Josey was a boy about eight years old, whose name was Perkins, and he lived with his mom and dad in a small, New Hampshire town with a common and cemetery and Civil War statue. His dad worked at the car garage, and his mom worked as the nurse at the elementary school, and it was summertime now, and it was when people listened to Elvis sing, and not too many color TVs were around. Sunday nights people watched Ed Sullivan on TV to see and hear the latest acts. It was humid during the day, and people didn’t feel like doing much, but his mom would have ladies in to sew, and Josey played soldier in a foxhole in the back yard until he got restless with that, and he wondered what Kylie was doing, and asked his mom if he could go to his house. He walked down Elm Street to Emerson Street and turned onto Emerson and went to the second house, and found Kylie’s mother hanging laundry, and she told him, Kylie was at the Boy Scouts. Josey wanted to join the Boy Scouts too, but his mom didn’t like Mr. Simpson, the scout leader, for some reason, and she and his dad argued over it until they went into their bedroom, and whatever she told him, changed his opinion, and the answer was no. He didn’t feel like going home so he walked to the ball field and watched the little league practice, and he would have signed up for that if he wasn’t afraid of being hit by the ball, and he could tell his dad was disappointed when he told him. He sat on the bleachers, until it got too hot, and he went to the water cooler, and drank. He saw old man Simpson standing by the bleachers watching, and he wondered why he wasn’t at the store.
“Maybe he likes baseball,” he thought.
He decided to go home and see his mom, and when he got there, she was busy with Elinor Watson teaching her something about sewing. He realized she didn’t know where he was or what he was doing, and he thought how now was a chance to satisfy his question about the Indian Burying Ground out on Frontier Street. Miss Brewster, the town librarian, told him how the Minutemen in 1778 wiped out a village of Abenaki Indians in that field, and her research showed, there was a Minuteman named Perkins from the regimental rollcall who, she said she wouldn’t be surprised, if he was related to him. He told his dad about it, and he laughed out loud. He was scared about walking down Frontier Street because it went by the town cemetery, and the adults got serious whenever anything about the cemetery was talked about, and as best as he could figure, the people in the cemetery were there for a while, and some adults said they woke up, and came back to life, and some said they turned into ghosts, and haunted people they were mad at. The idea of a ghost following him around gave him a chill. He bounced back and forth between fear and curiosity, and curiosity won. When his mom was in the washroom, he went out the porch door, and started for Frontier Street. He got halfway down Elm Street on his way to Frontier and saw old man Simpson on the other side of the street, and his heart started to beat fast when he crossed the street and started to follow him. He thought really fast about what to do, and he crossed the street, and started back to his house, and it looked like old man Simpson understood, and he re-crossed the street, and looked like he was heading to Center Street where his business was. Josey stopped, and his heart was pounding, and he took deep breaths until his heart slowed down. He thought maybe old man Sampson was a ghost haunting him from the cemetery. He didn’t know whether to go on. After a few minutes with old man Simpson out of sight, Josey felt relieved. He saw the sky start to cloud up. He walked on to Frontier Street and turned onto it. He walked a ways, and in the distance on the left, he saw the black wrought iron fence of the cemetery with the gate underneath the arch with the sign Heavenly Rest Cemetery. His throat was dry, and he considered going into the cemetery because he’d never seen one before, and from what he knew from hearing the adults, ghosts came out after it was dark because they were hard to see in daylight. He walked on. He came to the wrought iron fence, and took a deep breath, and slipped through the bars. He had a moment when he wanted to turn back, and he was nervous, knowing he didn’t belong here. He felt solemn like in church. He made himself walk a little bit, and he stopped, and read a headstone:
Ebenezer Pierce, Born Nov. 14, 1803; Died July 16, 1853.
He went by several other stones until he stopped and read:
Samuel Trask, Born June 11, 1817; Died February 11, 1857
Rest in Peace.
He looked up at the sky and saw the clouds coming in and told himself it looked like a rainstorm was coming, but he felt more comfortable now and was curious to see more. He read some more headstones, and wasn’t sure what vanity and pride were, but he knew he heard about them in church. He felt a slight breeze in his face. He looked down at a headstone and read:
And he thought: “I’m a ghost.”
A cloud went in front of the sun and gave him a chill. Later that night, he couldn’t finish his supper, and his mom asked him where he’d been that day, and he told her about the cemetery; she was angry, and sent him to bed early.