Ah, beautiful blue sky with little to no clouds. Yes, nothing like a fall vacation in the great state of Georgia. Especially when you take one like our family is taking.
We called it a Mid-October vacation that we’ve been planning since early April. Stay at home and see the fascinating culture and sites in our own state during the Halloween, Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze season.
We had been motoring along the asphalt country roads of Georgia for the past several hours looking for interesting and mysterious places to explore. Maybe a haunted house or woods or a spooky old barn.
To say that we love adventure isn’t even coming close as we have been everywhere from Florida’s Disneyworld to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We have camped and hiked from Mount Rainier in Washington State and the outback of Yellowstone and spent several days Salmon Fishing with the Grizzlies of Alaska. Now that’s scary!
When I talk about our family, I mean the Pines; I’m Colton but most everyone, including my kids call me Colt. My wife of twenty years Nettie, is the exception as she calls me Colton, or when I’m good it’s honey. We won’t worry about what I’m called when I’m not good.
My oldest daughter is Fawn. We named her that as she was born with big round beautiful brown eyes. She just turned seventeen. Our middle daughter, Twila, was so named as she arrived in the early morning hours, and will soon turn sixteen. Then our baby Missy. Missy is short for mistake as she last month turned seven.
Like I said even the girls call me Colt. This started when Fawn was
around two and with all our friends calling me Colt, she just naturally picked it up. And the other two followed along. Doesn’t really bother me but I don’t think Nettie likes it very much. The girls do call her mom which she does like very much.
So here we are headed into our home state vacation and it is really hard to find anything more mysterious then the swamps of the south. Especially in the areas that are home to those large beautiful Oak trees. The ones with their long gangling branches that appear to have big hands and thick spooky fingers that are ready to grab and pull you in.
And then there are those hanging clumps of moss that give off the shape of something ready to drop onto your back and swallow you whole as you stroll along beneath them.
And of course, one of the best places to see something like this and a lot more, like gators, turtles, deer, maybe wild pigs and of course, snakes, is where we were headed; the Okefenokee Park.
We were still a good way from the park when Missy said she needed a lady’s room. So, we forgot about trees and wildlife and parks and boogie-men and instead turned our attention to finding one of those. About four miles had gone buy when my eagle-eyed wife spotted a sign that said there was a gas station at the next turn.
We made the turn, and drove forever and had about given up when out of the brushy forest there it was. Everyone else gulped at the site but I chuckled. “Hey, this is the country so what did you expect, a mini mart with Mickey D’s?”
Nettie looked at me and said, “No, but neither was I expecting something out of a horror flick either.” And she nodded to the far side of the building where two guys, their mouths hanging wide stared at
our car as if it were a UFO.
They were both about six foot six and wore faded jeans and long sleeve flannel shirts with suspenders over their shoulders. And even though they didn’t need them, each guy had on one of those big wide belts with an attached buck knife. Plus, they each had on big floppy felt hats and one of them, the guy on the left, was holding a double-bladed ax with both hands.
“Colton, that guy is looking like he could chop us up.” Nettie said as she took hold of my arm. Why don’t we try another filling station?”
“And where would that be dear?”
We sat there for a bit watching them watch us until the one without the ax turned slightly and spit a long stream of tobacco juice onto a log.
“That was impressive,” said Fawn.
I took a deep breath and said, “Oh this is crazy. Come on Missy I’ll go with you and I’ll tell them we want to buy some cokes or candy or whatever. Let them know we are here for more than the free toilet.”
Nettie’s eyes widened as she said, “Okay, but lock the doors and leave the keys.”
I went inside with Missy while the others stayed put.
As we entered the building a tall guy who I thought was the father of the two men outside stood behind the counter. His eyes were a deep dull grey and there wasn’t a hint of a smile. Because of the shape of his face I was sure he didn’t have any bottom teeth. He was wearing one of
those hickory shirts logger guys wear with a bulge in the pocket like it contained a can of Skoal.
