It was a crisp fall evening when the whole horrifying story came crashing back into my mind like the filthy water in a backed up toilet rising in slow motion as you struggle to shut off the valve before it overflows onto the floor. Onto your life.  My wife, my two children and I were wandering around the Topsfield Fall Fair enjoying the remnants of an Indian Summer, eating cotton candy and taking in the sights.  Everything was lovely until we wandered inside the Agricultural Pavilion and came unexpectedly on the Giant Pumpkin competition.  

It had been many years since I'd even thought of the murders, but the sight of those bloated, deformed squash brought it all back in an instant.  I felt the hair on the back of my neck start to prickle and a chill ran up my spine.  Instinctively, I gathered my family close and led them from the building without a word.  As we walked away I was quiet, lost in my thoughts.  I could leave the giant pumpkins behind, but I would never completely escape the memories. 

Mayflower Lane

'The Giant Pumpkin Murders', as the newspapers referred to the story, occurred almost 25 years ago, back when I was a kid growing up in Falmouth on Mayflower Lane.  The kids of Mayflower Lane and I had an idyllic childhood there on Cape Cod, summers on the beach: sailing down in Woods Hole and winters ice skating on the frozen cranberry bogs.  Our church had a tall white steeple and our school had a bell in a tower just off the village green.  The five homes that faced Mayflower Lane each housed a nice young family with kids. In those halcyon days we roamed everywhere together, a little pack of rosy cheeked ruffians.  Well, at least some of us were rosy cheeked, Caleb's family was pure English, dating back to the Pilgrims, but Jenny Bergman was a fascinating mix of Chinese and Swede, and Cheech Gonsalves  was from a Cape Verdean family that had been fishing the waters off Falmouth since the 1800's.  

For me the most special of my special friends was Elliot Camarra, who was the toughest tomboy New England had produced since Katharine Hepburn.  I called her Ellie and, to her eternal chagrin, she bore the burden of an almost uncanny beauty, a shimmering vision of clear perfect skin and unmistakable pale golden hair.  It was many years later that I realized that I had fallen in love with Ellie from the first time I laid eyes on her.  The only rings I've ever given any woman have all been to her, beginning with that silly butterfly ring that I won throwing baseballs at the fair one year and slipped onto Ellie's finger in childish mockery of courtly love.  I was too young and too ignorant to even understand the significance when that silly ring never left her finger that summer, even after it started turning her finger green as the salt water slowly leached it free of silver.

All in all, it was a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, and Mayflower Lane was at the sweet wholesome core of it all.  Or at least it was, until the Clowes mansion down at the end of the street finally sold after almost a decade on the market.  The Clowes place was a classic too in its own way.  A spooky old house with Victorian gables and turrets, and a huge basement that was rumored to have secret rooms and tunnels.  Dr. Clowes built it for his new wife back around the turn of the century, but she died giving birth to their first child, right there in the house.  After that the doctor never came back and the place sat idle for years.  The climate on the Cape is rough on structures and a house that isn't maintained goes downhill pretty quickly.  By the time the doctor died, the old mansion was already headed downhill, and after more years of neglect from the Boston medical school that inherited the property, it had degenerated so much that none of us thought it was livable anymore.  That's why we were surprised when one day a big yellow moving van arrived and began unloading furniture.

You'd think that a spooky old house like that would be irresistible to a pack of kids like us, but there was something uninviting about the place.  I mean, we snuck in on a dare once in awhile, enough to satisfy our curiosity, but it just wasn't the kind of place that was fun to hang out in.  I mean the young wife died there and after that, the old doctor just walked away and never looked back. Now animals had run of the house and it sort of stunk of neglect. 

The Butcher

The new owners showed up at night and it was a few weeks before we even got a glimpse of them.  We came to learn that they were from Lithuania. Bernice, was the mother and her twenty-something son was called Edvard.  They didn't speak English very well and weren't particularly fond of children.  Most of this was learned on the one formal "Welcome to the neighborhood," visit that my mother organized.  She baked up a batch of chocolate chip cookies and made Ashley and me dress up to accompany her.  Dad boycotted the whole thing, though I could tell he would be interested in hearing all about it when we got back.  

