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Milk and Candy from Boogers and Boo Daddies

Milk and Candy from Boogers and Boo Daddies

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Published by BlairPublisher
A bloodcurdling tale of a coffin baby
A bloodcurdling tale of a coffin baby

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Published by: BlairPublisher on Oct 29, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/04/2012

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from
The Granny Curse and Other Ghosts and Legends from East Tennessee
 by Randy Russell and Janet Barnett
Milk and Candy
The frail woman was at the door again. And she was coming inside.She came to Moody’s store, located on the Childress Ferry Road inSullivan County, at the same time every evening. She showed up just as hewas closing shop. She was barefoot and pale of skin. Her dress was graywith age and wear, its hem ragged. The woman’s hair was undone. It waslong and dark. It hung loosely down her back.She carried a chipped china teacup in one hand. It looked like onesomeone had thrown away.“Milk, sir,” she said, setting the cup on the counter. She placed a thickreddish coin next to it. The woman never really looked at him. She neverlooked at anything but the hard candy pieces in the large jars he kept onthe counter.He filled her broken cup with milk, as much as it would hold. Whenhe brought it back to her, she pointed at the piece of candy she wantedthis time. She had done this every day for five days now.
 
 
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“I have a nice piece of ham and a bone I could let you have,” Moodyoffered. “There’s a bit of cornmeal that’s left over. I could give you that if you wanted. You could pay me at the end of summer, if you would like.”The frail woman was too skinny to be alive, he thought.She shook her head at his offers and pointed at the piece of candy shewanted. Moody removed the jar lid and watched her slide her hand in topick out one piece of candy. She never took two.The woman left with her piece of candy and two ounces of milk. Itwas the same every time.“You might as well face it,” Moody’s wife said. “She’s a ghost.”“Her money’s real enough,” Moody argued.They were strange coins, though. Large old reddish cents, like theones from the colonial years. The surfaces of the coins were porous and a bit rough with age, but you could easily read the raised pictures on them.One was an Indian head. Another featured a horse’s head and a plow. Thewords
Common Wealth
were spelled out in fat letters on the back of the lat-est coin she’d spent in his store.“Pennies from off the eyes of the dead is what they are,” Mrs. Moodywarned her husband. “She’s a ghost that’s been robbing the graves nextdoor to hers.”“All she wants is a piece of candy and a little milk,” he said. Moodywas becoming fond of his antique coin collection.“No, dear husband. She wants much more than that.”“Why, the milk’s for a kitten, I’ll wager you. The lady has a pet cat. I’llgive back every one of these coins if she doesn’t have a cat she’s feeding.”Moody spoke with confidence, but he feared his wife might be on tosomething. He decided to follow the frail customer the next evening whenshe left his store. She always came at closing time anyway.That evening she paid for her milk and piece of candy with a largecopper coin that had the words
Nova Caesarea
in raised letters on one side.On the other side was a shield and the words
E Pluribus Unum
. It was goodAmerican money, after all. He put the coin in its place with the others.Moody watched from the store window as the woman in the thin, graydress walked along the length of his porch and down the wooden steps onthe far end. She carried the cup of milk in front of her in one hand. She keptthe piece of hard candy in her other hand in a fist held tightly at her side.Moody went out the back door. He almost missed seeing her pass downthe road. For being barefoot, the frail wisp of a woman walked swiftly
 
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along and was soon over the next hill. He had to run to keep up. Moodyfollowed her to Gunnings Cemetery.His wife was right, he thought. He’d been taking money from a ghost.But wait! Maybe she was just walking through the burial plots as a shortcutto her cabin. Moody didn’t want to, but he followed her into the cemetery.Gunnings Cemetery is situated on a large hillside that slopes off into awide cove, with steep, wooded hills rising alongside the other half. Moodywatched the woman glide along in front of him to the back limits of thecemetery. The summer moon hung over the trees, but there was still day-light enough for him to see where she was going. She sunk right into theground and disappeared.He’d seen enough. Moody ran home. He told his wife. She told hertwo sisters. Someone told the sheriff. Someone else told Moody’s brother.Before long, a crowd had gathered at the store.“Don’t eat another pickle unless you mean to pay for it,” Moody toldhis brother. “We’re running low.”“I can get you all the pickles you need,” his brother said. “Susan putfour dozen jars of ’em in brine.”“That, I did,” Moody’s sister-in-law said. “We’ll bring a jar by Tuesday.”“Save them for your children,” Moody said, giving in. “I don’t suspectI’ll run out of pickles that soon.”“We better look at the spot where she went down,” the sheriff sug-gested. “If it’s an unmarked grave, we better see what’s what. I haven’t beento no funerals for a month or more and the last one was old man JohnTopp’s. Had a white beard growed down to his trousers, he did.”The sheriff brought a lantern. Moody and his brother carried shovels.The women huddled in a cluster of excited whispering as they walked theroad to Gunnings Cemetery.Moody showed them the exact place she disappeared. “She sunk rightinto the earth,” he said. There was a mound of soft dirt encircled by grass.The mound had, in fact, been recently dug, perhaps within the week.Shoveling away the dirt was an easy task.At the bottom of the grave they found a pine casket. It was a homemadepine box with a lid. Someone must have died up in the hills behind thecemetery. Someone had buried their own without a preached-over funeral.It wasn’t unheard of. People caught sick and died quickly from time to time.The sheriff held the lantern down into the grave while Moody and his brother pried the lid off the casket.

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