The Little Pearl – Chapter One

Flossie Pearl Davis was born on a chilly St. Patrick’s Day, in 1960.  From that day forward, she would be known as “The Little Pearl.”

She was a late in life child for Leona and Norman Davis.  They had prayed for a child since they married in 1938, and she immediately became the light of their lives.

Her name was a throwback to the past, but everyone knew that she was far ahead of her time.  She was by no means as polished as her name would suggest, nor would she likely ever be, but what she lacked in shine was replaced with an abundance of pluck.

From the time she first learned to walk, The Little Pearl was a performer.  A pillowcase pinned to the shoulders of her shirt, served as a cape worn by a common superhero, or a queen’s crimson velvet mantle.  While pretending to be royalty, a paper cigar band imitated a ring, which she would command her subjects to kiss.

Each performance garnered praise from Leona and Norman, who never failed to tell Little Pearl how very special she was.  When they asked what she was going to be when she grew up, she would smile and say, “One day, I’m going to be famous.”  When they asked what she was going to be famous for, she said, “I don’t know.  I just know that one day, I’m going to be famous.”

In school, Little Pearl impressed the teachers with her steadfast desire to be noticed.  If plays or talent shows were on the horizon, she was the first to volunteer her skill-sets.

She didn’t know how to dance, but that didn’t stop her from getting on stage, and tripping the light fantastic with every ounce of talent she didn’t have.

Caterwauling might best describe her singing, and even though it fostered a few snickers from other children, the audience gave her thundering applause.

When Pearl told her parents that she wanted to learn to play the piano, they sent her to the uptown studio for lessons.   She had it in mind to perform a recital at the next talent show, even though it was less than a month away.

The night of the show, she walked up to the stage, bowed, and then and sat down in front of the grand piano.  The number of missed notes far outweighed the correct ones, and despite completely massacring a song, her efforts were praised.

Norman and Leona beamed with pride as they watched.  They were never going to see defeat in her eyes, and she was never going to see disappointment in theirs.

In high school, the teacher gave the class an assignment.  “You will perform your favorite part of a famous play.  It doesn’t matter which play you choose, as long as it’s famous.”  That word resonated with Pearl. More than once, the teacher had heard her say, “One day, I’m going to be famous.”

Little Pearl knew right away which play she was going to perform, and couldn’t wait for her turn to stand in front of the class to give her rendition of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

No one had ever butchered Shakespeare quite like Little Pearl.  Her soliloquy of “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” got off to a good start with those first five words, but what followed left the teacher wondering if she had read the right play.  Still, her enthusiasm and audacious performance captured the teacher’ heart.  “Not everyone can memorize that well,” she thought.

A year later, Pearl came home and Leona notice that she seemed to have lost a bit of her spark.  “What’s wrong, child?” she asked.

Pearl looked at her and said, “I don’t look like the other girls.”

 

To be continued_____________

 

 

 

The Dating Game – Redux – Part Two

And so it continues.

Man:  “Hi.”  (No picture.)
Me:  No response.
Man:  “Hi.”
Me:  No response.
Man:  “Hi.  I will like to know you.”
Me:  “I don’t have conversations with men who don’t display a picture.”
Man:  “I will happy to send to you multiples sexy picture.  I can have you cell phone number please.”
Me:  “First. Learn how to use proper grammar.  Second.  Are we talking pornography?  If so, send those puppies on over!  Do you mind if I post them on Social Media or Craigslist so we can all point and laugh?”

Man:  “I read your profile and you sound like the perfect woman for me.  I think we share many interests.”
Me:  “I think being in New Jersey, you might be a bit too far away, but thank you for the message.”
Man:  “I would move for you.  Just say the word.”
Me:  “Okay.  Move…on.”

Man:  “Hello gorgeous.”
Me:  “Yeah, I’m all kinds of gorgeous.  What’s on your mind?”
Man:  “I love to cuddle, hug, kiss, and wake up next to a beautiful woman.”
Me:  “That’s great.  I’m only interested in friendship.”
Man:  “We can do friendship, and see where it goes.  A woman like you doesn’t need to be alone.  A woman like you needs a strong, caring, loving man to hold her and make her feel safe.”
Me:  “Silly boy.  The only thing I need to make me feel safe is named Smith & Wesson, and it’s loaded with hollow point bullets.  Now tell me.  How safe do you feel?”