The three of us marched down Mayflower Lane and straight up onto their doorsteps.  There wasn't a doorbell or a knocker, so mom just rapped her knuckles against the weather-beaten wood door.  After awhile we heard shuffling and the door creaked open to reveal two pale hunched over gnomes, Edvard and Bernice.  At first glimpse it was difficult to even tell them apart as they were the same height, wore the same shapeless bathrobes and had the same gray wrinkled skin.  Edvard was a short, thick, fellow with powerful looking arms and an odd absent smile etched on his face. Bernice looked ancient to us kids, a squat menacing crone who shuffled when she walked, as though her feet couldn't quite clear the floor. They both looked shocked to see us and there was a long moment of stunned silence before Bernice twisted her face into some approximation of a smile and motioned us to come inside.  

The room had some heavy oak furniture positioned here and there, and a threadbare Turkish rug lay rumpled on the floor.  There was no apparent sense or artistry to the arrangements.  Mom offered the cookies to Bernice who led us into the kitchen where we found a huge antique wood burning stove that was clearly in daily use and a small table with two chairs.  Bernice elaborately seated Ashley and me at the table and presented us each with a glass of water and one of mom's cookies.  She and mom remained standing and Edvard was nowhere to be seen.  While we ate our cookies, Bernice showed mom her canning operation, beginning with the huge tub that served as a kitchen sink and ending when she opened the door to a large pantry and displayed a wall of glass jars containing pickled pigs knuckles, head cheese, smoked eels, homemade blood sausage and other culinary oddities.  She confided in us that back in 'the old country,' she had been a butcher. She'd been the only woman butcher in Vilnius, their home town. 

Bernice was obviously very proud of her macabre collection, but I couldn't help thinking of the formaldehyde filled specimen jars containing deep sea fish and squid down at the oceanographic aquarium. I think Ashley felt the same way because she kicked me under the table and wrinkled her nose in that way she had of letting me know she wasn't happy.  I kicked her back and we started to tussle until mom grabbed us both and, after some hasty goodbyes, marched us out of the house.  Once we hit the front lawn, she relaxed her grip and I got the feeling she was glad we'd given her an excuse to get out of that place.  Ashley made a mean comment about Edvard on the way home, but Mom told her that he had Down's Syndrome and that even though he looked different, it didn't mean that he wasn't a nice man.

Pumpkin Seeds

In the days that followed, we noticed that Edvard and Bernice didn't come out much during the day.  Edvard made one trek each afternoon down to the mailbox and back.    The first few times he made his mailbox runs, the other kids and I tagged along, as kids will, trying to make conversation and satisfy our curiosity at the same time.  Edvard was a sphinx however and he never even acknowledged our presence.  The only time we ever saw him show any emotion was the day his pumpkin seeds arrived.

One afternoon in May, Edvard's trip to the mailbox almost literally, bore fruit.  Our little gang of kids had just gotten home from school and when the bus dumped us at the stop, we saw that Edvard was already standing at the mailbox.  Usually he returned empty handed and sour faced, but today he had a large cardboard box grasped in his strong hands and an almost angelically innocent smile of pure joy spreading across his thick face.  As we approached him, he looked up at us and blurted, "My Seeds!  My seeds, they're here." He thrust his parcel towards us as if to prove his point beyond the shadow of a doubt.  The box was tied with twine and wrapped in brown butcher paper.  Where it had torn on a corner, we could see a flash of orange and the words "Giant Pumpkin," in creepy Halloween lettering.  

The following days confirmed what we suspected for our encounter with Edvard's mysterious package.  Early the next morning, he was out in the yard in an unprecedented flurry of activity as he vigorously turned over the soil in a large circle in the middle of the yard in front of the Clowes mansion.  The stooped little man was surprisingly strong and we watched as he lugged sacks of compost and manure up from the basement and began to prepare a raised bed of the richest soil.  He finished this mysterious procedure by laying a huge cargo net over the circle, then covering the entire area with fresh hay.  Nothing happened for a few days, while the newly fascinating Mr. Edvard waited. For something.  

On the morning after what Dad called a Blue Moon, Eddie planted his seeds with all the ritual normally accorded a religious event.  He first brought a five gallon bucket of worm casings and created  little mounds, as if he were building a sand castle.  Then he returned to the house and came back cradling a tiny pumpkin seedling that he had started indoors using a heating pad like an incubator to protect the young plants and accelerate their growth. With a tubular bulb planting tool, he made a hole for the seedling and gingerly settled it into its place.  To complete the job, he stuck his index finger straight down into the soil making a long skinny hole.  He dropped a single fresh anchovy into each hole, then tamped the soil, and watered it using an old galvanized watering can. 

