October 30, 2010 10:43:00 PM
First off, let''s get something straight: I celebrate Hallowe''en, but not because I am "in league with the devil." Actually, those of us who believe in Christ are in the unique position to laugh at death, not to fear its symbols. For us, it has already been defeated.
That said, I hope you like to hear outlandish Hallowe''en tales, as I do. One caveat, however: Do not try this at home. You will see why.
It happened one night
Years ago, during the early ''90s, some friends got together for a Hallowe''en supper and hayride hosted by Rick McGill at John Holliman''s camp house on Old Macon Road. It was a cool autumn night. Predictably, the women gathered in the camp house, the men outside at the fire pit. (I was not there, but first heard the story from Jack Hayes, who was present, and later from the host himself.)
The hay wagon was ready. It was a big flatbed truck with wooden rails, filled with hay and blankets. As guests were piling onto the hay, they noticed a vehicle driving along Old Macon Road with flashing blue lights. In a few minutes along came another mercy vehicle with red lights. Something was up.
Just as they were about to leave, a car drove up, and Wayne Beard, the game warden, got out. He had noticed their gate was open and had come in to see if everything was all right. "Y''all had better be careful," he said. "There''s been a killing. Some fellow murdered his wife and got away. They think he swam the river."
Some of the guests thought they had better call off the hayride, but he reassured them. "No, no. Just be alert."
As soon as he had left, a sheriff''s deputy pulled up. He confirmed the story and added some gory details. The killer had chopped his wife to pieces. He was armed with either a hatchet, a gun, or a chainsaw. Again the guests wondered about continuing the hayride, but they had already gotten to the gate, which had been closed, but not locked.
The driver got out to open the gate to the road which ran over a culvert. At that moment Larry Thurman rose out of the culvert and shouted, "There he goes!" he blasted a shotgun into the air, pointing it above the woods. Immediately a horrible looking man dropped from the trees onto the hay wagon. He had an ax embedded in his head. People screamed. One fainted. Rick says they began jumping off the truck like "fleas off a dog."
Bobby Patrick jumped over Rick''s head, hitting him with his knees and breaking Rick''s nose. People fled harum-scarum through the trees, over bushes, in all directions. One guest, a minister who was small of stature, was the only one to attack the 240-pound intruder. He grabbed the large man around the throat and was choking him.
At that point Rick had to pull the preacher off the interloper, and the jig was up. The incident was an intricately planned, carefully rehearsed practical (or, more accurately, impractical) joke.
The man who had jumped from the trees was wearing an expensive rubber mask that covered his face and head and had a molded ax embedded in it. The off-duty deputies and game warden were in on the plot. They had rehearsed all afternoon.
Needless to say, there were varied reactions. One woman said, perhaps with regret, that she had already been planning how she was going to report it to the media. Most were vowing revenge. Fortunately no one was harmed except the host -- and he had asked for it. Moreover, for all these years he has realized he is a sitting duck and must always be on guard against retaliation.
Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.
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