t very comfortable after that.
“Pa, can I ask a question?”
“I think you just did.”
“No, I mean, yes, but, I really have something I don’t understand.”
“What is it?”
“Why is it that Adam and Hoss only had to weed the garden for their prank, but I got spanked?”
“Their joking did not harm anyone and could not have harmed anyone except to frighten you. Your so-called joke could create some problems for Adam. He doesn’t usually eat anything with Hop Sing’s hot sauce on it because it upsets his stomach so much. With that and the salt, he may be suffering much of today. That is not a funny thing to do to someone.”
“Oh, Pa, then I think I have to go outside and take care of something right away.”
Yelling and pounding on the front door meant that wasn’t going to be necessary. One of the hands was standing at the front door when Ben answered it, and soon another hand came carrying Adam who seemed senseless.
“Oh my God, what happened?”
“Adam mounted up on that new horse ya got him, and it went crazy bucking all over the yard. He tried to hang on, but it caught him so much by surprise, he got bucked off. One of the men already headed into town to see if the doc can come out.”
As the hand carried Adam to the settee and set him down, Ben could only say one thing. “Adam has ridden bucking horses for over a year now and usually does so well.”
“He woulda been all right except he landed near the corral fence, and his head hit the post. We weren’t ready either, and nobody got to him fast enough to grab that fool horse.”
Hoss had rushed over to help and was pulling off Adam’s boots. At the dining table, Joe stood quietly. He was as pale as he could be. Ben looked at him once and tried to reassure him that Adam would be all right. Joe turned and rushed from the room. Ben wanted to go help him, but Adam needed his attention at the moment. Hop Sing came in with what he thought they needed, and it was just in time as Adam opened his eyes and almost immediately started retching into the bowl that was provided. There was no more fear that the hot sauce and salt would bother his stomach because it was out. Adam looked up at Ben and asked what had happened. Ben told him, and then a few minutes later, Adam again asked what had happened and Ben patiently told him once more. It was clear then that Adam had a concussion. Ben stayed by his side until the doctor arrived and pronounced that rest would lead to a full recovery. Ben and Hoss helped Adam to his room, and settled him in his bed. Leaving Hoss to sit with Adam, Ben headed out to find his youngest.
“Mr. Cartwright, we found this under the saddle blanket on Adam’s horse. Somebody did it on purpose, and we’ll take care of him when we find out who done it.”
The hand held out a burr. Suddenly everything clicked for Ben. “I’ll take care of it. I think I know who did it, and I will deal with him.”
Walking, Joe could not have gotten far. Ben walked toward the stream that emptied into the lake. He expected he would find him soon, but it took much longer than he had thought. Joe must have been running at first to have gotten so far from the house. Ben regretted not saddling up a horse for this trek. Finally he thought he heard someone and walked rapidly toward the trees up ahead. He found Little Joe huddled next to a tree sobbing. All of his anger at his young son forgotten for the moment, Ben wrapped his arms around the boy who seemed almost unaware at first that anyone was there.
“Joseph, Joe, Little Joe, listen to me. It’s going to be all right. Everything will be all right.”
“Oh, Pa, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to kilt him, I really didn’t. I thought it was just a funny thing to do, and then Adam would be so mad, and I was gonna just laugh when he came in. I never thought he would get hurt and die. Really, Pa, I didn’t.”
“He’s not going to die. He probably wishes he had right about now with the headache he has. He won’t be out of that bed today. He probably won’t be able to do much of anything for a few days.”
“Really, Pa, really? Cause Pa when they carried him in there, he looked just like Mama, and I thought he was kilt. And I wondered who would take care of you cause Adam took care of us when Mama died, but if Adam was kilt, then we wouldn’t have anybody.”
“Oh, Joseph, we are all here for each other. And Adam will be fine. Now do you want to tell me why you thought putting a burr under his saddle blanket was a good idea?”
A little embarrassed to have to admit to eavesdropping as well as the other things that he had done, Joe sat up a little straighter and looked at his father’s face. “Pa, I heard some of the hands say that one of the new men is to smart mouthed for his own good and brags all the time. They said they should put a burr under his saddle cause that would teach him a lesson. I thought if they could do it, I could do it too and teach Adam a lesson.”
“Oh, and what lesson were you going to teach Adam?”
At Little Joe’s squirming and silence, Ben had a fairly good idea. “So the lesson was that he shouldn’t play tricks on his youngest brother? Per haps you’re forgetting all the tricks you played on him since he played that one trick on you. Let me see, there was the frog in his chamberpot, and then there were the grasshoppers in his boots. If I recall there was a large spider that somehow ended up on his back one morning as he was sitting at the breakfast table that caused him to spill his coffee all over his pants. Where there any others I don’t know about?”
“Ah, maybe somebody put all of his books upside down on his bookshelves and out of order?”
Ben had to chuckle at that one. He could almost see the exasperated look that would have been on Adam’s face when he retired to his room for the night hoping to fall into bed only to find that he had to rearrange his bookshelves first for Adam never would have been able to sleep knowing that they were messed up like that.
