Give Me My Gold


The name of this story is “Give Me My Gold”. No one in Jenkinsville was sorry to hear old Eddie Barnes had died. Not that they were happy, mind you. It was just that Eddie Barnes was not an especially likable old man. Actually, he was kind of crotchety and very stingy.
It was no secret that he was the richest person in town, maybe, even a millionaire, but you'd never know it.
He lived all alone at the top of the hill in a house as big as a mansion. It looked more like an abandoned junkyard, though, with badly chipped paint, cracked windows and overgrown weeds in the front yard.
"How could he let the place get so run down?" wondered the townspeople, but no one had the guts to approach him.
On his rare visits to town Eddie Barnes would walk down the street in torn, dirty clothes scowling at everyone in his path.
"He doesn't look like a millionaire", the townspeople would think to themselves. And as if he could read their minds Eddie Barnes would glare at them through his one good eye - the left one. Over his right eye he wore a raggedy old eye-patch. Why he wore the eye-patch was just as much a mystery as where his money came from. Naturally, the kids made up stories about the old man.
“I'll bet, he was a pirate and his eye was poked out in a duel over buried treasure”, Joey Carlton would say. “He lost his eye but gained a million dollars in gold”.
But as wealthy as he was, selfish old Eddie Barnes never gave a penny to charity. “Charity begins at home - my home!” he was fond of saying in his hoarse gravelly voice.
So, when Eddie Barnes died, people waited impatiently to hear what he did with his money in his will. He had no children or family to leave it to, and knowing how Eddie Barnes felt about charity...
The town hall was filled with people on the afternoon judge Olshan read Eddie's will. “I, Eddie Barnes, being of sound mind,” the judge read slowly to the silent waiting crowd, “do hereby state that I will be taking my wealth with me to the great beyond. Ha - ha! Suckers!”
The crowd gasped, "Taking it with him! Why! That stingy old man!
Everyone left the hall unhappy, that is, everyone except for John Viming, the undertaker. John, who wasn’t exactly an honest man, had an idea. He would sneak the riches out of Eddie's coffin that night before it was buried the next day. Who would ever know that Eddie Barnes had been buried a poor man instead of a rich one?
That night, John let himself into the room where the coffin lay. Quietly, he lit the single candle and walked over to the open coffin.
He could have sworn that he had closed it earlier, but there was no time to worry about that now. He had much more important business to take care of. He stared down at Eddie's body and felt a shiver run through his own. “You're just a dead man”, John mumbled nervously as he began to search through the coffin for Eddie's riches. “Finders - keepers, I always say!”
With nimble fingers John searched the pockets of the dead man's clothes. Nothing. He searched the lining of Eddie's coat. No jewels, no coins.
"They must be here somewhere," he thought. Then it hit him. "The eye-patch!" But as he reached for the eye-patch, John felt icy, stiff fingers grab at his wrist.
“Ahhhh!!!” John screamed as he struggled to free his hand, but when he looked down he saw that it was only his sleeve that had caught onto one of Eddie's bony fingers.
"I must have imagined that the hand grabbed me," he told himself.
Once again, he reached down and this time fingered the small black raggedy piece of cloth that covered the dead man's eye. Taking a deep breath he lifted it and there, just as he had expected, was a shiny thick gold piece. Without a second thought, John grabbed the gold piece and replaced the eye-patch.
“You won't miss this where you're going, old Eddie boy.” John snarled, pocketing the precious gold piece. Then quickly shut the coffin lid, blew out the candle, and ran out into the night.
When he got home, John hid his new treasure beneath his mattress and fell into a sound sleep. But not for long...
Only an hour later he was awakened by a soft moaning. “Give me my gold! Give me my gold!” moaned a gravely old voice.
"Who's there?" John demanded timidly into the darkness.
"Give me my gold! Give me my gold!" the voice commanded again louder this time. It seemed to be coming from the closet. John jumped out of bed and grabbed the poker from his bedside fireplace. As he prepared to defend himself, he shakily opened the closet door but what he saw in the closet paralysed him with fright.
There, floating in the darkness, were hundreds of piercing eyeballs, all glowing threateningly and staring directly at him. Terrified, John slammed the closet door. He jumped back into bed hoping to find that this was only a dream but it was no use. Now the eyes were everywhere: floating near the ceiling, rolling around the floor, glaring from under the bed, and even hiding under John's pillow. And not one eye even blinked. They just stared menacingly at him from all corners of the darkness, and from behind the eyes came the same gravelly cry, “Give me my gold! Give me my gold!”
John sat trembling and shaking with his hands over his own eyes on the island of his bed. Then everything was silent... John slowly uncovered his eyes and found that every last eye had disappeared, but, as exhausted as he was, it took quite a while before he was able to get back to sleep.
The next morning John woke in a cold sweat as he looked around his sunny room he knew what he had to do. He grabbed the gold piece from underneath his mattress, put on his heavy overcoat, and drove out to the cemetery.
When he reached Eddie Barnes' grave-side John dug through the fresh red soil with his bare hands until he reached the coffin and with bleeding hands he tugged open the coffin and felt around for the eye-patch. But there was no eye-patch, there was no Eddie Barnes, either. The coffin was empty. “How can I possibly return this gold piece to a dead man who isn't even here?”
Then he smiled, “I can't return it”, he realized. “It's mine”.
With a sigh of relief he got up and headed towards his car - so excited that he forgot to close and rebury the coffin. But he had gotten no further than two steps when he felt cold bony fingers grasp him around the neck. And as the fingers squeezed the last breath out of John Viming, a cry shout out into the night.
“I told you to give me my gold!”