By BEN R. WILLIAMS
For years, there has been an old white plastic lawn chair sitting in my car port, silently collecting a veritable Whitman’s Sampler of different strains of mildew.
When I’m sitting on my back porch, which I do as frequently as possible, I can easily see this chair. And one night, while I was sitting on the porch with my friends Bradley, Laura and William, I noticed something odd.
“Hey,” I said, “when ya’ll were up here last week, wasn’t that chair in a different spot?”
My friends peered into the car port. It was possible, they agreed; the week before, it had seemed like the chair was at least two or three feet farther to the left.
The following week, we were again sitting on the back porch when we noticed the chair had moved a second time. This time, it had moved closer to its original position.
I tried to convince myself that the chair’s movements were caused by the wind, but it seemed unlikely. Some kind of chair poltergeist seemed like the most logical possibility.
I eventually discovered that the chair was actually being moved by a neighbor and family friend who helps out around my grandmother’s property; he likes to sit in the chair and watch the deer roam about. By the time I learned this perfectly rational explanation, however, it was too late: The Legend of the Haunted Chair had been born.
It began with small pranks between me and my friends. One person would wait until everyone was inside the house and then go outside and move the chair a few feet. Eventually, these pranks escalated. I would go inside to get a fresh beverage, only to return to the porch and find that my friends had replaced my folding chair with The Haunted Chair. Eventually, the chair started appearing inside the house.
When I found that Bradley had put the chair on top of my car, I decided it was time to escalate the prank war.
One afternoon before Bradley, Laura and William came over, I tied a rope around the chair. I then threw the chair on the tin roof covering my back porch. I delicately fed the rope around the house, making sure it was concealed by the gutters, and then tied the end of the rope to a ground-mounted satellite dish that has not worked since the late 1990s.
Once night fell, the rope was all but invisible, even if you knew exactly where to look.
I clued Laura and William in on my prank so they could covertly shoot video with their phones. And then I waited.
I knew I couldn’t launch the prank as soon as we got onto the porch; it would be too obvious. No, I had to wait a few hours, lull Bradley into a false sense of security. A little before midnight, I knew the time was right.
“Ya’ll excuse me a moment,” I said, and stepped around the back of the house, presumably to irrigate the begonias. William and Laura, however, knew this was the high sign.
As I walked away, Bradley began singing a goofy nonsensical song, as is his custom. I took hold of the rope and waited.
At the moment Bradley concluded his song, I gave the rope a sharp tug. There was a horrible noise as the lawn chair scraped across the tin roof, then it tumbled to the ground, one leg snapping off and flying into a bush.
William managed to shoot an excellent video of this prank, and I could easily transcribe the words that left Bradley’s mouth as the chair noisily scraped across the roof and crashed into the ground. Unfortunately, those words could have stripped paint and are definitely unprintable in a family newspaper. I can tell you that his reaction was even better than I’d hoped for, however.
William dutifully repaired the chair the following morning with some Gorilla Glue, and I am currently plotting my next Haunted Chair-related prank. I’m hesitant to reveal too much, but I will say that I’m doing some research into how much lift can be generated by a Class G model rocket engine.