I do my grocery shopping early on Sunday mornings because humans gathered in an enclosed area lose their freakin’ minds. I’m usually there between 6:00 and 7:00 am, it varies. It’s not scheduled. But there’s a lady who shows up every time after I’ve walked in. It’s like seconds after I’ve grabbed a cart and the doors open and she’s right behind me getting a shopping cart. We don’t walk in together, I’ve never seen a car she could have gotten out of and this is Sunday morning when there’s very few cars in the parking lot. We never talk as we pass each each other several times in the aisles, in fact we rarely have looked at each other. What I have noticed is she always wears the same black uniform type outfit with a rust colored shirt under it. The same Aisics tennis shoes and every thing looks like she just bought it. She doesn’t have a smell or a sound, her skin is really light and pale but her hair is almost jet black to where it reflects blue in the lighting. When I go to check out there’s never a cashier with a register open so I have to use the self-scan area that I hate. Except today there’s a cashier I’ve never seen before who appears from between racks of shit at check-out #7 asking if I’m ready, so I jump on that service. As I’m watching these two dudes scan and bag the hell out of my stuff, behind me is this lady. She’s unloading her cart of a few items and oblivious to anything around her. I wanted to say hi to her, she was right there two feet away, which isn’t normal for me to do. After she put her last item on the conveyor her eyes locked onto her groceries. I looked back a few times before I left and noticed her eyes. There wasn’t any whites to them…
I thought I had posted this before but couldn’t find it in my history. I’ve always had this vision of a man, helpless or dying in a field. He can hear the traffic going by and voices from the buildings across the street. He might have been beaten and dump there. No one can hear him yelling for help. I picture him in a white wool suit. This was around the late 1940’s maybe early 50’s. While I was on Facebook I joined the Columbus, Ohio history group. A photo they posted is exactly the vision I’ve seen with this man. The color of the sky, the cars, everything is exact. The red X is where this man laid only he’s hidden by tall grass and weeds as seen on the other side of the road.
My Uncle D. He was a different person, always kept to himself. We use to see him a lot when we were kids. We kind of thought he was the outlaw, he did what he wanted. We heard a lot of stories about him growing up from our dad. But he wouldn’t say much about him unless we asked, even then we knew he wasn’t telling us the entire story. As we got older Uncle D. disappeared from our lives. He was still around but turned into a recluse. He had no known family, or none we ever heard of. We had no Aunts or Cousins that we knew about. Although he was always invited and welcomed to family gatherings he was always absent. We just accepted him as he was.
My father called me up one day. He said Uncle D. had passed away. The neighbors hadn’t seen him in a while. It was the mailman that alerted the police. With no one around Uncle D. died alone and peaceful in his chair with the TV on, they said. Dad called me so we could clean out his house and put it up for sale. After a while of going through everything it was quite obvious he had no one at all in his life. There were no pictures, letters, or anything that would indicate he knew anyone. We broke into his strong box. There we found his papers to be cremated. He bought his own funeral, that’s something I never thought of. It was just a basic cremation with no instructions on what to do afterwards. After thinking about it as we went through everything, his cremation fit the way he lived. Everything was orderly and finished. No bills, no debt, no friends, family or even a pet. All his cloths were hung or put in the dresser, it was like he cleaned up so he could pass on. He had taken care of himself until his death, that was really cool.
As we cleaned out more things we came across another locked strongbox. It said Brink’s on it. This one we couldn’t open even when we beat it with a hammer, so we threw it in with the rest of the things we were taking home. At Uncle D.’s cremation, we watched as they did their duties. He was covered so were disconnected from what was actually going on. We took the bagged and boxed ashes to dad’s house. We sat in the garage talking. My father never talked about Uncle D. and I didn’t feel comfortable but I asked anyway, “what was inside that other locked box?” Dad looked up, he said he forgot about it. We dug it out from the pile of belongings sitting in the corner. We could NOT get this thing to open. There was no hinges, no gaps to pry open, even pounding it only made it sound like we were hitting concrete. We started drilling out the key lock. After breaking several drill bits we had it, but still couldn’t get the lid unlatched. It was my idea to run over it, this worked. It made a slight gap to get a saw-zal blade into. After an hour the box was open. In it we found a picture of a body, a newspaper clipping of body being found and a pill bottle with a note inside. The pill bottle was the first thing we opened. Inside the rolled up piece of paper was a stick. The note read, “Mark won’t need this anymore”. He won’t need the stick? After looking closer we saw it wasn’t a stick, it was a dried up finger. Now we are creeped out. The photo of the body looked like it was taken with an insta-matic camera. The grass was high around the figure, we could only make out brown hair and what looked like a lab coat. My dad was reading the newspaper clipping. He handed it to me. As I read it he said, “I knew he did it, but I just wasn’t sure”.
The date was March 3, 1992 and titled “Body of missing man found”. Dr Mark A. went missing for 6 months. …When they found him it appeared he died of natural causes. …he was found along a creek bank off a deer trail wearing a lab coat. A lab coat? …He had all his money and jewelry. If anyone has any clues please call crimestoppers at this number. I looked at dad and asked if Uncle D. did this. He said they grew up best friends. They could finish each others sentences, that’s how close they were. When they got out of school Uncle D. use to talk about Dr. Mark A. talking down to him in front of others. Uncle D. said he’d never talk to him again. When we heard he was coming into town we tried to get them together and that’s when Dr. Mark A. disappeared. We didn’t know if Uncle D. knew he was in town or not. We never knew what Uncle D. ever knew! He stayed to himself. He had nothing and no one and this is his best friends finger in a bottle wrapped in a note saying he won’t need it anymore and a picture of a body. He either died in complete peace or in complete torment. Either way he took this to his grave.
