Some people are stalkers of celebrities. Some people are stalkers of politicians. Some people are stalkers of imagined lovers.
My name is Dennis Johnson and I am a stalker of cemeteries. In my travels, I have stalked cemeteries where both the famous and the infamous fertilize the soil of their final resting places. I have wept over many and spat on a few.
I have stalked cemeteries in large cities and I have stalked cemeteries in small cities whose names fail to appear on most maps. But my fascination has always been with the forgotten ones, the ones off the beaten path and mostly, the ones rumored to be haunted.
I have heard tales of gentle earthbound souls still wandering the grounds looking for lost lovers. I have also heard tales of sinister souls staying behind to seek revenge for atrocities committed against them.
In my travels, one cemetery was said to be the most haunted…so haunted that even the greatest hardcore ghost hunters dared not enter. It dated back to the early 1700’s and although the proper name was Resurrection Cemetery, it was widely known among the residents as “Retribution Cemetery.”
Word had it that the famous Jimmy Hoffa’s decapitated head was resting there along with the Servant Girl killer from the 1880’s. There was a folk story about self-appointed mercenaries hunting down killers, dismembering their bodies and burying the pieces in an unmarked grave.
That of course, piqued my interest and I made it my quest to seek out those departed souls who had found no rest.
Resurrection Cemetery housed 38 graves. There were no headstones. On each grave, a bronze vase sat atop a plaque containing meaningful epithets scripted by the decedent or a family member. Flowers adorned each vase and appeared to be cookie-cutter arrays of unrealistic plastic.
It sat in the middle of a now tree-lined, overgrown pasture said to have been the site of an ancient Civil War battle.
Off to the side, almost hidden by a wall of weeds, I noticed one lone grave with the mandatory vase but no flowers.
In the distance, I could see a small one-room shack of sorts. I was told that was where I could find the attendant but only on the first Monday of every month.
Fortunately for me, the first Monday was near. After a few days of deciding where I would lodge, I made my way to the shack. A bespectacled old man sat in a lone chair, reading the newspaper. He looked over his glasses but said nothing.
I introduced myself and he stood and shook my hand. “John Kennedy,” he said. “No relation. What can I do for you, young man?” I explained that I was interested in information about Resurrection Cemetery, especially about the folks supposedly buried there.
“Ah,” he said. “You’ve listened to the local rumors, like maybe Jimmy Hoffa’s head is buried here?”
I smiled and nodded “yes.”
Mr. Kennedy said “well, I don’t know if that’s rightly true or not but to tell you the truth, I don’t really care one way or the other. I spend as little time out there as I possibly can.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
He went on to tell me that it was his job to replace the flowers once a month and he found walking the grounds to be very disturbing. “Although I know it’s not likely, I always feel like somebody’s watching me,” he said.
I asked about the lone grave. He shook his head and said “you don’t want to go anywhere near that one, young feller.”
When I asked why, he said “it’s believed that anybody who disturbs that grave and I mean even moving a leaf, will within a year, be in it.”
I laughed and told him that I didn’t believe in that kind of rubbish.
He looked me in the eye and said “you’d better.”
To be continued___________________________