Man:  “I like your profile.  You sound like a woman who knows what she wants.”
Me:  “Thank you for the message, but your profile says that you are looking for a long-term relationship.  I am only interested in friendship.”
Man:  “Does that include benefits?”
Me:  “No.”
Man:  “Are you sure?”
Me:  “Yes.”
Man:  “You don’t know what you’re missing.”
Me:  “For crying out loud!  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Men who brag about their sexual prowess are more than likely trying to compensate for their ‘shortcomings’.  Give me a fucking break.”

Man:  “I’m going to be in town tonight.  Want to get together for a drink? I could be a serial killer for all you know, but I’m really a nice guy.”
Me:  “Umm…hmm…what an interesting way to introduce yourself.  Let me think about this for a minute.  Okay.  I’ve thought about it. Drinking with a possible serial killer.  Sounds good to me, but there’s one condition.  First, I have to tell you about all the men I’ve already had a drink with.  Most of their body parts are buried in my back yard. Think we’d get along?”

Man:  “I think your beautiful.  Check out my profile and see what you think.” (Picture shows him from neck down.)
Me:  “I think you need to learn about contractions, and honestly, I prefer men who have…a head…with some eyes…a nose…and maybe a mouth.”
Man:  “I can send some more pictures.  Oh, and my age is wrong, but I can’t go back and fix it.  Send me your cell phone number.”
Me:  “I don’t give out my phone number, and how old are  you?”
Man:  “Okay.  How about your email address?”
Me:  “I don’t give out my email address either.”
Man:  “I don’t feel like we can talk freely on here, and theirs a lot I want to say to you.”
Me:  “Allow me to speak freely.  How old are you?”
Man:  “I’m seventy-eight years young and fully functional.  I could service you real good.”
Me:  “I suggest that you introduce your fully functional whatever to your favorite hand and service yourself…’real good’.”

And so it goes.

  

 

 

Fun With Lupita And Juan

For the past several weeks, I have been bombarded with calls from (que dunt dunt dunt tones when something sinister is afoot ) the IRS.

OKAY, LET’S PLAY.

Caller:  “You will be taken under custody by the local cops and put into handcuffs.  There are four serious allegations pressed on your name at this moment.  We would request you to get back to us so that we can discuss about this case, before taking legal action against you.  The number to reach is 206-317-1670,  I repeat, the number to reach is 206-317-1670.  Thank you.”

Me:  Dialing number.

Caller:  “Internal Revenue Service, this is Lupita.  How can I help you?”

Me:  You just called and left a message.

Lupita:  When did we call?”

Me:  Just a few seconds ago.

Lupita:  “Yes.  ********, there are several warrants out for your arrest for not paying your income taxes.”  (Knew my real name.)

Me:  You’re with the Internal Revenue Service?

Lupita:  “Yes, I am.”

Me:  Really?  That’s funny, because I work for the IRS, and this is not one of our numbers.

Lupita:  Click.

Me:  Dialing number again.

Caller:  “Internal Revenue Service, this is Lupita.  How can I help you?”

Me:  Hi, Lupita.  It’s me again. 

Lupita:  Click.

Me:  Dialing number again.

Caller:  “Internal Revenue Service, this is Lupita.  How can I help you?”

Me:  Now, Lupita.  How are you going to scam people if you keep hanging up on them?

Lupita:  “WILL YOU PLEASE STOP CALLING ME?”

Me:  But I want to chat.

Lupita:  Click.

Me:  Dialing number again.

Caller:  “Internal Revenue Service.  This is Juan.  How are you today *******?” (Knew my real name, too.)

Me:  Hi Juan.  What happened to Lupita?

Juan: “Tell me, ********.  When was the last time you had sex?”

Me:  Well, I’ll tell you if you’ll tell me.  When was the last time YOU had sex?