I was working outside this morning before it got too hot. Behind me I heard the faint calling of my name. There stood one of the residents with a funny look on her face. She wanted to tell me something but it was obvious she didn’t want it to come out wrong. Several times she stopped herself mid-sentence with, “no, never mind”. This is a lady that’s ultra conservative. She’s quiet and polite to everyone. She watches fox news and was distraught I’m for Bernie Sanders (he’s a socialist, ya’ know). I’ve heard her mention her god in public conversations and never once have I heard her say anything bad towards anyone. But, I know she wanted to say something that goes against everything she believes in just by the way she was acting. So I blurted it out, “What did you see?”. Her face had this sudden look of relief. She asked me if things have gone on there. (At the building) I told her a lot of people have died here and they leave things behind. She wanted to know what I knew. I told her about the second floor hall and library and even a home healthcare aid has some things she’s witnessed. After a few minutes trying to get her to trust me and talk to me she finally said she woke up on the couch and in front of her was the cloudy image of a black man. She asked if he was an angel. Nothing was said and when she closed her eyes for a moment he was gone. I was blown away because I’ve heard the voice of a black man on the second floor. She said she was afraid. I told there’s nothing to be afraid of, that’s just the TV that puts fear into your mind. I wanted to hear more but she was really uncomfortable talking about it. She kept saying forget it and don’t tell anyone she said anything. The elevator doors opened and she turned and said “They turned my pictures face down”. I told her it was O.K. and I wanted to know more but she was obviously ashamed she said anything. I, on the other hand, felt totally vindicated once again. I’ll get more out of her…
Note: she moved into a unit the lady before her had passed away in.
A few years ago a lady passed away where I work. She put her piano in the community room for everyone. Occasionally someone would play it, most people thought it was an eyesore. Also, when someone cleaned out a closet they would set things on a table in the community room for anyone to take. When I came in the other morning there was a pile. Not paying any attention to it, I went about my usual routine. Getting off the elevator back on the first floor I could hear the faint sound of the piano playing. It was Music Box Dancer. I headed towards the community room as the music faded the closer I got. The lights were off, only the gloomy rays from the rainy early morning came in. There was silence by the time I turned into the doorway. After the lady died her family took the piano, it’s been gone for over a year but that’s not what caught my attention in there. Sitting in front of the pile of belongings on the table was this wood carved statue looking at me.
I never initiate a conversation about the subject of this blog to anyone. If they start talking about events that’s happened to them, I’m glad to jump in.
Days are long where I work at. There’s one building with fifty people. Not a lot goes on. The property is clean and kept up. Social workers and health-care aides feel safe compared to other places they visit through out the day so they tend to wait for their next appointments in our community room or library. One health-care aide shared her story with me. She knew how to make a short story long and went off in all directions, so I’ll turn a two hour story down to a paragraph.
Sheri’s mother passed away several years ago. On mothers day this year, she sat some flowers at her headstone and took a picture with her phone. A few days afterwards, her phone would vibrate for no reason, although it was set to vibrate and ring when receiving a call. There was no record of any calls coming in. Thursday evening she settled in to veg on the couch. She read a few chapters of a book and grew tired. Sheri set the book on the coffee table, laid the phone face down on top of the book and fell asleep. She was woke up by the phone vibrating. Only this time a glowing light came from under the it. She picked it up and the photo of her mothers headstone quickly flashed from the screen. It was late so she went to bed. As she fell asleep the phone vibrated and lit up again. This time she could hear a faint conversation. As she picked up the phone there was the picture she took of her mothers headstone. The phone conversation became more clear. It was her mothers voice. Sheri couldn’t make out who she was talking to, the other end was static, but she sounded cheerful and happy. What Sheri remembers of the conversation was her mother saying, “Tell him I said hello and I’ll see you soon.” Sheri yelled “MOM” into the phone. Her mother answered, “Sheri, I’ll see you too.” There was silence. The photo slowly faded out…
For a while I lived above an old diner. It was built around 1920. This place had a life of it’s own, you could feel the past still alive inside. At night when the diner closed you could still sense someone was inside. The hallway to get to my door was long and narrow. Occasionally it would feel like someone walked by me as I unlocked my door, the air moved. At times you just knew someone was right in front of you, staring, ready to confront you. I always entered through the back of the building. Two flights of metal stairs. Going up, they watched. I was the new guy. The one that wasn’t excited about the diner atmosphere. The one you would only get a hello out of if you were lucky. They watched me coming up. They moved out into the hall, silent but present. One place I never went was down the front steps that lead out to the street. There was a heavy feeling to those steps. Something happened at the bottom, something bad and it was still there. This dark place never lit up no matter how bright the sun was or how much light would shine on it. I remember taking this photo the day I moved out. It was late at night, around 10:00 pm. The apartment was left just as I had found it except for a few bumps on the walls. Loading up the last bit of my belongings I looked up to the windows. They were watching, waiting. Someone new will come along, just like I did.