Legend of the Greasy Man
by POOR WILLIAM
How often do we remember with vivid acuity scary stories and non-fugacious legends from our youth? Such is the case with Poor William and the Delta legend of the Greasy Man. As a child, spending summer nights at the Peay clubhouse on Moon Lake, across the street from historic Kathryn’s Restaurant, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, I would lie awake in the dark, in the upstairs room on the left–full of beds and boys, sweating with thoughts of the Greasy Man.
This nefarious entity, pictured by Poor William as a naked, skinny white dude, pale as a possum’s face, slinking in and out of reality, covered in translucent grease, grinning sardonically from the recesses of a room shrouded in darkness, with wooden walls as a backdrop, would make Poor William yearn for morning, when light would filter through curtain cracks, showering a dimly lit room with dust particles, waltzing like fruit flies above an overly ripe banana.
How many nights did Poor William lose countless hours of clubhouse sleep, while two sets of twin Peay brothers slept soundly, with the knowledge that the Greasy Man would pervasively interrupt my restive awareness?
Legend has it that the Greasy Man would sneak into houses at night, laden with grease, unable to be captured due to his slick nature and wispy physique. It was never really clear why he broke into homes, other than to scare the bejeezus out of half-asleep occupants, already awaiting his presence.
Freddie Kruger might haunt the dreams of those fearful of slumber, but the Greasy Man did not wait for sleep. The spectral illusion would fringe a room with promises of an appearance long before the cock crowed twice, but only after dusk was a recent, hazy memory.
The Greasy Man began the haunt and the hunt prior to twilight’s last gleam, but he grew in strength and presence as the night darkened and the story teller’s rhyme and cadence methodically chipped away at any daylight inoculations against the fear of his coming.
My elementary school students told me they had indeed heard of the Greasy Man—in fact, they had many relatives who had seen him. According to the imaginations of these kids, the Greasy Man was swarthier, rural-bound, and not as svelte as his Moon Lake equivalent, but he was just as real, ominous, and ubiquitous.
Poor William knows not where he holes up during the day, nor how he travels at night. He assumes the Greasy Man never dies, but lies dormant, waiting on his expeditious resurrection in the form of post-twilight apperception. He only holds fear for those who fear him.
Poor William fears him no longer, or does he?