What ever we had initially thought about the old man was now replaced by a sense of awe.  He might be weird looking, but he sure knew how to grow a gourd.  Edvard seemed suddenly to invite our visits, and within a week he had gone from being "that scary dude at the end of the street," to our friend and gardening partner Eddie.  Elliot led the charge here as, for some reason she'd liked him from the beginning. Every day most of us kids visited the gourd garden, finding an odd delight in the rapidly growing pumpkin vines.

Gone Missing

The summer passed too quickly as all summers do when you're young.  We squandered the warm days on the beach or playing in the marsh, always followed by an afternoon visit to the pumpkin patch to see how our giant pumpkins were doing.  As the gourds grew from baseballs, to basketballs to beachballs and beyond, Eddie pruned them one by one, reducing the number of remaining candidates with an eye towards the one with greatest potential. I felt a little twinge of sadness as my favorites fell by the wayside, but after each one was removed the rest seemed to grow even faster.

All was well, until the day that Jenny went missing.  One afternoon, she drifted off from the rest of the kids and then she was gone. Just plain gone.  She didn't come back that night, or the next morning either.  By then the adults had already called the local police and a search team plowed through the poison ivy and bull briar with their flashlights for half the night.  But they didn't find anything.  Not a single trace.

We were more or less in shock at that point.  Life came to a complete halt on Mayflower Lane for the first week, then we all had to go back to school, and the parents, except for Jenny's mom had to go back to work.  Slowly we began to go through the motions of normalcy 

As Halloween approached, we drew on that inner strength children have and began to forget for whole minutes at a time that our friend was gone.  The parents of course, were feeling extra protective, and restricted us to the length of Mayflower Lane.  They also admonished us to stay together, in effect almost throwing us into Eddie's front yard as the default meeting place.  Eddie didn't seem to really understand the gravity of Jenny's disappearance.  As we had come to know him, he no longer seemed dumb at all to us.  In fact if the subject was pumpkins, he was a veritable encyclopedia of semi-coherent wisdom.  He tried to speak too fast and sort of tripped over himself in a wicked stutter when he got to talking pumpkins, but it was clear that he knew what he was talking about.  When the subject of Jenny came up, he just sort of lost interest and wandered away to play with his plants.

At first Eddie's pumpkin was big, then it was very big, and then it was giant.  Throughout the late summer it was putting on weight at such a rate that you could almost see the monster growing.  Eddie told us that at this stage the pumpkin could gain as much as thirty pounds a day, which for some of the littler kids was a third of their total weight!  The single huge pumpkin that remained as the sole candidate not only got bigger, but it began to change shape.  The fleshy orange blob morphed as it grew from anything remotely resembling a symmetrical "Cinderella's Carriage" kind of a pumpkin into something stranger and more malevolent entirely.  On one side it developed a large round pustule with fat shoulders that from one angle looked just like a small head and shoulders, a kids-sized head, bent over as if it were laying over a desk with its arms cradling it in a nap.  The effect was uncanny in the yellow light of a late fall afternoon.  The night we all noticed it was the same night that Caleb disappeared.

Caleb was right there with the rest of us as we said goodbye to Eddie and headed back down Mayflower Lane.  We were planning to go play in the basement of Ellie's house, but by the time we arrived and settled in, Caleb was gone.  Ellie raced up the stairs to report this development to her Mom and Dad and, within a few minutes parents began to emerge from all the houses on our street at once.  Eddie was still in his yard putting the green tarp over the giant pumpkin to protect it from the frost.  When the adults all accosted him with their questions, he quickly became confused and stubbornly refused to talk at all.  Bernice, who had heard the commotion, emerged from the house and stepped in front of Eddie with her hands on her hips and a tough glare in her eyes.  "Where's my little boy," asked Caleb's dad.  Bernice turned sharply to Eddie and spat the question to him in a guttural Lithuanian snarl.  Eddie seemed to calm down as he looked into her eyes.  He shrugged his shoulders in a universal gesture and softly replied to Bernice in their native tongue.  She in turn faced Caleb's father and said firmly, "He don't know.  He saw him leave with the others."

