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August 2002
Page 30

From the Paupers' Graveyard
by Tamera G.

In April 1978, I was a new bride in a new home living away from my parents for the first time. From the first time I was alone in our house I had an uneasy feeling, it was nothing I could see, only a feeling. About a month after we moved in, my husband and I were both wakened by loud noises. At the time we thought someone was trying to break into the house, but we discovered that the strange noises were actually inside the house. We both were young and a little frightened, so at night we started sleeping with the bedroom door locked. We would be wakened by sounds of the door knob rattling and scratching sounds. It got to the point where I was terrified to be alone in the house, even during the daytime, but after two months all we had encountered was the strange sounds. Our parents told us it was just the stress of being out on own for the first time, and friends would just laugh and say, oh, you guys are just imagining things. 

During this time, a man had been clearing a parcel of land with a bulldozer just behind our house. Apparently, this is why our problems had began. Early one morning after my husband had left for work, I had taken a shower and was about to get my clothes. I had a chill that went to my bones and I knew I was being watched by someone. The fear I felt is still as real today as it was that morning in 1978. I turned from my closet to see a man in the reflection of my mirror. I will never forget his black eyes staring a me and his dark hair and features. I grabbed the first piece of clothing I could reach and ran for the door. I went to my mother-in-law's in tears and told her what had happened. I stayed with her until my husband got off work. 

We went back to the house that evening, although I didn't want to, but this time nothing happened again. We heard no more noises and I never saw the dark, mysterious man again. That is until about three months later when I picked up my local newspaper. There on the front page was an article about a paupers' graveyard that had been unearthed by a local man clearing land - the same land behind my house! While clearing the land, he noticed a human skull and then began to find other parts of skeletal remains. One in particular caught his attention. It had what appeared to be a bullet hole in the skull. Research had been done on the graveyard and the mysterious skull with the bullet hole. The remains belonged to a desperado named Jeff Coat. There in the paper was a photo of him and two other desperados laid out in glass-covered coffins on the court house square. They had been gunned down in a shoot out by local lawmen. I new the moment I saw the photo that he was the mysterious black-eyed man in my mirror, and he was there not to hurt us, but because his resting place had been disturbed. Still I knew I would never feel comfortable living in the house again, so we moved to a new one. but to this day I still tell this story to my children and friends.

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