Book Excerpt: Acheri Demon Haunting
Written By: Corker Johnston
Buy now from Amazon
THE OLD FARMHOUSE WAS quickly engulfed in furious flames and responders were doing all they could to guard their eyes from the bright glare that illuminated in the blackness of the 3 a.m. sky, and scalding heat, but there was little to nothing that anyone could have done to stop the fire from destroying the simple structure. However, firefighters were successful in preventing the flames from extending to the various outbuildings and, even more importantly, the surrounding neighborhood. Reports were coming in by people from across the entire county of the blaze in the sky.
It was a very old dwelling and, due to the dried-out wood that wrapped around its brittle skeleton, was extremely flammable. After the blaze was finally extinguished and the choking smoke cleared, all that remained of the old farmhouse were ashes, the stone and mud mortar chimney, and a few upright timbers that supplied no support, eventually tumbling to the smoldering earth below as well.
Suddenly, just as the sun began to make its presence at the eastern horizon, a rescuer detected something peculiar poking out of the flaky, black ashes that made his aching stomach turn even more than it already had. Once getting a closer look at what he spotted, he came to realize that this was not some random, accidental fire. It was not just another statistic of the norm. It was an absolute, gruesome slaughter.
Newspapers across the entire country caught wind of it and printed headlines announcing Seven Brutally Murdered and Suspect at Large. The narratives described the fire as being an inferno in the sky and the slayings as one of the largest tragedies on record for the country. But, the specific, grim details of how the innocent family members were killed were kept from the intrigued public for quite some time.
The entire neighborhood was growing edgy, fearful as the following week passed by uneventfully. Scores of neighbors were feeling that they could very well be next, resulting in a large number of them going out and purchasing firearms to safeguard themselves, as well as their families.
Nowadays, the mention of the historic, dreadful event brings about no reaction from the local townspeople once so ever. The atrocious crime and innocent victims appear to have been simply forgotten. Justice is blind and, at times, hard of hearing.
America was well into the depth of the Great Depression at the time of the tragedy. The state of Minnesota was still feeling the effects from the widespread drought of 1934. Thousands of acres of soil were reduced to a fine powder that swirled in great, tremendous clouds over towns and countryside day after day, seemingly no end in sight.
Farmers were suffering exceedingly as dust-bowl conditions persisted in the agricultural heartland. Their fences were discovered completely buried in sand and dirt. The topsoil from their fields was lifted, ending up in huge mounds several miles away. Because of the lack of necessary food and water, thousands of helpless cattle were starving to death. Poverty numbers were climbing drastically and farm incomes were plunging at a rapid, unheard of pace. The rivers, ponds, and lakes finally went dry, leaving many communities without water supplies. As the end of the year came near, the total of suffering families in America that lost their farms reached over the one million mark.
There were only two ways of acquiring support for your household, either through one's church or through one's family. In these small communities everyone knows everyone else, their business and their valuable reputation. It is impossible to ask for assistance from the church or from family for the reason that it is considered an unforgivable sin to not succeed and provide for your own, causing a person's pride to mean much more than basic, human survival.
Countless men were packing up their families and heading west in hopes of a better life while others were abandoning their families altogether and leaving the area solely by themselves and without notice, primarily in the middle of the night while the families were asleep. Many of these homeless men were traveling by rail and were referred to as either transients or hobos. You could easily lose yourself in the millions of suffering people out of work. An individual could just ride the rails and simply fade away.
Most of these transients would hide from view along the tracks, just outside of the yards. Then, they would run along the moving trains as they gained momentum, grab hold, and jump into open boxcars. Every now and then, they would unfortunately miss, resulting in many losing their legs or, even worse, their lonely lives. Train officials were starting to notice this happening and began using enforcers known as bulls to either arrest the transients, or to at least beat them up, discouraging future attempts by them. As the trains were reaching their destinations, the transients had to leap off before the flat black, iron giants stopped to avoid the awaiting bulls from getting them at the stations.
The shocking tragedy occurred during what is now known as “The Worst Era in American history,” a time containing dreadful hardships of unthinkable measures, a time that brought out the worst in many. Unknowingly then, this mass murder would be a forgotten, unsolved case at the county, state, and federal levels nearly a century later. Only postulations would linger.
75 YEARS LATER
MONDAY, APRIL 13, 2009
HER SCREAM JOLTED ME to consciousness. A combination of lavender and peppermint lingered in the night air, indicating that she had another terrible migraine sometime during the night. I quickly peered over at the alarm clock. It was 3:23 a.m... Must be another one of those horrid dreams, I thought. The windows were halfway open and the mesmerizing pitter-patter sounds of raindrops hitting the awaiting ground made it extremely difficult to keep my eyes from simply closing. On and on and on... the incredibly lucid and vivid dreams, or more accurately bone-chilling nightmares, never seem to halt for her. Jill’s screech announced that another horrible thing has happened, or is going to happen, to someone, somewhere. Either way, when she wakes suddenly like that, it is never due to a good thing happening.
