You'll never believe this story. In fact I hardly believe it myself. But it did happen. To me. Years ago. In the wilds of Scotland it was.
I went to visit an old friend called McPherson who lived out on the moors up in the Highlands. His house, or shack, was out there at the foot of a mountain. No electricity, or running water. Just running cockroaches as I recall. I killed one of them and within minutes my bed was infested with other cockroaches. They had come for the funeral. Ominous I thought.
He was an odd fellow, McPherson. Although well educated with various University degrees he chose to live alone in the wild relying on his inventiveness and wit to survive.
As I recall, he always stank like a skunk. Partly because he had no bathroom in his small wooden shack. He used to bathe in the river once a month whether he needed it or not; until one day he was bitten by a hungry fish searching for worms. After that, he bathed wearing an old diving suit he had from his deep-sea diving days. He claimed that a bout of flatulence helped him float.
The first evening with McPherson it rained heavily and there was thunder and lightning. We were outdoors, McPherson and me, gathering fire wood to keep us warm that evening. Every so often there was a strike of lightning which lit the sky and the surrounding area. This was followed by a low rumble from the thunder. Apparently, you always see the lightning first and then hear the thunder. Unless you're indoors and perhaps you don't see the lightning at all; unless the roof has blown off.
Well, we were outdoors and as there was some sudden lightning I thought I saw someone moving in the woods near us. It may have been my imagination but it looked like a skeleton. He had no body with him. He was all alone! So thin you'd say he was skin and bones; only he did not have the skin.
I told McPherson about it but he was totally unperturbed. He said it was probably the ghost of Joshua McAdamia. An old nut who lived in the shack nearby. He died years ago when trying to harness lightning to light a cigarette with. He stood there in a night like this with a long metal pole in hand, hoping to direct the lightning to the end of the cigarette on his lips. Sure enough the lightning caught the metal pole and turned McAdamia into a roasted nut.
"He comes out on nights like this to borrow a cigarette from you. I always turn him down," said McPherson, "because I smoke a pipe not cigarettes."
We hurried indoors with whatever wood we had and lit a fire to keep us warm. As we sat there eating beans and vegetarian sausages ... oh ... I forgot to mention, McPherson was a vegetarian. He only ate sausages and burgers and such stuff made from mushrooms or similar spores or fungi. It tasted like rubber but without the taste of rubber.
I don't know about you, but I resent vegetarians making things like sausages and burgers. Meat eaters invented those shapes first. Vegetarians should invent their own shapes like cubic sausages and square burgers.
Anyway, as we sat there eating there was a knock at the door. "Who is that at this hour?" I thought.
"It is probably McAdamia," said McPherson, "he often comes round to borrow a cup of tea or coffee. He says it goes right through him!"
Well I don't know about you, but I suddenly got the urge to go to the toilet. The shack did not have such a facility. You have to go out and choose a tree, or hide behind a bush if you're a lady.
I certainly was not going out in weather like that, especially with McAdamia's skeleton in search for liquid refreshment.
"What do we do now?" I asked in trepidation.
"Just cross your legs tight together till morning," he said, "I always do that rather than go out and get wet!"
"Tell me more about McAdamia," I said to pass away the time and take my mind off my predicament.
"Oh, he's a nice fellow all right," replied McPherson, "rather skeletal in appearance and somewhat transparent. I bet he's still out there behind the door in the rain. But he doesn't get wet and shivery like you or I would. Always as dry as a bone. One day, whilst he was asleep, his dog ate his legs. When he woke up in the morning he was furious, but he did not have a leg to stand on. So I made him another pair of legs from a tree branch that had fallen in the storm! From then on I called him Splinters. He loves to say "Ooh ARRRR!" and pretend he is a pirate. Because he is a vegetarian too, he has a carrot on his shoulder!"
I eventually fell asleep. The next morning I noticed that the door of the shack was loose on one of its hinges. No doubt that's what made it rattle in the wind all through the night.
Was there a McAdamia knocking at the door? Was it one of McPherson's sick inventive jokes from his repertoire of wit?
I did not have time to ask him. I ran outside to the nearest tree and then jumped in my car and drove off as fast as I could. No doubt McPherson was bathing in the river because I noticed the diving suit was not in the shack.