Monday, June 6, 2016

The Bad Word Cemetery by SpookyLady InSanDiego

My great-uncle and aunt lived in West Virginia. Behind their house was a small, all but abandoned slave cemetery. Graves in the cemetery dated back to the 1800s. Their backyard literally fell along the property line of the cemetery, separated only by a chain-link fence. Though the stones were old they remained relatively upright. The grass was kept cut and trash picked up. I never saw flowers on any graves or any sign of visitors. It seemed quiet and peaceful.

Though I enjoyed his charm, sense of humor and love of history, unfortunately my great-uncle was a rather racist man. When we were children, he would tell my cousins and me if we didn’t mind our manners the ghosts of the people buried in the cemetery would climb out of their graves and come after us. My cousins were terrified of this possibility. I didn’t believe it one bit. I knew ghosts weren’t going to come after me, mannerly or not.

Alive or dead, my great-uncle referred to blacks with an ethnic slur. Before we went to bed, he told us to say our prayers so the [slur] ghosts would stay underground. The first time I heard the word I asked my parents what it meant. They said it was an inappropriate and disrespectful word that I should never use (and my mom was terribly embarrassed that he used that word so often, especially in front of children). As a kid such words fell on The List of Bad Words, that included curse words. I referred to it as the “Bad Word Cemetery.”

One day while visiting the family, when I was about 7 years old, I was playing with my cousins in the backyard of my great-uncle’s house. They wandered off and I was left alone. I walked over to the fence and looked into the lonely little cemetery. Some of the graves were within reach if I put my hand through the spaces in the fence.

While I stood there looking at the graves, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I looked over and saw a young black man standing in the cemetery. He wore a tan-colored shirt and brown pants. A straw hat sat on top of his head. When our eyes met he smiled at me and walked over to where I was standing.

Being outgoing and friendly, I said hello to the man. He took off his hat, said hello and put the hat back on his head. “Is this your cemetery?” I asked. He smiled and nodded. “My great-uncle lives there,” I said, pointing at the house. The man looked at the house, then back at me. “Do you like to talk?” I asked. The man, still smiling, shook his head no. “Okay,” I said. “I like your hat.” The man’s eyes grew wide; he touched the brim of the hat with his fingers and tilted his head right and left. It made me laugh.

I was about to talk to the man some more when I heard my mom calling for me. “Sorry, I have to go,” I told the man. “See you later.” The man smiled, waved at me and turned around. As I watched him walk between the gravestones he quickly faded out of sight.

Back at the house, my mom was sitting on the front porch. When my cousins went into the house I told my mom I met a man in the Bad Word Cemetery. I told her he was a nice black man who wore a straw hat. Being a psychically sensitive child it didn’t really surprise her I made a spectral friend. She hugged me and said, “Let’s keep this between us, okay?” I liked having secrets with my mom so I immediately agreed.

I’m not sure why, but I never saw my Bad Word Cemetery friend again. Maybe he was just happy to have some interaction with the living on a sunny afternoon.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Only members of this blog can comment. Sorry. Too many trolls and jerks ruined it for everyone.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.