“Cork, I just had a horrible dream,” Jill eagerly said, eyes wide open in distress, body rigid.
“Hold on a sec,” I replied, reaching over for the digital, audio recorder and pressing the small, record button, switching on the bedside lamp, followed by wrapping my arm around her in comfort. I cautiously questioned, “What was it about?”
Jill let out a long, excruciating exhale, seeming to last countless minutes, just before taking in a deep, needed breath of fresh air, preparing her to successfully share this night's vision. “I was inside of an old, two-story house… it was in horribly rough shape.” Her heavy breathing was sounding quite labored. You see, Jill has suffered from chronic asthma all of her life, ever since she could recall, and she had it under control, with the exception, due to the pollen in the air, it would act up suddenly during the early spring of the year, and then again at night during her shocking premonitions.
“Do you need your inhaler, hon?”
“I will be okay, Cork,” she softly responded, exhaustion painting her entire structure like a form-fitted bodysuit.
“That’s good, hon.” Thank god, I thought to myself.
Jill was anxious to continue sharing her disabling dream with me before she forgot any of the crucial components. Every last portion counts, whether ostensibly important at the time, or not. “The house had dirty, old wooden floorboards that sighed like an old man wheezing when I would walk over them,” Jill informed, more comfortably. “And, the windows were completely coated with layers of spider webs, and the ragged, old curtains shook as if they were laughing or something.”
“Laughing?” I asked. That had me momentarily caught off guard.
“Yeah, Cork. They were swaying side to side very quickly,” she added, a bit more alert.
"Oh, I get it now… Duh!”
Jill gradually lowered her heavy eyelids, covering her ice-blue eyes. “Can you stop asking me all these questions, Cork? I need to think for a minute. Please!”
I ignored the rudeness in her voice, realizing how frustrating it must be for her to recall the specific details upon waking up. I remained silent and reached over and grabbed a hold of the glass of water I failed to finish drinking before falling asleep.
I quickly drank the rest down and as I was returning the empty glass as quietly as I could to the table, Jill started revealing more from her dream. “The walls, Cork. The walls appeared to be made of plaster over lathe strips and had several deep cracks and large areas where the plaster had fallen off in large, heavy chunks.” Jill paused for only a few seconds, catching a deeper breath, before eagerly continuing. “Suddenly, I was in the first bedroom on the right. It was at the top of the worn stairs and there were several frightened, little children along with me.” Her breathing began to include a definite wheezing sound that accompanied every crucial breath she took. Jill opened her tired eyes, suddenly turned to her right side, and reached for her albuterol inhaler.
“Are you going to be okay, Jill?”
She nodded forward and back, followed by the puff….puff….puff... sound of the lifesaving device. “That’s better,” Jill replied, exhaling in relief just before closing her eyes and continuing on. “Plaster dust began to sift down into our dry hair. It felt like a horrendous earthquake was building up under the old house. We were all hiding from some evil... evil and scary man.” Her speech began to hurry. “It felt as if he was some sort of ghost or sinister spirit. We all fought to keep our labored breathing as soft and as steady as possible. Our trembling hearts were pounding like drums calling us to battle.” Jill paused and pressed her eyelids even tighter, speech faster still. “There were bells going off… wait... yes… there were bells. You know... the type at a railroad crossing alerting that a train is coming near. I had to remind the frightened children to remain as quite as they possibly could.” She paused, flinging back her messy bed-head hair. “The smell of hot oil and smoke coated the back of my throat, preventing me from breathing, while the children could no longer hold back from coughing. I was so worried about those terrified, innocent children.” Jill abruptly stopped sharing. Her tired eyes glued shut and her soft face landed in her delicate, waiting hands. A well needed break to slow her down, to calm her thoughts.
“Are you alright, hon?” I pulled her in even closer. Since her hands were smothering her wet face like a catcher's glove, I could barely hear what came out of her whimpering mouth next.
“I was the mother. It wasn’t me in the dream,” Jill struggled to get out. “I was their mother, the kids' mother, and I could feel the fear and pain she had felt.”
“Wow!” I responded, shocked. “Who were they hiding from, hon? Who was the scary man?”
Her head rose off her delicate, now tear-drenched hands, her face pale. “Let me think for a moment,” she rapidly responded, emphasizing most of her words.
“That's okay. Take your time,” I calmly said, feeling like a student that just got scolded.
The silence broke much quicker than I expected. Her body trembled as her voice shook, as if trying to speak while quickly driving over a washboard, gravel road. “A brilliant light beamed through the thick, dark smoke and the house began to vibrate... more like rumble. Like I said, it felt as if an earthquake was building up under the structure.” Jill paused once again, followed by another series of puff….puff….puff... before she continued on. “The sound of the house rattling apart was suddenly replaced by dreadful thunder sounds, scaring the children even more than they obviously already were.” Her pace was building up again, voice louder, dominant. “The source of the bright light started to surface and I could see the big, black front of an old, steam locomotive… like an enormous dragon peering out from its hidden lair. The moans of whistles and horns blaring began to join the deafening thunder of its rolling, steel wheels. You could hear the hiss of the steam and the screech of flanges against iron rails rapidly approaching.” Jill's rapid, labored breathing was becoming louder and louder, more distressed.