Behind him standing on a wooden chair was an older woman wearing what looked like a home-made skirt and faded flowered blouse. She had on a baseball cap where two grey pigtails hung to her shoulders.
In her right hand she held a blue rag that she seemed to be dusting or maybe wiping down a stack of oil cans.
In as pleasant a voice as I could muster, I asked if my daughter could use the bathroom.
Neither spoke but after several seconds the guy raised his arm and pointed to a side door. I smiled and thanked him and hustled Missy that way.
As I waited patiently for her to finish, I asked pops if they had some cokes or snacks. Maybe ice cream and was met with the same dull look.
At about that time the door opened and the two guys from outside came in. I smiled and gave them a quick wave. Nothing in return. But I felt a bit of a relief as the one dude wasn’t carrying that ax.
As I waited for Missy, I couldn’t help but wonder if these two were twins. Probably not. Then I had to bite my lip as I had a vision of them as preschoolers wearing Oshkosh jeans, puffy shirts and those little hats with a propeller. Probably logger boots too.
To keep from laughing I asked, “We are from out of town what is there to do around here?”
No one answered as they just looked at each other.
Then to my relief Missy returned and took my hand. “I’m ready Colt.” And she turned to the man behind the counter, “Thank you, I feel a lot better sir.” And she smiled big.
I waved and we headed for the door. As I passed the two big guys I
smiled and said thanks. Nothing in return.
I opened the door and Missy was out and running to the car when a voice stopped me.
“What kind of things?”
Smiling I turned, “I’m sorry what was that?”
The horn honked and I heard Nettie yelling for me to come-on.
It was the woman, “You asked what there was to do around here? What kind of things to do are you looking for?”
“Well, you know, maybe a, ah,” I chuckled, “a haunted house, you know something fun.” Still smiling I waved and began to take a step out when she said, “We have twinkies and moon pies.”
I looked back and she pointed to a shelf behind the two big guys.
“Norman!” she snapped and one of them turned and picked up a box of the pies and held them out.
“Go on,” she said, “they’re free.”
“Oh, no, I couldn’t.”
“Why not?” It was Norman the big guy who was holding the box. “Freez free ain’t it.” And he glared at me. “Take em! The whole box! Go on!”
“Well heck ya, sure. Thank you but I insist on paying.” I reached into my
pocket and pulled out a five.
I believe it was the look on Norman’s face that caused me to put the five back in my pocket and take the box of moon pies thanking him.
“Ever been to, Bates House?”
It was the old woman again.
I turned and said, “Bates House?”
She nodded her head up and down. “Said you were looking for things to do. “Open house tour ever day bout this time. Two miles that a way.” And she pointed a bony finger down the road, “Cain’t miss it.”
“Pretty interesting huh?”
She looked right at me as she slowly nodded her head.
“Okay then we will give it a try.” And once again I turned to leave when she said.
“Heard it’s haunted.”
I looked back at her.
“Strange things go on there from time to time.”
My turn to nod my head.
“Heard there was a murder in that old house some time ago.”
“Wow! We will check it out.” I said as I again turned to go.
“Ax murder it was.”
I looked back.
They were all starring right at me as she again said, “Ax murder.”
Then chills went all over my body as all four of them at the same time said, “Ax murder!” They repeated this over and over. And each time they said it they all made chopping motions with their arms.
As I quickly turned for the car, I heard the most gaud-offal eery laughter coming from inside that building.
I got to the car, shoved in the box of moon pies and quickly crawled right in behind them. As I put it in gear Nettie grabbed my arm and squeezed. “Ow, what are you doing?” She didn’t say anything just made a motion with her head.
I looked over and there standing alongside the building was one of the big guys holding the ax. As I started to move forward, he smiled and pointed one big finger right at me. Then raised up the ax, swung it over his shoulder and came down hard on the log.
I know I left rubber on the asphalt.