“Did he retaliate for all of those pranks?”
“Did he get even? Did he play a host of pranks on you?”
“Nah, he kept saying that if I did another one to watch out because he could play pretty good pranks himself.” To himself, Joe was now thinking he was in big trouble. He certainly had done enough to earn the one prank Adam had played on him, but he hadn’t been thinking about that when he decided to get even.
“So you played quite a few pranks on Adam, and he played one on you, so you decided you had to get even? Seems to me, you were way ahead at that point and could have let it drop. But instead, you decided to be quite mean with your next pranks, and despite the fact that Adam will be fine, he could have been seriously hurt or possibly killed today. How does that make you feel?”
Tears started flowing again. “I’m really sorry, Pa, I really am.”
“Well, I’m not the one you should be apologizing to, but I’m afraid if you apologize to Adam today, he won’t remember it. His head is a bit addled at the moment. Now you know what has to happen now, don’t you?”
With his head down, Joe nodded. “Yes, Pa.”
“In addition, you will apologize to Adam tomorrow, you will help Hop Sing with his care, and you will do his chores for the next two weeks.”
“Would you like to try for a month? It is your fault that Adam won’t be able to do his chores for the next few days. After that, it is punishment for what you did, and evidence of your sincere apology to Adam. Just saying you’re sorry doesn’t always make things right. Adding something like doing his chores will show your sincerity. You are truly sorry, aren’t you?”
Joe nodded enthusiastically to that. He was hoping that his father would forget the other part of his punishment if he agreed to doing Adam’s chores.
“This will show Adam that you are truly sorry then. And none of this changes the other punishment.”
Soon after, father and son began the walk home with Little Joe trying not to rub his sore backside. Once they were home, Little Joe was sent to do chores. He wanted to say he was sorry to Adam but was told Adam needed quiet and rest, and that he could apologize the next day. As soon as the sun was up the next morning, Joe was in Adam’s room but he was still sleeping. He went to open the curtains that had been pulled and as the sunshine flooded the room, Adam began groaning. Within a minute, Ben was there, saw the problem, and quickly pulled the curtains closed again. Joe was standing by the bed wondering what had happened.
“Joseph, why did you do that?”
“Pa, Adam always likes the sun shining in his room. But now he doesn’t. Did that bump on his head change him? Cause I heard if a wolf bites you, you change into a man-wolf so I figure a bump might change ya too. Is Adam gonna be changed forever?”
“Adam is not changed. He just needs quiet and a darker room. Noise and bright light will bother him for a few days probably.”
“Oh, is that why we’re whispering?”
“Could someone tell me what’s going on?” From the bed, Adam had a request, but Ben was happy that he was awake and lucid. He told him what had happened but waited to let Joe admit the part for which he was responsible.
“Uh, Adam. The horse bucked ya off cause I put a burr under the saddle. I just thought it would buck you around, and, Adam, you’re the greatest at breaking those horses so I never thought you would fall off, and I’m really sorry you bumped your head, and I hope you’re going to be all right cause Pa says you’re gonna be all right.” Joe stopped to catch his breath and then held it again waiting to see how his oldest brother would react.
Adam rubbed his forehead and slowly processed all that he had heard in that run-on sentence that may have been the longest he had ever heard. “You did this? But, why?”
“Well you played that prank on me with the land sharks and laughed about it.”
“But you must have gotten even with me with all those pranks you’ve been pulling on me since. Why did you have to do that to me?”
“Cause you was still laughing about that trick you played on me.”
“But didn’t you laugh and brag to the hands every day about the tricks you were playing on me?”
Poor Joe had no answer for that one. He wanted to be the jokester and didn’t like sharing that with Adam. Suddenly he realized what his father had meant yesterday when they had discussed this, and their father told him that pride was a deadly sin and could have killed his brother. “I’m so sorry, Adam. I’ll never do anything like that again, I promise.” Tears were flowing then as Adam told him it was all right. Joe offered to get him something to eat or drink, to read to him, or to sit and talk.
“No, Joe, I would just like a little quiet time to rest.” Adam saw how disappointed that made his little brother so he amended his statement. “Maybe if someone wanted to sit here and hold my hand, I could rest better knowing I’m not alone.”
Pulling a chair to the side of the bed immediately, Joe sat and took Adam’s long fingers into his grasp. Adam closed his eyes then, and Ben left them in peace. He expected that Joe wouldn’t be able to manage this for more than about fifteen or twenty minutes so after an hour, he walked back up the stairs to check on him. As he pushed open Adam’s door, he had to smile. Joe was lying on the bed next to Adam. Joe’s head rested on Adam’s shoulder with Adam’s arm wrapped tightly around the curly headed scamp. Both were peacefully napping. Ben pulled the door closed relieved that this year’s season of pranks had come to an end.
After that story, the men asked if they had any more funny stories but Hop Sing had dinner ready so there was a delay as everyone trudged through the rain to get a plate of food and then back under the tarps to eat.
