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2005-03-18 @ 12:00 a.m.
grandma said...


Over across the railroad tracks from Grandma’s house, past the blueberry bushes, yet within calling distance of home, was John Brown’s well. It was a large hole in the earth, measuring about two feet across, underneath a large maple tree and next to a vine covered rock. The water, which quietly burbled from deep within the Adirondack Mountains, was very cold, we heard. Very cold, indeed!

According to Grandma, the well belonged to John Brown, a strange old man who lived in a cabin up in the woods. It was his only source of water and he protected it with mysterious means. She told us that if we went near it, we could fall in. And if you fell in, you would keep

falling...
and falling...
and falling...

through a deep, black tunnel, tumbling for hours, days, years, head over heels, faster and faster, into the darkness. And as you fell, Grandma said, you would lose all sense of time and place. You would never again be able to sit around the punky fire with Grandpa Harry swapping ghost stories and roasting marshmallows....you would never again be able to hug your cat Maddie when you got home from school...you would never again be able to play hide-and-go-seek with your cousins on those warm, endless summer nights, she said. You might be able to hear your friends calling you, but you wouldn’t be able to answer. You might even get a whiff of one of her apple pies cooling on the window sill, she said, but you still wouldn’t be able to taste it, because, after all, you were...
falling...
falling...
falling.

One afternoon Grandpa Harry had suggested that we might try to dig a hole through to China, and we had spent much of the afternoon trying to do just that. But the sound of Grandma’s voice calling us to supper had proved difficult to resist.

The next day my cousin suggested that maybe we could get there through John Brown's well. But really, sliding down into John Brown’s well was no guarantee of a one way trip to China. This hole was special. This hole, Grandma said, liked to EAT children. And it had before. And it could again, she said. Even if you got near the edge, the spirit that protected John Brown’s well, could reach up and grab your ankles and pull you down into the dark, mucky, muck hole. And as you started to tumble....
down...
down...
down...

you would probably be able to hear old John Brown singing, in that scratchy old voice of his:

“John Brown lies a moldin’ in his grave,
John Brown lies a moldin’ in his grave,
John Brown lies a moldin’ in his grave,
dead or alive, he’s gonna get you!”


Grandma said if we ever heard that, we had better start saying our Hail Marys, because that was a sure sign that we would never see home again. And that, of course, scared us the most.


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