Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Grandpa and The Monkey-Faced Boy
I always knew that my place on the family tree carried with it certain advantages. I had the distinction of being the youngest child, the only daughter and the only sister. I was also the only grand daughter of my mother’s parents, Marie and Rosser Lessel.
The only grandfather I ever knew was not related to me by blood. He was the man who married my grandmother when my mother was only five years old. Granddad Lessel’s first wife died leaving behind a husband and young son. He then married my Grandmother who also shared the same name as his first wife, Ida .
Granddad was an immensely proud but gentle man. I never thought of him as anything other than a real grandfather. I never remember him laughing out loud but he always seemed to have a chuckle in his eyes. He would often spend hours sitting in his rocker playing the dot game, hangman or tic-tac-toe with my brother and I. In the warm, summer evenings Mike and I would run around in the yard while Granddad watched from the porch swing. He would sit with one knee bent resting his foot on the swing and gently pushing it back and forth with his other foot. As darkness encircled us we could only tell he was there by the soft orange glow of his Camel cigarette. He held his cigarette pinched between his thumb and index finger permanently staining them orange from the tobacco. In those summer evenings my brother and I would catch fire flies under Granddad’s direction and put them in jars with little air holes punched in the lid. In the morning the jars would be on the table where we had left them the night before but the lightening bugs would have mysteriously disappeared. So the next evening we would begin our lightening bug round up all over again.
Granddad Lessel had a dry sense of humor and he would tease without so much as a grin. When I was about nine years old he began telling me the story of the monkey-faced boy. It seems there was a boy who lived in Poteau who, according to Granddad, had the face of a monkey. Granddad said the boy had lured some unsuspecting children to the top of Cavanaugh Hill and they were never seen again. No one could prove the monkey-faced boy was responsible for their disappearance so he continued to roam about the town.
Well, this tale of the monkey-faced boy scared the be-jeebers out of me. Granddad told the story every time we came to visit. Then one summer while visiting my Grandparents I was sent to the corner market to purchase a loaf of bread. The walk to the market was uneventful but on the return trip as I leisurely strolled along swinging the bread back and forth, I suddenly felt someone approaching me from behind. I came to a sudden stop and stood frozen in my tracks. I felt the air stir slightly as a bicycle suddenly stopped beside me and a boy leaned down and with his face close to mine said, “Hello.” Everything turned to slow motion as I found myself looking straight into the eyes of the monkey-faced boy. I let out a blood-curdling
scream as the bread flew out of my hands and through the air. I ran straight to my grandparent’s house and never looked back. Hysterically I told my mother and grandmother of my frightening encounter with the monkey-faced boy while my granddad tried to dodge the piercing glares of the two women who were feverishly trying to calm me. That was the last time I ever heard about the monkey-face boy.