The next stories centered on Little Joe again and everyone began to sense a theme in the Halloween stories that seemed to feature a lot of humor and Little Joe. Adam and Hoss seemed to relish telling the tales too.
“Little Joe loves his birthdays. And he loves Halloween. I think we ought to combine the two, and give our younger brother a day he will never forget.”
“Adam, that’s all well and good, but how can we ever come up with something more memorable than all the pranks and shenanigans that little rascal can cook up for Halloween?”
“Well, I have a few ideas for that.” And Adam took to slicking his hair back more than ever to cover the fact that it was much longer than usual. The cold weather helped because he could wear clothing with collars that covered the back of his neck where he couldn’t hide the long hair. Hoss started collecting a variety of items too using his woodsman knowledge to make quite a collection. Joe knew they were up to something and welcomed it. He guessed they were going to play some great pranks on him, so he readied quite a few surprises for them.
But then one day in town to take care of a number of errands, Joe saw Adam going into Mary Ellen’s house, and he didn’t come out for over an hour. Joe knew because he waited. Joe had been seeing Mary Ellen even though she was a few years older than he was. She had dated Adam briefly a few years earlier. As Adam walked out, he was buttoning up his shirt. Joe’s face turned red, and he was angry enough to confront Adam right there but decided to serve this revenge up cold. He began plotting seriously.
Unfortunately, Joe also happened to be drinking later as he was plotting, and ended up in the jail. Whiskey and a temper never went together well for Joe. When Adam and Hoss came looking for him, Sam told them that Roy had Joe over in the jail waiting for them. He also handed Adam a bill. Adam’s eyebrows rose when he saw it, but he dug into his wallet and pulled out enough money to pay for the damages. It was approaching Joe’s birthday so Adam held his usually sharp tongue and Hoss managed not to look too disappointed at the disheveled young man they bailed out of jail. Adam paid the fine so Joe would not have to come back into town the next day to pay it, and their father wouldn’t have to know about it.
When the three brothers arrived at home, Hoss advised Joe to stay in the stable until he and Adam could distract their father, and then he could sneak up to his room to clean up. If that didn’t work, Hoss would toss some clean clothes out of his upstairs window and he could change in the washroom. Adam reminded him to stay put and Joe snarled at him.
“Wonder what’s got into him?”
“I don’t know, Hoss, but he’s usually a bit surly after he gets into trouble. I’ll tell Pa that I’ll take those contracts over to Carson for him. That way he can take it easy tomorrow. The way he’s moving, he’s got some sore ribs. I can pick up the fireworks we ordered while I’m in Carson too.”
“None too soon either. We only have two days left before the big party. He’s gonna be so surprised. No pranks on him this year, and a big party instead. Even Pa is looking forward to this one.”
“I just hope Mary Ellen finishes my costume. She said she would bring it with her to the party.”
Later that evening, Joe was incensed that Ben was having Adam take the contracts to Carson. He had been looking forward to that trip.
“Now, Joe, it’s just delivering some contracts. Adam says he has an errand to run in town and it would save you a trip if he does both things tomorrow.”
Ben closed the discussion by saying he was tired and heading to bed. Adam sat in his chair reading, and Joe wanted to confront him but decided to wait a day to see if he could do it without losing his temper entirely. He stomped up the stairs. That plan didn’t work out well either. By the time he returned from working the next day, his father was waiting for him with that look that said he had heard about the trouble in town. Now the last Joe had seen of his father that day had been after breakfast when Adam was talking with him as Joe and Hoss headed out to work. Adam must have told his father about his little ruckus in town.
Joe knew what he was going to get. When he was younger, misbehavior resulted in a tanning, a lecture, and extra chores. The worst was the lecture, and now that he was older, that was all he got. He hated those lectures. They made him feel like a small boy again. And in his mind, it was all Adam’s fault anyway. If he hadn’t gone to see Mary Ellen, then Joe wouldn’t have been drinking so much. If he hadn’t been drinking, there wouldn’t have been that fight with that miner, and he wouldn’t have had to go to jail. He listened as his father talked but he didn’t hear anything. He nodded appropriately and apologized profusely, and as soon as his father went into the house, he kicked just about everything in the stable until his toe hurt. He figured that was Adam’s fault too, only Adam didn’t come home that night so there was nothing he could do about it.
It was late the next afternoon before Adam pulled into the yard. He asked Hoss to come help him with something so Joe remained on the settee. He would wait until they were done with whatever they were doing, and then he planned to confront Adam. He waited at least fifteen minutes and then could wait no longer. His father had gone upstairs, and Joe headed outside. Hoss was nowhere in sight, but Adam was standing by the empty wagon looking over some papers. Joe walked up and grabbed him by the shoulder spinning him around and then sucker punched him in the face. As Adam straightened up from that blow, Joe hit him again and laid him out on the ground. Adam put a hand to his face and came away with blood as his nose was already bleeding profusely.
“What the hell is wrong with you? What was that for?”
