“How did you boys sleep?” Belle wanted to know as they both walked into the tiny kitchen.

“I don’t know about Jim Bob, but I slept like a baby.”

“Me too,” Jim Bob told her, as he stretched his arms over his head.

“You ready to go to work Jim Bob. You can help Belle out in the kitchen, if you want to Freddy. Jim Bob says you’re some kind of fancy cook up there in Minnesota.”

skull chef.png

“Master chef, not just a cook,” Freddy corrected him.

“Well, you get to master chefing, and Jim Bob and I will tend to the livestock and chickens.”

Floyd and Jim Bob walked into the cabin forty-five minutes later and Belle had tears in her eyes. She had laughed so hard at one of Freddy’s stories about the time he spent working on a shrimp boat in Jacksonville, Florida.

“I sure would like to see a place like Jacksonville,” she told him while Floyd and Jim Bob washed up for breakfast.

“Them’s some mighty fine eggs you rustled up,” Floyd admitted.

“I could have used a little more spices, but the vegetables from Aunt Belle’s garden did the trick.”

“You boys got any plans for today,” Floyd asked as Belle filled his coffee cup.

“I thought we could go out and look for armadillos.”

“You’re not going around those crazy stairs are you.” Aunt Belle wanted to know.

“No, we’ll probably be over in the field behind the barn.”

“Me and Belle are going over to snowball to help my cousin castrate hogs. We can bring some balls home and fry em up if you want.”

Jim Bob and Freddy both admitted that they didn’t like them.

“Well, maybe we’ll all take a ride into St. Joe on Sunday and eat catfish instead.”

Both boys agreed that catfish sounded good.

Floyd said, “You boys be careful out there with those weapons. My brother killed my little brother accidentally on those old stairs out in the Bo-jacks, a long time back. They were walking up the steps and my brother was holding a shotgun. He stumbled and my little brother in front of him was hit in the back of the head, when the shotgun went off accidentally. His head was so messed up that we had to close the casket at the funeral.”

“So that might be the reason that they don’t want anyone to go around the stairs,” Jim Bob said to himself, as Aunt Belle told him and Freddy that they would be back before dark.

“Don’t rush home. I’ll whip up a little something for dinner,” Freddy told her.

They watched as Floyd’s old pick-up pulled away from the farm and Jim Bob said, “Let’s go check out the stairs.”

They rounded the little bend and Freddy stood still as he looked at the stairs.

“Is this weird or what,” Jim Bob asked when they started up the stairs.

“It’s weird and very creepy,” Freddy answered. The hairs on his neck were standing up and he thought he heard something.

It was the middle of the day and both men were uncomfortable being on the stairs.

Freddy said, “I’ve got a feeling that someone, or something is watching us.”

Jim Bob turned and looked slowly around. “I’ve had that feeling since we came into view of these stairs.”

When they reached the top, Freddy looked at the large flagstones and said, “Is that blood?”

Jim Bob looked in the direction that Freddy was pointing and said, “It could be. Maybe someone killed an animal up here.”

“Why would anyone bring an animal all the way up these steps in order to kill it?”

“That’s a good question Freddy, unless it was a person who was killed up here.”

“Well, from what your uncle said, his brother was killed back in the 1920’s, but I don’t think his blood would still be on these steps.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty unlikely. Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

bloody stairs.jpg

“I would still like to come back at night and kind of stake the place out,” Freddy told him.

The spooky feelings they both had didn’t interfere with their ability to shoot. By the time they returned to the cabin, they had shot four armadillos, one skunk and three good-sized cottontail rabbits.

“We doggies, something smells good,” Floyd said as they walked into the cabin,

“It sure do,” Belle seconded the thought. “What are you cooking master chef?”

“You and Uncle Floyd just set down and I’ll serve you,” Freddy informed them.

“I believe that’s the best rabbit stew I’ve ever had,” Floyd stated.

“Me too, and the mashed potatoes were out of this world, thank you Freddy. We sure enjoy your company, ain’t that right Floyd.”

“Dang right Belle. Do we have any Karo pie left?”

Floyd took a big bite of pie and washed it down with hot coffee before he said, “So, are you boys going back into the Bo-jacks tomorrow?”

“We kind of planned on waiting till just before dark tomorrow evening, and then we’ll head out and do some skunk shooting. Freddy wants to take off in three days and head up to Iowa.”

“Do you have folks up there?” Belle asked.

“No, all my relatives are pretty much gone. No one knows I’m out here. I just plan on getting in touch with a friend of mine up in Iowa, when I get there.”

“Well, I think I’ll go out to the porch for a cigarette before I turn in, you boys want to join me?”

Belle smoked her pipe while the men gossiped and smoked cigarettes.

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