Last night after play rehearsal for Scratchin’ on the Eight Ball, I drove my three main actors, Ben, Brandon and DJ out to 44th and Superior. The moon was bright and a herd of deer scattered as we approached Bloody Mary’s Woods, situated between us and Salt Creek’s high banks beyond.
When I was a kid, riding my motorcyle down her old dirt road, I could clearly see Mary’s farm house nestled amongst the cottonwoods. Now, the house was no longer there. It had been burned down 30 some years ago by kids playing with matches. One of those kids (now grown), wrote to me recently and swore to me the fire was started by accident.
But as we walked through the darkened woods surrounding her farmstead, DJ had some sort of ghostly vision of Mary’s old farm house. He then descibed it in vivid detail: “Two stories tall! Bright white paint! A wrap-around-porch! Thick white porch pillars! And two red-glowing lights in an upper window! Right there on that little hill in front of us!”
I laughed quietly to myself. I then asked DJ if he had ever read the book, written by Fran Reinehr, Bloody Mary, Gentle Woman. He said that he had not. And yet he described the house almost perfectly. I then realized we were standing in the middle of what had once been the Partington Pond situated directly behind Mary’s house. It was a large, bowl-shaped area now void of all water, and recently turned into a Boy Scout archery range.
The images of deer targets surrounded us as we made our way up the slight rise and onto the spot where her house had once stood. All I could think about were the poor woman’s herd of goats who rambled there so long ago, and comments from Fran’s book about kids who did drive-bys in cars and shot her poor goats. I wondered if Mary really did have a goat graveyard, like I mentioned in my own book, The Woods of Bloody Mary.
It was a great night for a memorable walk in the woods, and a peaceful feeling settled over me. I thought of the days of my childhood when I blew through her land on my 250 Kawasaki, just waiting to get blasted from this life by Mary or Pigman with their double-barrel shotguns. But that was 40 years ago, when I was 14. And it seemed that I had come full circle since the days I considered Mary’s land haunted.
If it is now the haunt of ghosts–Mary’s, Pigman’s or the legendary Indian Holy Man–they were either asleep last night or had moved on to a better place.
Bloody Mary’s Woods held no terror for me and my three companions on a cool autumn night. But as drove back into town, I was tempted to tell them the story of the Red-Faced Man, to keep their fear meters turned on high. But I didn’t want to steal the thunder from the peaceful feeling we’d shared out there at the Woods, so I kept my mouth shut.
And again, my readers might ask, “Who is this Red Faced Man, he keeps talking about?”
And again, I would smirk and simply say, “That story, my friends, is for another time.”