Tag Archives: ghost story

Five Shots for The Broken Anchor

 

Andrew heaved a sigh of relief. It had been a busy night but now the bar was empty and he was looking forward to cashing out and going home. Not bad for a summer gig but it was exhausting work. As he turned around to polish down the bar one more time he noticed a man sitting at the end.

“Hey man I didn’t see you sitting there, sorry about that. What can I get you?” Andrew looked expectantly at the man and wondered if he’d seen him somewhere before. He looked familiar.

The party in question raised his head slightly and quietly said “beer, whatever you got on tap”.

Andrew hurried to comply. The sooner this guy drank up his beer the sooner Andrew could get out of here. As the bartender turned back to his patron he noticed the man looking at the five shots of rum that were always kept at the end of the bar.

Ever a friendly sort Andrew proceeded to explain. “There’s a cool story about those shots of rum. The original owner of the bar and his four shipmates went down at sea in a storm. These are to honour them. Cool story don’t you think?” Andrew expected this patron to react the way everyone else did: to smile and then to go on to talk about something else. No one likes to talk about death too often it’s, well, depressing.

“It was’na cool, it was cold. Bitterly cold. You have’na got the story right.” The person speaking barely raised his head and he spoke so quietly that Andrew had to stop what he was doing and pay attention.

“Only four died that night. Tonight. 100 years ago tonight there was a storm. They thought they were safe. They anchored in a small bay and left one on watch to make sure everything was okay. Everything wasn’t okay. It was cold. Just one quick little sip of gin would warm you up. Problem is one little sip ended up becoming a whole bottle. It was a bugger of storm. But sailors are used to sleeping when the boat rolls. They count on their shipmate on watch to let them know if there’s any danger. But he fell asleep. Too much grog. When the big wave hit he got tossed into the drink. Saved his life. Shipmates were asleep below deck. The sea took ‘em. The sea doesn’t give back what she takes. She’s a jealous mistress.”

Andrew was stunned. “How do you know this? How do you know what happened? And what happened to the fifth guy that went overboard?”

The man looked up and Andrew could see his face and realized that he was an old man. He looked broken and sad. Andrew looked a little more closely and realized where he’d seen his face before. He took a step back and watched.

“Insurance money paid for this bar and its name tells the story of what happened that night: The Broken Anchor. One man survived and lived with the guilt of what he had done. He lived and for the next 40 years made a toast to his four shipmates every night with four tots of rum. Their ghosts can’t drink them but everybody should know how they died.”

“Cecil. His name was Cecil. I remember now. He was buried at sea. When he died he asked that the name of the bar never be changed and a measure of rum be added to the others so that there are now five. I love the history of the area and that one is definitely one for the books. Man that is so cool! You must be a relative, you look just like the picture in the office. ” Andrew was excited and turned away to grab a pen and a piece paper to write down this newfound knowledge. When he turned back the party he had been speaking to was gone. There was water pooling on the stool and the floor. There was another damp spot on the bar along with a piece of seaweed and an empty shot glass.

At first he was confused thinking he’d imagined all of this but when he looked to the end of the bar the remaining four shots of rum were also gone, emptied. A chill went up Andrew’s back and for the first time in a very long time he grew afraid of the dark.

At that precise moment he heard the local church bell ring 2 o’clock in the morning. Gusts of wind rattled the panes of glass in the front window and Andrew for just a moment was sure he heard several men singing. He couldn’t quite make out the words but was pretty sure he heard the name Cecil B. That was the name of the boat!

 

 

 

The Mists of Time

This story i for Linda G Hill.  It is a ghost story and a love story and it is historically correct.  I live in the town mentioned and their park is still here. Check out Just Jot It January at http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/29/just-jot-it-january-29th-ghost/

jjj-2016 (1)

No one knows exactly what happened on that final day or even what actually happened during the preceding weeks. He was one of the countless summer visitors that would arrive from places like Toronto by steamship. As many as 3000 people would visit Oakville in a single day. They mingled with the local folk in the beautiful summer days of that year. His name was Aloysius.

