Haint Misbehavin’.

nightbus1… damned spirits all,

That in cross-ways and floods have burial…

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act III, Sc.2

The Greyhound bus was packed. This was unusual, especially for the late run that left the station at 10pm. I’d been close to the front of the line so I’d snagged a window seat, which I preferred, but I was also close to the driver so I could also see out the front window. I wasn’t paying attention to the bus filling up until a man spoke to me.

“Is this seat taken?”

He wore a tweed jacket, a purple shirt, jeans, and a badly beaten leather hat with a large feather sticking out of it. He also had on dark glasses. A long gray beard trailed down, almost obscuring his bolo tie.

I said no and he sat down.

“I didn’t think it was taken but I asked anyway out of courtesy. Courtesy matters, especially to me. I’m an old hippie.”

He held out his hand and I shook it, wondering if I’d misheard that last part. Maybe “Old Hippie” was his name.

We chatted a little bit and then both got quiet. I read and he put his head back. I assumed he was asleep until I heard him say something.

“What was that?” I asked.

“We passed through a haint,” he said. “In the road. “At night whenever you pass through a foggy patch in the road that’s a haint and you should say the words to protect yourself:

Stay away, haint, stay away haint,

Your soul is damned but mine ain’t.

I thought he was kidding but he looked so serious I didn’t question it. I watched the road ahead. There are many low places where small patches of fog collect on cool, humid nights. The next time we passed through one I repeated the words with him. If nothing else I thought it would be courteous to do so.

I’m an old skeptic now but whenever I’m driving through the night and pass through a patch of fog I still repeat those words.

Stay away, haint, stay away haint,

Your soul is damned but mine ain’t.

6 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    Neither is mine. Thanks for the ride, Chris.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m always glad to have you along for the ride.

      Reply
  2. Mrs Fancy-Pants

    Among the kids at my brothers school (and elsewhere I’m sure)it was believed that you had to hold your breath while passing cemeteries to avoid breathing in spirits. So they would do this during road trips. That is, until my dad found out what they were doing and decided to park the car next to one 😀

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s a good way to get the kids to stop. The sister of a friend of mine also said we should hold our breath while passing cemeteries but that led to an argument about how long you should hold your breath, how far you had to be before you could breathe again, and whether it would work if you didn’t know you were passing a cemetery.

      Reply
  3. Michelle

    On our bus trip up to Skipper’s Canyon in Queenstown to do a bungy jump our guides told us every time we went across a livestock grid we had to lift our feet off the floor and yell “SPANK ME NOT!” for good luck on our jumps. To appease the gods.of… gravity? bungies? wedgies? I still don’t know. but it was fun! Why not? And why tempt fate?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      When you’re about to do a bungy jump it’s definitely best to avoid tempting fate and take whatever precautions you can. I’d knock wood, throw salt over my shoulder, and keep a rabbit’s foot in my pocket. Heck, before doing a jump I’d probably stuff an entire rabbit in my pocket if I thought it would be good luck.

      Reply

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