Old Man Tate By: Brittany Collins 5th Grade Student North Magoffin Elementary
“Mom! We’re going outside to play for a little while,” Kelly called as she and Tina went flying out the door. Kelly lived in a small house that was very old and worn out. She and her family hadn’t lived there long. It sat on a small hill with a slanting yard, and was faded from years of sunlight. Attached to it was a high porch that went along the whole front of the house. It was located about ¼ of mile from the head of a really long hollow. Tina, her cousin, lived at the very head of the hollow and walked down often to play with Kelly.
“I can’t believe that school is finally out and we can stay out and play as long as we want without worrying about having to get cleaned up in time for bed,” said Tina as they started toward the large dirt pile where they always made mud pies. The girls were only ten years old and not having the modern toys that most kids did, always found ways to occupy themselves while playing outside.
Tina and Kelly were alike in many ways, yet different. Tina was shorter than Kelly with kinky, curly hair the color of straw hay, while Kelly had wavy, long hair that was the color of the summer sun. Yet, when people saw Tina and Kelly together, they would swear they were sisters because they looked so much alike. This wasn’t surprising; however, for Kelly and Tina were double first cousins. Their mothers were sisters and the fathers were brothers. Someone may think that this was unusually but not in this small county in Kentucky. Families were large with many siblings, so when one sister became starry eyed for a young man, then it wasn’t long before her sister became the same way over his brother. Therefore, the two girls shared almost as much blood as did real sisters. They also spent every minute together.
“Tina, why don’t we stick around the porch for a while today, maybe hunt for some earthworms to go fishing with later. I don’t really feel up to playing in the mud on a day like today,” said Kelly as she settled next to the porch where several small rocks where lying.
“Kelly, did I tell you that I heardsomething outside my window last night during the thunder storm?” Tina asked. “Don’t start that again, Tina. There is no way that you hear something during every storm. I don’t know why you keep on insisting that the hollow is haunted. You know that we don’t believe in such things,” Kelly said with annoyance in her voice. She hated being scared and Tina knew it.
“Not every thunderstorm, dummy, just the ones that have bad lightning. And I don’t care what you say; I hear things outside my window. I’m not imagining it, they are really there,” Tina said without a shred of doubt in her voice. Kelly began to wonder that maybe Tina was telling the truth, after all, she wasn’t one to lie or make up things. “What makes you say these things, Tina? What are you hearing? Is it an animal, maybe?”
“It sounds like someone walking with maybe a cane or something and Kelly, I would swear that I can hear them talking to themselves sometimes,” Tina replied. Kelly’s eyes became the size of quarters as she began to imagine someone walking outside Tina’s bedroom, mumbling to them self during a thunderstorm. She could feel herself shiver at the thoughts of it. “Wh…what does it say?”
“Most of the time, it is just mumbling, but last time, I could have sworn I heard it say that lightning was dangerous and someone was going to get killed.” “No way! You’re making this up just to scare me. It’s not very funny, Tina. You know I’m a scaredy cat and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But do you really have to try and scare the living daylights out of me. I’ll not sleep for a week,” said Kelly. “How do you think I feel?! It’s outside of MY ROOM!” shouted Tina.
This reaction made Kelly begin to realize that Tina wasn’t making this up, this was really happening to her. She seemed scared and this was something that Tina never was. She was always the brave one and Kelly the coward. She could feel the chill bumps start crawling up her arms even as the cool air started blowing across the soft, spring grass.
“Girls,” they heard from the road and they jumped as if someone had grabbed hold of them. They sat frozen staring at an old man walking down the hollow with a large walking stick. He had an old pair of overalls on that looked to be ancient and a pair of worn out work bootdunlike any they had ever seen. His shirt was long sleeved with patches at each elbow. He walked slowly with a large cane walking stick that tapped with each step. They could not move as they stared at what they thought was a ghost. He had a small scar above his right eye with what looked like a thin stream of blood flowing down from it. “You youngin’s should really get back in that there house. There’s a bad storm abrewing over yonder and them ol’ spring storms can be downright deadly.”
Kelly and Tina remained rooted to the ground. They could’nt have moved even if they wanted to. It was as if they were in some kind of trance with the old man being the one in control. “I mean it now, girls. These storms, not only bring, thunder and rain, but lightning as well. I’m sure your folks have told yuns that lightning is dangerous and can kill,” said the old man as he had slowed to a stop to speak to the girls.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, Kelly and Tina stopped staring at the old man and looked at one another as if asking with their eyes if they were losing their mind. They shook their heads slightly and turned back to the road as only a brief few seconds, but to their total amazement, there was no one there. The man was gone. He had DISAPPEARED! “No way!” “I’m dreaming. I have to be dreaming,” started Kelly.
“I don’t know, but I’m getting in that house right this minute!” Both girls scrambled to their feet and ran like their life depended on it into the house. “Mom!” Kelly said just as a loud roll of thunder crashed and a streak of lightning seems to hit right where they had been sitting. Kelly’s mom came running through the house just in time to see the girls come flying in the door. “Thank God, you girls came in when you did,” she started. “Mom, you will never guess…” “Aunt Betty, I can’t believe…” They both started talking at the same time.
“Wait, wait. One at time, I can’t understand both of you at once,” Kelly’s mom said. The girls then started telling what had happened to them in rushed sentences and excited voices. Betty listened patiently until they finished their story, and then told the girls to take a seat while she told them a story of a tale from long ago.
“Many years ago, it was said that Old Man Tate, who used to live in an old cabin at the head of this hollow, was out walking in fields looking through his tobacco. It was a typical spring day, yet suddenly a violent storm came over the hill out of nowhere. They say that before he could make it back to his cabin that he was struck by lightning and died that very day,” Betty told them while watching their disbelieving faces. “It seems like to me that you girls had your own guardian angel today.”
Kelly and Tina looked at each other as Betty walked from the room. They couldn’t believe that they had actually seen him. Then as if from no accord of their own, they walked to the porch to look outside. There standing at the end of the road, in the pouring rain, wasn’t something that they would ever be frightened of again. They knew that Old Man Tate had just saved them and before he started his walk on down the road, he waved with a slight grin fixed upon his weathered face.
Photos taken From: http://images.google.com/ (I formatted images to a grayscale format to appear as black and white images)