Spooky season is upon us: Jerry Nelson

Jerry Nelson
Special to the Farm Forum
Jerry Nelson

It’s that season again when spooky, creepy creatures prowl about, scaring the beejeebers out of every man, woman and dog they encounter.

But enough about the latest crop of political candidates. Halloween is also just around the corner, a holiday that’s undoubtedly the coolest of them all owing to its association with so-called "hijinks."

Back when I was a kid, the most popular hijinks involved tipping over outhouses. I don't know why this was so much fun; maybe it was because we secretly hoped that some unsuspecting individual would be inside when the privy plopped. The ultimate achievement in the field of hijinkery would have been if the outdoor potty had contained a political candidate.

Sadly, that specific form of Halloween fun has gone the way of the leisure suit. When our two sons were growing up, they had to content themselves with other types of Halloween fun, such as telling creepy tales in a semi-dark tent at night.

One evening, when our boys were in grade school and Halloween was approaching, the lads decided to camp out in a small tent in the wilderness of our front lawn. Adam, their cousin who was just a bit older, joined them, making it a chummy trio.

It was nearly dark by the time they pitched their tent and got settled in. This had taken no small amount of effort, as they had decided to not only haul out their sleeping bags but also their favorite blankets, pillows and what appeared to be a 10-day supply of food. It was as if they had heard some ghastly tale about boys becoming hopelessly lost while camping on out their parents’ front lawn.

Night had well and truly fallen when I went to check on the intrepid little outdoorsmen one last time before I turned in. They invited me in to come inside and inspect their digs. They then began to beg me to tell them a spooky story.

I said that I shouldn't, but they just begged harder the more reluctance I expressed. I finally gave in and spun the following yarn:

The terrible tale of the 'wolfus tigerus horriblus'

Once upon a time there were three boys who decided to go camping out in the woods. They prepared for everything – except the gruesome fate that awaited them.

Night came and the boys went into their tent and crawled into their sleeping bags. The woods were quiet except for the crickets and the occasional mournful hoot of a distant owl.

The boys were almost asleep when they first heard it.

They couldn't tell exactly what it was at first. It almost sounded like the far-off wail of a tortured soul.

What they didn't realize was the woods they were camping in was inhabited by a wolf. But not just any wolf. The animal that haunted that forest was what scientists later named wolfus tigerus horriblus, a super-smart, super-vicious hybrid that arose when a local wolf interbred with a tiger that had escaped from a traveling circus.

A moment later they heard the same wail, but now closer and more distinct. The youngest boy sat up and whispered, “What’s that?”

“It’s nothing,” said the oldest boy, trying his best to sound cool and confident. “Probably just a mangy old raccoon. Nothing to worry about.”

The wail rang out again, closer still. Now it sounded like a wolf howl that trailed off into a fiendish, tiger-like snarl.

The hair stood up on the backs of the boys’ necks. The youngest boy began to whimper.

“Shh!” whispered the oldest boy, now knowing that this wasn't just some mangy old raccoon. “Be quiet and maybe it will leave us alone.”

The bloodcurdling howl rang out once again, now mere feet from their tent! The boys were all holding their breath when suddenly there was a snuffing and chuffing at the side of their tent!

At which point, as if on cue, our old farm dog had chosen that very moment to investigate the boys’ campsite.

After the boys quit squealing, I bade them goodnight and casually strolled back into the house. The boys came rushing after me moments later. It seems that the intrepid trio, having taken a hasty vote on the matter, had opted to move their outdoor encampment into our living room.

My wife was suspicious regarding this abrupt change of the boys’ plans.

“Exactly what kind of story did you tell them?” she demanded.

“It wasn’t anything too bad,” I replied. “Hopefully, it was enough to keep them out of any nighttime hijinks for the next decade or so.”