Uncle Will

We’re going to see Uncle Will tomorrow.  I hated those words.  Uncle Will was my father’s uncle, a disabled veteran.   He lived in one of the ramshackle brick residential buildings at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, which was about an hour’s drive from our house in East Haven.   Visiting Uncle Will was worse than boring … it was creepy.   His room was painted a pale institutional green but under the yellow light of the single incandescent bulb in the middle of the ceiling, it looked more like pea soup.  The hallways smelled of hospital cooking, urine and disinfectant.    His room added stale tobacco and an old man’s sweat to the mix.   He’d be waiting for us in his wheelchair wearing khaki pants, scuffed military-issue shoes and an A-style undershirt, yellowed at the armpits.  He’d force a smile when we walked in.   Hi, Frank, he’d nod to my Dad.  Hello, Florence, to my Mom.  Who’s this big guy?, to me, every time, and I’d have to tell him, I’m Buddy.   Frank’s son.   As if he didn’t know.   He’d extend a hand to shake, skeleton fingers covered with papery skin that I’d try to touch as briefly as possible.  That was the extent of the conversation.  Mom would dutifully tell him about the lives of relatives whose names brought no recognition to his watery blue eyes and we’d wheel him a couple of laps around the grounds.  Then it was time to go … shake that bony hand one more time and try not to notice his dog tags.

Many of the old soldiers in the VA Hospital wore their dog tags, a common connection to the military service that landed them in such a sad place, but only Uncle Will’s had a skull painted on one side in pearlescent white and red stones glued in place of eyes.   Uncle Will was an artist before the war, my Dad said.   He probably painted the skull to amuse himself while he was in the trenches.   More than once, I dreamed about those red eyes on Sunday night after a visit and ended up running to tell my Mom I’d had a nightmare.   As Will’s condition declined, our visits became less and less frequent which was fine with me.

One night when I was ten, I awoke with a start from a sound sleep.  From my bed, I could look across the hallway to the black opening of the bathroom door, a door from which a pale face was looking back at me.   I tried to yell but my voice caught in my throat, so I sat up, trying to see if it might be my Dad.   The figure began to motion with its hand for me to lie back down but I was too frightened to move.  It was then that I noticed the dog tags hanging below the face, two bright stones glowing.  I forced myself to yell … Mommy … and the face dissipated like gray smoke into the hallway air.   The next morning, my Mother told me that Uncle Will had died during the night.

So, it’s Top Sites Tuesday #83 – Haunted Tuesday and we’re each telling our spookiest stories.   This one is absolutely true, I swear.   Really.   Well, except for the part about the dog tags.   Haven’t you ever heard of artistic license?   Yes, lying to entertain.   You have to admit, it was a nice touch.   Oh, yes.  We’re supposed to tell what we’d like to be this Halloween.   I’d like to be the Top Site on Top Sites Tuesday #83.   You can make that happen by pushing my button … quietly, so as not to disturb Uncle Will.  And …


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17 Comments on “Uncle Will”

  1. Trina Says:

    That was great! I love your artistic twist about the dog tags… I could imagine the red eyes glowing from the back of a shiny dog tag!

    Happy Halloween!

  2. Wolfbernz Says:

    Hi Bud,

    Nice spooky story there. I’m thinking better you than me LOL I’m also think that I’m going to close my bathroom door when I go to bed tonight.

    Clicks for you!

  3. AY Says:

    You really had me glued and following your every vivid description. That was a great story and I bet you, I will be reminded of it when it gets scary this weekend. Thanks a lot! Click!

  4. territerri Says:

    You’ve definitely got talent in the spooky story department. Even considering the fact that the story is true, you laid it out in such a way that created a very dramatic effect. I can still feel the hair standing up on the back of my neck!

  5. AngelBaby Says:

    Great story, I loved it especially the dog tags! Just great!

    Here’s your click ………..

    Love and Blessings,

  6. oldereyes Says:

    Glad you enjoyed it. This was a really fun Top Sites Tuesday to write AND read. Everyone had such good stories to tell…

  7. Liggy Says:

    Sorry I stopped by so late…That was a great story, so moving. The dog tags part was a great touch to the story. It would make for a great story-telling night by a campfire. 🙂

  8. sharon Says:

    Great story!
    Thanks for turning me on to the other Blogger(?), I cried once and was very overwhelmed with another story. Good lessons and isn’t that what life is about.

  9. AY Says:

    Hi again, Bud. I got two of my sons to read this post. Thought they could learn a thing or two from you about good descriptive writing. They really enjoyed it and so….I wonder if you would oblige us with another chilling story…just cos its Halloweeen. Please?

  10. […] – Bud’s Blog to tell a spooky tale from my childhood on Halloween.  Like my stories Uncle Will and Good Will Haunting, Buttface Billy is based on events from my childhood and is entirely true […]

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