7 Bull Street, Ahuriri, Napier, New Zealand


198. Touche!

Old Pete, the town tippler, made it a habit to sleep off his drunks in the church cemetery every Saturday night. On Sunday mornings the pastor of the church would have to go out before services and rouse him, and escort him home before the services began.
Finally he grew tired of the routine, and on Halloween, which fell on a Saturday night that year, he decided to do something about Old Pete. Borrowing his son's skull mask, and donning a choir robe, he settled down in the dark cemetery to await Old Pete's approach. He planned on scaring the devil out of the fellow, and teaching him a lesson.

Finally Old Pete staggered through the graveyard about midnight, unsteadily picking his way through the headstones in the light of the full harvest moon. Rising up from behind a large tombstone, the pastor, calling upon his seminary theatrical training, moaned and swayed in the dimness. Old Pete froze, quaking in his tracks.

"Lord, have mercy!" he cried, much to the satisfaction of the disguised pastor. "It's Death, come for me!"

"Pete..." intoned the preacher in his deepest pulpit tones. "It is time for you to come with me!"

"Don't take me Mr. Death," begged the inebriated fellow. "I'm not ready to go!"

The minister saw his chance. "Then repent, and change your ways." He raised a ghostly arm and pointed to the church. "Seek out the man of God yonder and he will guide you into the paths of life."

Old Pete slumped down next to a headstone. "That won't do any good," he groaned.

The pastor was taken aback. "Why not?" he asked, forgetting his spectral voice.

"Because," explained the downcast Pete, "the pastor of that church is as dead as any of the stiffs out here in the cemetery!"

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