Ghost Story

Posted by on January 16th, 2011 at 9:12 AM

It was a teacher’s first year at a high school in the Midwest. He liked to keep in shape, so in the evening he’d do laps around the football field.

One Friday the team was away and the teacher thought he had the place to himself. But as he ran, he glanced over at the bleachers and saw a kid sitting there. The boy was skinny and knockneed, he had bright red hair, and he sat in a slump, elbow on his knee, the side of his face resting against his hand. His shoulders were shaking up and down.

One lap, the kid was there, shoulders still shaking, face still against his hand. Second lap, still there, shoulders shaking, face against his hand, and the teacher could hear him louder: the kid was crying. Third lap, and the kid was saying, “Oh shit, oh shit, dad’s gonna kill me.”

The teacher said to himself, “I got to talk to him. That’s my job.”

But fourth lap … the kid was gone.

The teacher stopped dead on the track — it was a gray cinder track that looped around the field — and he looked in one direction, looked in the other. But no kid.

He caught sight of one of the custodians. “Did you see that?” the teacher said.

“Oh, I saw that,” the custodian said.

“Red-headed kid,” the teacher said. “Sitting up there, his face like he was holding it up with his hand, and he’s crying away. ‘Oh shit, oh shit, dad’s gonna kill me.’ And now he’s gone.”

“His dad ain’t gonna kill him,” the custodian said. “His dad’s dead.”


“His dad shot himself for grief and guilt, and he deserved it. His dad killed himself because of what happened to that boy.”

“And what was that?”

“Twenty years ago this night, that boy played his first football game. He was too skinny and weak for football, but his dad had something to prove and pushed him and pushed him. The boy made the team, and his first night his poor neck got broke. That boy died on the field, and his fool dad shot himself because of what he had done. But every year on this night, the poor boy comes back to wail over letting his father down.”

“Come on, I don’t believe in ghosts.”

“Mister,” said the custodian, and he swept off his cap, and the teacher could see his thin carrot hair and the raw, red circle on his temple. “Mister,” the custodian said, “you don’t have to.”

And then he vanished.

freely adapted from an item in Urban Legends by Thomas J. Craughwell

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One Response to “Ghost Story”

  1. bob binks says:

    Hi Tom Critten
    I would like to send you an email.
    I read your blog re The Old Dog Barks Backwards.
    I appreciate your comments
    Bob Binks