Dead Soldiers

  It was growing dark and raining last weekend when I finally found the Confederate soldier’s grave. 


  For generations, one family owned the land where my little log cabin stands and two of the former owners came for tea and story-telling last Saturday afternoon.

“You know you got a Confederate soldier buried on your property don’t you?” Tim asked almost immediately.

I’d heard the rumor but until he confirmed it I’d had no way to know if it was yet another tall tale or truth.

“Yep,” Tim nodded. 

“Do you know where he is?” I asked

He exchanged a glance with my neighbor.  A last moment, double-check, confirmation to deliver news I’d been waiting over a year to hear.

Tim nodded.  “He’s buried just a bit to this side and right of where y’all drilled your new well.”



When I gasped, he grinned.

“Tell her about the hay, Tim,” his wife urged.

We sat balancing tiny, mismatched china plates and fresh slabs of lemon cream-cheese pound cake on our knees, waiting for Tim to take a slow sip of coffee and begin the tale.

His wife, impatient with her husband’s build-up, started.  “Well, it was summer and Tim was baling up the hay growing in the field across the way.  He worked all afternoon, piling the bales up into a big pyramid as he worked.  And when he’d finished, he was tired.  That’s when Tim’s uncle, Posey, finally came down off the porch and started yelling and swinging this big old machete around.”

Tim took over.  “Well, he’d had a dram or two and I was about afraid he’d cut his own head off the way he was slingin’ that thing.  He kept sayin’, ‘You got to move that hay!  I mean it!  You got to move it right now!”

Tim shook his head and gave one of the neighbor brother’s a wry grin.  “He watched me work all afternoon and waited until I’d finished to come tell me I had to move all those bales.  I said, ‘Posey, I’m not gonna do that.  What’s wrong with it where it is?’”

Posey pointed a crooked finger toward the bales.  “You set ‘em right on top of that soldier’s grave! If the Rapture comes, how’s he gonna get out?”

Everybody laughed but Mertis.  Her eyes widened.  “Oh, Lord, what if we drilled through him?”

I thought about the look Tim and James had exchanged and wondered, were they just being nice when they said the soldier was buried in the hillock just to the right of the grave or were we drinking calcified water?

I looked at Mertis and knew she was truly worried.  Mertis, the retired cop,  is famous for saying “I don’t do ghosts!” 

This is when the devil crept in and possessed my soul…


“Hey, Mert, you  remember the other night when we were out by the well and all of a sudden the temperature dropped like 20 degrees?”

Mert’s face blanched.  “Oh, God, I’d forgotten that,” she breathed.  “It did!”

I nodded, biting my lower lip to keep a straight face.  “And the time we were sitting out on the back porch and the same thing happened?” 

I waited to see the pure terror of a possible haunting hit rock bottom in her eyes.

“Then remember when Skeeter dowsed the well site ?  He said there was electromagnetic energy and three caverns beneath the spot where he said we should dig.”


Mert was sitting ramrod stiff on the stool by the woodstove, her body on red alert as if waiting for signs of an angry Afterlife.

“Yep,” I continued.  “I bet that old Confederate soldier’s right unsettled with a well pipe running straight through him, especially with that pantyhose filter Skeeter put over the end to keep out the sediment.  If Posey was worried about the hay bales, imagine how mad he’d be if he knew that! Nothing gets through pantyhose, now that’s a fact!”

Old Mert ain’t been right since.

And the afternoon’s stories were only just beginning….


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