Eddie and the Railroad Tracks
Here's another one of my experiences. When I was a teenager, my parents were very strict, never let me leave the house unless I was going somewhere with the nuns and priests at church. When it got dark, I was required to come inside the house. One trick I used to do was climb out of the window at night and walk along the railroad tracks. The railroad tracks were about 1/5 of mile from my parent's house. I had to cut through a trail in the woods to go to them. I've done a lot more exciting things since then, but, at that time, walking down the railroad track at night by myself was a big thrill. I had started doing it was I was 15. We lived in the swamps in the South Carolina Low Country. The tracks were surrounded on both sides by woods and/or swamps. It was just so peaceful to be back there. When I was 15, I got rebellious and would slip out at night to walk down the tracks. My parents never caught me slipping out. About the fifth time I slipped out, I had a strange experience. I cut through the woods, got on the tracks and just walked. I walked to the trestle about a half-mile away from home. I stop on the bridge and threw rocks in the water as usual. I was at one end of the trestle. I looked toward the other end, which was about 20 feet away. I saw a white, glowing figure standing there, unmoving. Somehow, I knew it was a man. The sight fazed me, but didn't frighten me. I just started backing up along the tracks. As I backed up, the figure moved toward me. For some reason, I then took a few steps toward him. He then backed up. He just stood there staring at me. I threw some more rocks off of the trestle into the stream below. The figure still just stood there.
I decided it must be time to go home and started walking that way, away from the man. He was right behind me. If I took a step, he took a step. If I stopped, he stopped. When I left the tracks and went into the woods toward home, he was still behind me. The figure followed me all the way home. At the entrance to our front yard, he stopped at the highway and stood there as I slipped back in the window. After I got inside, I looked out of the window, he was gone.
I had seen many ghosts before this, but had always gotten perturbed by them. This time, I wasn't frightened at all. It seemed as if this one were totally protective, not at all ominous. A few days before I saw the white, glowing figure, I had been walking down the tracks during the daylight. My dog had followed me. We had stopped at the trestle. I looked up and saw someone walking down the tracks. I pulled the dog with me and hid in the trees along the stream. When the man got to the trestle, I could see him well. He was dressed in very bright clothing and was carrying a big, sharp hand axe in his hand. He had a scour on his face. Maybe he was harmless, I'll never know. But, I felt terrified and kept myself and my dog quiet. I just have a feeling that the spirit appearing had something to do with the man with the ax.
Of course, my stories never end that simply. About a month after I saw the spirit, our washing machine was on the brink. I went to the laundromat with my mother. My mother started talking to a woman from the same village (Jedburg) as us. The woman said that she was born and raised in Jedburg. My mother told her our names. The woman said, "Oh, mercy, I know that last name!" She said that back in the 1940s, she worked nights and walked home. She walked down the main road, which passed over the railroad tracks. Every night, once she walked over the railroad tracks, a ghost would appear behind her and follow her home. He never followed her too closely. If she stopped, he stopped. The ghost never entered their front yard, always stopped at the road. Once she got inside the house, she would look out of the window, and the ghost would be gone. She said she was never scared, she felt like he was looking out for her. My mother asked her if she knew who the man was. The lady said, "Yes, it was Eddie *****, your husband's uncle." The asterisks indicate my own last name.
Once I heard his name, I knew exactly who it was. The rest of the story will probably sound way too Southern, but that's what I am. Eddie was my great-grandfather's half brother. His father had died when he was young. After his father died, he started hanging out with one of his half-nephews, Bryant, who was about the same age. When Eddie was 21 years old, he and Bryant walked to the general store, which we always called Mr. Dave's Store. Eddie and Bryant walked back toward home, but stopped at the railroad depot and sat for a while. The railroad depot was razed in the mid-1960s. As I recall, it was just a small thing, sort of like a shed. It had been at the intersection of the main road and the railroad track in Jedburg. For some reason, Bryant claimed that the hat Eddie was wearing belonged to him. They got into a fight. Bryant picked up a stick and hit Eddie in the head. It killed Eddie. Bryant was terrified and dragged the body into the depot, which was always unmanned. Bryant waited until he heard the next train approaching. He dragged Eddie's body a little ways down the track and laid him on the tracks. The train conductor saw him dragging the body out and tried to stop, but couldn't. The train ran over Eddie's body, but the conductor had seen what Bryant had done, and told the sheriff.
Bryant went to prison and was due to be executed. However, his father had managed to raise enough money for a well-connected lawyer. The South Carolina governor at the time commuted the sentence to life imprisonment, and Bryant's life was spared.
Bryant was imprisoned for a little over 20 years. The first time I met him, he was homeless and moved in with one of my uncles. I met him for the first time in the early 1970s. I was very young at the time, but remembered everything he said. I told him my name. He said, "I'm Bryant *****." I said, "We must be kin." He told me how we were related. I asked him if he liked living back in Jedburg again. He replied, "I would. But Eddie comes here every night and opens and closes the door all night long. I wish I could have a good night's sleep, but he won't leave me alone." Another time, I went to my uncle's house, and Bryant was there. He had been drinking and was mad about something. He said, "I killed that damned Eddie and if anyone else messes with me I'll kill him, too." When he said that, the front door suddenly opened, then slammed shut by itself. I immediately left by the back door. When I told my mother about both occurrences, she told me the story of Eddie. I understood then, and now.
Sorry, I've been long-winded again...