Juan:  “Oh, unfortunately, it’s been quite a while.”

Me:  Oh,  I’m sorry.  Tiny little dick?

Juan:  Click

 

How rude!  Hanging up on me like that!  And they stopped answering the phone!  Go figure.

Tombstones

I love to wander though old cemeteries and look at tombstones…or headstones…or markers.  Whatever you call them, they’re supposed to be a tactile testament to someone who was once here.

I know there are people who regularly visit these cold stone monoliths on the anniversary of the departed one’s birthday, or death day if they so choose, or if they’re close enough.

What if these people live in another state, hours away?  Will they make the yearly trek to stand in pensive silence while looking at a plot of land that holds the remains of a once living person?  Will they require their children to make that trek, and expect them to pretend to be sad about a person that they never even knew?

I’ve seen elaborate headstones, complete with the names, dates of birth and dates of death of the occupants laying in front of them.  There are angels carved into the shiny facade and more often than not, empty urns adorn each side.

Will these people be remembered and revered more than the people who rest at the bottom of the hill, called the cheap seats, which are now disintegrating from the ravages of time?

I have never made a secret of the fact that I find markers irrelevant.

There is a rather large tombstone bearing my family name.  It’s not what I would call elaborate, but it is the first thing you see when you travel up the winding, neglected dirt road leading into the cemetery that can’t even be found on most maps.

Another irony is that of those six burial plots, only one body actually occupies a space.  My youngest brother is resting there, although you would never know.  He had a simple marble plaque, bearing only his first name, the year of his birth and the year of his death.  Someone stole his little marker.

My mama is dead, but she is not buried there.  I’m still toting her around in the trunk of my car.

My middle brother is dead, but he is not buried there.

My daddy is dead, but he is not buried there.

There was once a bronze plaque given to my daddy by the government, in appreciation for his service in the armed forces.  Someone took it, I imagine to sell for scrap metal.  The Veterans Administration was gracious to send another one, this time in marble.  Maybe it’s still there.

Unless I decide to have a marker made for mama and both of my brothers, they will remain nameless to future generations.  All of them are already lost to my children’s generation.  My children knew about my younger brother, but they never knew my middle brother, and barely remember my mama and daddy.  They will never visit the cemetery.

Their children will know nothing about them, other than what their parents might remember, and choose to tell them.

I will be lost after my children’s generation.  My grandchildren may hear my name mentioned, but they will not know me or remember me.

There’s not much of a family history on my side.  All links come to an abrupt halt with both maternal and paternal great-grandfathers, after four short generations.

My mama never knew her daddy, and although she knew his name, I have never been able to find any record of him.  It’s almost as though he was just a figment of someone’s imagination, but of course, mama had to get here somehow.

My daddy’s mama never knew her father.  She had a picture of him hanging in her house, and once I heard her say to my grandfather, “I dreamed I saw my daddy last night.”

I remember the picture.  It was the usual style for that time.  Oval frame, bubble glass and a non-smiling photo of a man she nor I had ever known.

I never saw pictures of my grandparents when they were young.  I remember one picture of my grandfather when he looked to be maybe in his late forties.  He was holding a large stone over his head with one hand.  Someone, probably my grandmother, had written “50 lbs.” on it.

My children never knew them.  They will never know what wonderful, caring people they were.  They will never know how proud my grandmother was when I told her that one of my children was named after my daddy, who bore his daddy’s name.  My children will never visit their graves.

I have a picture of granny (mama’s mama) when she was young.  I have tried to see mama in it, but I’ve never really been able to.  I can see my aunt and uncles, but not mama.  Granny was pretty, with that dark hair and those dark eyes, but her eyes looked harsh like mama’s, even though mama’s eyes were ice blue.

Mama showed me a picture of granny when she was in her fifties.  She had perfectly straight, snow white teeth that looked like dentures, but they were her own.

Granny has a marker.  She rests not far from my little brother, and I know the Bible that she read religiously, every single day, is resting with her.  There are two angel figurines on her tombstone that I’m sure were put there by mama.  As far as I know, her grave is never visited, except by me.  My children will never visit her grave.

