An incredible ghost story by Neal Farley...
The story starts: My name is William Wright Jr., and this is a story about my family.
It all started back with my grandfather, Edward Wright and his best friend and neighbor, Walter Bodine, and the properties the two men shared. The year was 1938. It was the time of the Great Depression, and times were hard and money was short. My grandfather raised horses, and the Bodines raised cows. Business was slow for both families, and my grandfather had to sell some land to make ends meet. That's when all the trouble began.
The agreement that my grandfather had made with Walter Bodine to temporary sell some property to the Bodines until the war was over was about to be broken, and as a result of local land right laws, my grandfather lost some of his land to Walter Bodine. The feud between the two families went on for years. Walter's son, John was at the heart of it. He also was the town bully, and my father, William Sr., tangled with him a many a time. The two sons hated each other with a passion.
Walter's wife had left him and John years ago due to the fact that John was such an unruly child. Walter Bodine didn't get along that well with his son, John either, so in 1948 to give them some space, he built John a small house near the end of their property. This was the same land that had belonged to my grandfather.
In the winter of 1949, Walter Bodine died of pneumonia, and the property went to his only son, John. Well, John had to hire some help to keep the business going, so he hired some local immigrants from Spain, where he paid them at slave wages. One of the families, the Martinez family, had six children with the oldest daughter named Maria. She and my father were high school sweethearts and planned to be married the following spring. But, in 1950, the Korean War broke out and my father went to serve. He promised Maria that he would marry her when he got back, leaving the farm to the care of my grandparents and my father's two younger brothers.
Due to an accident that John Bodine had when he was sixteen, he cut two of his fingers off butchering a cow; so he did no have to serve in the war. This gave John Bodine a chance to make his move on Maria. John told Maria's dad that if he did not let his daughter marry him instead of William, he would have their entire family deported back to Spain. This made Maria so sad, but she had no choice but to marry John Bodine, so the wedding went on.
They were married in secret by the local justice of the peace, who died of a heart attack one month after he married them. My grandmother found out, but decided not to write to her son with the news of the marriage, for he was in the thick of the war and he did not need this kind of distraction. Soon after that, Maria stopped writing to my dad, and they did not hear from him for some time.
Big John, as the town called him, kept Maria in the house, and never let her out. He lost most of his land due to poor business decisions, drinking, and gambling, and was left with only the land his father had given him. He had to go to work for a local meat plant as a butcher. Maria's family moved back to Spain, and she was never to hear from them again. But what we didn't know was that on July 4th, 1951 she told big John that she was pregnant with his baby. She thought this would make him happy, but she got just the opposite reaction. He said, "I don't want no half-nigger, Spaniard baby. We can't afford no baby! What the hell are you thinking, you stupid bitch?" and then slapped her in the face. You see, he came home drunk every night and he loved to slap her around on a regular basis. He would not let her go out when she was all bruised up.
The next day when he was a little more sober, John told her she could have the child, but no one was to know about it; and if anyone found out he would kill both of them. He said, "I won't spend one dime on that half nigger-kid, and I better not hear it cry or you're going to get it."
On February 7th, 1952, Daniel Bodine was born three and one half weeks early. John was drunk and passed out on the couch, leaving the birth of his son to his wife. She had prepared all the necessary things to deliver her child herself. This was something that the women did in Spain in the old days.
She thought the best place to give birth would be in the bathtub. It would be a lot easier to clean up, and she could close the door so John could not hear her. Since the baby was small, its delivery was quick. As the baby came out, she had some thoughts of ending its life, but once she saw him she just could not do it. She had a small Sterno stove to boil the water on, sitting next to the tub, and with a sterile knife, she cut the cord. She cleaned little Daniel up and wrapped him in a towel and took him to bed with her.
It was like a breath of fresh air for Maria to have a son. And for the first time since she had been maried to Big John, she actually felt happy. She made diapers out of old sheets, and had made some clothes out of old rags. Daniel spent most of his first year in an old drawer. At night they would sleep in the basement near the furnace, so that John would not hear them. During the day when John was not home, she would bring him upstairs, though John forbade him being upstairs at any time. She had to be careful that no one would see him, especially Big John.
