Do you like a spooky story on Halloween? I know I do! Here’s the beginning of one that took place in Last Chance a long time ago. I hope you go to my website to read the rest. I didn’t want to send the blog to end all blogs!
The Girl in the White Dress
By Cathleen Armstrong
“Lubbock.” The man smiled briefly before returning his attention to his enchiladas. The woman across from him didn’t look up.
“Just passing through, I bet. No one I know is expecting company.”
“That’s right.” This time the smile was even briefer.
“Well, I hope you get where you’re going before nightfall.” He gestured with his chin at the dark, heavy clouds outside just as a gust of wind sandblasted the window. “That wind is really picking up and Halloween night is no time to be out on a lonely road in the dark. You never know what might be out there waiting for you.”
“For Pete’s sake, Les. Let these poor people eat their lunch in peace.” Juanita walked past him with the iced tea pitcher and crossed to the window booth. “Don’t mind Les. He’s harmless enough, even if he can talk the hind leg off a dog.”
“He’s all right.” The man smiled again and sat back so Juanita could fill his glass.
“‘Course, here in Last Chance, it’s not Halloween that we worry about. Our story took place right in the middle of summer, in broad daylight, too.” Les rested his elbows on the counter behind him and leaned back.
“Les, I asked you to leave these folks alone. And don’t go dragging up that old story, either. You know there’s not a word of truth in it.” Juanita refilled Les’s glass while she was at it.
“I know no such thing, Miss Know-it-all, and neither do you. Now, if you’d just get me a donut out of the pie safe, I’d appreciate it. I see one with chocolate icing and sprinkles. Bring me that one.”
Juanita sighed and went for the donut. “Just leave it be, Les.”
He ignored her. “Yep, you don’t need a cold gray day like this one for a good story.”
“Okay. I’ll bite.” The man in the window booth put his fork down. Even the woman across from him looked up. “What happened?”
“Well, sir, it happened like this, or so they say. It was before my time, don’t you know. You see, in the old days, the biggest deal of the whole year in Last Chance was Pioneer Days. They always held it the first weekend in August, celebrating the founding of the town by Big John Cooley in 1874. They’d hold a parade right down Main street with Miss Last Chance waving at everyone from up on her perch. After that there was a rodeo and a stock show at the barns over at the high school. Then there was a pie-judging and eating contest, and a barbecue and then they’d top the whole thing off with big old square dance on Saturday night. Anyone who was ever a part of Last Chance tried to get home for Pioneer Days, and it sometimes even drew a few strangers as well.
For probably fifteen or so years after Pioneer Days got started back in the twenties, one Pioneer Days was pretty much like the one before it. And that suited everyone just fine. After all, when you get something just the way you want it, why change it? But one day, something did change. Not so’s you’d notice it right off, of course, but later when they looked back on it, there was this kind of unease, like something just didn’t set quite right, but you couldn’t put your finger on it.
The rest of The Girl in the White Dress can be found on my website. Look for the tab of the same name on the menu bar. Happy Halloween!