There was a brief moment of electric tension in the small mob of Mayfair Lane parents, as if, emboldened by each other's presence, they considered pressing the issue into violence.  But neither Eddie nor Bernice moved a muscle, and after a bit, we heard somebody's phone ring, and Caleb's parents walked away to meet the police cruiser that had pulled into the Lane.  The group disbanded to begin searching vainly around the neighborhood.  Like Jenny, Caleb was just plain gone.

Ellie,  went missing the evening before the truck arrived to load the bloated pumpkin for transport to the Topsfield Giant Pumpkin contest.  None of the children had been allowed outside without an adult accompanying them since Caleb had disappeared.  Everybody on Mayflower Lane was more or less terrified during their waking hours.  The very air we breathed began to feel heavy and oppressive, as if even the act of breathing made you feel exhausted.  Somehow, we all knew that there was more to come before this nightmare was over and when Ellie failed to come down from her room that morning, we were already too scared to be surprised.  Several families had packed up some clothes and moved into hotels in town, as much to get away from the horror of seeing our normal surroundings in that horrible moment.

An Unexpected Harvest

Searchers had been scouring the area in ever expanding circles looking for signs of a struggle, torn clothing, or even, though no one wanted to admit it, bodies.  Nothing like this had ever happened in Falmouth before and a grim panic had seized the town.   There was a team of detectives already on Mayflower Lane when the truck arrived to load Edvard's giant pumpkin.  Without even intending it, the whole group of us somehow gathered around as Raz Parker backed his flatbed up close to the bulbous squash and positioned the A-frame crane over it.  We were all at a loss, stunned and horrified at the magnitude of what had occurred.  We'd searched everywhere in the vicinity over and over, and at this point, there seemed less chance that looking yet again behind the houses or in the salt marsh would yield a new, better answer.  

Raz and Eddie pulled up the corners of the cargo net under the pumpkin and clipped them into the dangling hook of the crane.  Once the cable began to tighten, the conversations stopped and we all turned toward the groaning hoist as it began to bear the full weight of the giant pumpkin.  "It's a big un" Raz muttered, watching the rear springs and shocks compressing under the load.  For a brief moment, the success of the operation seemed in doubt.  The front end of the truck rose up on its suspension and, implausibly, we could see light under the front tires.  The winch was squealing in agony as the pumpkin rose off the ground.  The combination of the cargo net and the matted hay cushioned the giant pumpkin but distorted it even more than normal, but it rose without breaking until it was high enough to rotate over onto the flatbed truck.  

What happened next is open to some speculation.  Whatever the exact sequence of events, it all happened very fast and nobody had the time to do anything other than what they did.  I was standing next to the my dad, with the truck between us and the pumpkin, so I couldn't see the ground at all.  My father was taller, so maybe he got a better look.  All I know is that suddenly, Mr. Gonsalves and Caleb's dad both saw something that made them jump.  They both lurched towards the swinging pumpkin at the same time, but Mr. Gonsalves held back and made a futile grab at Caleb's dad who ripped himself free and literally dove under the pumpkin to grab something off the ground.  We all heard the sound of the manila cargo net parting in a dusty explosion of  dry rot as it dropped the thousand pound gourd squarely on Caleb's father's back.  The man was crushed in an instant beneath the horrible orange mass. The sickening crack of splintering bones reached our ears almost simultaneously with the dull moist explosion as the vegetable contacted the ground. 

It took almost an hour to get Caleb's father out from under the giant pumpkin.  The misshapen gourd had burst when it hit the ground, flattening out into an irregular flat blot of orange pulp.  Caleb's dad was trapped underneath the thick outer skin of the vegetable and they had to hack through six inches of fleshy rind to get to him.  The paramedics told us that he was almost certainly killed instantaneously beneath the weight, but one of the cops later told Mr. Gonsalves over a beer that there were signs he'd struggled for awhile before succumbing.  One thing for sure was that, when they finally pulled him free, his right hand was clenched firmly around a long hank of yellow blond hair that we all immediately recognized could only have come from Ellie.

The police handcuffed Eddie right there at the scene and took him away in a cruiser as we all watched in stunned silence.  Bernice had appeared on the porch at some point, but she didn't even offer a protest as they led Eddie away.  With her hands set firmly on her broad hips she glared at all of us and shook her head slowly from side to side.

The Nightmare Was Over

I couldn't sleep, nobody could sleep.  Sleep seemed like a foreign country that night.

