“Ya know, PJ, you can only play so many board games, put together so many puzzles, and lose so many games of checkers to Grammy, before a body finally gets a bad case of the mischiefs,” Casey said. “What a perfect night to tell ghost stories.”

“Yeah, Casey,” PJ agreed. “I just heard thunder and lightning brewing.”

“Ya know, PJ, folks hereabouts have been telling me that nobody has rented this old cabin for a long time. Not since they found old man Kelly, or what was left of him, spread-eagled, dead, on the floor… right about where Patty’s bunk is. Yep! Stark naked on his belly.”

“Shut up, Casey,” Patty yelled. “I’m telling!”

“What do ya mean?” PJ egged him on. “What, was left of him?”

“Well, the way they tell it, he shot that grizzly during a huge thunderstorm and had a rug made of the hide. After that, every time there was a thunderstorm, old man Kelly would see a huge bear outside the window—”

“—Casey, stop that right now. You’re scaring your little sister.” Shelly warned.

“—when the lightning flashed.”

The lightning flashed outside the cabin and Patty screamed.

“—He got his shotgun. Heard clawing at the door…,” Casey clawed at the wall with his fingernails, “and blew the door right off the hinges!”

Thunder cracked so loud that they all screamed!

“After the storm all they found was old man Kelly’s hide, spread-eagled on the floor.”

“Casey, I’m warning you!” Shelly said, glaring through squinted eyes.

“Some say the bear’s mate is seeking revenge. Others say—”

“—Now you’ve done it!” Shelly was getting angry now, not something to take lightly.

“—it’s the bear’s ghost seeking revenge. Sightings of the bear on stormy nights are still being reported. They believe it’s ‘cause the bear-rug is still in this cabin.”

Patty started crying and screaming some incoherent babble.

“That’s it! I warned you!” Shelly pulled up her battle dress and charged for the loft, intending to do great bodily harm. Casey waited until she reached out for the rope ladder and then yanked it up out of her reach.

“If we weren’t so chubby we could hop right up here now, couldn’t we?” PJ had joined the cause, not wanting to miss out on a prime opportunity.

“Now, now, big Sis. Temper. Temper.” This was a moment to savor. This was the first time Shelly wasn’t in control. Casey smirked.

“Oh my,” PJ gloated, “We mustn’t bust a gut over it now, must we?”

“I’ll show ya temper, you little… o-o-o-o-h… wait till I get my hands on you two! I’m going to settle Patty down now, and you boys think about this, ya got to come down sometime, and when ya do… I’ll be right here.” She was smiling now, quite pleased with the boy’s predicament.

The boys decided to be quiet for now and let things settle down. The storm ended about an hour later, and Patty had calmed down enough to go to sleep.

“Casey? PJ?” Shelly whispered. No answer. “You better be asleep. Tomorrow you’re going to pay big time.” Shelly grabbed her favorite book and headed out to the outhouse with a lantern.

Now, the way Casey and PJ saw it, if you’re going to pay big time, why you might as well get your money’s worth.

That kind of thinking always caused them to get a bad case of the stupid’s.

“Casey, you asleep?” PJ whispered, so as not to wake Patty.


“We can’t just go off to sleep and leave things undone now, can we?” Casey could see PJ’s grin of anticipation by the lantern light.

“What are ya conjuring up, PJ?”

“Imagine the look on Patty’s face if she woke up, and there was a big bear right there at the foot of her bed. Maybe growling and gnashing his teeth.”

“Don’t ya think that would be a bit too much? I mean she could have a conniption fit or something.”

“Geez, Casey, I’ve put her through worse than that. If that tree ride didn’t kill her, nothing will.”

“Ya got a point there, PJ.”

“Let’s do it, Casey.

“The timing is perfect with Shelly reading her book in the outhouse.”

They went about their dastardly deed. Casey lowered the rope ladder and started down as PJ rolled up the bear-rug. Looking up, Casey took the bear-rug from PJ, who then followed him down the ladder. Casey noticed that the bear’s snarling open mouth looked even fiercer in the lantern light. The wide-open glass eyes glowed amber from the yellow flame of the lantern.

“Perfect. This ought to scare Patty into next week,” Casey whispered, while throwing the rug over his shoulders.

The bear’s head was hanging down over Casey’s face as he crawled over to Patty’s bunk.            The grizzly grabbed Patty’s feet with both paws and growled a blood curdling growl. Patty popped up as though he had tripped a spring-loaded mechanism. Her eyes and mouth opened wide in a silent tremulous scream, her head trembling with the strain. Then a peculiar thing happened. Patty’s eyes rolled up like a cheap pair of window shades. She fell back onto her bunk with her arms flailing as though she were making a snow angel. Her eyelids fluttered exposing only the whites of her eyes, and then she exhaled a long breath and was still. The front door opened.

PJ, yelled from the loft, “I can’t believe you killed my little sister!”

Shelly whacked Casey with a broom, “Now look what you’ve done! You killed Patty!”

“You’ll go to hell for this one, Casey!” came a panicked cry from the safety of the loft!

“Patty, Patty, wake up!” Shelly sobbed. “You can’t die when I’m baby-sitting. I’d just have your brothers…”

Patty’s eyes fluttered again.

Still suffering from a really bad case of the stupid’s, Casey hadn’t yet discarded the bear-rug. So, when Patty’s eyes opened, and he reached out to hug her…