“You know damn well what that’s for. You went to see Mary Ellen. I saw you leaving her house and buttoning up your shirt. Then you told Pa about the fight I had and getting locked up by Roy. You were gone last night and it wasn’t hard to figure who you were with!” Joe stood over Adam with his fists clenched. He hadn’t heard the carriage enter the yard, nor had he seen his father and Hoss come out to stand directly behind him.
Pushing past Joe, Ben went to Adam to help him up. That’s when Joe saw Mary Ellen’s carriage and a very angry Mary Ellen. She climbed down from the carriage and went to help Adam as well.
“Joe, you jest better cool yourself down. You got a lot of things wrong, and you best apologize to Adam right now.”
“Hoss, I ain’t apologizing to him after everything he did.”
“That’s jest it, little brother. He didn’t do none of them things you said.”
“What? Of course he did!”
“Mary Ellen, you want to tell my little brother here what Adam was doing at your house?”
“I was sewing up a shirt for him so he could be in costume as a wolf man. I have a costume for you too. Adam thought you might like the costume of a riverboat gambler. Adam brought me a pair of your pants and a shirt so I could get the size right.”
About that time, Joe noticed that his father was dressed as a minister, and Hoss had on a cloak decorated with pine cones and other treasures of the forest. Hoss saw him looking and explained. “I’m the spirit of the forest. We had a big surprise costume party set up for your birthday. Adam was delayed overnight in Carson waiting for the fireworks we ordered.”
“Well who told Pa about the ruckus in town yesterday?”
“Pa went into town to borrow a collar from Reverend Wilkes. Roy saw him and asked how you were, and then Roy and Pa talked about what happened. Adam covered for you just like he done all them other times.”
Joe saw his father’s eyebrow rise at that statement from Hoss and knew he was going to be spending a lot more time on the ranch until his father trusted him to go to town again. Ben and Mary Ellen had helped Adam up and were going into the house where Hop Sing was ready to work on stopping the bleeding from his nose. His left eye was swelling as well. He would not be partying much on this night. When Joe entered the house, the look he got from Mary Ellen told him that they would probably no longer be seeing each other either. He looked at all of them and could only say one thing.
“I’m a fool. I am so sorry.”
“Just go greet your guests. There should be a lot of people here soon, and they’re bringing jack-o-lanterns so somebody has to organize where they go.” Adam’s voice was a little muffled by the cold compress Hop Sing was holding to his face.
Hoss put an arm around Joe’s shoulders and guided him outside. “Now the least you can do for Adam is to make sure these people he invited have a good time. We’ll all deal with the other things later.”
The party went well and the guests had a wonderful time in their costumes. Many thanked Joe for the creative theme and said how much they had enjoyed being able to design an outfit to wear. As the band played and people danced, laughed, and ate wonderful food, Joe felt worse and worse. He finally walked inside to see Adam for he couldn’t let this situation fester any longer no matter how embarrassed he was about his actions. He walked up the stairs, but when he got to Adam’s room, it was empty. Hop Sing was putting clean linens on the bed.
“Mister Adam nose bleed again. It stop now, and he go out to garden to sit. You go take care of hurt he has.”
Joe knew that Hop Sing did not mean the bloody nose or the black eye. He knew he had hurt his brother much more than that by his accusations and lack of trust. When he got to the garden, he saw Adam sitting and talking with Mary Ellen. He almost backed away at that point but forged ahead knowing he had to face up to what he had done. There was nothing romantic in the way the two were on the bench anyway so he thought he was not interrupting anything important.
“Well, I see you won’t be alone. I’ll head back to the party. I promised a few dances to Hoss, and I need to make good on that promise.” Mary Ellen walked back to the party with hardly a glance for Little Joe.
“Adam, I am so sorry.”
“Joe you said that earlier, and I accepted. So what do you want to talk about now?”
Hanging his head as he sat next to his brother, Joe knew what he wanted to say but not how to say it.
“I know what I did could have looked suspicious, but, Joe, what I don’t understand was why you didn’t trust me at all. What you accused me of doing was very dastardly, and I’m hurt that you would think that way about me.”
“I know, Adam, and I’m very sorry about that too. I’ve been wondering myself why I always get so mad at you. I guess it’s because I want what you have.”
Adam just looked at him with that look that said you had better finish telling me what you want to say.
“You’re half Pa’s age, and yet you get a lot of respect from the men around here. Bankers and businessmen greet you as an equal. Me they call Little Joe like I haven’t grown up at all. You get to take all those trips to San Francisco, Denver, Phoenix, and all those places that I’d like to go.” At Adam’s skeptical look, Joe had to explain more. “Oh, I know when you’ve invited me along, I’ve said I didn’t want to go, but it’s just that I don’t want to go along as the little brother. I want to do those things myself.”
“Joe, I went with Pa as his son on those trips when I was younger. I sat and learned. That’s what I wanted to do with you so you could do those trips on your own. You’re not me just like I’m not Pa. We all have to do it our own way. You would learn how I do it and then figure out how you would do it your way. But no one knows how to do negotiations without seeing some others in action first.”
“Adam, I want to go with you on your next trip. I want you to teach me everything you know about negotiating. I want you to introduce me to all the men who do business with the ranch. I want to sit in on those meetings in the Cattlemen’s Association and with the banks and with our lawyer.”
