Redneck Review

Monday, June 06, 2005

Haunted Gym?

This is the fourth installment of my true ghost tales.

Many years ago, I coached volleyball in Cuba, Missouri. We
could start volleyball 2 weeks before school started in August,
which was the hottest time of year. For that reason, I had practice
from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

At the end of practice on Friday of the first week, I told the
girls to run sprints, and then we would be done. They left,
and I pushed the volleyball rack in the storage room, and hung
up the net bag full of extra balls. Then I walked across the gym
and turned off the lights at that end. I walked down that side
and opened the light box at the other end, and heard a "click."

Movement to my right caught my eye, and I turned to see the
double metal doors across the gym slowly swing open. They
opened simultaneously, about half-way. I looked for a minute,
and saw something white in there, about 3 feet high. I couldn't
see very well, because it was dark in that room, and half the
gym lights were already out. My logical mind thought: oh,
one of the girls stayed behind to scare me. I waited for them
to say something, but they didn't. So I said:

"OK, you scared me. Come on out."


"Ha, ha. Very funny. Come on."


By now, I felt dumb. Maybe it wasn't a girl in a white T-shirt
crouching in a closet to scare me. Another logical explanation
came to mind: it was the deflated, rolled-up, white canvas
high-jump pit on its rolling cart. That lasted about 15 seconds,
until I thought: I just stepped over that cart in the other storage
room when I hung up the volleyballs. Now it was getting creepy.
I had to turn out the lights, which would leave me in total darkness
to make my way across the gym. All I would have to guide me
was the strip of light beneath my locker room door at the other
end of the gym. And there were the volleyball net and guide wires
holding it up that I had to avoid.

I turned off the switches to the lights. Total darkness, except for
my quarter-inch crack of light. As with the other nights, I headed
across the gym to the wall, then I could follow it to the locker room.
But tonight I was scared. It took forever. I slammed into the wall,
hands outstretched. I ran along the wall until I was "safe" in the
lighted locker room. I gathered up my stuff, went out the back
door to my car, locking the back locker room door. That was the
only way in and out at night. The main doors to the school were
chained and padlocked from the inside.

I drove home, about 4 blocks away. I was really getting scared
now. I had planned to drive to Springfield the next day, where
I had been taking graduate classes that summer. I was going to
pack things up from my sublet apartment. Now I got to thinking:
what was that white thing? What if it followed me? (I know, I'm
nuts). So I was going to drive down to Springfield that night. Just
as I was putting stuff in the car, another thought hit me: I didn't
turn off the exhaust fans in the gym. They were the big fans up
in the wall at the end where the thing was in the storage room.

I did not want to go back into that building. But if I didn't,
and those fans overheated and burned the school down over
the weekend, I would be in big trouble. I went back into the
house and got a flashlight. My mind kept telling me: no no no
don't go back in there! But I had to. I was a responsible adult.

By now it was around 10:15 p.m. I drove back to school. On
the way, I told myself: if it was a girl in there trying to scare me,
she would have to come out the back locker room door. And
if so, that door would be unlocked now, because it takes a key
to lock it from the outside. I almost had myself believing this,
until I tried the door, and it was locked just as I had left it.

I went in and turned on the locker room lights. I had one doorstop
to prop open one of the double doors to the gym. That didn't
give me much more light than the strip I had before. I turned on
the flashlight. This was kind of creepy, my flashlight in a big dark
gym. I ducked under the net, and took a diagonal path to the
light box.

Before I turned off the fans, I was thought: are those doors still
open? Is that white thing still in there? I wanted to look, but I
didn't want to look. I turned the flashlight that way, and the doors
were still open, but the white thing was gone! Eeeeeee! I turned
off the exhaust fans. Then the gym was dead silent. I could hear
my breathing, and I swear I could hear my heart. I pointed my
flashlight back toward the locker room, and took off running.
This was back in the day of the slick parachute-pants style of
sweatsuit. SWISH SWISH SWISH in the silent gym. I wanted
to scream. I felt like something was in the gym with me. I got
out of that building as fast as I could, and high-tailed it back to
Springfield that night. I got there around 1:00 a.m. and just about
gave my roommate a heart attack.

"You scared me!"

"You think you're scared? Listen to this!"

I could not sleep the rest of the night. The next week of practice,
I told the girls that the last one to finish sprints had to stay and
help me close up the gym. I held the other locker room door
open so a path of light sprayed out into the gym. The girl turned
off the lights. At the end of the season party, I told them the
whole story.

"You made us do it because you were scared?"

"I sure did."

They forgave me. But the next year, they ran those sprints a
lot faster.

Tomorrow, I will conclude my true ghost story series with two
tales from other coaches haunted by the Cuba gym.


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