Friday, September 05, 2014

The Boy in the Mangrove


In the Spring of 2004, I spent some time traveling through Florida. It's interesting how many stories you hear simply by asking people about their part of the state. One of these tales was told to me by a young woman named Jackie, at a vegetable stand near Clewiston, Florida. We sat and talked while under a canvas canopy during an afternoon thunderstorm. I made as many mental notes as possible...later transferring my thoughts to words on my laptop. I uncovered this particular narrative in an older file located in a deep recess of my hard drive:

This story begins on one of those days where you are genuinely bored. Then someone comes along and tells you they are doing something you enjoy that day...but later on, the plan goes in another direction.

I was 17 and it was during a holiday break from school. One morning I was lying in the bed, watching my TV. My mother walked in and said that we were going to go canoeing, with my aunt & cousin coming along with us. I quickly got out of bed and we all headed out. When we got there, there was hardly anyone there and it was very breezy and colder than usual. It took my aunt & cousin almost 30 minutes to arrive.

We grabbed two canoes from one of the rental places. My aunt, cousin and I got in one canoe and were pushed off the shore first. My mom, dad and sister were behind. Once they were in the water, we all started paddling.

We had been on the water for about an hour enjoying the scenery and the time together, when I spotted something move in the water. I looked down into the water and I saw a human figure swimming beneath us. The water was extremely shallow, and the figure moved in and out of the mangroves and weeds effortlessly. I looked closely and noticed that it was a young boy in his early teens with long blonde hair.

I gasped in shock and fear, as my family heard me and showed concern. The boy looked at me with dark piercing red eyes. I sensed evil, as well as sadness. Upon seeing me, the boy turned his head and swam away into deeper water. Once I had realized what had just happened I noticed that my family was around me. "What's wrong? Are you OK?" I nodded my head. "I'm just fine."

When I gathered my senses, I thought that maybe I saw something else in the water...but it still scared me. "It was nothing." I replied. My mom said "OK" and then we all continued with our sightseeing. But only a few minutes had passed, when something else occurred.

I was looking all around, enjoying the scenery, when I saw the boy again. This time, I focused my eyes through the layers of thick mangrove trees and saw the boy staring back at me with a scowling angry face. This time he had large bright red eyes glaring back at me. I immediately got the feeling that we had passed through his territory and that we needed to get out of there as soon as possible.

We had entered an open area of the river, but I was still focused on the boy in the mangrove. The wind started to pick up quickly and the temperature started to drop. My cousin was standing, taking a video of the area with her video camera. My aunt was holding her legs from behind. As I continued staring at the boy, the wind got worse. The boat tipped slightly, and my cousin lost her balance and fell into the water. I quickly looked away from the boy, as I watched my cousin tumble into the water. I stood and reached out my arm to her. Then I remembered the boy, and his evil expression. I looked back at the mangrove where I had seen him before. He wasn't there.

I panicked...I needed to reach my cousin as soon as possible and pull her back on the boat. The boy was gone and I feared if he would do harm to my cousin. She was desperately trying to grab mine and my aunt's hands to get back on the boat. I was screaming loudly "Get out! Get out!." She finally reached my hand and I quickly pulled her back into the boat. She was fine....but I was shaking and more upset than her.

After a few minutes, I told everyone that I wanted to go back. I was worried for the remainder of our time on the water. When we finally got back to shore, I just happened to spot the boy again as he raised up in the low-hanging mangrove. He gave me an hideous wink and rolled his eyes back as he faded away. It made me shudder in horror.

Suddenly I heard "Ouch...my back hurts!" My cousin was in pain and yelled out, just after the boy faded away. I lifted her shirt and to everyone's shock, her entire back was a huge black and blue bruise. Everywhere you looked on her back she has dark marks. "I don't even remember getting hurt." she said. "You must have hit a stump under the water or something?" I told her. I knew full well that the boy had something to do with it. My aunt was emotionally beside herself and insisted we go to the hospital so my cousin could be treated.

Several years later, I returned to the canoe rental place. It was now a bait and tackle store with docks. I asked some of the men working on a boat motor about the history of the place after telling them of my previous experience there. They told me that many years ago a boy in his teens was playing around with his friends, in the same area where my family and I were canoeing. One of his friends placed a bet with him to see who could hold their breath the longest. The boy was from a poor family and wanted the money desperately. After they competed, the friend noticed that his partner was floating face down. When he touched him to tell him that he had won, there was no reaction. He quickly pulled him out of the water, then went to go get help.

The poor boy had wanted the money so badly that he drowned in an attempt to hold his breath longer than his friend. When his parents learn of their son's death, they were so distraught that both committed suicide before the boy was buried. No one know what happened to the boy's body.

I walked toward one of the docks and looked out over the thick mangroves...and there he was. I clearly saw him standing there with his long blond hair, looking at me with sorrow on his face... but this time he had light blue eyes. I smiled at him and then waved. I turned to walk away, quickly glancing back in his direction. The boy was gone...but I knew he'd be there forever.

Haunted Florida: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Sunshine State (Haunted Series)

Florida's Ghostly Legends And Haunted Folklore: Volume One: South And Central Florida

Cryptoquest Field Guide To The Monsters, Ghosts, UFOs And Other Anomalies Of Florida (Cryptoarchaeology Field Series)

Spooky Florida: Tales Of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, And Other Local Lore


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