In the Spring of 1953, my father returned from the war with a hero's welcome, only to find his girlfriend had married the man he hated so much, and this devastated him. For the next two years, my father worked the farm, and in 1955 he married my mom, Katherine Miller. She was an elementary school teacher at one of the local schools. And just one month after their marriage, Grandfather died of a heart attack.
Soon after that my uncles lost interest in the farm and moved on to new things. Grandmother stayed on where she did most of the cooking and cleaning. She would sit in her rocking chair, knitting, and looking over the land she loved so much.
On New Years Eve 1955 I was born, William Walter Wright Jr. My parents were so happy. Business was good and the farm was growing. Most of the day my grandmother took care of me, but in the evenings, I spent time with my mom and dad.
They believed in teaching children as much as they could learn at an early age. Mom read to me all the time, and I learned to read and write at a very early age in my life, and loved every bit of it. Sometimes, my dad would even read me the funny papers. My dad took me everywhere, showed me everything he could, and let me try to do things, like riding horses and driving the tractor. He was great dad and so proud of me.
As for Daniel, his mother told him stories of her childhood in Spain, and how much she missed her country and family. But as time went on, she began to drink more and more so she could cope with the physical and mental abuse of Big John. And the more she drank, the more Daniel was left alone in the basement. As he got older she began to feed him table scraps. Considering the conditions Daniel grew up in, he managed to stay pretty healthy. As for Big John, he rarely paid any attention to Daniel and when he did he would tease him, or pick on him, or even worse, slap or beat him.
In the fall of 1961, Big John was hunting in the woods. He took Daniel along to retrieve the game that he killed. Big John loved killing animals and would kill almost anything that moved, including local dogs and cats. When John was hunting, he was so fat and out of shape, he would make grunting sounds with almost every move. His nickname for Daniel was, "Daniel the Spaniel." He laughed at him, and tormented him throughout their hunting experience. If Daniel came back empty-handed, John would slap him in the head, or punch him. Daniel tried to hold back the tears, for if he cried, he would receive even more punishment. John kicked at him and threw things at him all the way home.
One day, while hunting with John, Daniel observed a ground hog digging a tunnel. He noticed the groundhog's long sharp claws and the rapid speed at which it dug. That evening after John locked him down in the dirt basement, he got the idea that he could dig a tunnel just like the groundhog, so he could sneak out of the basement when Big John was at work, or passed out at night on the couch. During the day, he could go out as long as he made sure that his mother was asleep, or passed out from drinking.
Daniel imitated John's grunting sounds to the animals so when they would hear John they would run away. Sometimes the animals would be slightly wounded and Daniel would come back empty-handed. Big John would slap him, but that was okay with Daniel if he could save the animal's life. The day was coming to an end when Big John spotted a large black dog running past. Without hesitation, he took the shot and killed that dog. You see, John hated dogs. When he was very young, a dog with red eyes came up to his bedroom window and scared him to death. Some think it was some kind of demon dog, or a visit from the devil himself, especially considering how mean John was to everybody and everything. So, Big John told Daniel to go fetch the carcass and bring it to the back of the house so he could boil the bones off of it. Then, he would put the skulls on the back step.
John looked at the skulls as trophies. Big John looked down at Daniel and said "Hey Daniel, the Spaniel. Maybe just someday you'll get your head up there. Now get your ass back into the basement. I'm tired of looking at your ugly little face." Daniel bowed his head to hide his little sad face and went back down into basement.
The next day was going to be a big one, for Daniel it was the day he would escape from the basement. After long months of digging his way out with a spoon and an old pan, he would finally have some freedom. Daniel was so excited he could hardly sleep, and when he did sleep all he did was dream of himself being in the woods with all of his animal friends.
The next morning, he woke up early and waited for Big John to leave for work. As soon as he left, Daniel started through the tunnel. When he came out, he was under some bushes next to the house. He poked his head up and he had a smile on his face that would light up the world. And like a jackrabbit, he was out in the woods.
