As a very young child, about the age of four, I had a nightly visitor to my room that terrified me. I remember lying awake in the dark, waiting. For a few nights in a row, this specter would walk through the door of my bedroom, slowly and deliberately, and head straight for my bed.
I recall in detail the brocade jacket and tricorn hat. I saw his boots. He wore bandages around his entire head, and in my young mind, I thought of him as a mummy pirate. I was at one time obsessed with pirates, and wanted to be one for Halloween. My mother indulged me and used her eyeliner to draw the patch and manly stubble on my upper lip and chin. I wonder now if my fascination stemmed from the ghost or died soon after.
Because this was not a friendly visitor.
Each night, the man approached my bed.
He raised his arms and wielded an ax and brought it down on my ankle. I felt nothing, but the terror in my young heart caused me to hide under my blankets in abject fear and silence. One night I screamed repeatedly for my mother. She finally came in and sat by my side and soothed me with her words and wiped my brow. She assured me it was all just a bad dream.
After that, the visitor came no more.
It wasn’t until I was invited to write a post for Terri’s blog that I began reflecting on these visits in earnest, and realized it was not a dream. These were very real visits that always ended with me in terror hiding under my Raggedy Ann quilt.
Now that I’m a reasonable and rational adult, I can reflect on my memories with a dose of curiosity. Who was this ghost? Now that I think of the costume he wore that I thought of as a pirate costume, I think it was more likely to be the uniform of a soldier. He probably wasn’t trying to remove my actual foot, but was most likely reliving one of the terrors of his own personal hell. Maybe he needed to amputate a fellow soldier’s limb to save him from gangrene. Maybe he was dealing the death blow to an enemy.
I probably won’t find out in this life, but considering the location of this haunting, I have narrowed it down to a few possibilities. At the time, I lived only a few miles from the original Fort Wayne stockade. Established in 1794-95, it was built as a result of the Battle of Fallen Timbers. Prior to that battle, the site at the juncture of three rivers was home to a couple other battles. King George’s Battle and skirmishes during the French and Indian war took place in this war-torn area.
With the luxury of adulthood on my side, I can see with clarity that my mummy pirate was in fact an historical figure from a tumultuous time. His hat and long coat strongly resemble the uniforms worn by Revolutionary War patriots or even those belonging to the French during the French and Indian war.
Whoever it was, I think I can finally let my memory rest in peace, and I hope he is as well.