Archive for 2012


Posted in Afterlife, Demons, Entities, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Hauntings, Paranormal, Saturdays, Stories, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2012 by Dave Lapham

No one would go with him, and we couldn’t actually see Crazy Crickbaum’s grave from the gateway. I wanted to make sure Buck didn’t cheat, so I rode around to the other side of the cemetery where I had a perfect view. Sure enough, just after I got off my bike and settled in to watch, there was Buck Warren marching boldly up to the grave of Henry Crickbaum.

Buck stood at the foot of the grave, arms crossed, feet spread apart. I was actually impressed. We hadn’t made any arrangements for him to pick up something from the area to prove he’d been there, but he bent down and grasped an old vase of dead flowers. Then he straightened and stood staring at the headstone.

He had been standing there motionless for about three minutes when a luminescent, chartreuse mist oozed out of the grave and formed a funnel, like a small tornado. As the mass rose, the top of it changed into a human-like torso with an indescribable, fiendish-looking head. Piercing eyes, shark-like teeth, the most evil-looking thing I’d ever seen. I was terrified. I almost vomited.

But Buck. Buck was magnificent. He dropped the flower vase, picked up a fallen tree branch, and swiped at the monster, who darted out of the way. As the beast closed in on him, Buck realized that his defense was useless and backed up, then turned and ran. The demon came after him. Buck looked back, tripped, and fell. The awful creature now hovered over him. I screamed, and the demon looked towards me with his fiery eyes, even though I was a hundred yards away. In that instant Buck leaped up and raced toward the entrance, faster than I’d ever seen him run on the football field. The demon turned to follow him for several yards, stopped, and then vanished from sight.

I jumped on my bike and raced back to the entrance. Panting, I slid to a stop and dropped my bike. Buck was sitting on the ground leaning against one of the arches. His hair was snow white—and he was crying. Everyone else stood there in petrified silence, not knowing exactly what had happened to him or what to say. I looked at Buck and related exactly what I had seen. Well, Buck became a hero, a true legend of Washington Junior High School.

But he was forever changed. He no longer bullied anyone, and even though he was as aggressive on the football field as ever, he treated everyone kindly. He’d hit a runner with a jarring, teeth-rattling tackle—and then help the guy up. Buck and I became good friends and remained so, even though I moved to Cedar Rapids, a hundred miles away.

Several years later, Buck and I joined the Marines and went to Vietnam in the same unit. On Halloween, 1966, our company was overrun by a North Vietnamese battalion. Buck Warren died that night saving our company and me.

Buck was buried in the Ottumwa Cemetery not far from Henry Crickbaum’s grave. The demon there has never been seen again to this day.


Posted in Stories with tags , , , , on August 26, 2012 by Dave Lapham

He whipped his big red Jeep into the parking space and hit the brakes. The Jeep was just a ragtop Wrangler, but he’d jacked it up on enormous tires and it looked like a monster. Wasn’t really a macho thing, but maybe it was. He grabbed his laptop and jumped down from the seat and strode into Borders. Ah, good, not crowded, plenty of seats. He dropped his laptop at a small table in the middle of the room facing the door and flipped his Boston Red Sox cap on a chair. At the counter he ordered a cup of coffee with an extra shot, then returned to his table and sat down to work.

She drove slowly through the parking lot, admiring the twinkling lights that seemed to drip from the surrounding trees. Ah, a space. She slid in next to a red Jeep that towered above her little blue Matrix. She checked her makeup in the rearview mirror, ran a brush through her hair, and decided not to reapply her lipstick. Gathering up her purse, books, cell phone, and laptop, she stepped out of the car and locked it. The late-spring air felt velvety on her skin as she crossed the lot and stepped into the bookstore.

A gush of air from the door. He looked up as the door opened and the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen entered. Face like an angel, long brown hair with a bit of bounce in it, a perfect figure, and those legs. He’d never seen legs like that. And set off by tight-fitting white shorts. He suddenly realized his chin was practically on his chest.

She took a seat in one of the big overstuffed chairs in the corner just inside the door, another girl next to her and a coffee table in front of them where she could lay out the books she was using. She didn’t know the girl. Good. They wouldn’t have to make conversation. And a girl, not a guy. Better. She wouldn’t have to fend off some idiot’s come-on.

He sat staring at her, his Google search forgotten. He couldn’t take his eyes away. And when she crossed her legs, his heart pounded.  Just then she looked up. He looked away.