The first place to go was to visit the squirrel family, then the raccoons. He also checked on a wounded rabbit. It was a beautiful day and Daniel had all the animals all around him and he was so happy. He would go in the woods and explore for hours; for you see, Daniel really loved animals. Before long he had learned to communicate with most of them, and warn the animals of danger. The biggest threat was Big John himself.
On a hot summer day in 1962 when Daniel was out with his animal friends, he heard a voice, "Rex! Rex!" Then he waited, and heard the voice again, "Rex! Rex! Where are you?" He followed the voice to a small opening in the woods where he saw me. I called for my dog again, "Rex! Rex! Come on, boy. I have a big bone for you."
Daniel decided to take a chance and came out to the clearing. "Hi, I'm Daniel. Who are you?" My name is Willam Wright Jr. Can you help me find my dog Rex?" "OK," said Daniel. "What does he look like?" "He is a big black dog." Daniel looked very surprised, for that was the dog that Big John had just shot the other day. Daniel probably thought he better not say anything about that, or tell me who he was. We went into the woods together calling for the dog.
I asked Daniel, "Where do you live?" Daniel said, "I live in the woods. Where do you live, William?" "I live over there." I pointed through the woods, to the big white farmhouse at the top of the hill. From the very beginning, we hit it off. We talked and talked about everything. Daniel told me all about his mother's country Spain, and how some day he was going to fly there. I told him of my family and that my mother was a teacher and that we have many books. Daniel asked, "Do you have any books about Spain with pictures, because I can't read?" I told him, "I can teach you." It will be fun.
For the next few weeks we read and played together. I brought books to teach Daniel how to read, and Daniel showed me all his animal friends. We had so much fun. Some times I would bring Daniel food from home. Daniel was always so hungry, I had to bring him extra food from time to time. One day when I was home, my mom asked me, "Who is the food and books for?" "It's for my friend, Daniel." Then she said, "Who's Daniel?" "He's the boy who lives in the woods." "Oh! That's nice!" my mom said. You see, she thought Daniel was my imaginary friend. She knew I was happy, and was glad I had a friend, even if he wasn't real. She was also glad that I was reading.
He would ask for books about Spain, airplanes, and horses. These were the things that boys like us were interested in. I loved horses just like my father, and at a young age I had learned alot about them. I told Daniel all about the famous Lipizzan horses of Spain, also known as the dancing horses. Daniel loved airplanes, and talked about going to Spain. I told Daniel maybe someday we could fly to Spain and see the famous horses together. This gave us a great idea: we could build a plane and fly to Spain, and that's just what we did.
We got a book about planes, and then drew up some pictures. The next thing we needed was some supplies. Daniel got wood and some old tires from Big John's junk pile. He had so much junk at his house that Big John would never miss it. I got nails and all the tools we would need to complete the project.
During the next few weeks, we worked on the plane. We decided to build the plane up on a branch of a large, old oak tree. Then, we cut tires in half and nailed them under the large branch of the tree. Then, it was time to attach the bottom of the plane to the tires. Daniel got a steering wheel from an old car. He also found some tail lights from another car.
After three weeks, the plane was ready for flight. The day was perfect. The sun was shining, and the wind was blowing. Daniel was in front and I was in the back. Daniel said, "Ready for takeoff." I replied, "Right, Captain!" The wind picked up, and we were on our way. Swaying back and forth, we imagined we were flying over our houses. We were having a great time, when out of nowhere, Daniel let out a loud fart! I said to him, "What was that?" Daniel replied, "Left engine out!" I told him, "It smells like it's on fire!" We laughed, then Daniel said, "This sure is fun!"
Daniel and I took many adventures in our homemade plane. Many times we would pretend that were in Spain. I would bring books from home, and we would find all the places to visit in Spain. With all the books we had, Daniel learned to read quite well. We both had great times in our plane, and learned many things together from the books.
This was the best summer I had ever had, and was pretty sure it was Daniel's best, too. The time was coming to an end when Daniel looked up at me and said, "Are you going to miss me when I'm gone?" I said, "Gone! Gone where?" Daniel said, "Ahhhh...nowhere!" We gave each other a hug and said, "See you tomorrow..."
