Saturday, October 1, 2011



By: Terri Talley Venters

Roy’s palm sweated as he held the pistol in his hand. He stood in the dark alley, adorned in his finest suit and top hat. He stood back-to-back with his opponent and waited. Waited to live or waited to die?

He recalled the events of the evening and regretted his actions. He shouldn’t have challenged Sir Thomas. Roy’s adversary proved himself the finest shot in South Carolina. But unfortunately, Thomas proved himself many times in this very alley and sent a handful of Charleston’s finest gentlemen to an early grave.

But as a gentleman, Roy faced no other choice. Thomas said the unthinkable and insulted the honor of Roy’s fiancĂ©e, Sarah. Roy immediately defended Sarah’s honor and challenged the English nobleman to a duel.

“Gentleman, begin,” Roy’s best friend and “second” said.

Roy started pacing away from Sir Thomas.

One, two, three…

Time stood still as he paced to his death or paced to his victory? He thought about running down the alley and disappearing into the dim light of the breaking dawn. He’d live, but endure the brand of a coward for the rest of his life.

Four, five, six, seven…

He contemplated turning around early to fire on his opponent. He needed to outsmart the Englishman, but cheating would only lead him to the gallows to be hung for murder.

Eight, nine, ten!

Roy stepped wide to the left and quickly turned around. He pointed the pistol at Sir Thomas and fired with confidence. He watched Thomas fly backwards in the air and into the brick wall of the alley, landing dead with a lead bullet in his chest.

160 years later

“Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, look,” David said.

The eight-year old jumped up and down excitedly as he pointed towards the brick wall of Philadelphia Alley in Charleston, South Carolina, also known as “Bloody Alley”.

“What is it, Honey?” the mother asked.

“I just saw a ghost,” David said.

“Don’t be silly, sweetheart. There’s no such thing as ghosts,” she said, shaking her head incredulously at the active imagination of her son.

“But the man said,” David said, referring to the ghost tour guide.

“He just said that to scare little boys and gullible tourists. You didn’t see anything,” she said.

“But, mom, I did. I saw a black shadow float across the alley and disappear into the wall,” David said, pointing to the digital camera.

“Were you taking pictures again?” the mother asked.

“Yes, Mommy,” he said.

He clicked the camera into view mode and tapped the back arrow. He held the camera up high so they could view the pictures together.

“You took a video,” she said, impressed with her son’s technical gadget skills.

David tapped on the play arrow of the camera to start playing the video he'd just recorded of the alleyway. They watched in unison as the dark shadow of a man in a top hat flew back into the wall.