Today we are pleased to present Gerald Florshan as our guest poster on the topic of the paranormal/supernatural. Gerald has been happily married to Betty Florshan for the past 41 years. The couple have four sons, ages 38, 35, 33 and 30. Gerald is a retired employee from a chemical company in central Iowa. His hobbies consist of genealogy, wood sculpting, reading and doing work with the church in his area. Gerald is also a big fan of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes of which, all four sons attended and graduated.
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I grew up and have lived my entire life in the central part of Iowa. Some call it God's Country. I just call it home. If you love cornfields, Iowa is the place for you. Don't settle for that cheap corn they have in that forsaken place called Nebraska. Cornfields are common a sight here as lakes are in Minnesota and wheat fields in Kansas. Miles and miles of nothing but cornfields in Iowa. What is also common in those cornfields are scarecrows. For the most part, scarecrows do serve as a way to deter crows and other scavengers. But, I can't tell you the number of times I have personally witnessed crows just sitting on the "arms" of scarecrows just whiling away the day. However, they do usually work. In fact, some scarecrows work too well. Hence, the basis of my story...
We moved to a nice home out in the farming country of Iowa. Hell, all of Iowa is basically farming country. But, this was really out there. I was all of 6 years old when my mom and dad moved out to this small, but quaint little home. My father was an interstate trucker and stayed gone most of the time. His visits were brief, but always a joyous occasion for both mom and me. As it turns out, I never had any other siblings. Mom had a girl that was stillborn when I was only 3 years old. My parents avoided that subject like the plague. It was just too painful for them.
As the years rolled by, I grew accustomed to country life and the nice people that you meet there. One of those people was Mr. Murdoch. Mr. Murdoch had a farm of cornfield after cornfield, sheep, cows, pigs and so forth. He was one of the few wealthy farmers I had ever met. Mr. Murdoch was also an extremely nice man. He was great to my mom and me when dad was on those long-distance hauls. He always told dad he'd "look in on us" to make sure everything was okay. I think he visited us mostly because he was enamored with my mom who was a real beauty back in the day. A bit more on that later.
At age 12, I no longer had to take the bus to go to an elementary school 10 miles away. I was now in walking distance of the junior high school (or middle school as it is commonly referred to nowadays) as a lean, mean 7th grader. I only had to walk about 2 miles down a dirt road to my school. I was tall for 12 years old and had long legs. So, that 2 mile walk was nothing to me. Sometimes, Mr. Murdoch or another neighbor would give me a lift to school. Most times, I just enjoyed the walk. The dirt road encompassed one of the many cornfields owned by Mr. Murdoch. It was at the midway point of this walk when I would see one of Mr. Murdoch's many scarecrows. THE Scarecrow, as I frequently would refer to it. This particular scarecrow was just...different. The other scarecrows didn't bother me in the least. But, I got the distinct feeling this scarecrow was staring at me as I passed by. Sometimes, I would look over my should to get another look. It seemed as if it also had partially turned its head to take another look at me. I would look again and it was looking straight ahead as it normally would do. I know it sounds ridiculous. But, it seemed this scarecrow was alive. I got to the point, I dreaded my walk due to this one particular scarecrow on Mr. Murdoch's Farm. I looked for alternative routes to school. There were none that I could find. I could walk through other cornfields of other farmers. But, while most farmers are friendly folks, they would want an explanation of why I was walking through their cornfields instead of taking the dirt road to school.
I need to describe this scarecrow. For starters, it had the pumpkin cutout, for a head, that you see on Halloween. Over time, that pumpkin head would shrink, making it even scarier looking. Mr. Murdoch was known for his sense of humor. He said this worked better than a long, floppy hat on a ball of straw. There was an old overcoat on the scarecrow, with the coat arms covering up the sticks. It was spooky looking. I thought that the way it looked was making me have delusions. I was wrong about that. I was not delusional at all. This thing was not shifting in the wind. It was not "settling in" on support beams. This thing had movement.
One cold November morning, it was still dark as I walked on the dirt road to my school. I knew Mr. Scarecrow would be dead ahead. I was scared, damned scared. As I approached the midway point, I noticed the scarecrow was not on his usual perch. Relief just washed over me. Perhaps Mr. Murdoch had grown tired of it or had no use for it. I thought, why didn't I just tell Mr. Murdoch he didn't need a scarecrow that close to the road anyway. As that thought crossed my mind, I saw the scarecrow. It was sitting about 10 feet from it's perch looking my way. I stopped dead in my tracks. I've been scared in my life many times. But, I was never more scared than I was that moment as a 12 year old. I could not decide what to do. Continue on to school past this damn demon from hell or turn around and lie to mom about a sore throat. Mom already had enough problems to cope with and didn't need the added worry of a "sick" child. It was dark, even at 7AM, it was like midnight in November. As I steadily and hurriedly walked past the scarecrow, I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I did that just a second too soon. "What's wrong, sonny boy? Cat got your tongue hee hee heeeee?" I instantly froze. I slowly turned around and looked at the back of the scarecrow. "Come on back and let's chat a while. I'm just here all alone with nothing else to do." I turned and ran toward the school as fast as I've ever run in my entire life. I was out of breath. I doubt I ran that last mile under 4 minutes. But, I bet I came damn close.
