There was an old farmer in Arizona who owned the best farm in the area. Everybody said his crops were the best and people came from all over to buy their goods from him. Whenever people asked him how he was able to grow such good quality crops, the old farmer would say it was all down to his scarecrow.
“That old scarecrow is the one I have to thank,” said the farmer. “He makes sure no crows or critters or pests come near my crops”.
The old farmer had built the scarecrow himself and it was a fearsome sight. He spent months working on it to make it as scary as possible. He knew how important it was to keep pests away from his crops. So he gave it enormous straw arms that stretched out about 6 feet and big long legs that made it as tall as a tree.
But the scariest thing about this scarecrow was its head. The farmer carved it himself out of a huge pumpkin. He spent countless days and nights perfecting his design. The scarecrow’s face and head was so grotesque and ugly that even he was sometimes scared to look at it. But it was very effective, scaring away every rodent and bird that ventured near.
The neighboring farm was owned by two young men who were brothers named Josh and Harold. They were lazy and never did much work around the farm which resulted in their crops being bad. They were jealous of the old farmer’s success and were plotting against him. If they could drive him out of business they could take over his farm and make more money.
So one night, the brothers decided to sneak onto the old farmer’s land. They stole his prized scarecrow and brought it back to their own house, where they stuffed it into an old closet so nobody would ever find it.
The next day, the farmer woke up to find his hideous scarecrow missing and all his crops being eaten by rats and crows. He fell to his knees and cried, knowing that his farm would soon be out of business. Meanwhile, the brothers Josh and Harold were watching from their own property and couldn’t help laughing out loud when they saw the old man’s tears of grief.
Hearing the laughter, the old farmer came over and asked them if they knew what happened to his scarecrow. The brothers looked him right in the eye and said they had no idea where his precious scarecrow might be.
“But you know I’ll go out of business and have to sell my farm if I can’t find my scarecrow,” said the farmer.
Josh just laughed in his face, saying “That’s just your tough luck, isn’t it?”.
“Sucks to be you,” giggled Harold.
The old farmer walked slowly back to his house, his head hanging down in defeat and depression.
That night, Josh and Harold had trouble sleeping. Not because they felt any remorse, but because they couldn’t get the image of the scarecrow’s horrible twisted face out of their minds. They decided they would never be able to sleep as long as that ugly pumpkin head was in their house. So they got up and dragged the scarecrow out of the closet.
Harold took a baseball bat and smashed the scarecrow’s head to pieces until all that was left was little bits of pumpkin strewn around the floor. The brothers swept up the pumpkin head pieces and threw them in the trash. Then they went back to bed and were soon fast asleep, having put all thoughts of the disgusting scarecrow face out of their heads.
Some time after midnight, Josh and Harold were awoken by the sounds of scratching and clawing at their bedroom door.
“Did you forget to put the dog out?” asked Harold, sleepily.
“W-w-w-we don’t have a dog,” stammered Josh.
Suddenly the bedroom door burst open and a solitary long straw arm snaked in through the opening. Then a second arm thrashed around, followed by two long stick legs. The two brothers were frozen in fear and could only look with horror as the headless scarecrow’s body rose up on its long stick legs and its long arms reached out for them in the darkness.
Harold felt a cold sinewy, straw claw close around his ankle and screamed as loud as he could. He begged his brother Josh to help him. But Josh was already running out of the bedroom. Fleeing in terror, he ran down the hallway, crashed through the front door and out onto the moonlit road.
He ran as fast as his legs could carry him, puffing and panting and screaming at the top of his voice. As he passed his neighbor’s house, he saw the old farmer standing at his gate. In the moonlight, he could see the farmer just staring at him with a strange smile on his face.
Josh kept running, his bare feet slapping against the rough gravel road. He glanced back over his shoulder and saw something that scared him to his very soul. He saw the scarecrow running along the road close behind him. It was gaining on him, coming closer and closer. And that wasn’t all he saw. He noticed that the scarecrow had a brand new head. And it looked a lot like Harold.
Credited to Alvin Schwartz