I rose from bed and slipped into my clothes on autopilot.  I can't remember consciously thinking of going outside., but I was, suddenly outside.  I thought briefly about turning around, but I was too agitated to stay still, and besides, the police had Eddie locked in a cell, and amazingly, unbelievable, but undeniably, he was the monstrous author of all our nightmares.  Dad had gotten a call from the Falmouth District Attorney that evening asking him to appear at Eddie's arraignment the next morning.  They'd dug up the soil around the pumpkin and found small bones, tissue and hair.  Of course the coroner would need to confirm that these horrible remains matched those of the missing children,  but they were pretty damned sure that they'd gotten their man.  The nightmare was over.

"So, Mayfair Lane was safe again," I thought absently to myself as I strolled to the front of the house.  My young mind couldn't get a grasp on the entirety of the events.  My friends were dead, gone forever and our gardening pal Eddie was responsible.  It was beyond reckoning, but the adults all said it was true.  Mayfair Lane was safe again, he'd heard the DA say it himself when Dad put it on the speaker phone to calm them all down.

Without thinking I was drawn like a moth to flame towards Eddie's pumpkin patch.  I wasn't thinking anymore, just acting on raw instinct as I pushed the iron gate aside and stepped into the yard of the Clowes place. It was a dark night, the new moon just a sliver above the trees.  I remember wondering dully if Edvard had waited for this night to harvest his pumpkin, the way he'd waited for the Blue Moon to plant it.  I decided he probably had, and I was immediately hit with a wave of nausea as I suddenly remembered the way we all listened rapt at his excited stuttering rants on the fine points of growing giant pumpkins.  I knew I was going to be sick as it occurred to me that he should have mentioned his unique notions of the best fertilizer for his obscene garden.  

When I finished retching I was distracted by a light in Bernice's kitchen.  She couldn't sleep either I was sure.  It was asking too much to try and feel any pity for her after what had happened today, but I realized in a thick witted way that she'd lost someone too.  Perhaps the notion of consoling her in some way passed through my mind, or maybe it was something else entirely, but the next thing I knew, I was heading resolutely towards her back door and the light that now flooded her kitchen.  When I reached the stairs, I hesitated a moment, then, following whatever crazed notion had led me this far, I marched up the stairs without even trying to be quiet.  I positioned myself squarely at her door and rapped my fist against the oaken doorframe.

There was no response.  Not a whisper from within, even though the kitchen was lit up as bright as day.  I knew she had to be there, because I'd seen her moving just moments before.  She'd turned on the light for chrissakes! She had to be there.  I don't know what I'd expected to come of this ill-advised quest, but this surely wasn't it.  I knocked louder, shuffling nervously from foot to foot in my anxiety.  There wasn't a sound coming from the house and in a sudden fit of pique ending my indecision, I turned abruptly towards the stairs only to plow into the surprisingly soft bosom of Bernice.

I let out a shriek and backpedaled crazily as my feet flew out from under me and I landed flat on my back before her.  The old crone bent over me menacingly for a moment then slowly extended her gnarled paw towards me.  "Come," she said, "Come inside for drink."  She hauled me to my feet, and without loosening her iron grip on my wrist, she pulled me through the oak door into her kitchen.  She half drug, half guided me to a chair on the far end of table, skillfully positioning herself between me and the door.  I could almost feel her watching me through the narrow slits of her eyelids as she shuffled around going through the motions of pouring me a glass of milk.

She slapped the glass down on the table and I watched fascinated as the white liquid slopped from side to side.  What was I doing here?  "Drink," she urged, "Milk. Fresh." She made an almost gentle motion with her arthritic hand, and I raised the glass to my lips like an automaton.  The thought came to me that it might be drugged, and I tried to make the motions of drinking without swallowing, an almost hopeless attempt.  

As my head tilted back in a fake drink, the blood froze in my veins and I felt my body go numb. My wandering panicked eyes were scanning the wall of glass canning jars in the pantry when a glint of silver caught a fleck of light and drew a second look. My stomach heaved involuntarily for the second time that night as I recognized the design of Ellie's butterfly ring wrapped snugly around the gray flesh of a human finger amongst the pickled meat in the jar.

My ears pounded, and I felt a flush of terrified heat spread up my chest and across my face.  Oddly, I couldn't feel my feet or arms.  The world felt like it was moving in slow motion and as Bernice approached I couldn't even rise to move away from her.  She knew I'd seen that ghastly artifact and I knew that random glance had sealed my fate.  She clamped her bony claw around my wrist again and pulled me toward the basement door with a superhuman strength.  