What I did not know was about to change my life forever. The next day, we got an early start by going to the pond for some catfish. Then we cooked and ate them for lunch. Afterward, I asked Daniel if he would like to be my blood-brother. Daniel asked, "How do we do that?" "Oh, it's easy, but it might hurt a little." Daniel smiled, for pain was something he was use to. "Ok!" Daniel said. "What do we need to do?" "First, we need to cut our fingers. Then, we have to touch our bloody fingers together, and then we are brothers." That's it?" Daniel asked. "Yep, that's it." After that, it was into the plane for a trip to Spain, and then on to Portugal. We got out the geography books to guide us on our journeys.
The wind picked up and we were on our way. Soaring over their neighborhood, then east toward the Atlantic Ocean, flying at top speed to the coast of Spain. We knew we were there when we saw a herd of stallions running on the beach. We then flew over the arena where a bullfight was underway. Then, it was time to move on to Portugal, where we saw several fishing boats. There was also a soccer game going on in the city of Oporto.
We were having a great time, when Daniel realized how late it was getting. Daniel was quite worried about being late, and left without giving me a hug or saying goodbye. He ran home as fast as he could and flew down his tunnel to the basement, only to meet Big John standing at the bottom. Daniel's little heart was pounding so hard that his whole body was shaking. John was so angry that his face turned blood-red. He grabbed Daniel and began beating him. Then he held Daniel over his head and threw him across the basement, where Daniel hit his head against the wall. His little limp body lay on the cold basement floor, blood running out of his head and nose. Big John passed back and forth yelling, "You stupid kid! You had to push me! You stupid kid!" He went upstairs and told Maria he was changing the lock on the basement door, and she was to stay out. She was so drunk she probably didn't hear a word he said. John went back down to the basement and put Daniel's body in and old toolbox filled with lime, and locked it with the old door lock. He put it way back in the corner of the basement, then went back up and locked the basement door. He went out on his back porch and sat in his rocker. There was a full moon that night, and as John looked deep into the woods, he saw those two, red eyes looking at him. It scared him so bad, he ran into the house and locked the doors. Then he sat on his couch, and proceeded to get as drunk as he could, still mumbling, "You stupid kid! You stupid kid. You god-damned, stupid kid!" The next day John got up and went to work as if nothing happened.
I woke up early the next day with total excitement. My father had just purchased a Lipizzan horse from the famous horses of Spain, because of my interest in the breed. The sun was shining and the wind blowing; a perfect day for an adventure. I waited in the plane all day, but Daniel never showed up. The next day, I called Daniel's name, "Daniel, where are you?" Deep in the woods, I could hear a faint voice. "I'm here William. I'm here. Help me!" I searched all day, but could not find him. It was starting to get late when I realized that I had gotten too close to the Bodine farm. Suddenly, Big John jumped out of nowhere and said, "What are you doing here, boy?" I was so scared that I ran home as fast as I could. My father had warned me of Big John and how dangerous it was to get to close to the Bodine farm. On my way home, I started crying. When I got home, my mom saw how sad I was, and asked, "What's wrong William?" "I lost my friend Daniel, and I'm so sad. I hear him but I can't find him." She replied, "I'm sorry you lost your friend, William, but school starts soon and I'm sure you will meet a new friend. I think we need to take you out for some ice cream." I said, "OK, mom." and then we went out. I did not mention that I saw Big John in the woods to my mom, because I knew I was not supposed to be there in the first place.
Several weeks went by before Maria suspected that something was wrong, due to the fact she was drunk most of the time. When John got home that night, she saw he was passed out on the couch and that his keys had fallen to the floor. She picked up the keys very gently, and unlocked the basement door. When she got down in the basement, she looked everywhere; but Daniel was not to be found. She began to search for some clues, looking through things, when she saw the locked toolbox. She found the key and opened the box. What she found was horrific. Poor Daniel's beaten body lying in white powder. She was so sad, and wept over him. Maria felt very bad that she had let her son down, but also felt she had nowhere to go, especially with the physical and mental abuse of her husband.
