Updated: Feb 28
Ghost Story / A trailer park / A corkscrew (1,000 word limit later edited to 1,037)
“Come on Eileen. Pedal faster! You’ll be last again. You know what that means,” Suzie yelled over her shoulder. Her silver bike streamers flashed in the afternoon sun.
She didn’t need to turn around to know Eileen was annoyed about the dumb song she’d have to sing for being last.
Johnny and Paul were waiting at the misleadingly named Miracle Manor entrance, straddling their bikes. The only miracle was that most of the trailers were still standing, and that was all because of the pride everyone took in making their spot the best it could be. Suzie sighed and slowed her pace, letting Eileen go ahead.
A shiny new convertible corvette barreled into the drive, pulling up next to the boys. Their jaws dropped.
“Whoa, a new 1984 corvette! Too bad it’s pink,” Paul said to Johnny, elbowing him in the ribs. “You lost lady?”
A fake tinkling laugh fell from her fuchsia lips. “Oh no, sugar. Moving’s hard, but Barbie DeVille Developers wants to help.
Here you go. We made these so our number’s handy. The new apartments’ll be much nicer than these trailers,” she said all too sweetly.
Suzie rolled up, “Ugh, gag me with a spoon. They’re our homes!”
Johnny was still gawking at the corvette while Paul fumbled with something pink.
“What’cha got?” Suzie said, snatching it away.
“Hey!” Paul said, trying to wrangle it back.
“Now, now, you’ll each have one. They’re corkscrews for your parents.”
Suzie looked at her friends’ faces. All mirrored her indignation. She rolled her eyes, smacking her gum loudly.
“Lady, all that hair spray got into your brain? Ain’t no one here use a corkscrew. Momma drinks boxed wine and Johnny’s dad — only beer.”
Barbie’s fake smile faltered while she handed out more corkscrews. She fluttered a hand, then drove off to bother one of the other few families left.
Suzie stomped her foot. “Like any of us could afford those stupid apartments. Where’d we go?”
Eileen whispered in Suzie’s ear. Eileen had always been shy but lately spoke little.
“Listen up, Eileen’s got an idea! What if Barbie believes it’s haunted? They won’t build then! We can stay!”
Eileen whispered again.
“Yeah, Eileen. If it works, we’ll crown you Queen of the Trailer Park!”
“We don’t crown that until Halloween for the most daring doer!” Paul protested.
“But we may not be here then, stupid,” retorted Suzie.
Johnny chimed in, “so Miss Mary?”
“Dude, we summon her every year. She never shows!” Paul said.
“This year she will,” Suzie declared.
They grabbed supplies from home then rode behind the trailer park by the railroad tracks. They passed the corvette parked at Auntie Eastman’s house. Barbie wasn’t leaving that storyteller’s clutches anytime soon. Johnny left a note on her car, “Sorry we wuz rude, meet us at the tracks at 8:30 we gotta show you something.”
Johnny rolled up much later than the rest of them. “Ugh, you got any idea how hard it is to ride a bike with a boombox on your shoulder?”
“Hard as buttonin’ jeans ov’r belly?” grinned Paul.
They tossed fishing line over a limb, then attached it to a black dress Suzie never wore.
They worked until everything was perfect.
“Should we get her?” Paul asked.
They all shrugged.
Ten minutes later Barbie drove up. Johnny sat shotgun, grinning.
Suzie glared at him but quickly got into character.
“Since you were so nice earlier, we wanted you to know.”
“What?” Barbie asked.
“This place. It’s haunted!” They all said with wide eyes.
“Yeah, by Miss Mary’s ghost. We like her, but most don’t. Especially fancies like you. But...” Suzie took Barbie’s hand and led her to a sagging lawn chair.
“Sit here, you might see her,” Suzie could tell Barbie didn’t believe her. But she would. She had to.
“Alright, Eileen. Time to call Miss Mary,”
Eileen and Suzie sat under the trees, the old tracks glinting behind them. The hot evening made everything sticky and still — and too silent. Suzie and Eileen started clapping their hands and knees together in a slow rhythm.
“Come to us Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black...”
Their voices trailed off with each repetition. Paul turned on the haunted house tape. Suzie grimaced as the loud click hung in the air.
They sang louder. Johnny whispered to Barbie, “look”, pointing at the black dress bobbing in the trees. Suzie had to admit, Paul was rocking the fishing line and flashlights.
They slowed their clapping, finishing the song. It was creepy: the clapping, eerie music, and floating dress. This was awesome! Thought Suzie.
The tape suddenly went faster, faster, then began screeching. Paul cursed in the darkness as he clicked buttons. He dropped the flashlights, and the dress fluttered to the ground.
“Crap. Miss Mary’s angry!” Suzie stammered.
Barbie awkwardly hoisted herself up from the lawn chair. She gingerly walked over to Suzie and patted her shoulder, “I know it’s hard dear, but it’s happening. This’ll all be gone soon. It’s cute that you tried.” She sashayed to her convertible, waving to both boys.
Suzie slumped, defeated. She cried. She couldn’t hold it back anymore.
“Come on, Suzie. It’ll be okay,” said Paul, patting her shoulder.
Suzie sniffled, wiping her eyes with her hand. “It won’t.”
After a while, Johnny spoke. “It was a good plan, but it’s time.”
They walked away from the tracks, towards the remains of two burned trailers. Next to one was a pile of stuff; a mattress, boxes, singed pictures, all topped with a metal folding chair balanced on top, and a rusty bike propped next to it.
The boys climbed the trash throne and scratched something into the chair, using their corkscrews. Eileen proudly sat down. Suzie stole Paul’s hat.
“Hey that’s mine,” he yelled.
Suzie glared at him, then turned around, “Eileen, we crown you Queen of the Trailer Park! You tried to save us all!” She said with a flourish.
Paul and Johnny took Suzie’s hands. They all gazed at the trash throne with Paul’s hat sitting on the chair, now inscribed, “Goodbye Eileen”
“It’s time,” Paul said.
“No, it isn’t,” Suzie said with her usual stubbornness. “Come on Eileen.”