The Halloween Outhouse Episode

James Osborne


© Copyright 2023 by James Osborne

Photo by Shawn Ford courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

by Steve:
Photo by Shawn Ford courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

by Steve:

The fathers in our remote farming community were beginning to hate Halloween with a passion. That’s the night when local teenagers would sneak out and topple neighborhood outhouses. Their pranks meant the rest of us had to wait the next morning, often under great pressure, you understand, while our fathers returned the outhouses to upright.

It's not that the outhouses were damaged, of course. Most were built like brick … that is, built so well they were almost indestructible, but dysfunctional while lying horizontal on their backs.

No one in our area had indoor toilets or septic systems, the only amenities being thunder buckets under our beds. Thus, huge importance was accorded these vital outdoor facilities, usually found at the end of a well-trod path, a breezy distance downwind from our homes.

No surprise early resurrection of these crucial facilities was a high priority the morning after Halloween. After all, certain calls of nature demanded prompt action. And no one should ignore another treacherous hazard posed by toppled outhouses – the odiferous pit left unprotected adjacent to the prone outhouse.

Community annoyance with this annual Halloween prank shifted one day to focussing on stopping the vandalism. Numerous suggestions from the clutchers of pearls circulated on the grapevine, but no solution emerged.

Time passed. Winter came and went, as did Spring and Summer. Still no answers. Once again harvest was completed and was followed by annual social events. One evening, those attending a box social voiced consternation that no answers had emerged from discussions at the many previous gatherings.

Some of the farmers attending suggested the use of guard dogs, bear traps, or shotguns loaded with shells containing rock salt. Mercifully, none of these were met with more than wishful thinking.

During the reception before supper, one farmer spoke up during a lull in the growing alcohol-fuelled noise.

I’ve an idea,” Henry said. “Why not just move our outhouses?”

What?” another farmer thundered, interrupting Henry with a mouth propelled by an over-abundance of moonshine.

Y’all gotta be kidding me,” he mocked. “What’re ya sayin’ … load our outhouses on flatbeds and tow them away? That don’t make no sense at all! Besides, what’ll we use in the meantime?”

We might as well tie them down,” another man laughed derisively. “That’s a bloody dumb idea.”

Henry sat impassively through the criticism and heckling.

During another lull, Henry added calmly: “Just move them off the hole a bit. Move them backward … you know, behind the pit. That’ll fix ‘em.

Those kids,” Henry continued. “When they tip our outhouses over, they always push them from the front, right? They tip them backwards. We just need to move the outhouses back and hide the hole with some tree branches. It’ll be dark. In their rush to tip the outhouses they won’t see the branches. They’ll get a nasty, and smelly, surprise.”

Quiet descended. The doubters murmured among themselves: Maybe Henry wasn’t so full of it after all.

That’s brilliant,” another farmer pipped up, laughing, and slapping his thigh with a well-calloused hand.

Henry’s idea became a hit. The farmers agreed to his plan and also to a code of silence, lest they tip potential culprits. Excitement mounted as Halloween approached. The dread of past years turned into anticipation. The men quietly teamed up to help move each other’s outhouses surreptitiously after dark on that fateful night.

Why the secrecy?” one farmer asked him privately.

Those kids are almost certainly from some of our neighbor families,” Henry replied. “We don’t want them to get wind of our plans for them.”

But they did.

Henry expected it. That’s why he choose not to share Part Two of his devious scheme with anyone lest it get back to the likely culprits.

The day before Halloween he took a walk down the road to Pete’s farm, half a mile away. Neither had teenagers. Pete agreed immediately to Henry’s Secret Plan Part Two.

You can be sure the kids know all about the plan for Halloween night,” Henry said. “So why don’t you and I move our outhouses in the opposite direction?”

What a great idea,” Pete chuckled. “Besides, with the open pit behind, we can camouflage it much easier with branches.”

After dark on Halloween night, Henry and Pete helped each other move their families’ outhouses forward. Earlier, they’d cut enough branches to camouflage not only the pit behind the outhouses, but also on the paths in front, exactly where the teenagers expected to see branches.

Showtime,” Henry proclaimed, as both men headed for home. Each donned dark clothing and crouched beside their respective porches waiting to observe as the anticipated nefarious events unfolded.

The next morning, Pete arrived early for coffee in Henry’s kitchen, both struggling to suppress their hilarity.

Well?” Pete asked breaking into an uncontrollable chuckle.

You first,” Henry said, his face lite with an ear-to-ear grin.

Young Tyler Burgoine,” Pete said, peals of laughter making it impossible for him to continue.

Yeah, it was Billy Overland here,” Henry said, joining Pete’s laughter.

They managed to describe for each other the neighbor’s teen and how deep they’d gone into the obnoxious substances contained in those outhouse pits.

He surprised me,” Pete said about Tyler, chuckling. “I’d no idea he knew so many nasty swear words.”

Well,” Henry added, managing to briefly calm his bouts of laughter. “You should have seen how fast Billy made it first head into our duck pond, clothes and all.

Yeah, Tyler sure made a mess of the cows’ water trough,” Pete added. “Maybe I should tell his parents … have them make him clean it out.”

From that day forward, nary an outhouse for miles around ever tumbled again on Halloween or at other time except, perhaps, of its own accord … from advanced old age … after many a year of faithful service each relieving its owners of their burdens, in a timely fashion, naturally.

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