There have been times when I have driven all the way across town and suddenly realized that I had no idea how I got there. It’s when the basal ganglia part of your brain has taken control and it happens to all of us at one time or another.
I attributed my blank piece of paper to that phenomena. I figured that I was concentrating so hard on my description of the greeter and being so anxious to meet with Bob the next day, I just went into a sort of fog and thought that I was drawing when instead, I was only thinking.
I took a shower and decided to watch a little television but I was so excited about the next days’ activities that I couldn’t keep my mind on what I was watching. Instead, I concentrated on getting my clothes ready and making sure I had paper and a pen so I could take notes when I met Bob. I decided that I was going to come right out and ask, “who is the greeter?”
After an almost sleepless night, I got up, got dressed and was ready to go meet Bob. I knew his shift was over at eight o’clock and it was still a bit too early to go to the station so I decided to turn on the news.
The “catastrophe” had happened at what used to be the original jail in the county. It had been turned into an antique store but the character of the building had been kept in tact, as had the other buildings in town. The iron bars were still mounted on the windows and the now rusted chains which held the prisoners together and the tools used for breaking rocks lay in a pile just outside the front door.
When I first moved here, I went there. I met the owner and enjoyed hearing the history of the jail.
The solitary confinement room was still there with the original cot, sink and toilet. There was a small slit in the door where the food was passed to the prisoner and other than that, no light got into the room.
The owner took me to what used to be the kitchen and then asked if I wanted to see downstairs. He said the black prisoners were housed downstairs and the white prisoners were housed upstairs. After the tour, he told me to feel free to look around and if I had any questions, let him know.
I looked around but didn’t really see anything that interested me, until I spotted what looked like a picture hidden behind a chair. I moved the chair and there was this wonderful old picture frame with the bubble glass still intact. I was drawn to it because it reminded me of the picture my grandmother had hanging in her house. The frame held the only known picture of her daddy. There was a picture of a man in the frame but I didn’t pay much attention as I was only interested in the frame itself and I was quite sure that he wasn’t my great-grandfather.
I couldn’t see a price on it so I took it up to the owner and asked how much it was. He looked puzzled as he said he didn’t recognize it and asked me where I got it.
I told him I had found it in a back room behind a chair and was interested but that I wasn’t going to pay very much for it. I made him an offer that he found acceptable and while he was wrapping it up, he asked me if I had any strange feelings while I was looking around. I told him no and asked why.
He said there had been customers who had literally become so frightened, they had to leave. I laughed and said apparently I wasn’t in touch with my psyche because I hadn’t sensed or felt anything.
I took the picture home and temporarily hung it on a nail that was already in the wall. When my son came to stay with me for a while, he took it down and put it behind the chair. When I asked him why he did it, he said “because it’s creepy.”
As I was thinking about the old jail, I remembered that picture was still behind the chair and decided that after my meeting with Bob and since my son was no longer here, when I returned home I would put it back up.
My focus returned to the news. It seems that with the recent snowfall, the weight of the snow had weakened the roof of the jail and it had collapsed. Since it happened during the daytime and there were people inside shopping, it obviously required the expertise and specialized tools of the fire department.
I watched footage of the rescue efforts. Firefighters were going in and bringing people out. There was the usual rhetoric about how fortunate it was that most of the injuries to the patrons were only superficial but then, with their prescribed somber tone, came the “unfortunately, we do have some sad news to report. We’ve just gotten word that one of the firefighters has died from the injuries he suffered when the floor collapsed beneath him. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Carter, the beloved paramedic known to the locals, as Bob the elder.”
I sat in stunned silence. I kept hitting rewind, maybe hoping for a different outcome every time I replayed it. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Bob was dead?
How I got to the fire station, I don’t know but I found myself in the bay. The crew was walking around like zombies and didn’t even notice me for a few minutes. I found Edward and asked about the funeral arrangements for Bob and where I could send flowers.
He said that in lieu of flowers, they were asking for donations to be made to City Hall in the name of the Bob Carter. He said “for as long as anybody can remember,” Bob has been the only contributor to the upkeep of the “grounds.” When I asked what grounds, I got chills when Edward said “the grounds where the clock stands.”
My head was spinning as those words were echoing like I was standing in the middle of the Ground Canyon….the grounds where the clock stands….the grounds where the clock stands.
I gasped as I said aloud, “where the clock stands and where the greeter stands.”
To be continued………….