One of her sons, mama’s half-brother is there, but I have never been able to find his grave.  Nobody visits his grave, I’m sure.

My children do however, visit their paternal grandfather and great-grandparents’ graves.  Two of them have said that they want to be buried with their daddy, in the “family” cemetery.  I guess that makes sense.  After all, they are his children.

 

 

 

 

Where Do All The Untold Stories Go?

Where do all the untold stories go?

Maybe they drift aimlessly around the universe, being held captive while waiting to gently fall onto a blank piece of paper, or a not yet violated computer screen.

I have stories to tell.

Some stories may be fantasy, inspired when one looks at a rose and thinks, “I will throw it away, when the last petal falls’.”  Or it could be a story prompted by a caller, who always leaves a message saying, It’s me.”

Some untold stories may get a brief taste of freedom, only to become prisoners, locked away in a random file cabinet, or in an unnamed folder somewhere in cyberspace.

One of the cruelest fates of all…is an untold story.

Some stories can be of unspeakable torture.  Some stories can be of unbelievable kindness.

Some stories can be of one who has felt the warmth of another’s arms and the coldness of another’s shoulder.  Some stories can be of dying and death.  Some stories can be of birth and life.

Some stories can tell of humorous anecdotes.  Some stories can tell of early lives, when time was young and so were they.

Some stories can tell of fantastical, fire-breathing dragons.  Some stories can tell of horrible abuse from a terrorist alcoholic monster.

Some stories can tell of dreams that were never realized.  Some stories can tell of nightmares that became harsh reality.

Some stories can be of times when forgiveness was begged.  Some stories can be of one considering selling one’s soul to the devil, just for one small taste of sweet revenge.

Some stories can tell of laughter that ultimately turned into tears.  Some stories can tell of tears that turned into complete and utter surrender.

Some stories can tell of unimaginable loss.  Some stories can tell of indescribable happiness.  Some stories can tell of soul-killing grief.

There is no limit to the imaginings of an author, who has loved ones to hear their stories.

I have stories to tell.

I have stories to tell, but what good are they, when I have no one to tell them to?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Old Violin – Chapter Four

The townsfolk thought that surely, the music from that old violin would be silenced forever.  How could anyone possibly beseech mournful, melancholy diapasons from only one string?

One year later, a drifter wandered onto the unlikely, mostly untraveled path to Melody.  The secret of that old violin had been carefully guarded by the townsfolk, and they were suspicious when this unfamiliar, never-before-seen stranger, seemed to appear out of nowhere.

He had thick, wild wisps of unkempt silver hair and hooded lids that partially covered almost unreadable, yet strangely imploring eyes.  His thick black brows hung low and were in stark contrast to that shock of Argentine tresses.

His clothing suggested that he might be a wretched beggar, who had somehow lost his way while traveling through the trials and tribulations of what we call life.  He wore tall leather boots with soles held in place with pieces of cloth, most likely torn from a discarded shirt.  An over sized belt hung loosely around his waist and from every punch hole in the leather hung a key, causing a soft tintinnabulation when he walked.

Giving every sign of being unapproachable, the townsfolk kept their distance and watched the outsider circumambulate the streets, as if looking for something he had no hope of finding.

Could he be a guardian?  Could he be one of the custodians, picked by the angel the townsfolk believed left that old violin in the town of Melody?

He had no visible affliction, as had Amos, Rufus and Old Sooty Sam.  This visitor’s only suffering appeared to be loneliness and a lack of purpose.  If he was a custodian, could that old violin cure the curse of solitude and abrogate his seemingly aimless existence?

Their unspoken questions were answered when the traveler found himself standing on the corner of Fifth and Main.  The townsfolk watched as he looked at that old violin as though it was a long, lost friend.

Gasps could be heard when he picked up that old violin and began to play. Just as before, the mystifying, inexplicable, what had to be unnatural sounds, brought the town to a halt.