Her name was Mary. She was born on the 15th of April in the year of our Lord 1881. Her father worked in the Carson & Sons Planing Mill. He worked there for 30 years and for half of those years he carried a secret.

Mary didn’t have a mother. Or rather she didn’t remember her. She died while giving birth to Mary’s younger brother, he didn’t survive either. When she was very young Mary learned to take care of the house and her father. It’s what women did in those days, they took care of things.

Jacob was a good man, was Mary’s father. But he didn’t know what to do with his little girl. She wasn’t a little girl anymore. She was a young woman, a young, beautiful woman. Like the youth of all centuries she wanted some excitement. So on that fateful day she left the chores in her home to go for a walk in George’s Square.

Mary was positively giddy. It was a beautiful day, bright sunshine, a gentle breeze, and the smell of flowers the air. She didn’t go far; there was a park very close to her father’s work. He used to take her there when she was a small child. It was a favourite place for people to congregate. It is believed that’s where she met Aloysius.

“Hello.”

Mary turned around. What she saw made her smile and blush at the same time.

“Hello.”

“Are you from around here?” The smiling gentleman asked.

Mary blushed again. “Yes I am. Are you lost?”

The gentleman breathed deeply and put his hands in his pockets. “I have just come up from the city and I’m wondering where are the best places that I should visit. I’m only here for the day.” He looked down at this beautiful raven haired young woman, he was quite tall, “Would you be willing to show me the sites?”

Mary had been feeling the need for little excitement in her life, and here it was standing right in front of her. He looked to be a gentleman from the city, perhaps a wealthy gentleman. She was at first a little nervous but it was a beautiful day and she was feeling adventurous.

“I would love to give you a tour of the town. My name is Mary.”

“And you can call me Aloysius.”

“That is quite an unusual name.” She tried to hide her smile, unsuccessfully. Then she thought that perhaps she had been impolite.

The gentleman in question simply chuckled out loud, “I was named after my father, by my mother. It is quite a moniker.” His smile deepened. “It’s nice to be a little different.”

As the two walked through George’s Square they became more comfortable with each other. He was a young gentleman well attired and well spoken. She was a young girl, barely a woman with a girlish delight in being free.

We can’t know what was actually said when the two met but Mary kept a diary. Years later it would be found and many of the questions surrounding their story would be answered.

Aloysius was indeed a gentleman. Actually he was a gentleman’s gentleman. He was in service in the city of Toronto. Every Sunday he was given leave to pursue his own interests, whatever they may be. Once he met Mary he spent every Sunday of that fateful summer in the small town of Oakville, on the shores of Lake Ontario. They would visit the strawberry market, walk along the shoreline and picnic under the trees. Their friendship grew and over the many weeks so did their love.

During this time Mary’s father was under the impression that she was helping out at their local church. As he was not one to attend services he never questioned her supposed attendance. So he was completely unaware of the growing relationship between Mary and Aloysius. He wasn’t the only one. While they never intentionally hid themselves from Mary’s friends, they didn’t frequent areas that the others normally attended. But eventually the summer ended and so did the steamship from Toronto.

“Mary I’m asking you to come back to Toronto with me. You can live with my sister until the wedding. I know I can find you work with the mistress of the house. She is always looking for competent maids or perhaps a tutor for the children.”

Mary held the hands of the man she loved but she could not look him in the eye. “I have told my father nothing. He doesn’t even know you exist. I can’t just leave him”.

“Beloved I have to leave. This is the last boat of the season. I have no means to support myself here in Oakville. I have a good life in Toronto. We have talked about this. Let me approach your father and ask for your hand in marriage. He must agree.”

Very slowly Mary withdrew her hands from the grip of the man she loved. She still had not looked into his eyes. “I will speak to my father and I will return here shortly. The boat doesn’t leave for several hours. You must trust me. I will return.”

