Ghost Stories #5 part 2

Summer

          It was 4th of July before anything else happened. Angie was with her grandparents and Linda and Shawn decided to throw a little party with a few friends. They spent majority of the evening in the backyard. They drank, they laughed, they enjoyed the fireworks from the park down the road. All in all, it was a good night. They were almost able to forget about the weird things that had been happening.

          Until they went back in the house at the end of the night.

          “Woah, who tracked all this mud in the house?” Jennifer asked. She stepped to the side and revealed the muddy footprints across the wood floor.

          “What? There hasn’t been rain all month, where’d the mud even come from?” Shawn asked.

          Linda followed the prints down the hall. They wrapped in a circle around the kitchen island and went out the other side door. The continued down the hall and ended abruptly as though whoever had made the prints had walked right through the wall. She felt cold all over.

          Back in the kitchen, their friends had already forgotten the prints and were on to talking about other things. But Shawn made eye contact with Linda when she reentered the room and could see her fear. He decided not press the subject. He squeezed her hand and whispered, “Let’s not worry about it tonight.”

          So, they didn’t. Alcohol really helps when you’re attempting to suppress stressful thoughts.

          The next afternoon, Linda scrubbed the floor until it shined. She tried not to think about what she was cleaning. They’d made a mess during the party, that was all. She didn’t bring it up again, and neither did Shawn.

          It was mid-August before anything else disturbed their peace. Linda had allowed herself to forget and Shawn went about his daily business as though nothing had ever interrupted him.

          Angie was in the back yard on the porch swing. Linda sat nearby with a magazine. Shawn was attempting to fix the lawn mower. It was a typical Saturday afternoon. Linda put down her magazine and stretched.

          “I’m going to make some lemonade, you two want some?” She asked.

          “Yes, please,” Shawn said without looking up from his work.

          “Yum!” Angie said with a smile.

          Linda crossed the threshold and froze. Spread out across the kitchen floor were all of the knives from the block. They were laid out from smallest to largest and pointing toward the door where she stood. If that wasn’t startling enough, a small grey cat was fiddling with the handle of the third knife. A small grey cat that Linda had never seen before.

          “Shawn!” She called over her shoulder and she tried to keep the panic out of her voice. She didn’t want to alarm Angie.

          “What is it?” He jumped up from the lawn mower and jogged across the lawn. He saw the fear in her eyes and how pale her face was and grew more concerned the closer he got.

          “Look…” Was all she managed to say.

          Shawn moved around her to see in the house. The cat was still playing with a knife on the floor.

          “What… How did… Where did the cat… What the hell is going on here?”

          “Mommy?” Angie trotted across the sidewalk and peered through their legs. “Ooh! A kitty! Can we keep it?”

          “Oh, honey…” Linda began but Angie had already rushed into the house to pet the cat.

          Shawn darted in behind her to snatch up the knives on the floor before she could hurt herself. “Angie, sweetie…”

          “It’s so cute!”

          Linda and Shawn exchanged a look over their daughter’s head.

          “Let’s just not – “

          “Worry about it. Yeah.” Linda took the knives from Shawn and left the room.  

Ghost Story #3

                “Where are we?” Mary asked. She peered out the window, but it was too dark to see anything. When Jack didn’t answer, she smacked his arm. “Are we lost?”

                “No.” Jack squinted and leaned over the steering wheel.

                “Then what’s this street called?” He said nothing. “Jack! What the hell?” She pulled out her cell phone to look on the GPS. “Great. There’s no cell service out here.” She pouted and slumped down.

                “Relax.” Jack shifted around in his seat. He tightened his grip on the steering wheel as the car lurched over a hill he hadn’t seen coming in the dark.

                “Jesus! Take it easy, would ya?” Mary’s hand had flown to the handle over her window and she left it there. She attempted to look out again and saw trees, and then a fence. “That’s a cemetery.”

                “Mmm.” Jack mumbled. He switched back and forth between the high and low beams, but it made little difference. “I think I need to turn around.”

                Mary rolled her eyes. “Ya think?”

                “Shut up.” Jack slowed and did a neat three-point turn.

                “I think I see lights out there.” A chill crept over Mary’s skin. “This place is giving me the creeps.” A few moments passed by. “Why haven’t we gone back over that hill yet?”

                “I don’t know.”

                “That’s weird, right? We didn’t go down the road that far, did we?”

                “I don’t know.”

                A rock pinged into Mary’s window and she had to stifle a scream.

                “Shit!” Jack slammed on the brakes and the car slid to a stop.

                A woman stood in the middle of the road with her back to them. She hadn’t moved an inch as the car had approached. Jack beeped the horn, but she still didn’t react. He unbuckled his seat belt and Mary snatched at his arm.

                “What are you doing?”