“Are you alright, hon?” I inquired, but my concerning question seemed to be completely ignored, nonexistent.
Jill's face was full of emotion as she slowed a bit and cautiously continued to share the troubling details of her nightmare. “It blasted right through the age-old house. Broken shards of glass, plaster dust, and gray, torn wood were all flying everywhere… coming from each and every direction imaginable.” Her pace was building, body tense. “The evil... evil and scary man was aboard the dark train. He was… he was hanging out his head and waving his bulky, left arm while screaming transit as he quickly passed on by, terrifying me and the children to the bone.”
“What did this guy look like?” I anxiously probed, intrigued by how graphic this dream must have been for her. I had to learn more about the evil man, or ghost, or whatever he or it was. “Have you seen him before?”
She took the few moments to calm down a bit, slowing her thoughts. “He was a large, stocky man wearing a dark, proper suit and a wide brimmed hat, both of which were seemingly a matching set and dated back as far as the steam engine he was riding on,” Jill continued, face blank. “And then... I suddenly woke up from the dream.”
“But, did you recognize the man? Have you seen him before in a picture... or anything like that?”
Shaking her head, Jill continued, “No, Cork. He was from a different time, a much earlier time. And, no! I don't recognize him from anywhere… not in pictures… not anywhere.”
“Did you and the little children live through it?”
“I just woke up. I am really not sure on that,” Jill muttered, confusion coating her face. “I don’t understand what the dream means. It’s not like a train could run through a house.”
“Let’s try to get back to sleep,” I responded, followed by turning off the audio recorder and switching off the bedside lamp. “We can talk more when we get up in the morning.”
“Good night, Cork.”
“Good night, hon.”
THE ACHERI DEMON LEGEND
WHAT IS AN ACHERI?
An Acheri is a special, demonic spirit that originated in both the eastern and western hemispheres. Native American Chippewa and India’s Hinduism both have the Acheri Legend. Many believe that an Acheri is the result of a girl that died a horrible, untimely death. After her death, she comes from the spirit world back to the physical world to torment and make others, mainly children, suffer as she did, resulting in their deaths. Japan has a similar legend called Ju-on. It is the basis behind the well-known movie, The Grudge.
Unlike most demons that can only take on a hideous guise, the Acheri has the ability of disguising itself as a thin, frail little girl with a gray complexion, allowing it to be accepted by human children and gain their confidence through a superficial friendship. She will either walk with children or play with them, seeming to be nothing more than an ordinary child herself.
An Acheri also takes on a second form in which it keeps hidden due to having features that any typical human would call monstrous.
The Acheri travels in regions of hills and mountains and at night will leave her dwelling in the hills and visit families in lowlands. She is known to sing and dance in human settlements, sometimes drumming an auxiliary. It is said that hearing her song or voice is a sign of impending illness or death.
Acheri have the knowledge of untreatable sicknesses. The creature will single out children as victims and poison them by casting its shadow over them. The very contact of the Acheri shadow is like the breath of a person carrying a highly communicable respiratory disease; infection occurs instantly. If a human child goes to depart her, they carry a terrible disease with them. The disease can take many forms and generally manifests as a mysterious wasting sickness that is ultimately fatal.
Despite their frail child-like appearance, these demonic spirits thrive on human misery—the more people that suffer from their blight, the stronger and happier the Acheri demons become. The Acheri feeds off of the sadness, pain, heartbreak, and death the disease creates.
The Acheri, like many evil spirits, can be foiled by sacred charms. The main defense against an Acheri was thought to be a red ribbon or woven red thread tied around one's neck. Charms of red, scarlet, or crimson are also used.
Unlike the Acheri, the Wendigo is a common mythical creature from the mythology of the Algonquian people. The Wendigo is a malevolent cannibalistic spirit in which humans can transform into, or be possessed by. This transformation or possession is said to be the result of a human resorting to cannibalism. Although it is said that one can have this happen without the practice of cannibalism, it is quite rare. There have been several reported sightings of Wendigo over the years in upper Minnesota, not far from the location of Case 263.
It is very intriguing as to how the Chippewa people of North America and the native people of India have very different physical features, yet they both share a legend that is described having the same physical features and actions as in both of the cultures. How is that possible?
Ancient Aliens are acknowledged by the Native American Chippewa culture and in India’s Hindu as well, not to mention in several other native cultures around the world.
How could these Acheri legends from opposite ends of the earth be so tightly connected? Could there be a connection between the Acheri and the ancient aliens? This may explain how the Chippewa and the natives of India could have both encountered the same exact demon, even with being oceans apart.
