Monday, November 5, 2007

Humble Ghost Lights

Way back in the mid eighties three friends and I set out from a DeMolay meeting at the Masonic Temple off of main street in Humble, Texas. Wayne Bell, Steve Pritchard, and I stepped out into the chilly wind and headed towards my house. It was a walk but back then in Humble, a safe one. Main street in Humble goes back a hundred or more years and it hasn’t changed much since. Old buildings like ghosts shivered in the Texas breeze as we walked down the dilapidated main drag towards South Houston Avenue.

Steve was six foot tall, had a Mohawk haircut and a whatever degree in tae kwon do, he was an intimidating fellow. Wayne, a fellow schoolmate at Humble High had been my best friend in middle school, but we fell out out when we ran away to Dallas in his daddy’s custom van. I was the clown, the prankster, the self deprecating, hide your feelings with humor guy of the bunch.

We walked the half mile to South Houston Avenue and shivered in our jackets like Jell-O at the kiddy table on Thanksgiving. We griped and moaned about the cold and kidded each other about which Rainbow girl we wanted to take to the next dance. There were very few cars out as it was ten o clock on a week night. Dodging the leaves on the lonely road we crossed South Houston.

Crossing our path like a black cat lays the Humble, Cemetery, inside the chain link fence there are headstones going back 150 years or more. The only people who will be buried now bought their plot decades ago. Looking carefully you will see headstones with Husband 1933 to 1975 on one side and Wife 1939 to --- on the other. The husband eagerly awaits the arrival of his long lost mate to sooth his rest.

The cemetery is a shortcut you hop the fence and cut catty cornered across the field, scrupulously not stepping on any graves. We always said if you stepped on one you were being disrespectful, truly I thought we would be dragged down into the ground to join the dead’s slumber party. Gingerly we climbed the fence and cut across.

Halfway through, one of us stepped on a tree branch, Crack! we all jumped ten feet and ducked behind a stone wondering what happened. Looking around I could see and hear the wind whipping through the naked trees as the moonlight cast funky shadows on the ground. Each gust, threw weird lights across our faces. Out of the corner of my eye I saw two heavy set women walking hand in hand on the side walk in front of the graveyard. Sneakily we stayed down behind the headstone and plotted our prank. It was simple really, on the count of three we would wail like banshees over and over again. Steve suggested a howling wolf noise but he was voted down in favor of the banshee.

One, stifle the laughter, two, take a deep breath, three, let it rip. We laid out the loudest, scariest howl ever created by the human voice. The noise was garbled between the banshee wail and the unstoppable regurgitation of laughter.

The two gals, bless their hearts, went from a huddled stroll in a Texas norther to a Carl Lewis sprint, I have never seen women that size run so fast. Rounding the corner they crossed Isaacs street and disappeared like phantoms into the shadowy, surreal night.

Walking on to my house I don’t think any of us stopped laughing. We had the rictus grin of frozen smiles locked into a permanent position. Arms around each other, vowing never to forget this moment we staggered the remaining mile to my home.


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