                “I’m going to see what’s wrong.”

                “Jack, no. That’s stupid. Do not get out of this car.”

                “Don’t be ridicu- “

                Mary cut him off with a scream. The woman now stood at his window; her face covered in shadow from a wide brimmed hat.

                “Get out.”

                They couldn’t see her mouth move, but they heard the words clearly. It was almost like they’d been spoken inside the car.

                “Go, Jack, go!” Tears fell freely from Mary’s eyes.

                “Get out.” Louder this time. The woman began to raise her head.

                “Jack!” Mary did not want to see what was under that hat.

                Jack slammed his foot down and they sped away, dirt kicked up behind them.

                The woman disappeared as the dust settled back into the road.

Just a Thought

                The other day I had a thought…

                When do we stop being fearless?

                As a child I remember climbing the tree in my front yard as high as the branches would hold me. I was way up high, even with the second-floor windows of our house. Even though I was super afraid of heights. I even fell out of the tree several times, and it never phased me. I swung around the branches like a monkey. Climbed up, jumped out into a pile of leaves and then did it all over again.

                And don’t get me started on how I rode my bike. We lived on a hill and I’d go up to the top and race all the way down without a helmet. I went as fast as I could, enjoying the wind on my face. At the bottom of the hill I would screech to a stop and then go back up and do it over and over until I was exhausted. Even after I wrecked in the street and busted my knee open.

                On the playground I’d climb over everything. On top of the monkey bars and all around the jungle gym. I’d hang upside down and jump off of anything. But now…

                But now, it seems I’m hesitant and afraid of so many things.

                Don’t climb too high, don’t drive too fast, don’t go where it’s dark, don’t go alone.

                So, when did this happen? Sure, there’s the common sense factor that kicks in; when you realize that you might hurt yourself when you try something crazy. But does that slowly eat away at urge to ever do the crazy things? The desire to experience the thrill diminishes over time and you stay where you’re safe. But why? You didn’t get hurt too badly as a child or else you wouldn’t have made it to the present, right? Why not be a little crazy?

                Just a thought.

Ghost Story #2

                The building was old, that much was clear. The front lobby might have been redone to give the impression it was still a strong structure, but the bones were deteriorating. The old gym, attached to the back, hadn’t been worked on in over fifty years. There were holes in the bleachers, the old-fashioned lights barely lit up the room, and there was a smell of rot and decay in the locker room. What might not have been clear from all of this, was how many people had died here.

                Junior high wasn’t a pleasant time for most people. It was worse for some more than others. And it was worst for the ones that lost their life in the girls’ locker room of the old gym.

                The first was a young lady by the name of Emma, in 1868, only two years after the school was built. She was found hanging by her neck in the showers. Emma’s friend Mary told authorities that she’d last seen her in the cafeteria. A particularly nasty girl named Margaret had been picking on her. It later came to light that Margaret had bullied Emma since the beginning of the school year.

                In 1883, another girl was found hanging in the shower. Alice had never been bullied. In fact, it later was overheard that some were happy to see her go; that they would no longer be ‘terrorized’ by her.

                The next happened in 1905. And again in 1926. After Carol was found in 1947, the school boarded up the showers to keep it from happening again.

                It’s the year 1993 and Sarah is crying in the corner of the locker room. Her mangled glasses are clutched in her hand as blood dripped from her nose. Anna had shoved her into a wall again, a little harder this time. Then she’d tripped her and stepped on her glasses. She couldn’t take it anymore.

                The door slammed open and Anna walked in, hands on her hips.

                “I found her, Coach Lemon!” she said over her shoulder. “What are you doing in here, crybaby? Skipping class, crybaby?”

                “Leave me alone,” Sarah mumbled and turned away.

                “Aww, poor thing’s upset? I thought you’d be happy to be rid of those stupid, geeky glasses. I was doing you a favor, four-eyes. No one wants to be friend with a nerd.”

                “I said, leave me alone!” Sarah jumped to her feet and ran from the room.

                “Psh. Crybaby.” Anna went over to the mirrors to fluff her hair.

                The lights went out.

                “Hey! Who did that?”

                A crash and a slam and then the lights were back on. Every locker hung open, one door still swinging on its hinges. But there was no one in the room.

                “Who’s there?” Anna said, her voice shook as she lost a bit of her bite.

                The lights went out again.

                Out in the gym, the rest of the class heard a scream. They ran as one to the locker room, Coach Lemon getting there first. There was nothing to see, but a persistent thud could be heard from inside the boarded-up showers.

                By the time someone came to tear down the boards, Anna was dead, hanging in the shower. The word ‘bully’ was written across her forehead in lipstick.

