Classic Southern spooky story from Mississippi about a traveling salesman who runs into some pretty strange cats warning about someone (or something) named “Jesse.”
A long time ago, an old traveling salesman was riding through rural Mississippi as he had done for more years than he could remember. His trusty old horse seemed as tired as he was, trudging down the long dirt road toward yet another strange town. The old man rubbed his red eyes with his cracked, leathery hands and sighed — this was no longer the life for him.
As night fell, a hard rain suddenly crashed down upon them. As booming thunderclaps rattled the dark skies above, the old man decided he better find some shelter for the night. But there were no homes as the far as the eye could see.
Then, in a white flash of lightning, he spotted a dark, run-down house sitting up on a hillside. He found his way in the dark up to the front door and knocked. To his surprise, the door creaked open on its rusty hinges, revealing a musty old living room — empty, save for one chair and a stone fireplace.
“Hello?” called out the salesman. Nobody answered, so the salesman figured he would wait out the storm in the house. He was also surprised to find that the fireplace was stocked with a fresh pile of wood. He took out a box of matches and lit himself a roaring fire. As he sat down in the wooden chair, he could feel the many miles of his journey creeping through his bones. The sound of rain falling on the tin roof above relaxed him, and before he knew it, he fell fast asleep.
A couple of hours later, something startled him from his sleep. He woke up and saw a black cat standing in front of the roaring fire, staring at him through bright yellow eyes. The cat walked up to the chair, purred loudly and rubbed up against the salesman’s leg. “Nice kitty,” said the salesman as he rubbed the cat’s back, “very nice kitty.”
“Wait ’til Jesse comes,” purred the cat in response.
The salesman suddenly froze, then laughed it off. I must be dreaming, he thought — surely that cat didn’t just speak to me! He dozed off again, the warmth of the fire filling his aching bones.
“What shall we do with him?” asked the second cat to the first in a booming voice.
“Let’s wait ’til Jesse comes,” hissed the first cat.
The salesman shook his head, thinking that his long, tiring travels had finally gone to his brain. For this was the strangest dream he had ever dreamt. He sighed and fell back asleep.
Another hour passed, and the salesman awoke again. This time there were three black cats staring at him — but the third cat was as big as a horse, with large, menacing eyes that seemed to burn with yellowish evil. The third cat turned to the other two and said in a loud voice that drowned out the booming thunderclaps outside:
“Shall we do it now?”
“Soon, very soon,” hissed the first cat. “Let’s wait ’til Jesse comes.”
Well, now the salesman had heard enough. He leapt out of the chair, flung open the door and ran as fast as he could out into the ferocious storm. He scrambled onto his horse and rode away, shouting back over his shoulder:
“It was very nice meeting you, but when Jesse comes, tell him I couldn’t wait!”
-THE END –
Wait ‘Til Jesse Comes – Story Credits
Adapted by Craig Dominey
Told by LaDoris Davis
Artwork by Craig Dominey
Sound Design by Henry Howard