Slowly Mary raised her head and looked deep into the eyes of the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Her hand touched his cheek gently, no words were necessary. She smiled and left him waiting on the pier.

When Mary returned home her father wasn’t there. She knew he sometimes went into the plant on Sundays so that is where she went. It’s difficult to know what actually happened on that tragic day in Carson and Sons Planing Mill. What we do know is that Mary died in there. She may have fallen or she may have been struck down. No one knows or no one is speaking of it.

Mary’s father would not speak of that day except to say that there was an accident. Aloysius waited on the pier but his beloved never showed and he didn’t know why. He left on the last steamship of the summer.

The next year the steamships did not return to plying the waters near Oakville for passengers and Aloysius was unable to return to Mary. He tried writing letters but they were never answered. Many years went by, Jacob mourned the loss of his daughter but he never spoke of it to anyone. Some said they often found him sitting on a chair outside the Mill talking to himself. It sounded as if he was talking to someone else but no one was nearby. There are those who said he was talking to his daughter, or the spirit of his daughter. Perhaps he was trying to atone for what had happened. Jacob never said and he died the year the Mill was closed.

Aloysius eventually married. He had three daughters, the last one he called Mary. He was never a happy man; he rarely smiled and was never seen to laugh. After many years of marriage his wife died and his daughters married and had children of their own. In time Aloysius once again visited Oakville. It had been a lifetime and the town was no longer sleepy anymore. It was vibrant and alive. Aloysius went back to the places that he and Mary had once known. The shoreline was much more built up and the main street had more stores. The house where Mary had once lived was gone. George’s Square was still there and the trees were bigger and more lush. Aloysius sat on a bench and remembered how happy he had been so many years ago and he wondered if Mary was happy now.

It was dusk when a married couple out walking in the fresh autumn air noticed a well-dressed older man sitting on a park bench. When they returned from their constitutional the gentleman had not moved. The man stopped to inquire if there was anything wrong. That’s when he discovered that Aloysius had died. He had died in the last place that he was happy.

There are those who say that on a warm summer night just about dusk if you’re very careful and very lucky you can see the misty outline of two people sitting on a park bench. One shape is that of a well-dressed gentleman, a young man and the other is of a very young woman with long dark hair.

Perhaps what they could not have while they lived, they found together in the mists of the spirit world.

the end

 

 

Shadows

Shadows

Anna looked carefully around her.  She needed to be alone, just one more time. She would never have come back here if she hadn’t promised.  It was so long ago. But she was a woman who kept her word.  She had keep it for 41 years.  Now she had been given a limit on the time she had left.  Three months, that was it. There were things she needed to do, and time was short.

She was 21 when it happened.  He was 24.  They were just kids, they didn’t know about death.  They learned a lot that night.  There were two others in their party, young lovers.  Two people in the first blush of love and totally oblivious to the world around them. There was no moon that night, no wind.  It was quiet, deathly so.  Perhaps it was a sign.  Maybe they should have paid attention.

Anna and her lover walked into the forest hand in hand.  They talked about their future, how many children they would have and where they would like to live.  They stopped and kissed with long gentle caresses.  They were comfortable in their companionship.  This night was a way to let Michael and Holly have a chance to be together.  Two young lovers.  It wasn’t perfect but laying blankets down in the grasses would do.  And the starry night would be the only witness to their love.

After a time Anna and Simon returned from their walk.  They were laughing, happy.  How quickly the world can change. Michael stood at the edge of the water staring at a rowboat a few yards offshore.  Holly was nowhere to be found.

Anna sat on the edge of a rowboat that was overturned at the shoreline.  She wondered briefly if it was the same one. Decades past. Michael wouldn’t or couldn’t tell them what happened.  The blanket was gone and so was Holly. Simon waded into the water to retrieve the boat and it only added to the mystery.  There was blood on the bottom of the boat, not a lot but enough that Anna worried.