“I can do that. You’re going to find those meetings boring unless you use them to study the people there.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“It’s just like in poker, Joe. People have tells. You watch for them and it makes you a lot better at bargaining with them.”
“So it can be as much fun as poker?”
“More perhaps because there is no chance involved. It’s all how you manage the people you’re working with to get a deal. You let them ‘win’ on points that aren’t important to you and use those as bargaining chips to get the things you actually want. Hoss can’t do it because every time they offer him a big steak, beer, and a cigar, he agrees to almost anything. He likes to come with me and get the benefits without the work. I don’t mind though because as they’re plying him with bribes, it gives me more time to observe the people and work out my strategy.”
“Hey I can do that. And if I win, it’ll be a lot more than I can win at poker. Hey, this is gonna be great. I bet I get to be one of the best negotiators there ever was.”
Adam had to chuckle. Joe’s confidence was never down for long.
“Now Mary Ellen and I are friends. Is that going to be a problem?”
“No, I mean, well she won’t want to see me at all after this anyway.”
“On the contrary, we were just talking about you. We agreed that you are impetuous and hot tempered.”
“Oh, and that’s supposed to mean I have a chance with her?”
With a deep sigh, Adam continued. “No, it means those are things you could try to curb a bit at least. We did agree too that you have a zest for life that is inspiring, a sense of fun that we both find we enjoy a great deal, and a talent with horses that is amazing. Now I’ve smoothed the way if you want to go try to get back in her good graces. Remember too that you accused her of being unfaithful so you need to take care of that.”
Joe felt very good right about then. “Do you want to come to the party? We already told people you got hurt. You could at least say howdy and have something to eat and drink.”
“No, I think I’ll stay right here. It’s a good spot to watch the fireworks if Hoss put them where we had decided they would make the best show.”
“Ah, Adam, would it be all right if I asked Mary Ellen, and the two of us came back here to watch them with you?”
“I’d like that, Joe. And Joe, if you ever decide to sucker punch me again, don’t. I’ll be ready next time, and you won’t like the result.”
“Gotcha, older brother, but now I got a lady to apologize to again, and see if she won’t give me a few dances before this party is done.”
Adam shook his head. There wasn’t much that could keep that wild rambunctious spirit down for very long. He thought a few well-placed grimaces at breakfast might get him out of chores for one day at least. The kid did have a soft and gentle heart, and a resiliency that was to be admired.
When it was time for the fireworks, Joe was back as promised with Mary Ellen. Ben came too and all four sat and watched the fireworks go off. Joe kept jumping up to point at the especially gorgeous ones and the others laughed with his enthusiasm. When the fireworks ended, Adam suggested that Joe drive Mary Ellen back to town and tie Cochise on the back of the carriage. Ben agreed that was a good idea. Joe didn’t need any convincing but did think he ought to at least offer to help.
“Don’t I have to stay and help clean up?”
“No, son, not on your birthday. Now tomorrow it will be different.”
Joe nodded and smiled. Life was good. He took Mary Ellen’s hand and walked to the front of the house. Adam smirked when he saw Joe lean down to kiss Mary Ellen, and she moved into the young man’s arms for an extended kiss. There weren’t many young women who would ever be able to resist his youngest brother’s considerable charm.
The men enjoyed those stories but asked for something scarier. It didn’t take long to inspire Adam to come up with a tale to tell. He began a story about Rattlesnake Cave doing all the voices of his family as well as his own and the sounds of snakes and specters too.
“Adam, did you do that inspection of Rattlesnake Cave for us yet?”
“No, Pa, I haven’t had time.”
“Adam, we need to know if that cave holds any chance of working our way toward the gold deposits that we can’t safely get from our Axe Mine on the other side of that hill. That rock is too unstable as we’ve tunneled in, and we can’t shore it up enough to make it safe. That and those steam vents have all but shut our operations down there. You were the one who said that vein looks rich.”
“I’ve got a lot to do today.”
“I don’t want to give up those profits, but I won’t risk miners’ lives for money. If we can’t use Rattlesnake Cave as another access to that gold vein, we’ll have to close that mine. Most of the miners are already idle and not earning anything to support their families because we had to close tunnels in the Axe Mine. I would hate to see that as the permanent solution.”
“All right, I’ll go over there after I finish with the changes at the mill and the count in the northwest pasture.”
“Thank you, son. I knew you would find the time.”
Snarling just a little, Adam went to the stable to saddle up Sport. It was a warm fall day, but in late October, darkness would come early so he needed to hurry through his other tasks today.
“Hey, Adam, did Pa ask you about Rattlesnake Cave?”
“Yes, Joe, so I don’t need you riding me about it too.”
“No, Hoss and I were just talking about how we wouldn’t want to go in there. There’re a lot of stories told about that cave. Even the Paiute would never go in there.”
“Joe, it’s just a bunch of legends. There’s nothing to it.”
“Well, older brother, if you see those dancing rattlers they talk about or the green spirit with the giant axe, don’t say Joe and me didn’t tell you to be careful.”
