My Pet Plat Eye

The barrier islands and Low Country of  South Carolina have a particularly rich heritage in folklore, with no shortage of haints, spirits, and evil critters. People  paint their windows and door sills light blue to keep out hags and evil spirits. You can see shacks and fine homes up and down King’s Highway in Horry and Georgetown counties  with the same robin’s egg blue paint scheme today. 

My family had a summer home on Pawley’s Island, a small beach community made famous by rope hammocks and many, many ghost stories. The shabby old white clapboard house with blue sills my father took over from his father had weathered many years and hurricanes. It was on a small spit of land between the beach and the marsh. Rumor was that it was the third oldest house on the island, and haunted by a bride who fell down the stairs and broke her neck.

At the beginning of the summer of 1961 when I was seven years old, my mother painted the trim on the house a dark green instead the traditional blue. 

“Oh lord Miz Scott, this place always had blue trim for a reason. My granny would tell you a plat eyes is coming!” Ollie Mae, the local woman hired as my summer caregiver  said.

Ollie Mae need not have been worried. A plat eye wasn’t coming. It was already there. The first night after the trim had been changed, I woke up to the roar of the ocean and the mewing of a kitten. I got out of bed, padded downstairs through the kitchen, and right there, on our back porch was a plat eye. Normally they take the form of cute animals like kittens or puppies to lure you to their misty marsh where they could devour you, or skin you alive. But this one was dumb or lazy. I saw him for a plat eye right away. The cyclops action with one eye and the drooling, dripping fangs clued me in that he was no lost kitten. He looked kind of scrawny, like he hadn’t eaten too many kids recently. So I went to my sister’s room and got her miniature poodle Abby to follow me to the back porch.

I guess a meal of sissy dog agrees with a plat eye because this one took a shine to me. Usually they are tricky critters like a will ‘o wisp or mean like hags, but this one seemed more like a puppy than a soul shredding monster. I named him Boris because he seemed to have a taste for squirrels, like Boris from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon. He was always crossing the causeway onto the mainland to chase squirrels.

The day I found him dead, I had lured the neighbor’s geese across the canal and into the marsh. Ollie Mae was superstitious and a terrible babysitter. I waited by the swirling mist for his misshapen single eye to pop up and his slack drooling jaws to squeak in alien delight when he saw me. I waved my hands to part the mist. There was Boris, dead, a half-eaten dachshund  in his mouth. Death by junk food. He choked on a wiener dog.

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