It was a different time, different expectations.  No one seemed to miss Holly.  No one asked where she was. Even the police didn’t seem to care. No body no worries. Michael never spoke about her except once.  A few weeks after the fateful night Michael asked Anna if she would scatter his ashes at the place he lost Holly.  She agreed never imagining that he would be dead three days later, by his own hand.

She did as she was asked with Simon by her side.  They tried to forget that night, tried not to wonder what had happened.  They drifted apart.  But they kept silent.  Simon moved across the country and eventually died in a car accident.  He never married.  Just like Anna. When his ashes showed up at her door it was no surprise.  She knew.  They were all bound by the events of that one night. She came out again to the same spot.

A few more years went by and Anna worried that the land around the lake would be bought and developed so she used her substantial influences to purchase the land, to protect it. And now she was here. Alone. It was almost time.  Her turn soon.

“We’ve been waiting for you Anna.”

________________________

“The body of socialite Anna Ellery was found on Demon’s Lake. She had succumbed to an aggressive tumor.  It is unknown why she would travel to the lake, which she has owned for almost 30 years. More than 40 years ago Ms. Ellery was in a party at the lake when one of her companions went missing.  Holly Burgess’ body was never found.”

 

The end

 

 

 

This picture was taken by Jithin at trablogger.wordpress.com.  I saw it on one of his posts and was immediately inspired. This story is the result.  The photo is used with his permission.  Please check out his blog, you will not be disappointed!

 

The Mists of Time

Jan 30 2014 005

 

No one knows exactly what happened on that final day or even what actually happened during the preceding weeks.  He was one of the countless summer visitors that would arrive from places like Toronto by steamship.  As many as 3000 people would visit Oakville in a single day.  They mingled with the local folk in the beautiful summer days of that year.  His name was Aloysius.

Her name was Mary.  She was born on the 15th of April in the year of our Lord 1881.  Her father worked in the Carson & Sons Planing Mill.  He worked there for 30 years and for half of those years he carried a secret.

Mary didn’t have a mother.  Or rather she didn’t remember her.  She died while giving birth to Mary’s younger brother, he didn’t survive either.  When she was very young Mary learned to take care of the house and her father.  It’s what women did in those days, they took care of things.

Jacob was a good man, was Mary’s father.  But he didn’t know what to do with his little girl.  She wasn’t a little girl anymore.  She was a young woman, a young, beautiful woman. Like the youth of all centuries she wanted some excitement.  So on that fateful day she left the chores in her home to go for a walk in George’s Square.

Mary was positively giddy.  It was a beautiful day, bright sunshine, a gentle breeze, and the smell of flowers the air.  She didn’t go far; there was a park very close to her father’s work.  He used to take her there when she was a small child.  It was a favourite place for people to congregate.  It is believed that’s where she met Aloysius.

“Hello.”

Mary turned around.  What she saw made her smile and blush at the same time.

“Hello.”

“Are you from around here?”  The smiling gentleman asked.

Mary blushed again.  “Yes I am. Are you lost?”

The gentleman breathed deeply and put his hands in his pockets. “I have just come up from the city and I’m wondering where are the best places that I should visit.  I’m only here for the day.”  He looked down at this beautiful raven haired young woman, he was quite tall, “Would you be willing to show me the sites?”

Mary had been feeling the need for little excitement in her life, and here it was standing right in front of her.  He looked to be a gentleman from the city, perhaps a wealthy gentleman.  She was at first a little nervous but it was a beautiful day and she was feeling adventurous.

“I would love to give you a tour of the town.  My name is Mary.”

“And you can call me Aloysius.”

“That is quite an unusual name.”  She tried to hide her smile, unsuccessfully.  Then she thought that perhaps she had been impolite.

The gentleman in question simply chuckled out loud, “I was named after my father, by my mother.  It is quite a moniker.”  His smile deepened.  “It’s nice to be a little different.”

As the two walked through George’s Square they became more comfortable with each other.  He was a young gentleman well attired and well spoken.  She was a young girl, barely a woman with a girlish delight in being free.

