THE HAUNTING OF FIRETRAIL
While still in high school and living with my grandparents, I had a group of friends who had a peculiar way of having fun. They would perpetuate the legend of the haunting of the Firetrail Road.
Firetrail Road was a ten mile stretch initially hewn into the wilderness a way for fire fighters to get back into the forest in case lightening sparked a blaze. Over the years, as civilization encroached, six miles of this stretch were paved over and houses appeared along it. A web of roads grew up around the seven lakes that dotted the area.
Four miles of this road remained untouched. The road was too narrow in some places for two cars to pass- and this fact was made even more treacherous by the rutted and graveled hills that the road meandered over. The view of an oncoming car was often obscured until it was too late.
The trees grew up thick by the roadside, their long branches overhanging and sometimes forming a complete ceiling over the road, so that it was almost like driving through a tunnel.
Travelers braving this road at night would often report seeing strange lights hovering over the tops of the hills, but disappearing as their cars neared. People called this phenomenon the ghost of Firetrail, and the legends about the cause varied from a dead Indian whose burial ground had been disturbed to the ghost of a teenage boy who had crashed and drowned in the swamp encircled by one of Firetrailís dangerous turns.
Whatever the legend- Max got the bright idea of embellishing upon it, and recruited an eager group of friends to help him. I had missed several such forays, and had been regaled with the stories and now I was invited along.
We gathered at Maxís house. Traditionally everyone went heavily armed- usually carrying a machete or something similar. I donít know if this was just in case the real ghost actually showed up, or if it was just an excuse to carry around a bunch of weapons. Occasionally, the back wood trails could get overgrown, and a machete was used to clear away the vines and stickers. Additionally, it was required that at least one person carry a large can of WD-40 lubrication, with a straw attachment and a lighter.
I decided to go one better and I got a hold of a plastic one-shot derringer pistol. It was .22 caliber and I brought with me several tear gas, as well as several standard, bullets.
To avoid being seen after we left Maxís house- we immediately took a trail that plunged into the untouched woods. We would take back trails most of the way, and by the time we reached the unpaved portion of Firetrail road for the short jaunt to our base of operations, darkness would have fallen, and we could maintain our secrecy.
On the way up the trail I decided to try out the tear gas bullets and fired one into the air. It popped unimpressively and left a visible cloud about the size of a basketball hanging in the air.
From my little demonstration it became apparent that for the tear gas pellets to be effective they would have to be fired directly in somebodyís face. The gun sure wasnít going to scare anybody. It was a puny plastic thing that looked like a poor manís cap gun. Still, the fact was, that with a real bullet in the chamber it would be possible to kill somebody.