But how?  How could those penetrating, perplexing, esoteric sounds be coming from that old violin, when it had only one string?  With their ever-abiding faith, the townsfolk accepted the unknown, and relished in the heart-moving, overpowering, ever-breathtaking refrains the stranger brought forth from that old violin.

One year later, the curious transient disappeared.  That old violin was found on the corner of Fifth and Main, with four strings hanging loose and four feathers resting beside it.

 

The End.

 

“But Grandma,” Polly said, with disappointment in her voice.  “What happened next?”

Grandma smiled and said, “this story has a moral, little one.”

“What moral?” asked Polly.

Grandma looked at Polly and said, “Sometimes the things or the people we think have the least value, are the most truly beautiful.”

 

Konets

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Old Violin – Chapter Three

Once again, the town of Melody mourned the loss of another custodian and the beautiful music elicited from that old violin.

It was doubtful they thought, that another guardian could beguile any music from that old violin, given that only two strings remained.  But hope, being the last emotion to die, was alive and well in the town of Melody and their faith in miracles was unshakable.

They anxiously awaited the next custodian and prayed for the return of the captivating, transcendent sounds from that old violin.

One year later, their prayers were answered in the form of yet another forgotten soul, known only as Old Sooty Sam.  He had been a chimney sweep in his earlier days and was always covered in a fine layer of soot, from his worn and wrinkled face, to his baggy trousers held up by a rope, to his blackened boots that left tell-tale footprints everywhere he went.

Old wood-burning fireplaces had given way to more modern gas logs, and his services finally dwindled to all but unnecessary.  He had been cast aside and stood frozen in time, abandoned by trend-setting inventions.

After years of breathing the soot and dust from those old chimneys, Old Sooty Sam developed lung disease.  He could barely walk three feet without having to stop and catch his breath.  That may have been the reason, like Amos and Rufus, that Old Sooty Sam was a man of few, if any, words.

He spent his days wandering around town looking at chimneys, as if tying to will them to once again, spew forth clouds of smoke that would leave their fuliginous residue behind.

One day, at noon, he wandered over to the corner of Fifth and Main, picked up that old violin and began to play.

With only two strings, Old Sooty Sam charmed irresistible, seductive music from that old violin.  Once again, the town of Melody was mesmerized and brought to a halt.  The enduring question was “how,” but was never asked aloud, for fear of breaking the magical spell of that old violin.

The more Old Sooty Sam played, the clearer his lungs became and the easier it was for him to breathe.  Day after day, the town listened to the breathtakingly intoxicating sounds that he was, in an unworldly way, able to lure from the remaining strings of that old violin.

Old Sooty Sam disappeared one day and that old violin was found on the corner of Fifth and Main, with three strings hanging loose and three feathers resting beside it.

 

To be continued______________________

That Old Violin – Chapter Two

The town mourned the loss of Amos and the beautiful music from that old violin, but they agreed that where ever Amos went, he was surely in a better place.

Six months later, another custodian appeared and the haunting music was heard once again in the small town of Melody.  A virtual recluse named Rufus wandered into town.  He hobbled to the corner of Fifth and Main, picked up that old violin and began to play.

Rufus lived in a little shack on top of the hill.  Like the legend of that old violin, he had been around for as long as anyone could remember.  He kept to himself mostly, only occasionally making the trip into town to buy a jar of moonshine from the local sheriff, who made it in his own basement.

Rufus had a bad limp that made walking difficult.  At a tender age, he broke his leg and it hadn’t healed right.  After being embarrassed as a boy and then as a young man, he retreated to his little shack, living a life of anonymity and loneliness.

Unlike Amos, Rufus had large, calloused hands that made you believe he could snap your wrist if you had weak bones.  His clothes were tattered and disheveled, as if they had been slept in and had that familiar musty smell of old people and old things.  His hat was pulled tightly below his brow and what may once have been a full beard was now scruffy, silvery stubble.

He had heavy, sunken eyes that showed more than just a hint of sadness, and like Amos, never spoke. The most anyone could expect, or would get from Rufus was a nod of recognition that they were actually there as he passed by.