We can’t know what was actually said when the two met but Mary kept a diary.  Years later it would be found and many of the questions surrounding their story would be answered.

Aloysius was indeed a gentleman.  Actually he was a gentleman’s gentleman.  He was in service in the city of Toronto.  Every Sunday he was given leave to pursue his own interests, whatever they may be.  Once he met Mary he spent every Sunday of that fateful summer in the small town of Oakville, on  the shores of Lake Ontario.  They would visit the strawberry market, walk along the shoreline and picnic under the trees.  Their friendship grew and over the many weeks so did their love.

During this time Mary’s father was under the impression that she was helping out at their local church.  As he was not one to attend services he never questioned her supposed attendance.  So he was completely unaware of the growing relationship between Mary and Aloysius.  He wasn’t the only one.  While they never intentionally hid themselves from Mary’s friends, they didn’t frequent areas that the others normally attended.  But eventually the summer ended and so did the steamship from Toronto.

“Mary I’m asking you to come back to Toronto with me.  You can live with my sister until the wedding.  I know I can find you work with the mistress of the house.  She is always looking for competent maids or perhaps a tutor for the children.”

Mary held the hands of the man she loved but she could not look him in the eye. “I have told my father nothing.  He doesn’t even know you exist.  I can’t just leave him”.

“Beloved I have to leave. This is the last boat of the season. I have no means to support myself here in Oakville.  I have a good life in Toronto.  We have talked about this.  Let me approach your father and ask for your hand in marriage. He must agree.”

Very slowly Mary withdrew her hands from the grip of the man she loved.  She still had not looked into his eyes.  “I will speak to my father and I will return here shortly.  The boat doesn’t leave for several hours. You must trust me.  I will return.”

Slowly Mary raised her head and looked deep into the eyes of the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.  Her hand touched his cheek gently, no words were necessary.  She smiled and left him waiting on the pier.

When Mary returned home her father wasn’t there.  She knew he sometimes went into the plant on Sundays so that is where she went.  It’s difficult to know what actually happened on that tragic day in Carson and Sons Planing Mill.  What we do know is that Mary died in there.  She may have fallen or she may have been struck down. No one knows or no one is speaking of it.

Mary’s father would not speak of that day except to say that there was an accident.  Aloysius waited on the pier but his beloved never showed and he didn’t know why.  He left on the last steamship of the summer.

The next year the steamships did not return to plying the waters near Oakville for passengers and Aloysius was unable to return to Mary.  He tried writing letters but they were never answered. Many years went by, Jacob mourned the loss of his daughter but he never spoke of it to anyone.  Some said they often found him sitting on a chair outside the Mill talking to himself.  It sounded as if he was talking to someone else but no one was nearby.  There are those who said he was talking to his daughter, or the spirit of his daughter.  Perhaps he was trying to atone for what had happened.  Jacob never said and he died the year the Mill was closed.

Aloysius eventually married.  He had three daughters, the last one he called Mary.  He was never a happy man; he rarely smiled and was never seen to laugh.  After many years of marriage his wife died and his daughters married and had children of their own.  In time Aloysius once again visited Oakville.  It had been a lifetime and the town was no longer sleepy anymore.  It was vibrant and alive.  Aloysius went back to the places that he and Mary had once known. The shoreline was much more built up and the main street had more stores. The house where Mary had once lived was gone. George’s Square was still there and the trees were bigger and lusher.  Aloysius sat on a bench and remembered how happy he had been so many years ago and he wondered if Mary was happy now.

It was dusk when a married couple out walking in the fresh autumn air noticed a well-dressed older man sitting on a park bench. When they returned from their constitutional the gentleman had not moved.  The man stopped to inquire if there was anything wrong.  That’s when he discovered that Aloysius had died.  He had died in the last place that he was happy.

There are those who say that on a warm summer night just about dusk if you’re very careful and very lucky you can see the misty outline of two people sitting on a park bench. One shape is that of a well-dressed gentleman, a young man and the other is of a very young woman with long dark hair.

