SOON Online Magazine


The Legend Of Cropsy

by Lester Solnin

The beginning of each summer sees boy scouts from all regions of New York State converge to “Three Mile Island” for the annual jamboree. This year will be the strangest adventure the boys will always remember.

Every year, Boy Scout Troop 333 joins other troops in an annual ritual called a jamboree located upstate New York. For three weeks, the boys are virtually on their own, only supervised by an older scoutmaster. Jack Shea. The eight scouts say their goodbyes in front of the "Y" as they load up onto a very comfortable air-conditioned coach bus. Jack Shea is a temperamental, athletic man of 50 years who has three children of his own. His “Assistant Scoutmaster” is Arty, an Eagle Scout at 17 years of age. The boys respect Arty a great deal, not only for his rank, but also for his pranks. As the bus starts its two-hour journey to the “Three Mile Island,” the typical noises of boys ring in the ears of Jack. Sandy and Mark exhibit their usual rowdiness as they playfully fight at the rear of the bus. In the front seats are Mr. Shea, Arty, Dennis, and Richard playing poker. As usual, Dennis is winning. He always wins. Leon accompanies Michael with his voice while Mike strums on the guitar. Mike usually plays traditional songs with a little R & B. Once in a while, the group will break out in familiar songs such as “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” and their personal favorite, “George Washington Bridge” to the tune of the “Blue Danube.” Benjamin, the introvert of the group, smiles with his head on the window pane humming “George Washington Bridge, Georgie Washington…Washington Bridge….” His eyes are captive to the cars speeding by while on the bridge. Benjamin is an enigma. His “friends” do not know what lurks in his mind nor does his parents. One usually judges others by actions and words. With Ben, it’s with his eyes that are sometimes serene; other times very scary. His parents and “friends” are hoping this trip will bring Ben from the “dead.” The comfortable coach bus nears its destination as noted by the increase in the chattering of the boys.

The peace and serenity of Three Mile Island ends with the arrival of the New York State troops. Troop 333 gathers its gears and hike to their designated campsite that will be home, for the time being. Included in their gear are the tents to be erected with posts nailed into the ground. The first order of business is to pair off the boys for each tent. In one tent are Sandy and Mark; then Dennis and Leon; Richard is paired up with Michael; and then its Arty and Benjamin. Mr. Shea has a tent to himself. The completion is done almost in rapid time and the boys are ready for lunch. Even Benjamin seemed to enjoy himself while erecting the tents. Also in waiting some twenty-five feet away, is the latrine for relief from the lunch and other meals to follow.

After their first dinner, a traditional story is told around a campfire. A story of a man, named Cropsy, who beheads boy scouts. Last year, Arty had to tell Ben "it's only a story." After the long journey, Ben states "no more Cropsy stories, please." To which Arty laughingly "I believe he's still in prison." This night, there will be a campfire and the "Cropsy" story will be told, with a twist.

Around the campfire the boys sit in a darkened vacuum only lit by stars and fireflies. The only noise that can be heard is that of mosquitoes buzzing by the ears. Arty starts the story by relating to the scouts that Cropsy escaped from the New York Penitentiary. "I understand he might be heading towards the camp again, to await his next target." The boys are completely engrossed in this story. Some like Michael and Dennis are giggling. "Remember that he comes at night, almost invisible to the ears. I hope he does not visit our camp. To date, he has left us alone, but like a wondering black hole, he just might hit us."

The next morning as "chow" is being served, the head of Three Mile Island, Mr. Rocco, approached Mr. Shea and pulled him aside.

"What?" cried Mr. Shea, "you've got to be joking?"

After Mr. Rocco left, the boys approached Mr. Shea looking for an explanation to his cry.

"A Boy Scout was found murdered." Gasps filled the air. Arty asked "how did he die?"

"You will not believe this.... his body was found hanging from a tree without a head."

Michael replied "this has to be a joke, right?"

Mr. Shea was going to respond when the piercing sounds of sirens encompass the camp. Mark pulled Ben aside and whispered in his ear

"Cropsy has come back!" Ben just moved away.

The murder of the boy was the last thing to cross troop 333’s minds for they had a fun-filled day in which activities such as archery, swimming, and nature walks took place. Some were awarded merit badges. That night, they had meatloaf for dinner and the line for the latrine was extensive.

"Hurry up Dennis, I have to go," Sandy said while shivering. Some of the boys made three or four visits to the latrine.

It's Sunday morning as the boys of scout troop 333 ready themselves for powdered eggs and bacon. Again, Mr. Rocco interrupts their breakfast. Richard caught wind of the conversation between Mr. Rocco and Mr. Shea as he bleeps out “Oh no, not again."

Another Boy Scout is murdered. This time he was thrown off a cliff, headless. Mr. Rocco informs Jack that the parents of all the scouts are being contacted. Mr. Shea nodded in agreement of that action.

"There is a nutcase roaming around," Mr. Shea states emphatically.

Within three hours, the boys' parents arrive. Richard is pulled by the ear as he has no choice as to whether he stays or not. Dennis volunteers to leave.

"I won't allow that nut near me!" Mark agrees with Dennis and he leaves with his parents. Arty wants to leave but for the scouts who chose to remain; Michael, Sandy, Leon, and Benjamin.

Ben states "this is getting to frightening, but I'll tough it out." This statement could be Ben in his attempt to be "macho" or "he's being a nut," his mother says. Almost half of the camp went home. There is a massive police presence in the camp now in attempt to catch the killer and to protect the boys there.

Monday morning found Leon and Benjamin missing. Mr. Shea in a frantic disposition tracks down a couple of police "there are two boys missing this morning."

One of the officers replies "maybe they’re in the latrine." Mr. Shea yells at Arty to check the latrine. "Not there, sir."

The officers report in the disappearance of the boys and do a massive search. One of the officers called in the sighting of bloodstains that wasn't there before. It was found on top of a hill that leads to a cave, about one hundred feet down. Slowly the officers, with guns drawn, approach the entrance to the cave where blood is more prevalent. One officer takes a sneak peek into the darkness of the cave. He takes out his flashlight and shouts into the cave "we are police officers. Put your hands up!"

The officer shines his flashlight into the cave looking for a response that never came.

"We're coming in!" About ten officers enter the cave, very slowly. After walking ten feet, the light shines on a very shocking sight. A Boy Scout is holding up a head of another scout and cries out in a grizzly way "I am Cropsy."

"The boy is deranged. Look at his face.” Police Lieutenant Rhoades walked in and ordered the scout to be handcuffed. With blood dripping all over his tee shirt, Officer Cloker took the head away and handcuffed the boy. The Lieutenant looked at the remains and noted the troop number. He looked to the right and saw the arrested boy's troop number.

"Officer Dill... please radio Rocco and notify him that the two lost boys from troop 333 were found. Damn, I wish I knew what caused these grizzly scenes?”

Officer Dill replies “Scout stories!”

© 2002, 2009 Lester Solnin

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