Just as Amos had before him, every day at noon Rufus brought the town to a stop as they listened to the ethereal tunes from that old violin.  The music teacher at the local high school declared, “In my thirty-eight years of teaching, I have never heard anything so beautiful,” and then began to cry.

Some wondered how Rufus was able to entice the same soul-stirring music with only three strings, but the town honored what they believed was a gift from an angel and never questioned anything about that old violin, or the custodian who played that hauntingly beautiful music.

Day after day, Rufus played the seductive, almost paralyzing music on that old violin, and day after day his gait improved until he walked with the vigor of a youthful man in his prime.

Some believed that the angel actually lived inside that old violin, and as a way of doing penance, used the hands of the custodian to elicit the music they had chosen over a place beside God.  In return, the custodian’s brokenness was healed.

After a year, just like Amos, Rufus disappeared and that old violin was found on the corner of Fifth and Main, with two strings hanging loose and two feathers resting beside it.

 

 

To be continued__________________________

That Old Violin – Chapter One

There was something magical about that old violin.  Some people said it was brought to Earth by a fallen angel who gave up eternity and a golden trumpet, just to listen to the music that echoed from the worn and tattered strings.

In the small town of Melody, the folks passed down the tale of that old violin to next generations, but zealously guarded its secret from the prying eyes of outside curiosity seekers.

No one really knew exactly when the tale began, but for as long as anyone could remember, there had been carefully chosen custodians, some say, granted by the very angel who brought that old violin to the town.

The first caretaker was a man named Amos, who never spoke.  He was one of the old-timers who had been born and raised in Melody.  No one ever knew his last name but they did know that he had never learned to read or write and had never been able to hold a steady job.  He settled for a wandering lifestyle, albeit within the confines of the town.

Amos had some age on him and it showed.  His steel-blue eyes were cloudy, like the sky before a summer squall.  His small, delicate hands were showing the crippling signs of arthritis and his craggy, weathered face bore the wrinkles of many years of homelessness and some said, hopelessness. He was a tall man and the years had taken their toll.  When he meandered around, it was with stooped shoulders and it looked as if each step he took was excruciatingly painful.

Every day, Amos walked to the middle of town.  It may have been for the warmth of the sun but many folks thought that maybe he came because it made him feel a little less alone.  Word had it that one day, he sauntered to his usual spot at the corner of Fifth and Main and found that old violin. He picked it up and began to coax the most hauntingly beautiful music anyone had ever heard.  It was the kind of music that left no doubt in anyone’s mind that there had to be a higher being.

The heart-piercing timbre of that old violin seemed to have healing powers.  The more Amos played, the straighter his fingers became and his eyes began to clear.  He stood tall and proud as he and that old violin serenaded the townsfolk.

Soon, anyone with an ailment wondered if they listened to the music and their faith was strong enough, would they, like Amos, be miraculously cured?  Even the doubters, having heard the music would say, “Oh, my. How can you hear something that beautiful and not be forever changed?”

Every day at noon, Amos picked up that old violin and began to play.  The owners and patrons of the near-by stores walked out onto the sidewalk to stand and listen to the soul-stirring arias.  Some of them wept.  Others stood in stunned silence as if waiting for the Heavens to open up and welcome them home.

Amos could play that old violin like it was a Stradivarius.  The townsfolk believed that they had been given a gift and it was not for them to question any means of that old violin, nor did they ever question Amos.

The next spring, Amos vanished and the music ended.  That old violin was found lying on the corner of Fifth and Main, with one string hanging loose and a lone feather resting beside it.

 

To be continued_____________________

 

 

 

 

 

If Those Shoes Could Talk – Chapter Nine

Martha said, “no, it doesn’t matter but it’s a very sad story.”

“Go on then,” I said.

Martha began.  “Mr. Brooks was the last owner of the property and he had designs on making it a beautiful, show-stopping home, complete with gardens that would be rivaled by none.”

She said, “they say that Mr. Brooks had all the modern amenities installed in the house…well at least modern for that day and age.  Then he started on the grounds.  He planted every conceivable flower known to man and people would stop by and just marvel at the beauty.”

