I jogged down the dirt road between the tobacco fields toward the paved two-lane. From there, it was half a mile to home. There was never much traffic on the S-shaped, Dead Man’s Curve, although it had seen a lot of wrecks. Grandma said strange things happened there, but that was just silly talk.

Blue, my Doberman, ran beside me. When I approached the road, Blue growled, moved in front of me, and stopped. So did I.

“What’s wrong Blue? You see a ghost or something?” Last night I read a story about how dogs can see and hear things humans can’t. The author suggested dogs could sense ghosts. I laughed. I’m fourteen, too old to believe in spirits. I took another step toward the road, but Blue blocked me. “Come on, boy. We’re gonna be late.”

I tried to step around him, but he wouldn’t let me pass. “Blue, drop.” Drop was his down command. He had never ignored a command from me before. He did this time.

My eyes were drawn to the tobacco stalks, where I saw a woman, pale as smoke, running. I blinked because it didn’t make sense. I could see through her to the stalks behind. The hairs on the back of my neck rose up. If Blue was concerned about what was ahead, perhaps I shouldn’t go that way. Blue was smart, and I was frightened.

“Okay fella, let’s take the long way. I’ll be late, but maybe I won’t be too late.” Late would get me extra chores and a lecture.

We ran full out. When we exited the path at the backyard, I saw Dad standing on the back steps looking toward the path. I ran up and immediately apologized. “Sorry – ”

“You’re safe.” Dad pulled me into a hug. “I was afraid you had run down Dead Man’s Curve.”

This was not the greeting I expected. “I was going to, but Blue wouldn’t let me. We ran home through the fields. That’s why I’m late.”

Dad reached down and scratched behind Blue’s ears. “Good boy.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“No one’s sure. Old Man Drew crashed into a tree on the curve. Said he saw a pale, translucent lady, in a long flowing dress, running down the middle of the street and swerved to miss her. Not thirty feet later, at the second curve, Allen’s boy crashed their new car into the railing for the same reason.”

My eyes cut to Blue. Did I see a ghost? Can dogs really sense them?

More posts by N. R. Tucker.

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