The bones of this story are true. Time and artistic license have decorated the bones.
I moved to Georgia when I was 16. Well, I was drug to Georgia when I was 16. Our (very) North Atlanta suburb has not yet grown into itself. Modern subdivisions separated themselves by acres and acres of forest. These forests would soon enough become houses, gas stations and malls. In the meantime my brother and me would traipse through the woods and explore the space between neighborhoods many weekends as we adjusted to our new lives.
On one of these trips we were riding bikes along a gravel road. Near our house this road led to several horse estates and farms. We traveled farther along, farther than we ever had before. After a while the road, still gravel, separated several hundred acres of nothing from the highway. The trees in this nothing were sparse (by north Georgia standards), overgrown with vines with sickly looking underbrush. The bright, cloudless summer day became oppressive and humid. Yet we rode on.
We passed it, it was so still. We locked our bike wheels up when we saw it out of our far peripheral vision. A hawk, a large hawk, stood on an old log by the side of the road. Placid, not moving, not even looking at us. We stared at it, wondered why it had not taken off as we passed. My brother approached it slowly. Only after he was but a few feet away did the hawk move its head to put both eyes directly at my brother’s. My brother backed away more quickly than he approached. The hawk turned its head again to stare at whatever nothing he was viewing before.
I grabbed a largish stone and threw it past the hawk to one side. A shot across the bow if you would. The hawk flared its wings slightly, as if shrugging. It turned its head to look over its shoulder to look back into the acres of nothing behind it.
I noticed a dirt lane. One that looked like it had not seen use in years. Our curiosity and an underlying desire to leave the hawk pushed us to ride down the lane. A few hundred yards of biking brought us to a burned out house, overgrown with vines and weeds. I imagined that this house was what the hawk was staring at.
We returned up the lane, even more uneasy than before. As we turned back toward home on the gravel lane, the hawk was still there. We did our best to ignore it as we rode past.
This was on a Sunday afternoon. The next day at school I related the experience to a girl who sat behind me in English class. She was Goth, though back then the name wasn’t in use. As I told my tale her eyes grew wide, and she viewed me as though I was lucky to be alive.
“That’s the murder house,” she exclaimed (almost breathlessly), “you are lucky to be alive!” She was serious, serious enough for it to rub off onto me, just a little.
She went on to relate how the father went crazy in the 50’s and killed the family then set fire to the house. She claimed to have seen spooky things there when she went there at night on a dare. I didn’t believe it. However, she was cute, so I listened and enjoyed the little bit of extra attention that every teen boy desires.
Today a mall fills the nothing, the house long tore down. In the food court (and I am not making this up) there is a carousal that sits where that old house stood.
Be good, have fun,
Looking forward to seeing this.