22 Oct Twist and Shout
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"Twist and Shout"Written by
Estimated reading time — 8 minutes
It was late October in Brookhurst Wyoming in the year 1965. I was eighteen, and I lived with my sister in an older barn house, on the edge of town. I loved that little town- especially in the fall. The deep oranges, bold yellows, and dense reds of the season would take over the huge blanket of once green trees that would cover almost all of Brookhurst. My sister and I both especially loved Halloween because of the simple fact is that we loved a scare every now and then. People of Brookhurst were seemingly more alive during that time. Even the trees would rejoice in the turn of the season and emotion of the people. I loved everything about autumn reconnecting with Brookhurst and the simple euphoria the town seemed to float in.
Except that one cornfield- and that one scarecrow that sat in the middle of it. The poor little thing, so pitifully made, so sullenly placed. It wasn’t exactly terrifying at first glance- but come to think of it, the thing aroused a disturbing feeling in my stomach every time I saw it. It had a faded gray sack that was tied with a rotting rope as its head. On the sack were two little black dots, far apart from each other, as eyes. It didn’t exactly have a mouth except for a tear that veered a little to the left that looked like it was on the sack before it was made to be the head of a scarecrow. It didn’t have much of a nose either- but more like a tiny raised bump that was right in the center of the face. For its clothes it wore a ripped blue and gray flannel under a pair of tattered overalls, with one misplaced patch lazily sewn on its hip. I remember that one its hands were a pair of faded dark blue field gloves whose fingers hung down sloppily. Every fall- this scarecrow would appear in the same spot, with the same spaced out look on its face. Ever year, the same question arose of who put it there, when it got there, or how it gets there. Hallowed’s field, where the scarecrow sits, has been abandoned for twenty years ever since farmer Hallowed died. This had been our little town mystery.
It’s kind of funny, but also a bit sad, that the scarecrow just sits there. There is no corn to be protected and there are no crows to be ridden. The townsfolk had always blamed it on the kids, but the kids blamed it on the adults. No one ever owned up to putting the scarecrow there… and I don’t think anyone would have wanted to. I started to pay more attention to it as I rode my horse down the main road into town. I stopped at the edge of the field and looked at it. The wind blew through the dead husks surrounding the scarecrow. They rustled- but the scarecrow sat unnerved by the wind movement. It began to bother me. I guess it was the horrifying simplicity of its face, but it scared me so much after that moment. I continued and went into to town, satisfied with a newly discovered idea.
Ignoring everyone, I finished my errand and started back home. As I rode up the main street, the field came into sight- and so did that dumb scarecrow. When I arrived at the border of the street and where the field began, I got off my horse and marched into the field towards sad creature on the wooden stake. As soon as I was a foot away, it smelled a strange scent of sweat and salt. The smell was unruly to my nose, so I covered it with my shirt as I began to untie the arms and legs from the stake. I put the thing under my arm and walked to the rotting barn beside the field. Carrying the scarecrow felt unnatural- it had the weight of a dead dog, almost heavy but not too much. I opened the door to the barn as it revealed the same aroma of the scarecrow’s. My eyes searched for something useful I could hide away the scarecrow with. They eventually found a loft and a beam that supported a broken part of the roof. I went up the ladder, hoisting the scarecrow on my shoulder, and slammed it down at the base of the pillar. I took out the rope that I bought at the store as my little errand, and tied the thing to the column. Satisfied, I started my way down the ladder and to the field. I locked the barn door with chain that I had also brought. As I mounted my horse, a feeling of relief overcame me. It’s not so much as that I was scared of the scarecrow, but it was the fact that it bothered me so much- and I probably wasn’t the only one glad that it was gone for the time. Two days came and went, and every time I passed Hallowed’s field, I smiled warmly to myself.
“April- what happened to that ugly thing over there?” My sister asked as we pasted the field one day. I told her that I didn’t know…and I was glad it was gone- and she agreed. After an hour at the Halloween store, we began to drive home. I turned on the radio, enjoying some Beatles as I contently kept my eyes on the rode.
“Aww, that scarecrow is back!” I slammed the brakes and turned my head to the field. My eyes soon met the familiar black dots of the scarecrow’s. My sister, smilingly and staring out the window, was completely oblivious to my conflict with that creature. I sighed and laughed, suggesting that someone had made another one just for Halloween that was in two days- and I really wanted to believe that too. When we arrived home, I told my sister to start decorating the living room as I couldn’t because at the time I told her I needed to go to the grocery store…but in the back on my head I saw the empty stare of the scarecrow sitting on the wooden pole. I drove over to the field, an axe in my back seat, my mind being strangely calm and seemingly unaware of what I was planning.
