I had seen the old man watching from across the street during the time my brother, Paul, was moving in to the Old Water Valley Hospital that has been converted into a beautiful antebellum style home.
Paul and his wife, Wanda, could not have been happier and I figured like everyone else in town, that the old man was just enjoying watching new life being breathed into the town, but after a few months it seemed that he was there watching the house almost every time I drove by.One slow afternoon I saw him, parked my car in the driveway and went over to talk to him. He was old, using a cane but seemed fit, but a haunted look was in his eye as he glanced at me and back to the house. I asked him how he was doing and we passed the time for a few minutes until I asked him why he kept showing up and watching the house. He went back to staring at the house for a few minutes and I thought he was not going to answer, but then in a low voice, he started to talk.
“Did you ever hear of the Vincent family that used to live there?” he asked, pointing with his cane at the big house. I told him “No”. He grunted and continued. “When I was a boy, my best friend Fletcher Vincent and his family moved into that house for a few months, that’s all it took, a few months.” He nodded a few times and said “the house looks like it did then and we were a couple of adventurous kids, so when he invited me over to stay the night, we thought it would be fun to sleep up in the attic.” I could feel gooseflesh on my arms as he continued, “We were 12, just 12 years old. Fletch and I played cards, talked about girls and what we wanted to do when we grew up and had a great time. We stayed up late until his Momma told us to turn out the lamp and get to sleep in the 2 cots up there. We did and talked some more until we drifted off to sleep.” The old man turned his head back and forth as if trying avoid a blow and in a raspy voice said “ I woke up freezing , it was summer but I was so cold and it took me a second to realize all my covers were gone and it was deathly quiet and I was so scared I couldn’t move. Very little light came in the window but I could see someone was in the room with us, just a few feet away, crouching between the beds. I didn’t move, I was too scared to move. Just then I heard Fletcher move, heard him say “Mom?”, A horrible voice went “Ah! And there was a rushing sound and then a terrible scream. I jumped for the stairs and fell down them, hitting the door and rolling out on the second floor screaming for help.”Mr. Vincent was there in seconds, I pointed and yelled that someone was up there, and we rushed up the stairs with Mr. Vincent holding a lantern high over his head and holding a big horse pistol ahead of him. Upstairs he was yelling Fletch’s name, but there was no answer,the attic was empty. Mr. Vincent tore the room apart, looked under the beds, in every part of the attic but no one was there. I grabbed his arm and pointed to the bed. In the center where Fletcher had been lying was a huge pool of blood soaking the sheets. It was an awful night and I never saw him again.” I could see tears in his eyes as he finished. “The police, the Sheriff, all the neighbors searched the town, the woods, the whole county and never found anything. The Vincent’s left not long afterwards, they never found him, and they never found a clue as to what happened.” I stared at the grief stricken man until he said, “You tell your brother not to let anyone go up there, he would be better off nailing the stairway shut, but whatever he does tell him to never let anyone sleep up in the attic again.”