How could these Acheri legends from opposite ends of the earth be so tightly connected? Could there be a connection between the Acheri and the ancient aliens? This may explain how the Chippewa and the natives of India could have both encountered the same exact demon, even with being oceans apart.
MONDAY, APRIL 12, 2010
“IT’S MY TURN!”
“You have been watching what you've wanted for hours.”
Hesitating for a moment and glued to the living room's television screen, “Wait!” Devin responded, completely ignoring Tatyanna's allegation.
With a sudden Click, the screen went flat black.
His eyes grew big and round, head quickly flinging to face the culprit. “Turn it back on!” He stomped both feet on the oak parquet floor, announcing the sound of anger, resonating down to the level below.
“I warned you,” Tatyanna boldly replied, stature revealing newly found control over the room's entertainment.
“I'm telling dad,” Devin threatened, unsuccessfully.
“Go right ahead,” she confidently replied. “I think he's down in the office.”
He searched his brain for one final argument as Tatyanna, with TV remote in her right hand, stood smiling at him, in skinny jeans and knit shirt in a shade of soft peach. A short span of stubbornness went by before Devin finally rose off the bulky, soft rocker and started for his room, heavily stomping down on the wood floor with each step, quickly, pissed off. He paused for only a brief moment, just long enough for a quick turn back of the head, focusing on Tatyanna, mumbling a couple of incomprehensible words, followed by continuing on to his room and the slam of his bedroom door.
“Finally,” Tatyanna announced to the seemingly barren room, quietly, unaware that I heard the entire exchange from the flip-side of the partial wall which separated the living and dining rooms.
Another sibling rivalry, I thought. Having three brothers and a sister myself, I'm experienced in such conflicts. However, there's ten years that separates me and my older sister, not just one year like with Devin and Tatyanna.
Although I was finding my kids' exchange amusing, I was feeling dead-tired. And to top it off, we had a meeting to get to in only a few hours with a new client.
My lack of alertness was the result of Jill waking me in the middle of the night with another one of her premonitions...
“Cork. Are you awake? Cork!”
“I am now,” I replied, temporarily confused. “What the hell? What time is it?”
Jill turned to glance at her bedside, alarm clock, and then boldly announced, “It is three-thirty.”
I slowly scooted myself up towards the head of the bed and eventually, sat up. “Let me guess… another dream?” wiping the sleep from my eyes.
“Yes!” came out of Jill's tense lips. “It was a really strange one.”
“Hold on a sec.” I reached over to do the routine, grabbing the audio recorder to press the red button and flicking on the bedside lamp's switch. “Okay. Go ahead and tell me, hon.” I couldn’t help to notice how uninterested my voice sounded. But, I was interested, just tired.
Jill was immersed in nerves and excitement, a bit of panic to top it off. “A mother and daughter were running hand-in-hand and each of them was hanging onto a luggage bag in their outer hand.” She paused, appearing to be in deep thought, lasting only a moment or two. “It was as if they were extremely scared of something and had to quickly run away from whatever it was. I could see where they were fleeing from... an old, abandon homestead. On and on and on, over and over again, the mother would cautiously look back past her shoulder while the pair ran.”
“Could you tell why they had to leave, Jill?” I inquired, followed by dead silence before I uncomfortably added, “What was it that the mother and daughter were running from?” now more awake and alert.
Jill was clearly focused on remembering the specific details, totally ignoring my probing, ongoing questions. After a moment or two, she carefully continued to explain. “The mother and her daughter were crossing a small, shallow creek. Their faces were full of fright and great sadness... making me almost wanting to tear up.” Jill sniffled a little, emotionally driven, heart racing. “They seemed sad and scared at the same time. It was obvious that the two were filled with misery... feeling so much pain.” Jill paused for a moment and tightly closed her eyelids, covering her pale, watery eyes. “Running after them was a faceless man.” Her speech sped up. “His head was definitely there, but contained absolutely no facial features, only black darkness.” Faster still, Jill added, “The terrified mother and daughter were in fear for their lives and this... this faceless man was the cause of it. He was horrible.” Jill's words abruptly came to a halt and, while an eerie silence filled the bedroom, remained that way for quite some time, seemingly forever.
A minute, or two, passed on by and I couldn't stand the ongoing quietness of the room. “Was that the end of the dream... or was there more?”
Jill nodded. “Yes, Cork. That is all I can remember. There is nothing more coming to mind right now.”
“Okay, hon.” I pressed the off button on the recorder, tossed it on the bedside table, flipped off the lamp, and slid down, resting my head on the feather pillow.
These dreams happen so often that they tend to not excite me all that much. They cause more distraction in my life than excitement, but I would never reveal my thoughts about them to Jill. That would come off as being insensitive, causing nothing more than hurt feelings.
MONDAY, APRIL 12, 2010
WE WERE ON OUR way to visit a client to conduct an intake interview for an upcoming, paranormal investigation, Case 263. I was behind the wheel of our Buick Century, Jill was sitting in the passenger seat to my right, and two of our children, Devin and Tatyanna, were in the back seat. I was feeling the lingering effects of being woken earlier that morning because of Jill's mother and daughter dream. In fact, I barely slept a wink since three-thirty in the morning and I was sure it was evident to others by the laborious way I was carrying myself about.
