Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Chair

The Chair was a legendary monument in the graveyard of the Scotch Ridge Presbyterian Church. It rose from the ground resembling a tree trunk, limbs supporting the back and arms. Intricately carved ivy vines climbed the trunk and bordered the stone-slab back. The seat was a scroll, the rolled ends becoming armrests. Barely readable, the text on the scroll declared: You will be missed because your seat will be empty. I Samuel 20:18. On the side Alvin Mitchel's name was inscribed. He died in 1878 at the age of twenty-one. On the other side an eerie placard pronounced: MEET ME IN HEAVEN.

Mike, Bruce and I, like many high school kids who visited The Chair, believed the curse--if you sit on The Chair at midnight you will die within twenty-four hours. Two years before a group of senior boys from Martins Ferry tested the curse and paid the price: On the way home their old Dodge Duster plowed into the Gaylord Overpass, killing one of them. Everyone claimed the boy who died had sat in The Chair.

We met at Bruce's house one late October night. Bruce borrowed his father's scuba diving flashlight. All three of us were good distance runners. We decided to jog the three miles to The Chair. The one-lane dirt road climbed a mile up an Appalachian hill and traversed another mile across a ridge--Scotch Ridge. No street lights guided our steps, only the full moon, splattering its beams onto the ground through the leaves of overhanging trees. We cautioned Bruce not to turn on his father's flashlight unless we absolutely needed it.

Farm fields and thick woods lined the road on each side of us. As we jogged along, Mike mentioned something that bothered me. He'd heard rumors about livestock mutilations along Scotch Ridge. I didn't like the sound of that. Wolves? No way. Not in the Ohio Valley. Aliens?
Riiiight. I tried not to think about it. Halfway there the wind picked up, scattering dead leaves across our path. The breeze chilled me, gooseflesh tingling my back, neck, and arms.

We finally arrived at the bottom of the church's driveway. It ascended about one hundred yards to the highest hill in Belmont County. At the top, under the bare branches of a dead oak tree, the silhouette of The Chair stood out against the starlit violet sky. Something inside me said to turn back, but Mike and Bruce started up the hill.

Remembering this teenage excursion inspired my first novel, The Healing Place. What happened that night remains etched permanently in my mind. You are probably wondering if I sat in The Chair that night. No, I didn't. But Bruce and Mike did. And something definitely happened on the way home. I'll tell you more in my next post.

Talk to you later,


Here are some links to my novel, Murder at Whalehead:

CLICK HERE to view video trailer

Link to front cover: CLICK HERE (Click on cover to enlarge)

Link to back cover: CLICK HERE (Click on cover to enlarge)

Link to first eleven chapters: CLICK HERE

Visit my website at


Becky said...

Now I know your books are going to be worth reading. If you can get me going "No! No! What happened? Don't wait till the next post I need to know now!" with a simple blog posting your novels must be replete with tension.

Good Luck,

Joe C. Ellis said...

Thanks, Becky. If any luck comes my way, I'll take it! By the way, the story about The Chair, Bruce, Mike, and me is true. I'll post part II tomorrow.