Some things visit the strangest places.
Frank Walton had always wanted to grow his own pumpkins on his farm near Drakesville, Iowa. But Frank, a dirt-poor farmer, never had the extra land to do such. That was before a few acres of land was given to him by his longtime friend in May of 1983, shortly before his 65th birthday. Frank wasted no time planting the seeds in the tilled soil, known for having grown the tallest corn in Iowa for many years by the man who gave Frank the land, Earl Sanders, who died in the spring of '84.
Every day Frank walked the short mile to his new land, often thinking of his wife Marion, who died of a heart attack in 1979. Frank never remarried. Didn't even have an interest in meeting another woman, for he knew in his heart that the only woman he would ever love was lying in Pineneedle Cemetery. That being of course his Marion.
It was a drizzly day in July when Frank set out once again for his pumpkin patch, which was doing well. So much greenery was there that he felt like he was walking in a miniature rain forest. Thrilled he was that many small pumpkins were on the vines, growing just a little with each passing day.
The hot August sun failed to stop Frank as he struck off for his beautiful pumpkin patch, having seen yesterday many bees introducing themselves to the vines' yellow flowers. He thanked God for the ample rainfall that had occurred since May.
The healthy-looking pumpkins were as big as basketballs on a beautiful September morning. Frank hoped he could talk the owner of Drakesville's only store into buying some of his produce for Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns. Not just because he needed the money, but also because he wanted to see his pumpkins on the porches of all his friends in Drakesville.
The store's owner, Annie Smallwood, agreed to buy 50 pumpkins from Frank, whom she knew most of her 66 years of life. Frank was thrilled, almost speechless. He couldn't help but shed a tear, something he hadn't done since the loss of his wife.
Alone and not in the best of health, Frank drove his old pickup straight to the pumpkin patch, thankful that the early October weather was ideal. For some strange reason he felt twenty years younger, and there was some energy in him that he hadn't felt for a long time. For the first time since his wife died, he felt her presence. It was a feeling that caused a tear of joy to spill from his eye.
Holding a pair of cutters, he was about to enter the patch when he saw a name on a nearby pumpkin. The name was Marion, and it had been applied with mud, something there was none of in or near the patch.
Scarcely believing his eyes, he was approaaching the pumpkin with the name on it when he saw another name on another gourd. The name was Earl. He then noticed three more names: Tom, Mike, and Jess, Frank's older brothers, all of whom died in a fiery car accident in 1971.
Startled, Frank took a few steps back, seeing now another name, Betsy, the first name of Frank's mother who died of natural causes in 1978. All names had been applied with mud.
Fearing he was losing his mind, Frank turned and hustled to his truck, and it was at that instant a faint voice caused him to turn. There, near the middle of the pumpkin patch was Hank Walton, Frank's dad, who lost his life to a stroke in 1969.
Frank watched with wide eyes as the ghost of his dad continued to stand in the patch, wearing what he always wore when alive: bib overalls.
"Can't be," Frank muttered. "Jus' can't be."
More ghosts appeared, all scattered throughout the pumpkin patch. Frank recognized most of the full-bodied apparitions, including his brothers and longtime friends. But a few of the specters he was not familiar with. He didn't know wether to burst into tears or scream. He did neither. Instead, he lifted his eyes to the cloudless sky and thanked God for allowing him to see the ghosts, even those he wasn't familiar with. But when his face fell forward he saw the absence of the ghosts.
Except Marion, his wife.
"MARION!" he screamed, then took off running toward her, she being where Franks's dad had been standing. But he hadn't ran twenty feet when he collapsed and died of a heart attack, his head resting near the pumpkin with the name Marion on it.
Later that day, Frank's pickup truck was driven to the general store in Drakesville. The driver, a male, told the storeowner that Frank had taken ill and could not make the delivery. Annie nodded, then offered the man money for the pumpkins. He just turned and walked away, leaving Annie to wonder who he was.
It wasn't until the following morning that Annie discovered Frank's truck still parked out front of the store (Annie's house was connected to the back of the store). All the pumpkins had been removed from the truck and were neatly organized in front of the store. Only one pumpkin had a name on it. The name was Frank. Annie learned an hour later that Frank Walton's body had been found yesterday in his pumpkin patch. In his rigt hand were six pumpkin seeds. W.R.