“Dad, can you change the channel?” Devin requested out of the blue, slightly impatient.
“Hang on for just a sec until I make this turn.”
Tatyanna spoke up in protest. “Devin always gets to have his music on. I never get to listen to mine, dad.”
“I do not,” Devin replied, with an underhanded grin plastered on his innocent, childish face. He wasn't fooling anyone.
It was the same old, never-ending argument. Tatyanna wanted her pop music on in the car and Devin wanted his heavy metal blaring from the speakers. I am actually partial to metal myself and Tatyanna knows it very, very well. Jill, on the other hand, likes country music, not the new country-rock style, but the old twang style, the style I cannot stand to listen to for any extended amount of time.
“As much as I hate to listen to it-” I began replying, but temporarily interrupted by the needed clearing of my throat. “Let’s let mom listen to her music for a change.” That did not sit well at all with the kids, both being very bullheaded and set firmly in their ways.
Tatyanna was something of a renegade, rejecting the typical trendy fashions in favor of her own unique creations and combinations. As soon as she would go to school with her latest, cutting-edge design, others followed, resulting in her newest creation becoming a local trend.
Even after being together with Jill for a long, twenty-plus years, it never hurts to do a little ass-kissing. Jill turned to face me, surprised by what I said. I thought to myself, yep… it worked. People become rather predictable when you’ve been with them longer than you’ve been without.
Jill and I met way back in 1988 during a high school keyboarding class. I was sixteen and she was fifteen. When we met, Jill and I both lived just about five miles outside of Rush City, Minnesota; however, we resided at opposing sides of town, making it a long haul for active teens to hang out. It did not take long for us to realize that we were exact opposites, having nearly zilch in common, other than your typical puppy love and hormonally triggered lust for one another. I was the smart-ass kid in class who had a terribly difficult time trying to sit still and keep the mouth zipped shut. Then, there was Jill. The petite and shy teacher's pet, excelling in absolutely everything academically she took upon herself to do. Jill and I were like the opposing ends of a battery, positive and negative. We were each other’s first and each other’s only.
“Are we almost there, dad?”
“Yes, Devin. We have only a few more miles before we get there.”
During my communications with the homeowner in this case, Richard Nelson, I was told that he and his wife had the property sold on a contract-for-deed, but the people who purchased it from them just stopped making payments and suddenly moved out without even giving them the courtesy of a notice. I probed for him to give me more information regarding why he was in need of our help, but Richard kept insisting that we would discuss it when we finally met up. Well, that was finally going to happen within a few moments.
I could tell that we were nearing the Nelson estate by the change in the narrowing road and elevation. We were well beyond the outskirts of town. The road was sporadically winding back and forth around areas of enormous, ancient rocks as it lowered us down into the river valley area below. The scenery was utterly incredible. The steep slants of the hills had numerous pine trees wildly growing, appearing as if they could simply plummet over at any given moment.
Jill interrupted the silence within the car when she suddenly blurted out, “I just had something go through my head.”
I was caught up in a momentary trance, resulting from all the beauty I was witnessing through the windows of our car.
Jill's voice finally snapped me back to consciousness. “What, hon?”
“Didn't you hear a word I said?” she responded, discouragement layering her face.
“No. I'm sorry, hon.”
“I just had a really strange vision.”
“What was it?” I responded, turning my attention onto her. “What was the vision of?”
“All I could see was someone... a man with a shovel. He was digging up something, or burying something.”
“Where was he digging?” I probed, along with sneaking additional peeks of the vast nature through the car's windows.
“He was digging through a floor of some kind. But, I don’t think it was concrete.” Jill turned away for a brief second. “I think it was dirt. Yes! It was dirt.”
“Did you recognize-?”
Jill quickly cut me off before I could finish. “It was an old book. He was burying a book and was wearing old, ripped overalls,” she blurted out. “And no.” Jill faced me with a smart-ass grin. “I did not recognize him.”
“Always finishing my sentences,” I responded with a cocky grin of my own.
“Someone has to,” Jill shot back at me, smiling from ear to ear, satisfied with herself. “Well, anyways. That was all that I saw. It’s probably really nothing.”
I could see the Nelson farm just up the road. Wow! This is a secluded place, I thought, taking it all in and enjoying the nature that surrounded us. “Look around out through the glass.” I became obvious to me that I was far more intrigued with the surroundings than any other passenger.
As we approached the driveway, Jill froze and seemed to be focused heavily on the house.
"What is wrong, hon?” I asked, thoughts running through my brain.
Within a few moments, she came out of her enchantment and responded, “I’m not sure, but I am okay... Don’t worry… It’s nothing.”