I was in a daze most of that day as a result. My math teacher asked me if I was okay. I told her I didn't feel good, but I felt I could make it through the day. Once I got home, I had to tell mom, at long last, about THE Scarecrow in Mr. Murdoch's cornfield. After I told her the story, I was waiting for her to either laugh or give me an understanding, but firm talk. I got neither. She just looked at me with those big beautiful blue eyes my mom had, with her arms crossed and a wisp of her red hair falling down across her forehead. "I've noticed something unusual about that scarecrow also, Gerald. When Henry takes me to the vegetable stand in his little blue truck, I've noticed that thing kind of twist its head to look at me," my mother said. I learned two things right away. I learned what Mr. Murdoch's first name was. I learned that mom and Mr. Murdoch went to places together. But, that didn't interest me at the time. "Mom, he spoke to me this morning. I know how this sounds. But, this thing did speak to me. I'm scared," I told my mother. My mother looked at me a bit concerned now. I didn't know if mom was just humoring me or if she was being serious. "Did it make any threatening words to you, sweetheart?," mom asked. I told her no. My mother assured me that she would ask "Hen...aaah, Mr. Murdoch to do something with the scarecrow. That thing is scaring you and me both." When my mom said she was going to do something, she did it. She sealed her promise with a big smile and a kiss.
The next morning, the scarecrow was up at its usual perch on the support beams. I stopped and looked at it. I was so scared, I was about to pee in my pants. Mr. Murdoch was supposed to take the damn scarecrow down! I walked slowly toward THE Scarecrow. It appeared especially sinister looking this cold, dark morning. I could hear my feet cracking the frozen ground as I walked up toward it. "YOU LITTLE SONOFABITCH!!! HAVE ME TAKEN DOWN, YOU LITTLE SHIT? I'LL TAKE YOU DOWN INTO THE BOWELS OF HELL WITH ME!, the scarecrow screamed at me with such venom and hate! It jumped down off its perch and started coming toward me. I threw down my notebooks and ran as hard as I could back home. I heard something behind me....IT WAS THE SCARECROW AND HE WAS GAINING ON ME. "MOM!!!! MOM!!! HELP ME!!! HELP ME!!!" I screamed at the top of my lungs. My mother heard me, in the dark, in the cold, she heard me. Out she came out of our home and she saw in the moonlight what was chasing me. "GET THE HELL AWAY FROM MY CHILD YOU DEMON FROM HELL!!! YOU CAN'T HARM ME OR MY BLOOD ANY LONGER! BE GONE NOW!" my mom roared at the scarecrow. The Scarecrow saw my mom, roared back at her and then just ran back down the road from whence it came. But, mom then yelled something unintelligible (at least to me) at the scarecrow. To this day, I don't know what she said or what language (if, indeed, it was a language) that was used by her. It appeared to do the trick. The Scarecrow hauled ass back down the road.
It took the rest of that day for both me and my mom to calm down. I was almost in a catatonic state. Mom said some words in a language I, again, did not recognize. But, it seemed to calm me down and her as well. My mother seemed to know what it was that was chasing me. I asked her about that. She dismissed it as just her recognizing evil. And that scarecrow was evil. I didn't buy that at the time. I still don't. There was more to this than mom was letting me know. Was my mom some kind of witch or something? She always had a "way" about her. My mother was just different. Whenever I got very sick, I would hear those strange words again. In just a few minutes, I was much better.
That night, as I lay in bed, I heard mom talking on the phone. I had to get up to listen. "...you know damn well what I'm talking about, Henry. That Voo Doo woman is the cause of all this. I warned you about her. But, no, you didn't listen. Now, burn that damn scarecrow witch doll with the potions you have now....you'll do it or you won't get any more from me....oh, I think you know what I'm talking about, Henry. You won't be getting any nookie until you do as I tell you to do. End of story. Now, do it." I was only 12 years old. But, I knew what was going on now between mom and Mr. Murdoch. I knew what "nookie" meant also. I suddenly felt sorry for my dad. But, he probably knew mom got lonely.
As I got up for school the next morning, mom told me she was going to walk me to school that morning. I told her she would have to walk back that two miles also. She said Mr. Duncan, who owned the general store a few miles from us, would be there to drive her back home. It seems that mom was spreading her wings, as it were. But, she was a beauty and knew the effect she had on men in order to get what she wanted. As we started our walk toward school and, hopefully, a missing scarecrow, she told me there was no need to tell anyone what we witnessed with the scarecrow, especially dad. I asked her why she wanted to keep all this a secret. She told me that a lot of people in the "natural world" don't believe in evil spirits and the occult. I didn't quite understand that. But, I did as mom told me....until I got married and told my wife all about that time at Mr. Murdoch's farm. We made it to the midway point, and as expected, the scarecrow was gone. Even the support beams were gone. I guess the threat of "nookie" (or lack of getting it) was enough to get Mr. Murdoch's attention. We made small talk the rest of the way to school and, sure enough, Mr. Duncan was there waiting on mom. I noticed our kitchen had more groceries than usual that day when I got home from school.
I loved my mom, warts and all. By no means was she perfect. But, she loved me with a ferocity that was overwhelming at times. Was she into witchcraft, or possibly Voo Doo? Maybe. It didn't matter at the time. When something from that world reached out to cause harm to her baby, she reacted as any mother would when her "blood" was threatened. Mom's claws came out and she would defend me to the death. She showed she loved me more than anything on earth. She proved it not only that day "The Scarecrow" gave chase to me, but for the rest of her life until she passed away at age 85.