Growing up, my grandfather always had a story to tell me. Some were funny and some were scary, but they always entertained. I like to think it had something to do with his Cherokee heritage. His grandmother was relocated to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears, and he grew up on a farmstead the family came to own. They grew some cotton, but they were mainly subsistence farmers eking out a living in the isolated wilds of 1940s Oklahoma.
My grandpa’s name is James, but everyone called him Jim. He was a stern, hard-working man. He spoke slowly, with intent, and always with conviction. But he also had a great sense of humor. He would talk about how they lacked luxuries back in his day, but never anything like the “walking barefoot uphill to school both ways” kind of stuff. He was always realistic and explained the simple things, like getting up early in the morning to start a fire in the wood-burning stove. You had to start the fire early, so the family could gather in the warm kitchen while mama cooked breakfast.
One morning it was Jim’s turn to get up early and start the fire. My uncle Pete woke up first and shook him.
“Jim! Get up and start the fire, it’s cold. There was a real heavy snow last night.” My grandpa got up and pulled on some clothes over his long johns, looking at the window; frost crept along the edges of the glass. He made his way through the house in the soft black and blue of early twilight until he got downstairs to the kitchen. The back door led out to a screened porch where they kept the wood pile. My grandpa opened the door to the stove and turned towards the back door to get the wood. He looked up and saw a man standing there, peering inside.
The man was only wearing denim overalls, and he looked so cold he was blue. The tip of his nose was black from frostbite, and his stringy, disheveled hair was just long enough to cover his eyes. His face was up against the glass of the door, and his chest was heaving… but his breath did not fog up the glass. My grandpa slowly backed away as the doorknob rattled. He turned and ran upstairs and woke up Pete.
“Pete, there’s a man at the door and, and… he looks cold.” Pete looked at my grandpa skeptically, but got up and went into their parents’ room.
“Daddy, wake up. Jim saw someone outside.” My great-grandpa, Eli, was a little more wary. He got out of bed, pulled on his boots, and grabbed his shotgun from the closet. Pete grabbed his too, and they went downstairs.
Pete went to the front of the house and Eli went to the back. My grandpa waited by the stairs, in between the two. Eli unlocked the back door and walked onto the porch, looked around and behind the wood pile, and walked back inside. “Jim,” he said, “I don’t think you was lying, but there ain’t nothing outside. No man, no animal. The screen’s even locked.” Just then Pete walked in from the front. He was white as a ghost. “Well,” their father asked, “did you see anything?”
Pete shook his head. “Didn’t see no one, just footprints… Deep footprints going around the front of the house, real deep under the windows, it looked like.” My great-grandpa was shaking his head when they heard the back door slam. He turned around and raced to the back with the boys right behind. There was snow in the kitchen and on the back porch. He walked out to the back steps and looked around. There were footprints going around the house, real deep underneath the windows. Eli told the boys to get inside and lock the door. He walked around the house, checked the barn and sheds, and never found anything.
My grandpa said he doesn’t know who, or what, he saw that morning. They don’t know what came in the kitchen. But he said his father, Eli, was shaken up the most. You see, the snows had ended during the night, but all the prints circling the house were fresh. He never found the footprints leading away.
Written by: Lowcountrybuck
Originally posted: http://redd.it/10336z