In the end it was just a fluke of human nature that saved me.  Some twisted moment of obscene cruelty that burbled to the cortex of Bernice's broken mind at the right instant in time.  That, and a desperate instinctual flailing grab at survival on my part.  Bernice stopped just before the basement door and turned to stare at me with a malevolent glare that still haunts my nightmares.  She turned to the pantry and reached up on the shelf to grab the glass jar containing Ellie's finger and ring.  She held it in front of my terrified eyes and began to laugh at a private joke as yet unspoken.  "Pigs knuckles," she said, her foul breath wrapping itself like a shroud around my face.  As I watched her laugh in my face, I suddenly knew that I wanted to live, I needed to live.  I needed to change this evil program and make it come out better.  I just couldn't let it end this way.

She slid the jar back onto the counter and reached for the cut glass knob on the basement door.  She took her eyes off me for an instant as she fiddled with the door lock and it was just time enough for a miracle.  With a strength I didn't know I had, I snatched the heavy glass jar off the counter with my free hand and swung it like a hammer into her forehead as she turned back towards me.  The hydraulic force of the liquid and flesh in the jar caused it to explode in a cloud of blood and glass and meat.  Bernice went down in a heap, pulling the basement door wide as she fell.  A thick spreading pool of dark blood rolled like a wave across the kitchen tiles.

For one small instant of perfect unreality it was perfectly quiet in the kitchen. Then from the bottom of the dark stairs I heard a soft mmphing sound.  I saw a light switch on the wall and, after checking that Bernice was still out cold, I flipped the switch and slowly descended the stairs.  I saw Ellie's terrified face as I got to the bottom.  She was in a cage-like room in the corner bound and gagged and her wrists were clipped to a hook in the ceiling. There was blood on her arms, and she was barely conscious, but she was alive. Joyously wonderfully alive.  The only sign of Jenny and Caleb was a pile of rumpled, but recognizable, clothes tossed carelessly against the cold stone wall.  Within a few seconds I had freed my helpless Ellie and we were up the stairs and out of that hell house forever.

When the police arrived, Bernice was still on the floor, wallowing in her own evil blood.  The wound I'd given her was more superficial than serious and by the time her trial date came up, there was only a thin white scar to remind her of the worst decision she'd ever made.  The Judge gave her three concurrent life sentences, so she'll have a long time to think it over carefully, and consider over and over again where she'd gone wrong.  

They let Eddie go once Ellie told them how he'd tried to help her when Bernice drug her across the yard ripping that lucky lock of blond hair from her head. That struggle had ended by leaving the telltale hank of Ellie's hair on the ground by the pumpkin.  He'd woken up and gone to check his pumpkin when he saw his mother dragging Ellie towards the house.  Without thinking, he'd tried to wrest Ellie from his mother's grasp only to have her fling him into the fence, knocking him out cold.  He'd seen his mother in the pumpkin patch at night burying her grim carnage, and was horrified, but unsure what to do or who to tell. The psychiatrist at his hearing said he had the intelligence of a five year old child, but he showed the courage of an adult. As it turned out, Eddie had suffered a lifetime of abuse and was as much Bernice's victim of as the rest of us.  He'd spent his entire life in Bernice's cages.  

Eddie settled back into the Clowes place and quietly lived out the few remaining years of his short sad life on Mayflower Lane.  He didn't grow any more pumpkins, which was probably a good thing all in all.


The sun was setting over the Topsfield Fall Fair as we threaded our way back through the crowd towards the car.  My memories were less of a torment than they once were, and I rarely had nightmares anymore.  In fact, absent some reminder like the giant pumpkins tonight, I went months at a time without thinking about the whole thing.  Well, weeks anyway I thought as I held my wife's hand in mine and gently caressed the smooth stub of her finger and traced the thin wire outline of the butterfly ring surrounding it.


An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you
Courtesy James Whitcomb Riley (1849 - 1916), and Lady Lo

For the record, this is my first attempt ever at a "skeery story," and it was kind of fun.  It was that rascal Poopsie who forced me to kill off the two children.  Many thanks to Ouroboros, Lometa, Momomom, C-Dawg and Chras4 for editing assistance and moral support. Boo!