Retail Life Episode 14

                Sometimes I just don’t know how people rationalize their behavior. I thought we were supposed to stop throwing tantrums when we were children. And yet, working in retail, I’ve seen grown adults throw a fit. I’ve seen senior citizens basically stomp their feet because they didn’t get their way. I just don’t get it. How have they survived this far in their life without being told no? Who made them think they were the king or queen of everything and they could always get their way?

                So, there’s this old man that shops in my store. I used to think he was a sweet old man. He walks with a cane, he talks all quiet and slow, he never seems to be in a hurry. I’ve helped him shop multiple times when he couldn’t reach something. I’ve marked stuff down because the package was damaged. I’ve always been nice to him.

                But then one day he bought some kitchen bowls. They’re on a shelf with a strip that says “$1 wow!” all the way across it with individual labels for the different colors spaced out accordingly. Well, there were two colors that were being discontinued and “$0.60” clearance labels were placed in front of those specific bowls. The “sweet” old man bought some of each color. They weren’t all sixty cents. He doesn’t notice until he’s home that he’s been “overcharged.” So, he comes back to the store with his receipt, but doesn’t bring the bowls.

                He comes in yelling right off the bat. Most of it is nonsense since he’s mumbling, but I hear the words “overcharged” and “swindle” and other words of the sort. I calmly take the receipt and try to figure out what he’s talking about, because I’m not the one who rang him up. He’s still yelling about them all being on sale and he wants his money back, etc. etc. I realize the problem and try to explain that not all of the bowls are clearance, just the ones with the signs in front of them. He doesn’t like this, of course, and yells that they all had signs. I ask him to follow me and I’ll show him what I’m talking about and he refuses.

                But he doesn’t just refuse to let me explain, he decides to attack me personally. Because this is obviously all my fault. He starts going on about how we should feel privileged to have him has a customer because he’s got a lot of money. (Then why he’s worried about .40 cents? I’m not sure.) He yells about how he probably has more money in his pocket than I make on my paycheck at my menial little job. (Now I’m curious as to why he’s carrying around over a thousand dollars in cash since I’m the salaried store manager, so I make a decent pay check. And why the old cripple feels safe yelling about it. Like, do you want to get robbed?) And he continues to degrade my job and tell me I’m too stupid to know when to give a customer their money back.

                So, I’ve tried to remain calm through this entire episode, because I know it’s not really about me. I’ve done this job long enough to know that when people act like this, it’s not really me they’re mad at, but still no one likes to be screamed at (especially over .40 cents). I tell him he can bring the bowls back and I can refund him his money. But he doesn’t like this option. He wants the bowls. Duh. Instead, he yells about how he’ll never shop here again and we’re all incompetent and we’ll pay for this, etc. etc. I ask him if he wants his receipt back and he just waves his hand at me and storms out the door.

                Wow.

                But guess who came back a week later to shop and wanted to act like nothing happened? 😊

Retail Life Episode 13

                I went back to work last week and it’s been rough. I really took for granted how accustomed to it I was. After being at home for ten weeks and spending most of that time sitting on the couch or at my desk, going back to standing and walking all day was hard. Aside from that, it was also ridiculously tough to leave my tiny baby for eight hours at a time. It doesn’t help that every customer wants to see pictures of him and it makes me miss him even more.  Even the customers that don’t really like me were excited to see me back and wanted to look at pictures.

                But anyway. An example of the customer not being right.

                On Wednesday of last week, a lady came in and went to my hostess rack. I was doing paperwork, but I heard her moving packages around for a few minutes.

She then came up to the counter and asked, “Do you have any more chocolate cake twinkies?”

Now, seeing as how I heard her over by the rack, I figured we must be out on the shelf. So, I looked over the overstock behind the counter and then said, “No, all we have is what’s on the shelf. The candy truck comes on Friday.”

We discuss the truck time and when the hostess cakes should be put up by and then she left. Later on, I walk around the counter and see there’s a full box of chocolate cake twinkies on the shelf. I roll my eyes and go about my day.

Friday. Our candy truck is late. They’re scheduled at 2pm and don’t show up until 3:45. But of course, the lady shows up at 2:30, as we’d discussed. I point out the box of chocolate cake twinkies on the shelf before she has time to ask.

“No, I don’t want those ones. I want chocolate cake with frosting. I said chocolate cake with frosting.”

*No you didn’t.* “We don’t carry those ones. These are the only hostess cakes we sell.”

“Well I bought them here before.” *No you didn’t.* “Has your truck come yet?”

So, then I have to explain that the truck is late and I don’t know when it will be there because no one has called to tell me. She doesn’t like this information at all, because it is obviously my fault that they’re late, and she storms out.

Now, to be sure, I asked my assistant if we’d gotten chocolate cake twinkies with frosting while I was out on leave. He assured me that we didn’t, because he would have ate them all 😊