Shortly after that, she went into deep depression; babbling and weeping all the time, and even wandering out into the community. Sometimes the police would bring her back. This worried John. The last thing he needed was the police at his house, especially with Daniel's body in the basement. John decided the best thing to do was to have Maria committed to a state institution. And that's exactly what he did. Maria's health declined even more, and within one year she died of heart failure. It was probably more like a broken heart.
[Twenty Five Years Later]
The year is 1987, and John continued living on his land, although the property was not kept up and was covered over with brush. He did not work other than an occasional side job, or to pawn off some of his junk. He continued to drink heavily, and had been arrested four times for public drunkeness.
As for me and my family, my father William Wright Sr. died of cancer in 1985, but we continued to prosper and eventually became one of the top show horse breeders in the country. I graduated from the University of Maryland with honors, and received a doctorate in animal care. And having written four books, I also became the country's leading authority on show horses. Having bred five world champions, two of them were Lipizzan stallions. I had pretty much taken over the business from my father. In 1988, I got married; and we have a two-year-old son named Chris. On one hot July day in 1990, I decided to take Chris out to the old tree plane. I put him in the cockpit, then a gust of wind came, lifting the plane up into the air. Chris got a big smile on his face. Out of nowhere, a voice came out of the wind saying, "William, help me." I answered, "Daniel, is that you? "Where are you?" The voice responded, "The house. The house." Then the wind died down, and the voice dissapeared. I looked into the direction from which the wind came from, and saw the Bodine house. For the next few days the disturbing sound bothered me. When I could not stand it anymore, I decided to look into the status of the Bodine house and found out it was up for sale. Big John was in jail for drunken assault to some man in a bar fight, and had to sell his property to make bail. With the horse business growing, we could really use the extra land. This was the same land that my grandfather had lost to the Bodine's many years ago.
When Big John found out that a Wright had bought his property, he was furious. He started swearing and saying, "I'll kill those Wright's before I let them have my land!" Several weeks went by before we had reached settlement on the house. I had plans to make the house an office, because it was in a great location near a busy intersection where people could see my business.
So one warm July evening In 1991, I decided it was time to look at the newly acquired property; or you might say the returned ownership of my grandfather's land. Anyway, I pulled up at about seven-thirty,and there was enough sunlight to explore the structure of the old two-story house. I wanted to see if the house was safe. As I drove up to the front of it, I noticed how the weeds and vines had taken over the outside of the house.
When I got out of the truck, I felt this strange cool breeze come over me that gave me a chill. As I got closer to the house, it got even cooler. I walked through the front door, and looked at the wall and saw a German swastika sprayed on it. Most of Big John's things were gone, and the house was in very bad shape. Then, I decided next to go into the kitchen, when from nowhere I heard the faint voice, "Help me. William, help me." It was the same voice that I had heard coming from the woods, when I was with my son Chris. "Daniel is that you? Where are you?" I asked. "I'm down here," the voice seemed to come from the basement. I walked down into the musty, smelly basement where an eerie feeling came over me. I then walked toward the back of the basement, were I found a door. The hair on the back of my neck was tingling when the voice said, "This way, William. I'm this way." I crept slowly toward the door, and reached out to open it; but it was nailed shut. I heard the voice again, "Please! Help me, please!" I decided to give it one big, solid kick, and the old rotten door shattered apart. As the musty dirt settled in the air, I peered deep into the basement. Then, a cool, damp breeze went through me, like nothing I had ever felt before.
In the corner of the room was a white, misty, vaporous image of a small boy standing on a toolbox. The boy was crying and sobbing, and his face was all beaten and distorted. "Can you help me get in the box? Please! He will beat me, if I'm not in the box. He will beat me when he gets home. Please! Help me." I told him, "Daniel, it's me, William. Who will beat you, John?" "John. Please help me get into the box." I tried to pry it open with my pocket knife, but it was too dark to see what I was doing. So I grabbed the box, and took it to the back of the house; then I went back inside to get the shovel. When I came back up the basement stairs, the house smelled like smoke. I then walked into the living room, where a large, older man was pouring gasoline all over the floor. The man looked at me and said, "What the hell are you doing in my house?" "Your house?" I told him, "Excuse me sir, but my name is William Wright, Jr., and this is my house now...and you are trespassing!" "You're a god-damn Wright? Over my dead body will a Wright ever own this house!" Then, Big John lunged forward, trying to poor gasoline all over me; but I got out of the way just in time. I grabbed the shovel and went after Big John. We wrestled for a moment, but I got the better grip on the shovel, and hit Big John upside his head, knocking him to the floor. I then grabbed the shovel and ran out the back door. When I got to the back of the house, Daniel was gone.
