I was recently on a ghost tour in Niagara-on-the-Lake (I highly recommend this tour), and one story in particular stood out for me; the story of the headless soldier from Fort Niagara on the American side. I mention that it happened at the American fort because this kind of irrational violence could only happen in America… although it involved French soldiers. Perhaps, there’s just something about the American soil that makes someone want to fight. That would explain US customs agents. They terrify me. To be an agent is it mandatory to never have been hugged as a child? Do they start each shift with a fierce wedgy from their boss? Perhaps they only put out the agents trying to quit smoking and who haven’t had their morning coffee yet: (angry agent) “What’s in your bag?” (me) “A change of underwear.”
The headless soldier ghost story begins with two French soldiers trying to win the affections of a local woman. This can sound romantic, but really this is the human equivalent of two goats smashing their heads together to see who’s dominant: (1st goat) “I’m better.” (2nd goat) “No, I’m better.” (snobby female goat) “I’m popular!” In this situation, however, it’d be like taking two goats in heat and injecting them with even more testosterone, which I like to call stupid juice because the more you have the stupider you become. I’m so smart… wait a second. The worst part about this duel is these guys aren’t seeing many women, so she could be the female equivalent of Jabba the Hut, and the guys would still be like “Oh yeah, a woman!” By default she’d be the best looking female; thus, proving you don’t need to be attractive to be popular, just lack competition.
For some reason, the two soldiers, believed to be friends, decide the only way to determine the most suitable suitor for Miss Hut is to fight to the death. I wonder if at some point one of them wondered: “I’m either going to die or murder my friend for a woman. Maybe there’s a better way? Maybe I should’ve asked if I had a chance?” That’d be a kicker; the French soldier kills his friend for a woman who ends up being racist towards French guys: “Mon dieu.” And sorry ladies, I’m yet to meet someone worth saying: “If I can’t have you, there’s no point in living.” If I had that attitude, I’d never have been rejected as much as I had as a teenager. Ah, the good ol’days.
This story describes two love struck soldiers fighting for their love… ehn, let’s be honest, they were two lonely and horny men trying to prove who was the better swordsman and/or who was more sober at the time. Of course, all of this could have been avoided if the woman could have made a decision for herself. Saying: “I choose you and not you,” was too much to handle; instead it was more like: “I can’t choose. I know, how about one of you dies, so I won’t have to pick. That way no one will feel rejected. The last thing I want to do is hurt someone’s self esteem.” Eventually in this battle one of the soldiers gives the other a fatal blow with his sword. Because of the passion for his love, this murderous act isn’t enough. He cuts off the fallen soldier’s head and tosses it in the river… what a jerk. The gross thing is, his sword wasn’t likely able to cut it off with one swell swoop. He would’ve likely needed to saw it off. That’s messed up. Why would he do that? Was the woman off to the side yelling: “If you really loved me, you know what you’d do?” (guy soldier) “Buy you flowers? Candy? Take a bath?” (woman) “No, you’d cut his head off and throw it in the river?” Whose idea was it to throw it in the river? “He loved to swim; the least we can do is throw his head in the river.” Wow, how thoughtful. In the end, it is believed that the victorious soldier dumped the dead body in a backup well (it was closer than the lake), and then he ran away with his love while the fort became haunted by a headless soldier. This story, therefore, proves that the pen is mightier than the sword… except in a real sword fight because then a pen is pretty useless just like a rational brain when there are a lot of hormones.
When I was told there was a headless soldier walking around my first thought was: “That’s stupid; he doesn’t have a brain, so how can he walk?” But, then I remembered, men have two brains; one up top and one down below. Without the top brain working, the lower one had it easy… a case that often happens even without decapitation. For those who are unaware, men are believed to have a brain in their stomach, which is why we get so hungry for love… unless there’s free steak, and then we’ll have the steak before continuing our pursuit of love. Love is second to good food. That and I’m trying to keep this G rated so, yes, I’m talking about the brain in the stomach.
The second question that comes to mind is how do they know the soldier is looking for his head? He can’t speak. Maybe he’s walking around like “Thank goodness this weight’s been taken off my shoulders. This is awesome.” It’s not like the headless ghost told someone: “Don’t mind me; I’m just looking for my head. As soon as I get my head I’ll be out of here. You haven’t seen it have you? It’ll have a tiny curled mustache, greasy hair and likely saying bonjour; I’m very friendly.” Maybe the headless soldier knows sign language; this is possible since the first free public school for the deaf was formed in 1771; I’m so smart. Testosterone really is the stupid juice… I wish I had more testosterone. Even if the soldier knew sign language he would never know if he was speaking to a person… or a tree, or a duck… or his head. That’d be funny; he’d be signing to his head while his head is yelling: “I’m right here! Take a step and bend over. Man, my other brain really is stupid.” If the soldier was actually looking for his head, shouldn’t he be on his hands and knees crawling around? If he’s walking around with his hands up like a zombie or the classic look of someone sleep walking, he’d only find his head if it was floating… that’s pretty dumb. Thus, I don’t think he’s looking for his head; he’s looking for another woman. “Is this a woman? No. Is this? I think so… wait, sorry sir.” If you think about it, if he died fighting for a girl, living isn’t his priority, a woman is. If he died trying to impress a girl, I’m thinking he’s wandering around trying to impress another girl: “Check me out ladies. I’m scaring people. Did you want me now? I can’t lose a sword fight this time.” Guys are simple creatures: if a guy can impress a girl he’s happy. If a guy can impress a girl for life, he’ll have a happy marriage.
(A thought from my spiritual background)
This story was believed to have happened around three hundred years ago, and yet the facts are really hard to determine. There are a number of different versions and theories that are associated to this story because it’s not like the actual people there were bragging about it: “I’m a murderer; yea me,” or “My husband killed a guy to prove his love and then we played kick ball with the dead guy’s head… oh, don’t drink from the well. It might taste a little like decomposing.” Reading the different articles about it and seeing the differences I was suddenly struck with how impressive the Bible really is. For instance, there maybe four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, but they’re very connected. This is because the early Christians were very protective of the historical recording of Jesus. They were written by apostles of Jesus while eye witnesses were still alive and could verify the facts. Believers held so strongly to their beliefs that they were willing to die to protect their Scriptures. Plus, even if something were to have happened to the texts, direct quotations could be found in secondary sources by articles written by the early church fathers. We may have stories like the headless soldier that are passed on through legend and speculation, but there will never be the same dedication to its preservation as the early Christians and the Bible. Whether you believe the Bible or not is your choice, but there has to be something said for people who are willing to die to protect what they believe, and being willing to die is a lot better than to be willing to kill.