“Fine, you told me to be careful. Now I need to get going if I’m going to get that done today. I won’t have time for lunch as it is.”
Adam wheeled his horse and headed out. The changes at the mill took longer than expected, and then the count in the northwest pasture was low so he had to do it again. It was the same the second time. They were missing twenty head of cattle there and would have to investigate the next day to see what had happened. He hoped it wasn’t rustlers, and that they were just bottled up in a box canyon or had managed to get through a fence line and were in another pasture. It was nearly three before he arrived at Rattlesnake Cave. He dismounted and went to light the lantern his father had said would be at the entrance but found it was out of fuel. There was a small candle there, and that was all he would really need. He lit it and was a little dismayed to find that was his last match. He didn’t want to have to tell his father that he didn’t want to go in the cave so he was careful with the flame until he was well into the cave away from any air currents. He completed the inspection quickly. The cave walls seemed to be solid granite, and the cave itself extended deep into the hill without any indication of steam vents. It would work. The only negative was that there seemed to be a colony of rats there, but it wouldn’t take much more than a few days with poison to eliminate those probably.
As Adam turned to leave, he saw a pair of dancing rattlesnakes in the path he needed to follow to leave the cave. He knew that they were in a mating ritual and would likely not even notice him. But then he saw another pair, and another, and another. It seemed every way he looked, there were more rattlesnakes in their mating ritual. He must have disturbed them when he walked through earlier. They were no longer dozing though. Now two might ignore him but so many were a distinct danger to his health. In trying to avoid one set, he would have possibly bumped into another. The longer he stood there holding his flickering candle, the more rattlesnakes seemed to emerge to engage in the mating ritual dances.
“Great, just great!”
Up here, rattlesnakes hibernated. Most came back to the same rocky den year after year. Apparently this was a major den, and the presence of the rats as a food source was another reason for it to be so well populated with rattlers. Of course it could have been going on for hundreds of years so there was no surprise that the Paiute had named it Rattlesnake Cave. It was too bad that they had not started hibernating already. Instead there were probably dozens or even hundreds of the venomous villains in there with him. He swore that he could smell them at that point. A sudden gust of air from somewhere snuffed out his candle too.
“Oh, this just keeps getting better and better.”
Standing very still, Adam wondered what he could possibly do. He shivered as he thought about an agonizing death from rattlesnake bites, and then felt sweat running down has back as he thought about his body being devoured by rats perhaps even before he was dead. He hated rats with their beady eyes and scurrying from one dark hole to another. Slowly he realized his eyes were actually seeing the snakes. He wondered how that could be with no light source, but as he turned slightly, he saw a green glowing phantasm slowly advancing toward him. He was startled and almost moved toward a pair of snakes. Instead, he used the dim green light as a way to thread his way through the dancing snakes who were far more interested in each other thankfully than they were in him. His heart was pounding in his chest as the phantasm got closer and closer. Adam couldn’t go much faster without risking fatal snakebites. One bite could be survived, but if he fell amidst these snakes, he was likely to be bitten more than once. He could almost feel the burning pain of those bites as he walked among the dancing snakes. As the phantasm got very close, Adam resisted the urge to scream and run.
Glancing back as the phantasm got closer and closer, Adam could see that it was carrying a large stone axe. The closer it got, the more he felt like he was being embraced by a cold, damp fog. It had a cloying scent like pine sap mixed with honey in an overwhelming amount. His lungs were so tight and he couldn’t seem to draw in enough oxygen any more. As he staggered on, he felt more and more dizzy and faint making him worry that he might very well fall into the rattlesnakes. His legs began to feel like lead and his forward progress was glacial when he realized he was nearing the end of the cave. He was so relieved to finally see the light from the cave entrance. With a burst of speed he didn’t know he had, Adam rushed to leave the cave and its horrors. He sucked in deep breaths as his lungs ached for the oxygen rich air he had so desperately needed when in the hold of the phantasm. As Adam exited the cave with his chest heaving and his shirt dampened with sweat, his two brothers rode up to him.
“Hey, Adam, you look a little like you saw a ghost.”
“Joe, I didn’t see anything.”
“Then why were you running to get out of there.”
“My candle went out and I needed to get out of there quickly.”
Joe couldn’t see the logic of that, and as he puzzled over it, Hoss noticed something else.
“Older brother, ifn you didn’t see anything, why do you have that green stuff all over your back?”
“Hoss, that cave has all sorts of disgusting stuff in it. I must have brushed up against something. Now let’s just ride home. I need to tell Pa that this cave is not suitable to use.”
At home after washing himself thoroughly and then doing it again and putting on clean clothing, Adam sat down to dinner and told Ben that Rattlesnake Cave was not suitable for mining purposes.
“Are you sure, Adam? I think you and I should go over there tomorrow and take a closer look.”
Hoss and Joe looked at Adam. He had been so pale and out of breath when emerging from that cave, and he had that green slime all over his back. They wondered if he would admit he had been shaken by his visit to that cave and tell their father, or would he take his father to that cave and risk exposing him to whatever he had experienced.
