Who’s got my golden arm?

Published 10:16 am Friday, October 13, 2017

Mama loved telling me stories when I was a kid. Most of them were handed down to her by her grandmother, full of mountain lore and the legends of our Scots-Irish ancestors. Sometimes when she was tucking me in, Mama would get a faraway look in her eyes and I would snuggle down deep, knowing that I was going to hear about the lady who survived an attack by marauding villains by hiding in a barrel of feathers.

Or maybe the one where a lion named Tawny Mane got trapped in a well and had to bargain never to eat another person before he got rescued. When the weather got nippy and the dead leaves started skittering across the lawn, Mama’s stories turned a little creepy. She loved to tell ghost stories! My favorite started with, “Way back in the hills, there lived a miner…”

The miner lived alone and was obsessed with finding gold. All day long, no matter the weather, he went to his mine and dug for gold. Years and years passed, and he grew thin and gnarled and a little eccentric from lack of exposure to anything other than his own company.

One day, lo and behold, he hit the mother lode! He was rich beyond his wildest dreams! But, on the way out of the mine, he was caught in a cave-in and his arm was severed. Well, that put him right over the line between eccentric and crazy, and after he was nursed back to health by the local doctor, he had his gold melted down to make a prosthetic arm. Now, the doctor wasn’t a very nice man. He was greedy, so he snuck out to the miner’s house late one night and murdered him! Stabbed him right to death! He made off with the arm of gold, figuring it would be months before the body was discovered, and by that time he’d be far away and safe from scrutiny.  But the doctor didn’t count on the miner’s restless spirit wandering around looking for his arm! He was awakened, night after night, by the moaning voice of the miner, “Whoooo’s got my gollllden arrrrm? Whoooo’s got my gollllden arrrrm?”

Mama would always get closer and closer to me, every time the miner wailed, until finally, after a particularly dramatic howl, she’d grab me and holler,  “YOU DO!!!”

The leaves are skittering, even if the weather’s still warm, and I’m hankering for a good ghost story. I think I’ll crank up the air-conditioning and pretend it’s chilly outside, pull out a Stephen King novel and scare myself to sleep.

Pepper Ellis Hagebak is a 

resident of LaGrange.