Perhaps what they could not have while they lived, they found together in the mists of the spirit world.

 

************************************

This story was written for my Mother. For a few years she lived in a Retirement Residence built on the site of  Carson & Sons Planing Mill.

Five Shots for The Broken Anchor

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Andrew heaved a sigh of relief.  It had been a busy night but now the bar was empty and he was looking forward to cashing out and going home. Not bad for a summer gig but it was exhausting work.  As he turned around to polish down the bar one more time he noticed a man sitting at the end.

“Hey man I didn’t see you sitting there, sorry about that.  What can I get you?”  Andrew looked expectantly at the man and wondered if he’d seen him somewhere before.  He looked familiar.

The party in question raised his head slightly and quietly said “beer, whatever you got on tap”.

Andrew hurried to comply.  The sooner this guy drank up his beer the sooner Andrew could get out of here.  As the bartender turned back to his patron he noticed the man looking at the five shots of rum that were always kept at the end of the bar.

Ever a friendly sort Andrew proceeded to explain.  “There’s a cool story about those shots of rum.  The original owner of the bar and his four shipmates went down at sea in a storm.  These are to honor them.  Cool story don’t you think?”  Andrew expected this patron to react the way everyone else did: to smile and then to go on to talk about something else.  No one likes to talk about death too often it’s, well, depressing.

“It was’na cool, it was cold.  Bitterly cold.  You have’na got the story right.”  The person speaking barely raised his head and he spoke so quietly that Andrew had to stop what he was doing and pay attention.

“Only four died that night.  Tonight.  100 years ago tonight there was a storm.  They thought they were safe.  They anchored in a small bay and left one on watch to make sure everything was okay.  Everything wasn’t okay.  It was cold.  Just one quick little sip of gin would warm you up.  Problem is one little sip ended up becoming a whole bottle.  It was a bugger of storm.  But sailors are used to sleeping when the boat rolls.  They count on their shipmate on watch to let them know if there’s any danger.  But he fell asleep.  Too much grog.  When the big wave hit he got tossed into the drink.  Saved his life.  Shipmates were asleep below deck.  The sea took ‘em.  The sea doesn’t give back what she takes.  She’s a jealous mistress.”

Andrew was stunned.  “How do you know this?  How do you know what happened?  And what happened to the fifth guy that went overboard?”

The man looked up and Andrew could see his face and realized that he was an old man.  He looked broken and sad.  Andrew looked a little more closely and realized where he’d seen his face before.  He took a step back and watched.

“Insurance money paid for this bar and its name tells the story of what happened that night: The Broken Anchor.  One man survived and lived with the guilt of what he had done.  He lived and for the next 40 years made a toast to his four shipmates every night with four tots of rum.  Their ghosts can’t drink them but everybody should know how they died.”

“Cecil.  His name was Cecil.  I remember now. He was buried at sea. When he died he asked that the name of the bar never be changed and a measure of rum be added to the others so that there are now five.  I love the history of the area and that one is definitely one for the books. Man that is so cool!  You must be a relative, you look just like the picture in the office. ”   Andrew was excited and turned away to grab a pen and a piece paper to write down this newfound knowledge.  When he turned back the party he had been speaking to was gone.  There was water pooling on the stool and the floor.  There was another damp spot on the bar along with a piece of seaweed and an empty shot glass.

At first he was confused thinking he’d imagined all of this but when he looked to the end of the bar the remaining four shots of rum were also gone, emptied.  A chill went up Andrew’s back and for the first time in a very long time he grew afraid of the dark.

At that precise moment he heard the local church bell ring 2 o’clock in the morning.  Gusts of wind rattled the panes of glass in the front window and Andrew for just a moment was sure he heard several men singing.  He couldn’t quite make out the words but was pretty sure he heard the name Cecil B.  That was the name of the boat!

anchor 2

“Asleep at the Wheel”

vista mountains

Hector heaved a very big sigh and squirmed a little.  Well he had asked for it.  He had wanted to go to this conference and now he understood why there hadn’t been much opposition. Three days in close proximity to 200 people who only wanted to bitch about their product, their clients, their . . .   He had thought that these things were to exchange ideas and brainstorm with individuals who had been through the same obstacles, the same hurdles that he had.  Instead it was just a long weekend to bitch, drink too much, eat too much and complain about everything.

