by Paul Darst
About a quarter of a mile off Jim Hill Road in Mason County sits an old house that always was a curiosity to me when I was growing up.
You really couldn't tell much about it just from driving by, but it was obvious that it was old and creepy. It looked especially spooky at night when car lights or the moon would show its weather-beaten wooden siding or its dark, paneless windows.
Over the years, I had heard a few stories about the old place. I know of a man who used to hunt there. He hasn't stepped foot on the property since he encountered something near the old dwelling. From what I've heard, he won't talk about whatever it was he saw.
Of course, stories like that are for some reason exciting to young men. So, one Halloween several years ago, my brother and I and a group of guys we know, decided to pay the old place a visit.
We didn't quite know what to expect. Would we find ghosts? A skeleton? A chainsaw-wielding manic? Our imaginations ran wild.
But the old home ended up not being the house of horrors we hoped it would be.
I don't know why, but getting scared always has been fun for me.
But I also like to be on the other end of the terror. There used to be no greater fun for me than scaring the heck out of my brother back when we both lived at home. And I was pretty good at it, too.
One time, I sneaked into the bathroom while he was taking a shower. I climbed onto a chair, reached over the top of the stall and grabbed the top of his head. You would have thought Freddie Kruger had hold of him.
I used to get hours of fun doing things like that.
But on that dark Halloween night, I expected to be one of those scared out of my skin.
We parked along the road and started the long trek across the field to the house. It took a while and after we got close we encountered an obstacle. A thick briar patch surrounded the old place.
After fighting our way through and emerging on the other side with only minor injuries, we started looking for a way to get inside. We gained entry through an open door on the side.
There really wasn't much to see there. It just looked like an old, empty house. We didn't even see a creepy spider.
The only thing that looked even a little out of place was a wooden chair sitting by an upstairs window. Maybe the ghost of somebody who used to live there sits night after night looking out the window over what used to be the yard, remembering times long past.
That's possible, I guess. But I figure it was used by a wimpy deer hunter who wanted to get in out of the rain and cold.
As it turned out, about the scariest thing we encountered that night was a skunk. We never actually saw it, but we knew he was there, if you know what I mean.
When we caught a whiff of his aromatic perfume, we decided it was time to fight our way back through the briars and go home.
I don't know if that house truly is haunted or not. Maybe we scared the ghosts away. Or maybe we were so entertaining, that they just wanted to sit back and watch us.
Come to think of it, if we had been driving a van and had a big brown dog with us, our trip that night probably would have looked like an episode of Scooby Doo.
Staff writer Paul Darst can be reached at 626-1404 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.