Copyright ® October 2014
By Eric Douglas
The leaves were beginning to change as Tom, Roy and John headed out for their last camping trip of the year. They had been friends for years; surviving marriages, divorces and everything in between. They knew each other’s issues, like women or booze. But those things didn’t matter; they had each other’s back.
They spent the day drinking beer while they fished in the small lake and talked about whatever was on their minds. Afterwards, heading back to their campsite, they noticed a pretty young woman at the next campsite over. She looked up as they approached their campsite and they waved. Tom’s attention stayed on the woman a little longer than the other two, though. His weakness was women. His fourth wife was half his age and waiting at home. Roy and John knew that wouldn’t mean much to their friend if he stood a chance to spend the night with a new woman.
For the next hour or so, Tom watched the woman and made eye contact a couple times. He got friendly smiles in return. He kept watching to see if the woman had any friends, but no one showed. After dinner, and a few more drinks, Tom decided it was his time to move.
“Hi there,” he said, with the faintest slur in his speech. “My friends and I wanted to know if you would like to join us at our campfire. We don’t want you to be lonely. Are you here by yourself?”
“Hi. Some friends were supposed to join me, but they backed out at the last minute. I love to be out in nature, so I came anyway,” the woman said with an easy smile.
Tom looked her up and down as she spoke and loved what he saw. She is exactly my type, he thought. Nice curves, short curly brown hair and a saucy look to her. I bet she is a lot of fun…
Tom suddenly realized the woman was still speaking to him. And he hadn’t heard a word she said. He stumbled for a second. “I’m sorry. What was that?”
“I said, my name is Abby,” the woman said, smiling. She knew exactly what Tom was doing.
“Hi there, Abby. My name is Tom. Come on over. Let me fix you a drink and introduce you to my friends.”
Tom put his arm around Abby’s waist as he led her to their campsite.
Tom introduced Abby to his friends and got knowing looks from Roy and John. Tom had a way of charming women, especially younger ones, and getting them where he wanted them. They laughed to themselves, although both men were a little jealous. How Tom could find a willing woman in the middle of a campground by the lake when there were no other single women around was beyond them.
After a few drinks, the conversation kept getting sillier and more risqué. Abby giggled at the men’s off-color jokes and threw in a couple of her own.
Suddenly, Abby got serious. “Do you want to hear a ghost story?” she asked.
Roy and John both agreed, but Tom was reluctant. He had hoped to be slipping away soon.
“Only if I can rub your back while you talk,” Tom said with a drunken leer. His magic fingers had gotten him lucky more than once.
Abby didn’t answer Tom; she just stared into the fire for a few minutes. About the time Roy and John were growing uncomfortable at the silence, and Tom was thinking his touch had distracted Abby from the ghost story, she began talking. Her entire demeanor changed as she began speaking. She was quiet and he voice clear and cold. The giggle was gone.
There was a young woman. We’ll call her Gail. She was deeply in love with Rex. Their love affair was magical. Rex treated her like a queen. Most of the time. Every once in a while, he would go to town with his friends and she knew there were women there. She knew Rex was unfaithful when he was away from her, but she told herself that it would all change when they were married. She told herself he was just sowing his wild oats.
In the Spring, the couple was wed and for Gail, everything was perfect. Things were good between the couple…for a few months. And then Rex’s friends came around to get him. She begged him not to go. To stay with her. But he pushed her away and said he would do what he pleased. He told her she had nothing to worry about, but not to wait up. He wouldn’t be home until the next day. Gail fell down crying as Rex left.
Later, she pulled herself together and decided she wouldn’t give up her man without a fight. She followed Rex to town. She knew where he would be…The Saloon. She hitched her carriage to her horse and rode to town.
Pulling her hat low over her face, Gail entered the bar. It took her a few moments to realize Rex wasn’t there. She saw his friends at a corner table, but he was nowhere to be seen.