Well it was over, over and done with.  It would definitely be the last time Hector Alonso Salvatan ever volunteered for that kind of duty.  He had heard that conferences were fun, informative.  Of course he had heard that from colleagues who were mysteriously unable to attend this particular conference.

He smiled.  Well, it had been a learning experience and now he was safely ensconced in his car and headed home.  Home to Maria, Emily and the little name sake, the heir apparent: Hector junior.  Hector senior smiled.  He was proud of his little family.  His little angel of 6 going on 26.  She was so caught up in fashion it was creepy.  What on earth could be fashionable about being 6 years old?

Hmmmm. Comfortable, that’s what I am, thought Hector, comfortable. So very comfortable.  He smiled again and slowly his comfort eased his eyelids closer and closer together, until only a small slit remained to tell his weary body how to drive.

Whoa! Shit! Okay, okay! I’m okay! Damn!  With a jolt Hector roused himself from the stupor that had threatened to careen his weary body into the ditch.  That was not good, that was really stupid.  Okay, how would that have looked? Christ! Salesman of the Year Falls Asleep At The Wheel.  Great headline.  Sleeping on the job.  Okay that is not going to happen again.

When his heart rate returned to a more reasonable rhythm, Hector tried to rationalize what had just happened.  He knew he shouldn’t have tried to drive home tonight.  It was past midnight and he had not had much sleep in the last three nights.  First he had worried about his presentation at the conference and then there was just too much noise to actually sleep. He wanted to go home.  Sheesh thought Hector, I sound like a child.

With the return of calmness also came the return of complacency.  Once again the comfortable car seat and the hypnotic thrump, thrump, thrump of the tires on the road worked their magic.  His eyelids became heavier, and heavier, his chin slowly arched towards his chest and his breathing became evenly spaced and quiet.  This time differed from the first in the distance the car was able to travel in a straight line.  The road didn’t curve for several hundred yards and as a result Hector’s car gave no outward sign that anything was wrong, at least not for several seconds.

 

**********************

 

When he awoke Hector was confused.  It was dark; his headlights didn’t seem to be working.  He was also uncomfortable, he felt like he was sitting on an angle and he was wet.  Why was he sitting in the water on an angle? He couldn’t remember, he couldn’t think.  His world was closing in on him and his mind desperately wanted to panic.

Hector squeezed his hands together forcing his fingernails into the palms of his hands and began to recite Santa’s reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, . . . . Prancer, damn it . . . ,Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Bashful and Sneezy.  With that he started to chuckle. An almost hysterical laughter threatened to erupt, but he forced it back down.  “I will NOT PANIC . . . I will NOT panic . . . I WILL not panic. . . I will not panic.  As he said the words out loud Hector began to regain his composure.

As his mind cleared he started to understand with horrific clarity just what had happened.  He had fallen asleep at the wheel of his car and as a result he had driven off the road.  It was a secondary road and not well traveled. He had believed that it would take at least an hour off his six hour drive home.  Now it looked as if that decision was going to cost him a whole lot more than an hour.

He needed to take stock of the situation.  He didn’t know how long he had been unconscious but the darkness was becoming a little less intense.  He could almost make out shapes.  It appeared that his car was covered with shrubbery, small trees perhaps that had broken off as he plunged down an embankment?

Once again Hector paused and tried to understand what was happening. He was alive, that was important.  He didn’t appear to be too badly injured, that was equally important. His body did ache in unusual places but that was to be expected in a car crash.  The car . . . it did seem to be in one piece, but Hector now discovered that he couldn’t swivel around to see out the back window.  In fact his body didn’t seem to want to do anything he asked of it. His arms worked, a little, and there was no pain.  Actually, there was little feeling, at all.