I quickly dropped the subject and, since Caleb decided not to come with us, I grabbed my cell to check in on him. He is the oldest of our children and is extremely bright, with the mind ability comparable to a modern computer in several ways. Caleb can recall statistics on every player and team in every professional sport; as well as recall music, current events, history and so forth at will. He has never taken an interest in paranormal, field investigating; however, he enjoyed going over our findings from the investigations, seeing if he can debunk them. Caleb is very skeptical and critical of everything around him that he cannot see with his own eyes, making him a great part of our paranormal system, even without him being along while we obtained possible evidence.
“Damn it... dead zone.”
“I’ll check my phone, Cork,” Jill responded. “Since I have a different provider, maybe it will come in.”
A pristine example of American-made metal on wheels met with ours.
"What a stunning car," I said.
It was the cleanest 1987 Buick Le Sabre I have ever seen, showroom condition. The back of the trunk lid had a sticker that they put on vehicles when new, of a local dealership which no longer existed. This was most likely one of the last cars sold there since the lot closed right around the year of this car.
“What the heck”, came from the juvenile mouths in the back seat.
I didn't care one bit. I love automobiles, especially the old cars that others tend to dislike. My favorites were the type of cars that are usually driven by old folks.
Back when I was in my late teens, my friends used to say, "You can sell a young man's car to an old man, but you cannot sell an old man's car to a young man, except if it was to Corker Johnston." I would always find it funny. It was so true.
The countryside was beautiful out here and the Nelson farmhouse fit right in, sitting in a breathtaking, wooded picturesque river valley. Bees played hide and seek with the flowers as they buzzed from one to another.
The stimulating yard was outlined on three sides with dark and stately cypress trees that shot straight to the sky like bullets and were very pleasing on the eyes. Each one was meticulously groomed. These wonderful cylinders gave the yard a woody, slightly spicy and refreshing masculine smell. Their presence gave off a calming and soothing feel. The yard's fourth side, also the lowest side, was gracefully silhouetted with enormous poplar and willow trees. The poplars' silver-and-green leaves cast a lively silhouette and glittered beautifully when they got struck by the slightest breeze.
The weeping willows that were blended in provided dramatic and appealing visuals; yet, they cast a mournful silhouette. They added a lot of movement to the landscape of the yard.
The liveliness of the poplars and sadness effect of the weeping willows made for an interesting combination.
We were startled by a couple of dogs as we opened the car doors. They were in a kennel, but seemed very hostile. From the dogs raging behavior, I knew that I wouldn't want to see them get out while we were there.
As I grabbed my folder, I couldn't take my eyes off the dark red, metal beauty. I peered through the slightly tinted glass of the driver's door. As soon as my eyes had a chance to focus in, I saw the crushed velvet, matching interior.
“Absolutely mint,” I let out as three sets of rolling eyes looked at me and three mouths sighed. I knew I had to redirect my focus since we had a lot of work to do.
“Alright guys. Let's get a move on,” I said with confidence.
The closer we walked towards the front door, the more at peace I felt. Five-fingered ferns hung over the petite creek, running through the lower parts of the beautifully groomed yard that surrounded the home. Below the yard was a low, swampy area that spanned for long distances in three different directions. The house was picture perfect and very pleasing on the eyes. From the charming rustic look of the cedar-shacked siding to the stunning emerald green tin roof, the house was indeed breathtaking.
At about the halfway point to the house, Jill paused and turned her attention to the upper level “Do you feel anything when you look at the second level windows, Cork?”
After looking at them for about half a minute, I said, “I feel nothing except for the fact that they are perfectly symmetrical like the rest of the house. They do look sort of like a pair of eyes peering out at the front yard. Reminds me a little of the Amityville Horror house.”
“OK then,” she replied. A look of disappointment was on her face.
“The windows do hold a commanding view of the front yard,” I added.
“Yeah, like a set of eyes. Let’s continue on, Cork.”
We continued our trip along the cobblestone walkway towards the farmhouse. Just before the front porch of the house, a beautiful, walk-through archway, smothered with rose vines, which wove their fingers together to form several braids, welcomed visitors.
The homeowner, Richard Nelson, met us at the front door and was older than I expected. It is very uncommon in this area for a man of his age to acknowledge and pursue anything paranormal. He was a big, bulky man with a large, cherry red and scruffy face. The hard flat sheen of his eyes bore witness that they’d seen much beyond the purview of civilian eyes. His bulging forearms were like cinder blocks attached to giant, callused hands. I could definitely see the farmer in Richard by his plain white t-shirt and bib overalls which had a plaid, red handkerchief drooping out of the upper left-side pocket. Along with the old man's presence came a strong smell of tobacco smoke and beer.
He ushered us into the house. Upon entering the home, the interior appeared to be nothing less than what the exterior revealed; it was absolutely beautiful and scrupulously neat. Not a speck of dust was to be found, an ideal situation for an investigation.
“Go head take a looksy 'round,” Mr. Nelson said as he pointed to our left with his bulging, index finger. He added, “I gotta take a leak.”