“Pa, trust me. That cave will never work out.”
“All right then. That’s disappointing, but you’re the one with the engineering degree.”
That was the kind of story the men liked to hear and they clamored for another one. It took Adam about ten minutes of thinking to come up with another story. It was getting late then and it would likely be the last long story of the night. Adam began the next story by talking more softly so that everyone had to lean forward to hear as he spoke.
It had been a long and dusty road for Adam, and as he stopped at the livery stable to get Sport settled for the night, he realized he was dirty, hungry, and tired which he would take care of in that order. He headed to the hotel assuming he would get a room and startled the clerk who looked over Adam’s shoulder at the door that had closed. The clerk sighed deeply. There were many people in the hotel which surprised Adam in this little town well out of the way of the usual travel routes. He had taken a long detour to deliver a package to a friend of his father. Also surprising, he asked if the dining room was open, and the clerk said it never closed. He paid the extra for a bath and received a thick cotton towel and directions to the washroom.
Cleaned up and dressed in clean clothing, Adam felt quite a bit better and headed to the hotel restaurant for dinner. There were many in the dining room, but everyone was mostly very serious and almost morose in manner. Unable to engage anyone in conversation, Adam ate a hearty meal and headed to his room for a good night’s sleep. He had been pleased to find the room clean and fresh smelling. Stripping off his clothing and sliding between the sheets, he closed his eyes and fell into a deep slumber.
The next morning, refreshed and invigorated, Adam thought he would have a big breakfast and then head toward home. He didn’t hear any wind so he assumed the windstorm had blown itself out. Breakfast was much like dinner the night before. People were reasonably friendly but no one wanted to converse. The food was tasty and there was a lot of it. Adam smiled as he thought of his brother Hoss and how much he would like this place. He finished and walked to the desk to pay. The clerk was snoozing as he had been the day before. Adam knocked on the desktop startling him again.
“Yes, can I help you?”
“I just want to pay my bill and check out.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but you see, you can always check in here, but you can’t check out.”
“What? That’s ridiculous!”
“No sir, no one has checked out for almost thirty years. Since the first year we were open for business. In fact, no one has ever left here since those doors last opened.”
“Boy, you can’t be more than eighteen at best. You could not have been here for thirty years. And those doors opened yesterday.”
“No one ages here, sir. Food is provided. Laundry is clean every time you look for it. Hot water is there whenever we want it, but we can’t leave. For you, sir, they opened from the outside. But they won’t open for anyone inside.”
“Well, they’ll open for me.” Adam went to the doors but found they were just painted on the wall. He rushed into the restaurant to go through a window and found the same. No wonder there had been no one on the street last night and this morning. There was no glass to see through. He dropped his saddlebags and rifle heading up to the room he had and found the windows there were the same. He walked down the stairs perplexed.
“Why? What’s going on here?”
“Thirty years ago, an innocent man was hung because the owner of this hotel lied in court to cover up his own crime. The man’s fiancée checked into this hotel, and that night she killed the owner, but he fought her and inflicted fatal injuries on her too. She died upstairs in a room, but no one knew it until later. The sheriff came in here and got the owner’s body, and as soon as he left, the doors and windows closed up and none of us could leave. Over the years, people have come in, but no one has left.”
“There’s nothing we can do?”
“Every man here has been approached once by her spirit. It’ll happen when your eyes are closed as in sleep. She is cold as ice, and every one of us has escaped her clutches. We think that was our mistake. Someone should have shown her love, shown her some tenderness or compassion. Well until you get your chance, did you bring any books or games with you? Maybe a newspaper?”
“Sorry, the only book I have with me is Shakespeare.”
“Oh, please, may we read it? We have so little in the way of entertainment in here.”
Pulling out the book after digging into his saddlebags, Adam couldn’t believe that he was succumbing to the mass psychosis of the people in this room. He spent the rest of the morning checking walls, ceilings, and the attic looking for a way out. He tried forcing boards on the walls and fake windows, but no tool that was available made even the slightest dent in the wood. It was as hard as rock. He tried prying up floorboards and found the same problem. After giving the people there some warning, he tried setting a fire against a side wall. The smoke drifted into the room and dissipated until the crumpled up paper was gone. There was no mark, not even a scorch mark, on the wall.
“Don’t you think we’ve tried all of those things?”
“Yah, mister, we’ve tried them hundreds and hundreds of time. You had as much success as we did.”
“Well, can a man get a drink here?”
Suddenly the doors to the attached saloon opened and music began playing from the piano. Adam walked into the room where lamps were lit. There were bottles of whisky standing on the bar and on tables.
“This is where they held the trial. It was right here that she said she’d kill the man done killed her man.”
“We don’t come in here often, mister. It gets real cold in here sometimes. Feels like your bones are freezing.”