He’s looking at me. Oh, my gosh, he’s gorgeous, totally hot. Her face flushed. She looked back down at her computer. She tried to concentrate on her work, picking up one of the books she had laid on the coffee table and flipped through the pages, raising her eyes often to see if he was looking at her. He was.

She shuffled through the pages of the book she had opened, stealing glances at the boy. Then their eyes met and held. Without thinking, she jumped up. “Would you watch my stuff?” she asked the girl next to her and walked toward him.

Oh, crap. She’s coming this way. His palms got sweaty. He could feel the blood pounding in his head.

Nearing his table, her heart began to race. She could feel her face getting red.

As she passed by, he smiled up at her and croaked out a weak “Hi,” trying to keep his eyes on her face and not her luscious body.

She smiled and practically whispered “hi” back, looking at him out of the corner of her eye.

He started to rise and go after her but sat back down. She’s going to the bathroom. I’ll wait a minute then catch her as she comes out. I have got to talk to that girl.

At the end of the coffee shop counter, she turned right and headed over to the information desk in the middle of the store. Calm down, she told herself. She sat on one of the benches near the desk.

One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three…he counted to one thousand sixty twice. Then he stood and looked around. No one was sitting near him. Guess I’d better take my stuff with me. He quickly packed up his computer, walked past the coffee shop counter and turned left into the hallway leading to the restrooms. He’d wait for her there.

This is stupid, she thought. I’ll just go over and say hello to him. So I’m embarrassed for a few seconds. Big deal. She stood and walked back to the coffee shop. She froze. Air rushed out of her lungs. Her smile sagged. His table was empty. He was gone. She walked slowly across the room, glancing around to see if he had just moved, touching the chair he’d sat in as she went by the table. No, he’d left. She picked up her laptop and books and started for the door, no longer in the mood to study. Outside her eyes filled with tears as she walked to her car, unlocked it, and climbed in.

He leaned against the wall for a time until another girl came by on her way to the restroom. Maybe this looks weird, he thought, and ducked into the Men’s Room and back out again. He paced up and down, walked out to the coffee shop counter and back to the restrooms again. Finally, he decided to sit down and wait for her to reappear. He sauntered back into the coffee shop and looked around the room. Her chair was empty. Crap. She’s gone. He stood there a few moments, shoulders sagging, then walked slowly to the door and outside. Why hadn’t he just gone over and talked to her? Why had he been such a dipwad? They could have been sitting there right now laughing about something if he’d only had the cajones to approach her. What a dumbass. He walked to his red Jeep, hardly noticing the blue Matrix next to it. As he reached the left rear side of his car, the Matrix started up. He lurched up into the driver’s seat as the Matrix backed out.

“Damn! Damn! Damn!” she said out loud as she drove slowly out of the parking lot.

“Son. Of. A. Bitch!” he muttered as he followed the Matrix ahead of him.

The traffic light on Orlando Avenue had just turned red as she pulled into the left turn lane. She sat waiting for the light to change. The red Jeep that had been parked next to her at Borders pulled up next to her. She couldn’t see the driver, because the vehicle sat too high.

The light was red as he pulled into the right lane. The blue Matrix waited on his left. He couldn’t see the driver, because the little car sat too low.

The light turned green and she turned south on Orlando Avenue. She sighed. What a handsome guy.

When the light changed he hooked a right and headed north. Shit, he thought. I blew it.

Gramma Butler’s Pearls

Posted in Ghosts, Saturdays, Stories with tags , on August 24, 2012 by Dave Lapham

“Mommy, Mommy, wake up! I just saw Gramma.”

Chris raised up, half-asleep.  Stacy, her six-year old, was standing by her bed, distraught.  She looked at her clock—three fifteen a.m.  “What’s wrong, honey?  What’s this about Gramma?”

Stacy began crying and fell into her mother’s arms.  “Gramma was standing by my bed, and she said she loved me.  Then she said goodbye,” Stacy sobbed.  “What was she doing here?  Where did she go?”

Chris held her daughter close. “Oh, sweetheart, it was just a dream.  Lie here with me and go back to sleep.  We’ll call Gramma in the morning, okay?” Stacy snuggled up against her mother and closed her eyes. She was soon breathing softly. Chris couldn’t go back to sleep though; she was thinking about her mother.  They hadn’t seen her in two months and her parents lived only a few hours away in Charleston.  Maybe they should get up there to see her, she thought as she too drifted off to sleep.

An hour later the telephone rang.  In a daze Chris fumbled for the phone trying to answer before her husband and Stacy woke up.  “Hello,” she whispered.

“Chris, Sal. I hate to call you this early but it’s…it’s Mom.”