Just beneath the surface of this otherwise intelligent man bubbled feelings and emotions that threatened to overcome him. He knew that panic killed more people then actual injuries did, he would not be one of those statistics.  He would not.  Maria, he would concentrate on her face, and Emily and Little Hector.  He wanted to see them graduate and get married and . . . .  Hector gave his head a shake.  Think positively and you will get out of this situation.  You always do.

 

**************************

 

With a jolt our hero realized that he had been asleep, again.  His eyes felt gritty and there was a nasty taste in his mouth. He tried to wipe the sleep from his eyes and only succeeded in slapping his nose.  Confused Hector looked down.  The light was filtering into the car and he could now make out more images and understand what he was seeing. He was wet.  Now he understood why and why he felt little pain.  Just about where Hector thought his pelvic bone resided there was a tree branch sticking out, or maybe it was an actual tree.  It had leaves and rough bark.  He could even see a few ants furiously traipsing back and forth.  He idly wondered why he did not itch and then smiled.  Little Hector would think this was so cool.

In the sporadic light he could also make out a pool of water that seemed to cover most of the front seats and the floor. With growing horror Hector realized that while it was indeed wet it was not water, it was blood.  Just at that moment the demons that lurk deep inside every one of us broke loose of their bonds and overwhelmed this mild-mannered salesman. If any person had been nearby they would have been terrified to hear the blood curdling screams that seemed to split the air. Birds took to the sky in panicked flocks,  and deer quickly left to seek other feeding grounds.  Hector was alone, truly alone.

For each of us time passes in the details of our lives.  We get out of bed, we go to work.  We have tasks that we perform each day, some personal and intimate, others dictated by the requests of another.  But the one thing we all have in common is that we do things.

Hector did nothing.  He slept, he cried, he ranted, he screamed and he thought. He thought about himself, his family, his co-workers and he talked.  He talked to himself and he talked to God.  He didn’t try to blame anyone else for his predicament, it was his fault alone, he knew that.  He wondered how he would be remembered. Would it be as the idiot that got himself killed or the unlucky man with the misfortune to die alone.  He didn’t want to be forgotten. That’s what he wanted out of this life: to be remembered.  If it had to end this way then he wanted someone to benefit from this lesson that he had learned too late.

The sun slowly succumbed to the growing darkness.  As the moon rose in its gentle arc the creatures of the night ventured forth to feed and to investigate the strange metal beast that had intruded into their world. Some were able to touch the beast and taste its hard, cold flesh only to be frightened away by the strange noises from within.  Over time the noises became weaker until the cold beast no longer spoke. And over time the creatures from the night and those who walk by day, no longer cared about the stranger.  They had their own lives to live and to die as time inexorably lumbered on.

 

***********

 

“Hey Hector, wake up man, you gonna let them get away with that!”

Slowly Hector once again struggled towards a conscious state and was startled by what he found there: he was in a chair in the lobby of the hotel and a rather drunk, disheveled behemoth was excitedly spewing spittle in his face.

It was a dream!  He was alive!  He hadn’t left for home as planned. He laughed out loud and threatened to kiss the surprised behemoth. “I’m ALIVE.”   He didn’t stop to explain his actions as he bolted for his room and a phone.  He was going to call Maria and tell her how much he loved her and the kids and then he was going to get at least 8 hours sleep before he drove home on the very busy main roads.

 

****************

 

 

“A Boy Scout troupe today found the body of Edward Hayes, 54, who had been missing for 5 months.  The search for Mr. Hayes had been concentrated on the main roads it was believed he would have traveled between his home and a conference he had been attending.  Unfortunately it now appears that Mr. Hayes had been travelling a little used secondary highway.  It is believed he fell asleep at the wheel and drove off the road into a deep ravine.  No foul play is suspected. Due to the steep embankment and the abundant underbrush the car was virtually invisible from the road.”

 

“In other news . . . .”