After witnessing the shocked reaction on Jill's face, it took all I could do to stop from busting out laughing as Richard headed down the short hallway, towards the bathroom. He was in such a rush to get to the toilet that we never had a chance to officially shake hands with him.
Across the front of the house was a massive enclosed porch with a wall full of crystal-clear windows, allowing a spectacular view of the meticulously kept front yard. Just standing in this airy room gave a sensation of being extremely exposed to the outside world. As we stood there, the sounds of tricking water began to be heard as clear as a bell, revealing that Richard left the bathroom door open as he urinated.
A small kitchen occupied the area immediately inside of the porch and was separated by an opened, window-paned door.
All of the sudden, the house became silent, completely lacking the disturbing, dripping sound of Richard relieving himself.
“We don't have much time before Richard comes in here,” I said to Jill.
“I hope we hear the rush of water soon,” she responded, along with a silly smirk.
Once again, I had to hold in laughter, but I steadied myself long enough to reply, “You are the one that is shaking Richard's enormous, wet hand first,” just before witnessing the shock on Jill's face and finally losing it for a good three to four brief seconds. I took in a deep breath and continued on taking in more of the house, avoiding eye contact with Jill so that I could prevent myself from thinking of the humor I was still struggling to hold in.
The kitchen led to a beautiful, country-style dining room where the walls were lined with antique plates and floor-to-ceiling wallpaper.
The sound of rushing water, accompanied by splashing noises, caused Jill to let out a sigh in relief, knowing very well that those large, callused hands one Richard were being washed. Then, after a satisfying ten or more seconds of hand washing, quietness served as a heads-up warning that he would be joining us very soon.
The floor gave little wiggles as the sound of giant footsteps got louder and louder. I thought to myself, Damn... he had to have worn a size sixteen or seventeen boot.
Richard extended his freshly washed hand and shook Jill's and said, “Pleased ta meet ya, young lady,” Richard said, extending his freshly washed hand to Jill's, gently giving her small hand a shake, just before turning my way and giving mine a much firmer shake while saying, “Please ta meet ya young man.”
It was a little strange to me to be called young man since I was knocking on the door of forty, but I guess being called that was fitting given the difference in our ages. “Very nice to meet you as well, Richard.”
“Make ya selves comfy,” Richard said, gesturing for us to go have a seat over at the other end of the country-style kitchen.
Jill and I ventured across the room and planted ourselves down at the antique, dining table. I proceeded to unpack the folder I had started for the case.
Mr. Nelson was still in the kitchen fiddling around. Even though I knew that he was married, only Richard met us at the house for the interview. “Y'all want summin ta wetcha whistles? I have some fresh coffee on, beer, or sodies.”
“Two sodas would be great, Richard. Thank you,” I answered after quickly confirming with Jill.
“Shasta fine? Dats all I got.”
“Absolutely, Richard. That would be just fine. Thank you.”
“A couple for dat boy and girl?” Richard asked.
I looked over at Tatyanna and Devin. They were just sitting out in the covered porch with the laptop. “Tatyanna and Dev. Do you want a pop?”
“I’ll have a root beer if you have one,” Devin replied.
Tatyanna voiced in as well, responding, “I’m fine.”
“Well, yous drink ya sodies ‘n I be drinkin my brewski,” Richard said with a slight grin on his beet red face, walking onto the porch, reaching out to Devin with an ice-cold can of Shasta root beer. “Drink up,” he ordered.
Devin politely responded, “Thank you.”
Mr. Nelson's beer of choice was Old Milwaukee. Right where you walk into the front porch, causing an obvious distraction, he had a large, tan cardboard case of the brown, long-necked glass bottles, without twist-tops, requiring a bottle opener to pop the metal caps off.
By the absence of grace in his movements, it was safe to assume that Richard gulped down a few of them just before we even arrived. Even with a slight sway, he was surprisingly able to prop the Shasta down on the solid wood table without giving us both a soda bath.
Richard and I shot each other glances as he slowly lowered his massive frame down into the chair, placing his cold beer down in front of his, just within his reach. The old man propped his elbows on the picture-perfect tabletop and clasped his hard, callused hands together, following by placing his squared chin on top of them, staring at the two of us from slightly above the thick rim of his bifocals while letting out a sigh of relief.
“You have a beautiful place here and incredible land,” I politely said, breaking the uncomfortable silence and stares. It was absolutely the truth; the place was remarkable.
Mr. Nelson replied, “Been in da family foreva,” pausing momentarily. “Well... at least since commin ova from dat Ireland.”
This caught my attention since my ancestors came from the same country. “Really?”
His large, oversized head rotated to his left, eyes peering out the crystal-clear dining room window, hands dropping to the table from his broad chin.
“Yous ta work dem fields daily... sunrise ta sunset,” Mr. Nelson said, revealing a strong sense of earned pride in his deep, loud voice. He began turning his furry face back to focus back on us, following he said, “Nowadays it be gettin up... takin a piss and-” Richard interrupted his words momentarily, just long enough to wrap his old, dried lips around the rim of the bottle, taking in a deep chug of the Old Mil, “where was I?"
