Grinning, he sat high in the bare branches of the giant sycamore playing his violin late into the night. His violin had but one string, a one hundred forty three foot length of baling wire attached at one end to a giant sycamore branch and at the other end to a large eye screw twisted into the framing near the top of the little house. His bow was a large resined strip of tractor tire inner tube stretched between the ends of a bowed branch.
His violin played but one note, a low mournful note that resonated throughout every stick of lumber used to frame the small house. The note called up the voices of those long dead, those consigned to an eternity of torment in the black pit of hell, those whose souls had long ago lost all hope.
As he played his violin on that long ago Halloween night, the house moaned, softly at first, then the intensity increased. The preacher man, awakened from his slumber in his chair next to the fire, thought at first he must be caught in a dream. He paced the rooms and the hallway of that little house. The sound, the mournful sound, was inescapable.
Throwing open his door, he burst into his yard. His house moaned and mourned. The very walls despaired. Then all was quiet. The violin player watched with glee from his high perch.
Must have been a bad dream.
The preacher man returned to his chair by the fire. Before he could nod off, the moaning returned. The preacher man leapt from his chair and flung open the cellar door. The souls of the dead called out to him from the cellar.
Why are they tormenting me? They chose their destiny, not I.
The preacher man once again ran out of his house. He circled the house, throwing his hands into the air.
“Stop it! Stop it, whatever you are.”
The violin player sat high in the branches of the sycamore tree, grinning.
The moaning continued, then diminished, then stopped.
The preacher man returned once again to his house and paced.
Throughout the night the episodes repeated – the moaning, the preacher man throwing his door open wide, running oudoors and circling his house until the moaning stopped.
At the first hint of dawn, the tormented preacher man and his wife rushed out of the door, suitcases in hand, she barely awake.
“What do you mean, you didn’t hear it?”
“I didn’t hear a thing. I slept right through the night. I rested peacefully.”
“How could you sleep with that infernal moaning all night long? I didn’t sleep a wink.”
The violin player grinned and clapped as the preacher man and his wife roared away in their luxury automobile.
When they returned at the end of the week, the wire was gone. The eye screw was gone. The bow was gone. The violin player was nowhere to be found. But the sycamore remained, watching over another chapter in the stories of those within its gaze, waiting for another spring when its branches would leaf once again and wave in the breeze to greet its counterparts across the little valley, those who watched over the dead.