Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bloody Bones, the kid eating monster!

This is a reprint from the Redwood Times, for the Out of town readers. It wont soak long. I just needed to lighten up a bit, and remember how much fun it was to be a kid!

In looking for a photo to use with the following story, I was amazed to find out that Ogres, and kid eating monsters, go back to the beginning of time.
“Fee, fie, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman”, used to scare the hell out of me, because even as a little kid I knew I was part English. I used to worry if Mr. Giant could smell PART-English.

Nowadays, it’s not politically correct to tell your kids spooky stories. Hmmm…. I wonder if that’s why I’m all screwed up. But, on the other hand there are still some pretty screwed up kids today…. Maybe their folks are sneaking them spooky stories.

Bloody Bones The Kid Eating Monster.
Back when I was a kid being raised on the family ranch in Laytonville, we quite often had family dinners in the summertime. The family get-togethers were our form of entertainment. After dinner the older folks would sit around and chat about all the latest happenings, who was doing what, and what tomorrow might bring. When the kids would start getting noisy, and start arguing about things, and being disruptive of polite conversation, we all were invariably sent outside, to do things where nobody had to put up with our noise. The older kids were always given strict instructions to keep an eye on the little kids, and not to let them out of their sight.

Usually it was pitch black outside, a black sky like only a kid that was raised in the country has ever seen. But, after a few minutes our young eyes were able to see well enough in the starlight to head out and do things. Sometimes there would be a full-moon, and it would be almost bright enough to play baseball, but not quite. We used to like to play baseball in the orchard when enough of us got together.

We had a favorite spot in the orchard that a fire, years-ago, had made a clear spot out in about the center of the apple trees. It was a nice grassy spot that always smelled sweet, like hot dry grass intermingled with the smell of the dropped apples and pears that were fermenting under the trees. There was a watering trough for the animals in the opening, and it had cool, clean, fresh spring water running to it, and out the other side, and it would water the grass.

There was a quince tree right above the opening, and I would pick up a quince on the way to our “Story Telling Spot”. I liked the smell of a quince, sweet and fresh. I always though that if a girl wanted to attract me all she would have to do was dab quince juice behind her ears and I would have followed her anywhere. The quince has a velvet-like surface that if you rub it on your shirt, it will come right off. I would rub on the quince until it smelled good, then sniff it, but I knew better than to try to eat it. A quince is very astringent. If you take a bite out of it, it will pucker your mouth so bad that you can’t even spit it out. Really! My mother, knowing how much I liked quince, would make me quince jelly every now and then. If you have never eaten quince jelly, GOOD, I’ll eat it for you. I didn’t know what mom did to the quince, but she could make it as sweet as it smelled. That always impressed me.

All Us kids sit down in the grass, out in the middle, where the starlight was the brightest, we would form a little circle, and start to take turns telling stories. The Milky Way is straight up, over our heads that time of year, and we would look at it with wonder and laugh over the story about the little Greek God that was sent to milk the cow, and on the way back home he tripped and spilled it all over the sky, and it is still there, splashed all across the heavens. If you don’t believe me, next summer go look.

As the night drew-on, the older kids would start telling scary stories, about monsters and horrible murders. One story that I knew would always be coming was “Bloody Bones the Monster“. Nobody knew what Bloody Bones was, or what he looked like, but everybody knew that he liked to hunt and eat little kids, and he was sneaky. Sometimes when Bloody Bones would get a kid, there would never, ever be a trace of the kid ever, ever, again.

My cousin Corky was the master spooky-story teller. The story changed to fit the situation, but it would start with; “Bloody Bones, ten miles away, and getting closer. Bloody bones reared up high on his hind legs and sniffed the air long and deep, he was hungry and he needed to find a kid to eat. Bloody Bones would sniff the ground, and track around a little bit and he started moving toward the kids that he so desperately needed to eat." Chills would zing up and down my spine, and I would remind myself that this is just a story, but I did remember that a kid across the valley had disappeared, and I wondered to myself if maybe Bloody Bones was real.

I always thought that I was a smart little kid, and if Bloody Bones was real, I could certainly outsmart him. I always placed myself with my back to the wind, on the far side of the circle, because I knew that if Bloody Bones was following a track I would be facing him, and the other kids would be between me and Bloody Bones, and he would eat them first. I would laugh a nervous little laugh, knowing that Bloody Bones wasn't real, but I'd heard the story before and I knew the other little kids were going to be scared out of their skins. I had to go to the bathroom, but I would have had to go down the same path that Bloody Bones would be comming up, so I just held onto it.

By the time Bloody Bones had moved up to five miles away, the story was getting real dramatic, and he was feeling his starving need to kill and eat a little kid, or that he was so hungry he just might eat the kid alive! My eyes were riveted on the trail leading up to the story telling spot, I would glance from side to side. I saw shadows moving under the apple trees and I knew that the shadows were deer that had come down off of the hill to eat the fallen fruit. Then a deer snorted, and the other little kids squealed in fright. I was delighted at their fear, because I knew it was only a deer. I rubbed my Quince and smelled the sweet smell, and I laughed at their fear, but I wished that I had gone to the bathroom.

Bloody Bones was three miles away, and I was rubbing and sniffing my quince and I had rubbed most of the skin off, but it sure smelled good! Bloody Bones had disguised himself as a deer to sneak up on the little kids. I knew stories of the Indians that had done that to sneak up on their game. That quince sure smelled good!

Bloody Bones was getting closer, and smarter, and I started to doubt all my plans for staying safe. Just as I got through reassuring myself that I had it all figured out, a deep, deep, rolling, gutteral growl, like I'd never heard before, came out from behind the apple tree right behind me. It was Bloody Bones, right behind me!

I told you that I was a smart little kid, and it came to me in the blink of an eye that Bloody Bones would not eat the WET little kid. So, I took the precautionary measures to reestablish my invulnerability. As we all sat there frozen waiting for Bloody Bones to choose which of us to eat, my uncle, that had heard the Bloody Bones story before when he was a kid, stepped out from behind the tree laughing that he had scared us all so bad.

Later, back at the house my mother asked me why my pants were all wet. Not wanting to lie to her, I mentioned the spring that ran through the orchard. She said; "For a kid that thinks he's so smart, you sure sit in that spring a lot. This is the third time this summer that you have come home with wet pants. And, why do you smell like Quince?"


Anonymous said...

Bloody bones was never in my life, however I remember when you were 12 or 13 we stayed up all night watching falling stars. Must have been in August.

Maybe you might do a blog asking about the people that most influenced or made a difference in their lives living in Southern Humboldt.


Kym said...

Ernie, I enjoyed that story so much! You did a wonderful job of building suspense and tucking in the details like the smell of quince so that I could almost feel the dark.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Do you remember how many we saw, because as I remember we used to always count them. It seems like we would see about fifty or sixty on a good night.

Thanks, that's a real compliment coming from a yarn spinner like yourself!

Anonymous said...

As I remember the tops was 63 shooting stars but all beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Yes..i remember bloody bones very well... he used to eat unruly kids and drag the others away to his cave in the mountains to have some dinner later in the week..