I then took the shovel and began to pry the cover off the toolbox. When I lifted the top off, there was the small boy's body inside, coverd in white powder. I immediately realized that this was my old friend Daniel, and began to weep, "Oh, my god! Oh, my god! What did that man do to you? Oh Daniel, I'm so sorry this happened to you." As I looked down into the box, I saw a little bit of black showing thru the white powder. So, I reached in, and pulled out a small Bible.
In the Bible was a note from Daniel's mom. She had marked a scripture from Palms, "Behold, sons are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward." In the note, she had written:
To my wonderful son, Daniel, I feel so ashamed of myself that I have to write this letter. And I hope after you hear it, that you can forgive me for what I have done to you. Before you were born, I was in love with a wonderful young man. We were to be married, but he had to go to war. We promised each other, after the war we would get married. Big John hated this man, so to get even with him, Big John threatened me if I did not marry him instead. He would send my family back to Spain. My mother and father were very ill at the time, and the trip would have killed them. So I had no choice but to give up the love of my life, and save my family. I also could not tell Big John that I was pregnant with the other man's child. Therefore, Big John is not your father. Your father is the kindest, and most honorable person I had ever met. His name is William Wright Sr., and he is your real father. I'm sorry I didn't tell you before, but if John would have found out, he would have killed both of us. I had never felt so helpless in my life. Please try to understand why I did what I did, and then maybe you could find a place in your heart to forgive me. Daniel you are the breath that I breathe; and John took the air from both of us. And when you died, I died with you. I am so sorry my son. I have always loved you, and your real father. You're both in my soul, forever.
Love, Your mom, Maria.
As I was reading this, the tears were flowing down my face. I looked up at Daniel's poorly beaten face, and saw it transform into a beautiful smile. There was a peaceful glow that over-lay his face, while he looked down at me and said, "Thank you, Willam." I smiled, with tears running down my face, and said, "You are my brother. Daniel, you're my real brother, and I will never forget you." Then we both looked at the back of the house, where we heard the screams of Big John. He had pulled himself up to the window sill, where he peered out into the woods seeing two red-eyes looking at him. With sheer terror in his face he cried, "The beast! The beast!" Then the fire took over the house, and he fell through the burning floor. I looked into the woods to see what Big John was screaming about. Well, it turned out that those two red-eyes that had terrorized John for all those years, were actually the tail lights from the old tree plane that we had made when we were young. And in that front seat of that plane was my brother Daniel, waving goodbye. And he had a smile on his face that could light up the world.
The Story Behind The Ghost Story
I wrote this story from a dream I had. I did not sleep well for almost a month. I based the story around Elton John's song, Daniel. I had to write the story, due to the fact that many things from my dream came to be true. Some of the things in the story were based around Elton's song, but the shocking events in the story were in my dream. The story was written in 2002. - Neal
(Music by Elton John with Lyrics by Bernie Taupin)
Daniel is travelling tonight on a plane
I can see the red taillights heading for Spain.
Oh and I can see Daniel waving goodbye
God it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes
They say Spain is pretty though I've never been
Well Daniel says it's the best place that he's ever seen
Oh and he should know, he's been there enough
Lord I miss Daniel, oh I miss him so much
Daniel my brother you are older than me
Do you still feel the pain of the scars that won't heal
Your eyes have died but you see more than I
Daniel you're a star in the face of the sky
Daniel is travelling tonight on a plane
I can see the red taillights heading for Spain
Oh and I can see Daniel waving goodbye
God it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes
Oh God it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes