And its even a true story, although a few of you have heard it before.
THE GHOST COW OF DAYBROOK
(cue eerie music)
My mom's parents lived on a farm in this small town area. Very small town. I'm probably related to half the county. And the farm was sort of out there... it was a good 45 minutes into the nearest big town if you wanted to shop for something other than canned Del Monte peas, green beans and a bag of corn meal that may very well have seen the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
My grandparents were born here and although they went on (and out of state) to become IBM engineers, they retired back to my grandfather's family farm.
Note. This is not the farm of The Deer Stalker. Not the Leg Pile. This is the farm from the twilight zone. Just trust me on this.
Anyway, we'd been out for the morning and were coming back over the winding, twisting roads, when a local man flagged us down.
"D'you lose a cow out here?" The word Cow was stretched into additional syllables. That was one helluva drawl.
"Nope," my grandfather answered. "She's right here!" And my grandmother smacked him one in the arm.
"Somebody done hit a COW! On this road," the man insisted, "and they kilt it! Kilt it dead! But when we came back with the truck," he paused, I couldn't tell where it was for intentional dramatic effect or he was simply overcome by the gravity of the whole cow thing. "it.. it was GONE!"
My grandfather gave him a measuring look, thanked him for alerting us, and we continued on our way. From the rear window, my sister and I could see the man standing in the middle of the road, watching us. There was some joking about Zombie Ghost Cows and all, but we were fairly smug in the knowledge that obviously the cow hadn't been kilt dead at all, but probably just stunned senseless and it wandered away after it recovered a bit. I mean, come ON.
Fast forward a couple of hours. There was no cable television out here, and after dark, there just wasn't a hell of a lot to do. My grandfather was having his regular evening nap and my grandmother, sister and I were playing card games at the kitchen table and drinking really asserific coffee. All of a sudden, we heard this really odd noise. I mean REALLY odd. I'd never heard anything like it before and it was really creepy.
We all kind of looked at each other sideways and didn't say anything. You know, that sort of "if I pretend I never heard that, then it couldn't have really happened" kind of thing. We silently continued the card game for a few more minutes and then we heard it again. It was a kind of low, guttural sobbing that cranked into this long "OOOOOOOOOOOO", capped off by a rising wail.
It was definitely the sort of thing that would freak a body out.
Calmly, I got up from the table and went to wake my grandfather. And then of course, the noise didn't happen again and he got cranky and went back to sleep. Clearly, we were on our own. The third time it happened, I grabbed a flashlight and my grandmother grabbed my left arm and my sister grabbed the right, and we went out to investigate, all Lions and Tigers and Bears, OH SHIT!
We circled the house. Nothing. Out by the spring house. Nothing. chicken house? All quiet. Feed shed. Nothing there. Nothing anywhere. And as we were heading back to the house, feeling a little silly, we heard it AGAIN. Oh dear lord, it was coming from up the hill.
FROM THE OLD FAMILY CEMETERY.
We didn't say a word, but all three of us scrambled for the house and got jammed in the doorway like the pack of idiots we were, clawing and flailing to get back into the house. Finally the bottleneck broke free and all three of us thundered through the living room, up the stairs, into the big bedroom and all three of us jumped into the big iron bed and under the quilts. And we STAYED there, too.
Did I mention that my sister and I were adults at this point? Not that it mattered because we were all handling it like 5 year olds and there was nothing on this earth or the next that could have gotten us out from under those covers until daybreak.
So. The next morning we all pretended like nothing had happened, but I was out with my grandfather, counting the cattle as they came in for feed, and trying to describe what we'd heard. 12... 13... 14... 15. Hey. wait a minute, we only have 14 cattle. Count again. No we come up with 15. And then at that moment, the last animal in line lifts its head and.... you got it. That gawdawful noise from last night.
It was the McCoy's bull. It had broken out of its pasture last night and gotten stuck in the cemetery. And we got teased quite a bit about that Ghost Cow of Daybrook.