“He carved out a plot for vegetables and worked all day, tilling and planting and tilling and planting.”  Martha looked at Betty and queried, “didn’t he have a little boy or something?”

Betty said, “no, he had a little girl.  I heard they used to walk around and Mr. Brooks would tell her the names of all the flowers in the yard, and show her the seeds for the vegetables he was going to plant.”

Martha and Betty had long since excluded me from the conversation.  I watched and listened as they told each other the story.  I didn’t really mind.

Betty looked at Martha and laughed as she said, “did you hear about the time old man Brooks started shooting and the sheriff had to go out and tell him to stop?”  Martha said, “no.  I didn’t hear that.”

I finally interrupted their little gab-fest and asked Betty what she was talking about.  I think she was a little embarrassed and apologized for having more or less cut me out of the conversation.

She said, “well Mr. Brooks was having a time with raccoons.  They tore up his flower beds and ate his vegetables…just made a mess of everything he had worked so hard to do.  He couldn’t run them off, so he decided to stay up one night and shoot them.  Well, that didn’t set too well with the sheriff, so he went out and warned Mr. Brooks that if he did it again, he would be arrested for disturbing the peace.”

“What happened then?”  I asked.  Martha looked at Betty and then at me and said, “well, Mr. Brooks bought some traps.  Not those cage things you see now where you can catch and release.  He bought bear traps.  He didn’t have it in mind to save the little critters.  He wanted them dead.  So, he set all the traps and just waited.  Now, this,” she said, “is the heart-breaking part.”

I steadied myself as I thought, “I know where this is going.”

Betty said, “one day, his little girl went out to pick some flowers and stepped in one of the bear traps.  She was so far from the house, that no one could hear her scream.  Her poor little foot was cut clean off.  I heard that she lay in that flower bed and bled to death.”

That explained the little foot in the shoe.  It was indeed a heart-breaking story and I felt even more guilty for having stolen that little shoe, but why was it buried in the little building?

Betty continued to tell the story.  “As you can imagine, Mr. Brooks was beside himself with guilt and grief.  They came to get the little girl but he wouldn’t let them have the shoe.  They say he used to walk around with it and wouldn’t let anyone touch it.”

“The strain was too much and his wife eventually left him.  He stayed in the house and turned into a recluse.  The gardens turned to weeds and the house started deteriorating around him but he didn’t seem to care.  They say he went to jail two or three times.”

“For what?” I asked.  Betty said, “well, he sort of went insane.  He started stealing shoes.  Back then, people would leave their shoes in front of the door.  It was some sort of superstition or something, I think.  Anyway, Mr. Brooks would go take one of the shoes, take it home and bury it somewhere.”

I knew where he had buried them, but I wasn’t telling.

“Anyway, he would get arrested and spend three or four nights in jail and then get out and do it again.  It was another superstition.  I think they say if you bury a shoe…just one shoe…it’s good luck.  I’ve also heard that if you bury a shoe from a loved one who has gone away, they will return.”

I was fascinated…and also so very sad.  I was also glad that I had returned the shoes.  If I had somehow interrupted Mr. Brooks’ good luck, maybe it would come back now.

I didn’t dare tell them what I had done, nor did I dare tell them that I had been in possession of the little girls’ shoe.  I told them that I thought allowing him to revisit the property he once owned was a nice thing for the city to do.

I said, “He seemed to be sane when I met him.  And he told me that the place was rumored to be haunted by a little girl with a crutch, but I figured he just didn’t want me to come around there.  Bless his heart.  I guess he got better though because, like I said, he seemed to be sane when I talked to him, although he did tell me not to come back around there.”

They looked at each other and again, looked at me.  Martha chuckled and said, “I guess you could say he got better and I guess you could say he seems to be sane now…but he’s been dead for years.”

I was stunned.  “What do you mean?  I just talked to him yesterday.”

Martha laughed and said, “you talked to his spirit.  He put a shotgun in mouth and blew his head off.  Sorry if that sounds crass, but that’s what he did.  Don’t feel bad.  Like I said, you aren’t the first person who has met the ‘caretaker’, and you won’t be the last.”

 

Kaniec