Gail told herself that Rex had a change of heart. He had come home to her. Immediately, she rushed to get back home. She didn’t want him to worry. Entering the stable to get her horse and buggy, she heard a sound. At first, she didn’t know what it was. It was a voice. A moan. And then she realized it sounded like Rex. Was he hurt? Had he been attacked?
Moving slowly, Gail pulled a dim lamp from a post and turned up the flame. It threw shadows all around, but there was no sign of Rex.
Maybe I was imagining things. Rex is at home waiting on me, she thought.
Turning back to her carriage, she heard another moan and then a giggle.
Who’s there? she called out Who’s there?
She heard rustling in the loft above her. And then she saw him. It was Rex. A moment later she saw a woman. They were both naked.
In a fury, she ran from the barn, leaving her horse and carriage behind her. She ran and ran, with no direction in mind. She was lost. He hadn’t even taken the woman to a bed. He was rutting in the hay loft like an animal.
Gail had no idea how long she ran when she found herself standing at the edge of a cliff. There was a lake 30 feet below her, lit up by the full moon above. With resolve, she knew what she was going to do. If he wanted other women, he wouldn’t have her any longer.
She was calm as she stepped out into the space in front of her and fell. She hit the water and never resurfaced. Gone.
John, Roy and Abby were all quiet when Abby was finished. Tom was still rubbing Abby’s back and grinning.
John and Roy stared at the fire and then got up quietly to go to their camper. They knew Tom was about to make his move. Abby’s story had disturbed them as well.
When the other two were gone, Tom spoke.
“So, you want to go back to your campsite?” he asked.
“Let’s take a walk down by the lake,” Abby suggested with a smile that didn’t reach her eyes.
“Sure….that sounds good,” Tom said, trying to think of a place he could take the young woman to get her out of her clothes.
The couple walked to the water’s edge, to a clearing where Tom and his buddies had spent the day fishing. Tom sat down on the ground and leaned back against a log.
“Why don’t you join me?” he said, reaching up for her.
“Did you listen to my story?” she asked, ignoring his reach.
“Sure, sure, it was a good one. All spooky and stuff,” Tom said, slurring more. “Now come on. Let’s get it on like that guy in the loft. We’ll do it like animals.”
Abby’s expression darkened further.
“Men like you are the problem. Gail never should have killed herself. She should have killed Rex. That was where she failed.”
“Come on, baby. I just want you. Let’s do this. You know you want it, too,” Tom said, trying to stand.
“I bet that’s what you said to the woman in the loft, too,” Abby said.
“What? What are you talking about? There’s no woman in a loft. Are you some crazy chick? That was just a story,” Tom said, unsteady on his feet. “I just wanna have a good time.”
“What if I told you the women in the story was named Abigail and not Gail. Would that make any difference to you?”
“No, just a dumb story,” Tom said, growing angry. He wasn’t used to getting this close, and spending this much effort, without getting lucky. “And it’s a dumb name, too.”
“Some people shorten Abigail to Abby,” the woman said. “Answer my question. Did you listen to my story?”
Tom was growing angry now. “Just a dumb story.” He lunged toward Abby.
“Not if it’s true.”
The next morning John and Roy found Tom face down in the lake, still wearing his clothes. He had drowned. There was no sign of Abby anywhere. Her tent and camping gear were gone. In fact, there was no sign anyone had been on the camp site at all.
The divers loaded their gear on the dive boat, excited for a morning out on the reef. Just before the boat left the dock, two guys ran to the boat carrying their gear. They had been out late the night before and were running slow. Climbing on board, one immediately eyed a pretty brunette sitting by herself. She had short, curly brown hair and looked great in her bikini. The first man on the boat glanced down to make sure his wedding ring was still back in the hotel room and then sat down beside the girl. She was younger than he was, but he liked it that way.
“Hi, I’m Joe.”
“Hi there. My name is Abby. Do you like ghost stories?”.