|You see misfortune. We saw 'scary'!|
There was a haunted house in Milk River.
Demons lived there.
You name it. If it was slimy and scary, it had a residence in that house.
We children in the town skipped past on the far side of the street.
Even in broad daylight.
With our ears plugged and talking volubly, so as to drown out any and all noises that might escape that house.
Even so, I'm sure that, on two occasions, I heard screams coming from it.
And no, they didn't come from me.
At one time, Milk River's haunted house had been just another normal, ordinary, rather elderly little home.
Situated about half-way down the block.
A family had lived there.
Mother. Father. Children.
But that was where the 'normal' part ended.
At least that is what my friends had informed me.
One night, the mother had asked her little boy to go down into the cellar to look for the family cat.
It was dark in the cellar.
He had lighted a match to see more clearly.
And dropped it into a vat of kerosene.
I didn't know what that was, but it sounded dangerous.
And why a vat of it would be sitting in someone's basement, I wouldn't know either.
Suffice it to say that my facts really didn't hold well under scrutiny.
But I was four.
Who was scrutinizing?
I was too busy shivering in delight.
Moving on . . .
So the little boy dropped his match into the vat of kerosene.
It lit up like a huge torch.
The kerosene, that is.
He and his family barely got out alive.
No one knows what happened to the cat.
The family then disappeared.
Never to be heard from again.
Actually, none of us really knew what happened to start the fire.
It was just one of those terribly unfortunate things.
The family moved away, maybe to a family member's house to regroup.
But reality wasn't as interesting to us kids as the stories we made up.
Once, a group of us actually sneaked into the house and got as far as the kitchen.
Standing in the center of the room was a partially-charred table, still covered with an equally burned cloth and decorated with a bowl of blackened fake fruit.
We were horrified.
And ran from the house screaming.
I know, I know, intrepid explorers we weren't.
The house was eventually demolished.
Mainly to keep us from scrambling through it like some sort of ride in a carnival.
But even after another house had been erected and another family moved in, it remained the 'haunted house'.
Where the family lived.
Before the fire.
And maybe they're there still.
Making noises and screaming at odd hours.
The four-year-olds in the neighbourhood would know.