I arrived at the field and stormed into the field, the corn husks slapping at my side. I approached the scarecrow and swung the axe, cutting the “head” clean off. I hacked off the base of the wooden stake and the body fell to the ground as I struck it over and over and over. Completely enraged, I even destroyed a few husks around it. After my episode, my adrenaline stopped and I started towards my car, not even looking back at what I had done. I drove home, flushed of any emotion and went into my house with a painted on smile.
“Okay Lucy, let’s start decorating.” I stormed into the house and clapped my hand, slightly scaring my sister, then I started to play the Beatles as we hurried around the house hanging ornaments on everything there was. As my sister went to fix up the stairs, the night had set in. After that, we started to clean the house. Around ten or eleven, we started to play a board game, still enjoying the repetition of John Lennon’s voice in the song Help. As I rolled the dice, a shrill neigh escaped the barn house. Lucy looked at me with a worried brow and I got up to go see.
“Turn down the music…” I whispered and she ran, turning the knob of the record player until the sound mellowed. I stood, staring out the screen door that was pitch black from the night outside. I grabbed a flashlight and the first aide kit and went out the screen door. I ran to the barn, opening the door slowly, trying not to startle my horses. Everything was silent and calm. I ran the light over their legs and faces to check for injury. After a moment of surveying, I started to hear a miniscule suckling coming from behind me. I turned around and flashed the light in the direction of the sound. I heard a little rustle, and I raised the light a bit higher….it revealed a ripped flannel shirt and tattered overalls. Almost involuntarily, my flash light rose to the thing’s face. A faded gray sack….
It all happened so fast- but its eyes weren’t the painted black dots they used to be. They were different. Instead, they were like black inky beads that rested on top of the surface of the sack. They glistened in the white light of the flash light. I remember the mouth- instead of the harmless little tear, there was a perfect small circle with little blade like teeth with small drops of blood pooling at the corners. I screamed and it leapt. I dropped my flashlight as I heard scurrying all around as I fumbled in the dark to retrieve my light. Instead of finding my light, I found the butt of my shotgun that I had from two years ago when I had to put down my calf. Grabbing that and soon finding my flashlight, I searched for the scarecrow again. I moved the light all around the barn until I came to the window at the very top of the barn. There it was- hooked to the wall, head upside down, with those beady eyes staring at me. From its perfect circular mouth dropped a little tongue that was that of a bat. It twisted its head at gave me a slow, deep throated, rolling click before dashing out the window like a spider. I shot at it, thanking God it was still loaded- but no prevail. I began to run to my house before it could get to my sister.
Suddenly, John Lennon’s voice sang loudly “WELL SHAKE IT UP BABY NOW!” just as Lucy screamed and the light in the kitchen flickered off. I kicked my screen door open and stood quietly as Mr. Lennon hollered “Come on, come on, come on baby now!” My fingers eventually found the light switch and the room illuminated a scene of a very frightened Lucy. The lamp swung harshly back forth as I scanned the room for that thing. From behind me arose the clicking- as I swung around it landed on the ground next to me and I shot at it- barely skimming the side of its head. It tried to stand up- looking like a knotted up marionette, it hulked towards me. Lucy continued to scream as the Beatles played on and I fumbled to reload. It reached for my foot with clumsy fingers and started to pull me, but before it could I joust it with the butt of my gun. It screeched and fumbled backwards in a pain, as I rushed over to my sister. I told her to run upstairs but she wanted to stay. Not in the mood for arguing, I allowed it and gave her directions as I scanned the counter for anything that was pain inflicting. The butcher knife looked like gold as I grabbed it and threw it at the scarecrow. It missed completely. I got up and ran for the stairs, followed by the scarecrow. My sister screamed and headed for the door, catching the scarecrow’s attention. The creature loped after her- taking aim, I sloppily shot it. It whined like an injured horse as I fired again…completely stopping the whining.
My sister stood behind the door and looked at me with joy. I motioned for her to stay quiet as I raced down the stairs to pick the scarecrow up. I dragged it into the back yard and ordered Lucy to bring me a match as I piled up wood and dry grasses around it. I lit the pile on fire and watched the “dead” scarecrow become engulfed in the flames. I held my sister close as we watched the flame die down. Throwing water on the parched area, the sun began to rise creating a mellow pink and orange sky that quickly calmed our nerves. We went into the house and passed out on the couch.
In the morning, I awoke and dressed for school. A completely normal morning- with no mentions of the night before, I made my sister breakfast and we headed to the car. We approached the main road into town, my sister asleep- the field came into focus. Right in the center, so pitifully made, so sullenly place, completely unscathed…was that scarecrow.
Credit To – K.R aka Kitty Kat