Your parents told you simply not to go there. Your friends, far more imaginative (or perhaps more well-informed), told you it was haunted. You thought it best you find out for yourself.
So, against the sage advice of your elders, the panicked pleas of your peers, and the clear demands of the rusty, broken sign that, in a time long since past, once read NO TRESPASSING, you hop the fence into the old Johnson farm and make your way up steady incline of the winding dirt road to the estate house.
Cypress trees line either side of the road. Their tall, slender bodies seem to lean in over you, as if trying to steal a glance down your shirt – which is weird because you’re wearing a jacket, and even if you weren’t a thirteen-year-old boy and have no breasts. And what do trees care about boobs anyway? Occasionally, you’ll stumble over an errant cypress knee that’s grown up through the ill-maintained path. Stupid pedophile trees are getting all touchy. If anyone still lives up there, they sure as hell don’t care much about coming and going nor the safety of children.
With your thighs and calves burning from the long, slow climb up the road, you reach the house. It hulks over you – a three-story ramshackle mess of faded white paint and half-rotten siding seemingly held up solely by the strength of the vines which have crept into every crack in the walls.
You brazenly make your way up the steps and knock loudly on the front door with the side of a balled fist. You hear a loud thump from inside; one day, many years from now, you will startle a sleeping drunkard who will fall out of his recliner onto an elevated hardwood floor and remark that the sound seems oddly familiar. A scrambled scurrying of footsteps follows the thump – they get louder and softer several times, as if someone is searching the house for something, or perhaps they simply got lost. Finally, the footsteps grow steadily louder before stopping on the other side of the door.
As soon as the knob turns, the door swings open violently, revealing a hunched, scrawny figure in mud-splattered overalls with a dingy t-shirt underneath you can only assume used to be white. The hair on the figures arms is a shimmering silver and the skin it sprouts from is dotted with liver spots and criss-crossed by varicose veins. Atop a neck so wrinkly that turkeys would shudder at it in disgust is a cheap old wolf mask.
“Raaawwwr!” the figure menaces.
You stand your ground. Maybe this will get better.
Visibly taken aback by your lack of reaction, the man in the mask tries again. “Grrrrr!”
You raise an eyebrow and cross your arms.
“Um,” the not-werewolf stutters, “awwwooo?”
“Seriously?” you ask, finally breaking your silence. “This all you got?”
Inept but not stupid, the man tears off his mask in defeat. “Well, shit, kid. It worked on the last little punk that came up here.”
“Yeah?” you ask, unconvinced. “How long ago was that?”
“Must have been…I don’t know…twenty five years? Scared the little asshole real good.”
“There’s your problem, gramps. Kids my age don’t find that crap scary. We’ve seen too much.”
Old man Johnson (you assume his name is Johnson, anyway) sighs as his shoulders sink to his sides.
“Look, don’t sweat it, guy,” you say, reaching a hand up to pat him on the side of the arm. “So, whatcha got going on around here? Seems like a pretty cool place. Lots of stuff to explore, you know?”
Johnson’s defeated expression morphs quickly into mild rage. “Oh, no you don’t, kid! I won’t have you or any of your friends coming up on my property and having your mary-weenie-smokin’ sex parties!”
Ever the conniving little prick, you spot the old man’s weakness easily – he’ll go to great lengths to keep his privacy. An excellent opportunity has presented and you don’t intend to pass it up.
“Well,” you tell old man Johnson, “once I tell everybody back in town that this place isn’t haunted, it’ll be tough to keep everyone away, you know?”
“No!” he shouts. “No no no!” It is not a command but rather a desperate plea.
“I mean, I’d like to help you out, but-”
“Look,” he interrupts, “you’re a teenager or some shit like that, right? I run a little still ouTeenagers like booze, yeah? Teenagers love booze!”
“I mean, I-“
You’re once again interrupted, this time by an old glass jug with a homemade cork flying into your arms.
“Take it and keep your mouth shut, kid,” says old man Johnson before slamming the door in your face.
You run back home and share the jug with your friends, telling them the complete truth of what happened.
One by one, your friends emulate your success by imitating your incursion onto the Johnson property. Old man Johnson tries – and fails – to scare each of them off the property and ends up bribing them with a jug of moonshine, which only succeeds in accomplishing the opposite of its intention.
The increased volume of interlopers and their requisite bribes causes old man Johnson to step up production. The stress of the added workload in addition to the frustration of the seemingly endless stream of trespassers is too much for his weakening heart. He has a massive coronary and dies alone in his kitchen.
The massive anger over the prolonged invasion of his privacy anchors old man Johnson to this world, and his blaming of you specifically as the root of this renewed wave of alcoholic teens to his doorstep and his subsequent death anchors him to you.
He haunts you until you die which is luckily only a few years due to your early development of rampant alcoholism caused by an abundant supply of moonshine coupled with a of dearth of proper judgement due to your age.