The Bachelors is a spooky story about two men who tempt fate and dice with death. It is based on a folktale from Charleston South Carolina called “Death and the Two Bachelors”. A version of this story appeared in Short and Shivery as “Death and the Two Friends”.
There were two bachelors who lived together in a small house in Charleston, South Carolina. They were both old men and neither of them had ever managed to find a wife. One of the men was big, strong and hardy, while the other was small, weak and puny. Together, they lived a very lonely existence.
The weak man had been sick for a long time and the illness gradually wore him down. He had a fever and his body was wracked with pain. During the day, he lay in his bed, moaning and groaning and during the night, he tossed and turned, unable to sleep.
As time went by, the strong man grew weary of listening to his friend’s complaints all day. At night, the weak man’s moans would keep him awake. He began to wish that his friend would die.
One night, the weak man was burning up with the fever. He twisted and turned in his bed, but he couldn’t get comfortable. Tired and miserable, he let out a big groan and said, “I wish I was dead!”
“Why don’t you just die and get it over with?” growled the strong man in frustration. “I’m sick and tired of you disturbing my sleep. Why don’t you call Death to come and take you and be done with this once and for all?”
“Alright, I will,” groaned the weak man. “I don’t want to live much anyway.”
He sat up in bed and said, “Death! Oh Death! Come and take me!”, but his voice was so feeble, it was little more than a whisper.
“Louder!” said the strong man. “He can’t hear you!”
So the weak man “Death! Oh Death! Come and take me!”, but his voice was so faint, it was barely audible.
“That’s no way to call Death!” said the strong man.
He jumped out of bed, walked to the door and threw it open.
“Death! Oh Death!” he cried at the top of his lungs.
Before the strong man could turn around or close the door, a long skeletal hand emerged from the darkness and grasped him by the shoulder.
A dark and dismal voice hissed, “I am Death… You called me and I came…”
With that, the strong man was dragged off into the darkness and he was never seen again.
As time went by, the weak man recovered from his fever and he lived much longer than anyone had expected.
All of the people who knew the two bachelors shook their heads and said, “Sometimes Death has a strange sense of humor and lets the weak and sickly outlive the strong and healthy.”