My best friend and I went to the same sleepover camp for eleven years. He recently reminded me of this story.
One year when we were very young, probably around nine or ten, our councilor decided that he would tell us a scary story. My friend and I sat on the floor in front of my councilors bed and he told us the story of Richie.
The camp was founded in 1964. A once calm and quite lake, where families could escape for a month or two from the city had now become the home of two-hundred, loud and rowdy kids. For the most part none of the families on the lake had a problem with this, and in fact sent their kids to the camp eventually. Other cottagers hated the camp and would try to vandalize it at night in order to scare the campers and staff off. One man in particular, named Bernard Richie Ludwig, did not like the idea of the camp. He did not like the free range that these kids had, and the interactions that the boys and girls had with each other, and made these views vocal on more than one occasion to the camp’s owners. The thing that really bothered Richie though was the camp’s activity on the lake.
See, Richie’s cottage sat on the lake right where the camps ski boats liked to drive their course. This meant that from ten in the morning till five at night boats were constantly speeding by his cottage, being loud and creating rough waters. This angered Ritchie; the constant traffic was ruining one of his previously favorite activates with his son, swimming.
One day, despite the constant boating, Richie and his son went swimming. The staff member driving the boat that day wasn’t paying attention to the water and only after he heard a blood-curdling scream did he realize he had hit Richie and his son. Richie’s son died on impact, Richie did not. Instead his leg got caught in the motor and was horribly mangled. Richie’s wife ran out of their cottage to see the boat driver carrying the bloodied Richie into the house, and her son’s dead body on the dock.
In the weeks to follow the staff member was let go and dealt with by the authorities. Richie refused medical attention, claiming he was so upset he would rather die. This deeply upset his wife and their other son. Slowly Richie’s leg began to gangrene, and he started going mad. He would stay up all night hollering at nothing and shouting curses at himself, the boat driver, god and the camp. Soon his entire leg was rotted with gangrene and Richie had become insane. His wife told him that she and the other son were leaving because they couldn’t watch him like this anymore. Then, for the first time in two months Richie stood up off the couch. He walked over to his wife, his gangrene leg immobile. He would take a step with his good foot and then drag his second one to catch up with the first. Slowly he made his way over to his wife. Thud, drag, thud, drag. He said to her quietly that he loves her and that she can’t leave. She took a step away from him but he grabbed onto her. She struggled, and hit him in the face. He held on tighter. Then she kicked him in his infected leg and he let go screaming in pain. She tried to get away, but he chased after her with a thud and a drag and pinned her to the ground. He strangled his wife, and then killed his other son. Richie then killed himself, but only after writing a note that read “I will not rest until I get even.”
For forty years after that, kids would recount events to each other where they woke up in the middle of the night to someone walking in the cabin with a thud and a drag. The thud and drag would stop next to their bed and they would smell something rotten, then it would vanish.
Finally many years later a fourteen-year-old girl by the name of Reagan Peters, came to camp for the first time. After a week she vanished and was never heard from again. Her cabin-mates claim they heard someone walking through their cabin with a thud and a drag. All that was left in her bed was a note that read “your daughter for my son.”
The guy who told me this story did not believe it was real and nor do I. It was used at our camp to deter young campers from interacting with the cottagers on the lake, as well to warn the kids to be careful around the water. This story has a lot of interesting motifs that are consistent with more traditional ghost stories, for example the theme of vengeance, and untimely death and a promise that must be fulfilled in order for the ghost to move on.