For those of you just joining us, my friends and I decided a good way to spend our time would be to scout out a local haunted house so we could go in and see for ourselves just how ‘haunted’ it was. Oblivious towards legal and personal ramifications, four of us proceeded with our plan on a Saturday morning. Everything was going according to our loosely conceived plan until the owner of the house discovered us.
Conan walked out to the double yellow line dividing Lincoln Road. With his meaty paw, he gestured to Ben, who was at the edge of the road and the thicket of grass, to walk over to him. It didn’t take the Cimmerian long to inquire, in his own way, the nature of Ben’s business at 1211 Lincoln Road.
(Once again I leave it up to the reader to insert his or her own expletive. Think of this like an ‘R’ rated version of Mad Libs)
“Wat da ____ are you doin’ here?”
Ben stammered for an answer. He mumbled ‘Nothing’.
Ben’s rambling answer unfortunately didn’t pass Conan’s sniff test.
“Don’ you ____ wit me boy! Wat da ____ are you doin’ here?”
The pause before Ben answered again seemed like an eternity. My legs were starting to cramp as I was hunkered down in the bushes. My mind was racing for my next course of action. I was about to stand up when Ben finally answered Conan.
In the most sincere and heartfelt response and with his camera dangling from his wrist, Ben uttered what could only be described as the greatest answer to a pressure filled question in the last century(including Bill Clinton having to answer the Monica Lewinsky sex question).
“My friends and I were playing tag.”
That was Ben’s answer! Tag! He was playing tag. I actually chuckled to myself. In the face of death, arrest, and Abner, I chuckled. Unfortunately, Conan had zero sense of humor because he responded with, “I said don’ ____ wit me boy!” My grin was gone.
“Wat are you doin’ here? Who else is wit you?”
With that I stood up out of the bushes next to the gravel driveway(and the poison ivy). I surrendered. Whatever fate awaited Ben now awaited me. I stepped out of the bushes and walked over to the driveway where Ben was standing. When I looked at him he had the, ‘If this situation gets any worse we are running‘ look to him. Ben and I had known each other since Kindergarten. Without so much as a nod or blink he knew I recognized the look.
“Look, me and my friend aren’t from around here. We heard this place is haunted so we wanted to see for ourselves.”
“And who da ____ is drivin’ dat red car?” He did see Brian’s car.
“He’s one of our friends, his name is _______.” (I leave this blank because the name he used was not one of our friends. Nor did we get along with that person. That person died a few years after this had happened in a car accident. In the name of tact, I’m leaving it blank. Sufficed to say, he didn’t use Brian’s name.)
“Dis place ain’t haunted. Abner shut the ____ up!(I forgot to mention Abner had been barking non-stop since our capture which only served to feed Conan’s anger like the buffet tables in Atlantic City feeding bus loads of senior citizens with food vouchers) You come around here and you could git shot!”
“We didn’t know.” Ben answered but both of us lifted the palms of our hands as if to calm the big fella down.
“I should call da ____ing cops. You two are comin’ up wit me.” Conan actually started to turn as if he wanted us to follow him up the driveway! We looked at each other again and this time we were both about a nanosecond away from running(knowing our luck we would have run in different directions and collided into each other before getting more than three feet away).
Ben offered up a different solution to our quandary. “Whoa, why don’t we just leave. We won’t come back.”
“We promise.” My big contribution to the entire ordeal was ‘We promise’. I might as well have told him we could pinky swear on it.
Conan thought for a moment then, “Git da ____ outta here. And don’ come back.”
We nodded, turned in unison and headed out of the driveway and down Lincoln road. We walked about a quarter of a mile when we had realized we made a left out of the driveway. A left meant we were headed towards Birdsboro and not towards Dairy Queen and Brian and Matt(No one had cell phones then. Keep in mind if you had a cell phone it was like the phones you see in John Wayne Army movies. They came with backpacks and someone else to carry it. It was as big as a newborn baby.). So we stopped as Lincoln road curved and we sat along the grassy shoulder.
At some point Brian had to drive by and pick us up(we hoped). Every car that drove by we held our breaths a little for fear of a returning Conan who rethought his charity and was coming to collect us. Neither of us wanted to walk past the house again towards Dairy Queen either. When I was in the bushes I was preparing to wait until graduation I could certainly sit and wait for Brian.
We sat for a good half an hour. We replayed the entire thing back to one another. I got Ben’s perspective from the other side of the road. I told him mine. We laughed at Ben’s ‘Tag’ answer. I found out that I had left Ben’s mom’s camera somewhere in those bushes but thankfully Ben still had his. We never got the camera back(it took two years for any of us to drive by Lizzy’s house again). Eventually Brian got us. He circled around and he and Matt went down Gibraltar road(taking them into Birdsboro) to get to us. Brian made a u-turn to go home though Birdsboro(Brian seemed a bit unwilling to pass by Lizzy’s once we told him Conan knew his car).
When we got home, we told all of our other friends what had happened. Open mouths and wide eyes followed. We laughed. We shook our heads in disbelief. We decided not to plan out such monumental undertakings over hot lunch in school anymore.
We never did get a chance to find out if Lizzy was still in her house on 1211 Lincoln road haunting it, but at least Lizzy’s House finally had a new story to be told.