How many of you believe in ghosts?

A few years back when I was a teenager, some friends and I would take a carload of girls and go ghost hunting. We went anywhere that there was supposed to be ghosts. This one started when a friend of mine that I ran with was told about a drive-in theater between Kingston and Cartersville. Finding us a couple of girls, we went in search of the drive-in. As we went past Kingston we saw two houses that sat off the road. They were empty and we could see that the doors were open. I told my buddy Duke,” I bet we could round us up a ghost in those houses.” I had been told as a kid that they were used as a hospital during the Civil War. Those girls didn’t want anything to do with ghosts, so for the time being I let it ride.

But Duke and I talked about getting our Ghost Hunting Girls together with Carlton and going back up to the houses. We decided to ride up and talk to someone who lived close by. On Saturday, with Carlton, we headed for Kingston. There was a house that was on the same short piece of road that ran by the empty houses. We saw a man sitting on the porch who was watching us as we turned into his driveway. I was elected to go up and talk to him.

I got out, noticing that his hand was on the inside of his overalls. I walked up and introduced myself. He looked at me in a funny sort of way. “You’re not by any chance kin to ...” and he called off the name of my grandfather. I told him that was the name of my grandfather who was buried in the cemetery in Kingston. He invited me to sit down and tell him what was on my mind. I explained about the houses and how we had a group who visited haunted houses. He said that the houses belonged to him and he didn’t let anyone go in them.

Then, to my surprise, he said, “Come up tonight about dark and stop by. I will go with you boys and girls to see if you can stir up a spirit or two.” He removed his hand from the front of his overall to shake hands with me. I saw the handle of a gun inside his overalls. I told him we would be back about dark. I got into the car and told Duke and Carlton what the old man had in his overall bib.

I left Duke and Carlton and went home. They would round up our group of Ghost Hunters. It was getting close to dark when they pulled up in front of my house. I went out and squeezed into the back seat. Packed in like sardines we headed for Kingston. This would be no different from all the others, we thought. But this night would be different in a way that we would never forget.

We pulled up in front of the house and I got out. He met me at the door. “You go ahead,” he said. “I will follow you.” I got back into the car and we headed for the houses. It was just a short distance. We got out and waited. Then from a trail that led from where we were to the old man’s house, we saw a tractor coming. He pulled up and, cutting off the motor, began to talk.

We listened as he began to tell us some of the history of the houses. They had belonged to a prominent family that owned lots of land in the area. He said that during the war the houses were taken and turned into a hospital. One house was where the soldiers were put to get well. The other one was where they were operated on and treated for wounds. He went on to tell how many soldiers had gone through Kingston during the war and battles that were fought close by. He made it very interesting and we listened, being very quiet.

The he smiled and said, “You young ones be very careful and don’t hurt yourself, and come back some time and tell me about what you saw tonight.” He started the tractor and with a wave of his hand started back toward his house. We watched until he got off of the tractor and went into his house. I turned to the others saying,”Let’s go.” I never knew if what the old man had said was true or not. I didn’t have any way to check it. We all agreed that he had told us a good story before we went inside his house.

I walked up on the porch and stopped in the doorway. I knew that this was going to be different from all the other ghost hunts we had been on. If you can take — on a hot muggy night — and walk into a house that had all the doors open in 90-degree weather and it feels like an icebox, you know that something is not right.

When I stepped though the door a shiver went though me that sent my goose bumps to rolling. I would have swore at that time I saw someone go into the room next to this one. I went over with my pen light and looked the room over. No one was there and there was no door for anyone to have gone out. There were noises all through the house and what sounded like voices that were in pain. The other girls and Carlton had backed out of the room onto the front porch, but Francis was still standing by my side with her eyes wide open. I felt someone come up beside me. Turning, I looked in the face of Duke. He said in a quiet voice, “I am with you, come hell or high waters.” I let him know that I heard him.

I moved toward an open door that led into a hallway. Duke and Francis moved with me. I don’t think that any of us was prepared for what happened next.

A gruff voice said as plain as day, “Put his dead butt on the table.” We stood still, for it appeared that there was someone in the room. I stepped though the door and into the room. There was no one there, but what looked like a mist was in the far corner. It said, “Move, damn it. You are in the way.” Was I imagining things? If so, Duke and Francis were also. Their faces told me they were ready to go but would stay if I stayed. I eased back in the hallway.

I could see doors open in the hallway. I wanted to go down the hall, past the room to see if I could hear anything. Hear things we did. There was moaning and groaning, sounds like someone was cussing. There was a gruff voice that seemed to be trying to push us out of the house. The doors began to slam and that was all that it took. I headed for the back door with Duke and Francis on my heels. We reached the back porch and down the steps in nothing flat. I was chilled to the bone but sweat was running down my face and into my eyes. I looked at Duke and Francis. “Want to go back though the house or around it?” We all agreed — around it.

The others were standing beside the car waiting for us. Then I remember saying, “All right you chickens, gather close for we all are going back into the house.” I started to laugh when I saw the looks on their faces. Then from out of nowhere a deep laugh sounded inside the house. I opened the door and jumped in the back seat. I remember laughing until tears ran down my cheeks at them trying to get into the car.

We talked about this for days to come. We would sit in the park and try to find an answer for what we had seen and heard. Were there ghosts in the old houses from the war days? Were we set up by the old man who owned the houses? Did he decide to have some fun out of a bunch of young people? If the old man had set it up, he did a good job. If he didn’t, then whatever was in the old house did even a better job. Did I mention that it felt like someone was walking in the house with us, smoking a cigar? One thing that Duke, Francis and I agreed on was that there was someone in there with us. The cigar smoke smell stayed in our clothes until they were washed.

I never got back to talk to the old gentleman who owned the houses. A fellow by the name of Uncle Sam put a hitch in my plans for several years. When I got back there were no longer a bunch of ghost hunters. Some were married, some had moved off. It was a different place that I came back to, and I was a different person after my Uncle Sam got though with me.

Lonie Adcock of Rome is a retired Rome Police Department lieutenant. His latest book is “Fact or Fiction.”

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