“Oh, no,” Chris gasped.  Her eyes filled with tears as she slid out of bed and ran into the hall.  “What’s wrong?  What happened?”

Sally couldn’t speak for a moment.  “Mom…Dad…Dad took her to the hospital about an hour ago.  A heart attack.  She was gone by the time they got there,” she whimpered.  They both began crying together, Chris trying to stifle her sobs, so she wouldn’t wake up her family.

Finally, she was able to compose herself.  “Look, Sis, we’ll get up there as soon as we can. John and Stacy are both asleep, but it’s only a six hour drive from Orlando, so we should be there by mid-afternoon.  Call me on my cell if anything else happens,” and she pushed “End” button on the phone.

She stood in the hall a long time thinking about her mother and about her father.  How was he taking this? Her parents had been married forty years. Both of them had always been in good health. So sudden.  This was so sudden. Finally, she went to the bathroom to wash her face and then returned to the bedroom to put the phone back.  She decided to wait until daylight to wake everyone. In the meantime, she’d get Stacy packed.  Softly, she opened the door and walked over to her night stand to return the phone.

Then, as she turned to leave the room she looked down at her husband and daughter—and froze.  Around Stacy’s neck were Gramma Butler’s pearls with the gold hasp, the pearls Chris’s dad had bought her mother as a wedding present.  How could they have gotten from Charleston to Orlando?  And when?  Sally, Chris’s sister, later swore that their mother had worn them to church the previous Sunday.  No one in the family was ever able to explain how those pearls got around Stacy’s neck on the night her grandmother died.

First Chapter of my young adult novel

Posted in Stories with tags , , on March 8, 2012 by Dave Lapham

This is a draft of the first chapter of my exciting new YA novel (and maybe a series.)  Think Cowboys and Aliens only with zombies, ghosts, bad guys, werewolves, and a bunch of foot-loose, orphaned teenagers. Let me know what you think.

Chapter 1

     My name is Tom Lee, and my life was just fine before Uncle Isaiah died. Then it wasn’t. Uncle Isaiah raised me, ‘cause my folks died when I was real young. I don’t even remember them, just my uncle. He was a snake oil salesman, sometime preacher, sometime gambler, whatever paid. We had a wagon, not like yer Conestogas with a canvas top and such. This thing was real stout, made of wood. We had bunks and a stove inside and windows, of course, storage places for Uncle Isaiah’s snake oil ingredients and our gear. We travelled all over. We talked about everything under the sun. We read. He taught me to read, and I’d read to him as we rolled along or he’d read to me. We had many books from time to time that we’d borrow from this one or that and then returned them, but I really learned to read from the Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress, a dictionary, and my uncle’s recipe book, the one he used to make his concoctions. Those four he owned, and we never went anywhere without them.

Those were sweet ol’ days, rambling down dusty roads at a snail’s pace, behind Jacob and Elijah, Uncle’s old Belgians, reading from one book or the other, discussing Socrates, politics, whores, just whatever came to mind, and I was just a kid then. He also had a great black stallion, John the Baptist. Him and me were the only people who could get near that horse. I’d get tired of just sitting on that wagon, and I’d untie John the Baptist from the back and go racing across the prairie, whooping and hollering like a crazy Indian.

We’d stop at night, hobble the horses and give them a little grain before letting them graze. We’d build a nice cozy camp fire. If it was before dark, I’d take the rifle and go shoot something for supper. If it was too late, we’d just whip up some beans and biscuits and bacon. We’d wash it down with a little whiskey—well I’d have a little whiskey with a lot of coffee in it. Uncle Isaiah drank his coffee and whiskey half and half.

I loved that life. Free as the wind. No cares. No worries. Just Uncle Isaiah and me and the horses. And then, he died. Uncle Isaiah up and died. We were camped one evening about a mile out of this little town down south out on the prairie, sitting at the fire after supper sipping our coffee, when Uncle Isaiah suddenly grabbed his chest and started gasping and moaning, He was sitting on a rock, and he fell off writhing on the ground. I went about nuts. I panicked. “Uncle Isaiah, Uncle Isaiah, what’s wrong? What’s wrong?” I screamed.

He looked at me wild-eyed and mumbled something I didn’t understand. Then he went limp. I rushed to his side and shook him. He didn’t move. “Uncle Isaiah,” I sobbed. “Uncle Isaiah, what’s wrong. Get up. Wake up. Wake up. Uncle Isaiah.” I was crying like a baby, half out of my mind. I didn’t know what to do. I kept squeezing his arm, pushing at him. Finally, I realized that he wasn’t going to move. He was dead. I got control of myself, covered him up with a blanket, like it was going to keep him warm, which was stupid, I guess. Then, I threw a bridle on John the Baptist and tore off to town. Forget the saddle.