Pouring a drink and downing it in one gulp, Adam weighed his options. Then he had one question. “What room was hers?” He walked up the stairs and went to her room. The door handle was ice cold and when he opened the door, he was met with an icy blast. He forced himself to go in. He walked to the bed and lay down and closed his eyes. He was cold but somehow managed to fall asleep. He didn’t know how long he had slept when he heard a lady’s sad moan. Within minutes, he felt an icy presence on the bed with him. He reached out his arms, and it was like falling into an icy lake. He willed himself to wrap his arms around the frigid apparition for as he opened his eyes, he was in the presence of a wraith. He put his hand to the back of her icicle bound head and pulled her toward him. He kissed her with all the passion he could muster even as his body betrayed him with shivers. Her hands roamed over him with icy precision. He did not flinch but caressed her as she caressed him even as his fingers grew numb and he lost all sense of touch. As the long intense kiss ended, the ice cold vanished, the sun shone in the windows, and the door to the room opened. He stood up shaky and weak and stumbled to the door. Opening it, he slowly walked down the hall and down the stairs. He was regaining his equilibrium as he regained body warmth.
As Adam proceeded, the windows and doors opened. When he picked up his rifle and saddlebags, the front doors of the hotel opened to the sunny dusty street outside. All the people in the lobby rushed outside and immediately aged by the years they had spent in the hotel. Many became dust and bones. Others were old and wrinkled or middle aged at least. Some who had not been there as long were just older versions of themselves. Adam looked back at the hotel, and it was a boarded up derelict unfit for human habitation.
When Adam finished that story, there were several men there who said they felt a bit colder than they felt when he started the story. Adam and Hoss had to head out to take their turn with the herd. Soon the hands who had been with the cattle came in and wanted dinner. Hearing that there had been campfire stories, they wanted to hear a few too even if it was late. Joe had to come up with some.
The first story Joe told was from the previous spring when he had been up in the northwest pasture checking on fence lines. A bit less experienced with story telling, his story was much shorter than Adam’s stories had been but he had the men’s attention.
“I was sitting in my campfire with my rifle in hand and my back to a very large campfire. You know how it is sometimes when you know something is out there but you can’t see anything. I couldn’t go to sleep. I was looking out into the darkness trying to see into every dark shadow and up at the sky occasionally. I felt so alone and then remembered that story Adam had told the last time the two of us had been camping up there.
‘A wagon train disappeared. Nothing left except broken tools and a crude drawing in charcoal that someone had made of menacing giant eagles.’
‘So you expect me to believe that the eagles carried off those people and their wagons and belongings?’
‘I don’t expect you to believe anything, Joe. But those people and wagons were missing and have never been found. Some say that if you listen up here at night, you can hear them calling for help. It’s silly, I know, but the wind up here sometimes does sound a bit like people crying out.’
“Suddenly I sensed more than saw a huge shadow cross the moon above me and I fired the rifle up at it almost by instinct. Then I smiled for overreacting and leaned back and fell asleep. I figured Cochise would make a lot of noise if there were any real danger. I woke up when the sunlight hit my face in the morning. When I stood up, I was shocked. There was a giant eagle feather lying next to his campfire. It had a tiny bit of blood on it.”
That was the kind of story the men liked. It had all the elements that made for retelling. They asked Joe for another one. He leaned back proud of his first effort and intent on creating an even better story. He needed to get a woman in the next one and decided to make Adam the star of it because someone he was the star in so many of Adam’s stories.
“A couple of years ago, before most of you men signed on here, Adam went missing for several days. No one could find him. We searched everywhere until some boys said they thought they heard some yelling coming from an old abandoned house. We went there because we had searched everywhere else. We found Adam tied to a bed. He was naked and hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for three days. He said a woman came to him a couple of times a day on that bed but never gave him water or food no matter how much he begged for it. We untied him and took him home. He got better. The woman was never found. In fact, there were no footprints of a woman in that house and no evidence that a woman had ever been there.
“Then, one year to the day after we rescued Adam, he went out the window of the house at night completely naked and jumped off the porch roof and started running toward town. Hoss was coming home late and stopped him. He said he had to go back to that house. Hoss had to wrestle him down and yelled for us to come out and help him. Adam was out of his mind. We had to force him back into the house. The next morning, he didn’t remember any of it.
“One year later, he wanted to leave again but we were ready for it. We wouldn’t let him go and there was this wailing and screeching outside like a crazy woman calling for him. Pa had us all put some cotton in our ears so we couldn’t hear it so well. No one got any sleep that night.
“Last year, Hop Sing gave Adam some tea that made him sleep. We thought it would make things easier, but it didn’t. There was all sorts of banging against the house and whining and singing outside until about three in the morning. We had all the windows closed and shuttered. We took turns sitting with Adam to make sure he didn’t wake up and go to her. In the morning, he woke up and was fine. He went down to breakfast with Pa and Hoss just like nothing had happened.”
The men wanted to know then about him.
“Well, I came down those stairs looking awful. You see about three in the morning, I was so hot, I decided to crack that window just a little. She came to me, and in the morning, I was so cold that I couldn’t get warm.”
That really gave the men the shivers. Then they wanted to know what night was the anniversary of that night.
“Tonight is the anniversary. October 31 is the night.”