It was still early, and a lot of people were about. I raced down the street, everyone looking and me, and pulled up in front of the sheriff’s office. I crashed through the door, breathless, “Sheriff, Sheriff, it’s my uncle. Something happened to him. He…he just fell over and died.”

“Hold on, young un. What are you talking about?”

“Yessir, me and my uncle are camped about a mile out of town. I’m sure you know him, Doctor Isaiah, Biblical Cures.”

“Oh, yeah, I seen you here before. Now, what’s this about your uncle?”

“Yessir. We were sitting around our fire, and he grabbed his chest and he just…just fell over and died.”

“Okay, son. Let’s go out and see what’s going on.”

We rode as fast as his horse would go—John-the-Baptist could outrun him by a mile. Didn’t seem to make much difference whether we hurried or not, and it was only a mile, but we went blazing out there. The fire was still burning brightly. Jacob and Elijah was standing there wondering what was going on, I guess, and Uncle Isaiah still lay on the ground. It was deathly quiet. I had to choke down my sob. The sheriff got off his horse and went over to Uncle Isaiah, felt his pulse, looked up at me. “I’m sorry, son. He’s dead all right.” I slid off John-the-Baptist and stood there, staring at my uncle.

The sheriff stood and patted me on the shoulder. “Come on, boy. Let’s get him on one of those draft horses and take him into town. Ain’t solving anything out here.”  I told him I reckoned we should take both the Belgians, because they didn’t like being separated, but he insisted on only one. I walked over, grabbed a halter from the wagon, and buckled it on Jacob. The sheriff wrapped Uncle a little better in the blanket, and we gently lifted him up on the horse, mounted ourselves, and started toward town. As soon as we left the light of the campfire, Elijah started raising cain and, even though he was hobbled, he began hopping toward us. I didn’t say anything. I just stopped and took Elijah’s hobbles. Then I remounted and we ambled off to town and to the undertaker’s, Elijah plodding alongside Jacob.

People were staring again, but I didn’t care. I was numb with grief. Men came up and took Uncle Isaiah into the undertaker’s while I sat on the steps outside, feeling alone and forgotten.

“Boy. Boy.” I looked up. The sheriff was standing there talking to me. A lady was next to him. “Come on, son. You go with Miss LaVerne here. She’ll take care of you tonight.”

I didn’t say anything. I just stood and followed her across the street. She put her arm around my shoulders, and it felt pretty good. I didn’t sob, but I let a few tears out with my head hung low, so she wouldn’t see me. Miss LaVerne had a boarding house across the street. She took me in and back to the kitchen.

“How about a nice glass of warm milk, darlin’? Would you like that?” she asked.

“Yes, ma’am. I sure would.”

She fixed the milk and handed it me while I sat at the kitchen table. “Well, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but you can stay here with me, until the judge decides what to do with you. Do you have any relatives? Anybody you know of?”

I was suddenly alarmed. A judge was going to decide what to do with me? What was she talking about, I wondered. And what am I going to do. I wasn’t going to live in some town somewhere with people I didn’t know. I wasn’t going to do that. I started to panic again, but I controlled myself. Without looking at her, I said, “No, ma’am. I don’t have any relatives but my uncle.”

She sat there, thoughtful, looking at me with kindness all over her face. We were both silent. Then an idea came to me. “Ma’am, when I’m finished, I’ve got to take care of my horses.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. The sheriff will do that.”

“No, ma’am, I don’t think so. John-the-Baptist, that’s my stallion, he won’t let nobody near him but me. I’m serious.  And those old Belgians are pretty shy. I’d be much obliged if I could tend to them, ma’am.”

“Well, okay, but hurry on back. I’ll get your room ready.”

“Thank you, ma’am. I really appreciate it.” And I hurried out and across the street. Things had died down. Nobody was around now. John-the-Baptist and Jasper still stood in front of the undertaker’s. I guess everybody forgot them in all the ruckus. Careful not to make any commotion, I unhitched them, climbed on John-the-Baptist, and moved slowly down the street and out of town. As soon as we got well away, I kicked the big stallion into a canter, and we made for the camp.

The fire had burned low, but I threw a couple of logs on for the light and quick as I could hitched the Belgians to the wagon, packed everything up, tied John-the-Baptist to the back of the wagon, and lit out north, back to wandering.