His glass shielded eyes were peering at me from across the table and there was an awkward silence. I had to break eye contact with Richard and I looked over my right shoulder to Jill, whom had her face aiming down towards the shiny table top, avoiding eye contact with the strange man in front of her altogether.
A thump on the table coming from Richard broke the silence. I turned my head to look back at his tomato red and furry face as he went on saying, “take a piss, washin up, eat wit da wife,” followed by another inhale of beer, “toss on da ova-alls, take anotha piss,” and with a third and final gulp, “da same shit ova 'n ova 'n ova again."
By this time, Jill was the one looking out the window, trying to avoid the conversation and Richard's stares. There was nothing for her to see through the glass except for a large field; yet, she felt it was better than being uncomfortable.
I felt that this was my chance to redirect him from reminiscing about how his life used to be, while he compared it to how his life is now routine and boring.
As I was about to get a word in, my plan was foiled by Richard.
“They call it da golden years, but-” Richard placed his huge hands firmly on the old tabletop, pressed down with great force, and rose to his feet while blocking the light and casting a dark shadow over my notes,
“Imma hear ta tell ya. Ain't nuttin goldin 'bout it.”
I didn't know why Richard stood up, so I decided to do the same and as I started to, “no needa get up, Corker,” came from his mouth.
I returned the pressure from my braced hands back to the seat of the antique chair. Richard wrapped one of his mitts around the hollow bottle and brought it with him to the kitchen.
“Crash!” Richard tossed the empty into the trash can where it was met by several others, made his way to the off-white, Maytag fridge, opening it's door, reaching in for a fresh, chilled replacement.
“Need anotha one?” came from Richard as the fridge door slammed shut.
I looked at Jill, lightly touching her arm, making eye contact.
“No,” she silently whispered, accompanying a silly grin and a shaking back and forth of her head, confirming no.
“No, Richard. We are good,” I replied.
The old man swiped the magnetic, chrome bottle opener from off the fridge door, popping the top off his cold beer, followed by his return to the table as the rolling sound of the metal, bottle cap came from the kitchen.
“Ya needa enjoy ya life before ya too old ta,” Richard insisted, taking a hold of his chair to straighten it, bracing the other hand down on the shiny surface of the table, as he returned sitting across from us.
What a process that was, I thought to myself. I was unable to determine for myself if his struggle to do simple things was the result of consuming several beers, or just simply from being a tired, old man.
“Imma eighty-one years old and Janice... she'd be sixty-eight,” Richard said, breathing still heavy, labored.
“I would have never guessed you were that old,” I politely replied, knowing very well that his appearance looked all of eighty-one.
“I dunno 'bout dat.” Richard chuckled just before his lips were reunited with the rim of his beer.
“How long have you lived here?” Jill asked of Richard.
With the beer bottle safely returned to the table, he responded, “We'd owned dis place fa many, many years,” obviously struggling to come up with a total. “Me 'n Janice decided ta moved ta town... too old ta keep up wit da day-ta-day of dis place.”
I could see their point. The farmhouse sat down in the river valley, far from the conveniences of town. “How long has this house been empty?” I asked.
“Well, Cork. We'd tried ta sell dis house fa many months.” He grabbed a firm hold of his Old Mil and slid it towards him, leaving a streak of wetness across the table. “One problem... no one was able ta get da damn money ta buy it.”
That did not shock me one bit. The real estate market had crashed tremendously all over America the past several years, hitting this area especially hard. Houses became a dime a dozen. Home-building was almost extinct because of how cheap you could buy a foreclosures. “I'm sorry to hear that, Richard.”
“We was stuck. So, we decided ta let dis one couple buy it from us on a contract fa deed.” He began to squeeze the bottle tighter and tighter, anger painting his oversized face. “Dem sonsofbitches.”
As if pressing earplugs in tightly, an awkward silence blanketed the air around us. I was concerned that if I spoke, saying the wrong thing, ask the wrong question, he may just blow up. His face was deep, dark red. Was it caused by anger? I wondered. Was it caused by his obviously high blood alcohol concentration? I did not want to find out the hard way. I did not want to make the wrong choice.
“Dem had three youngins.”
Thank god! I thought, exhaling heavily, freely in relief. Richard made the first move, breaking the disturbing silent so I wouldn't have to.
“Dare was two boys 'n dare be a little girl,” added Richard. “Up 'n left... dem just pack up 'n left da house without warnin.” His right hand released its strong hold from the bottle, joining in the motions of his left, arms crisscrossing his chest defensively. He was obviously becoming very uncomfortable talking all that much about these previous tenants.
How much more do I dare to probe? I questioned myself. I decided to ask, “Was the place the same when they moved out as it is now?”
“Dem jis left two weeks ago,” he responded.
It didn't quite answer my question, but I didn't feel that it was important enough to continue to try and get answer. I decided it was time to ask the question that was on my mind since we showed up. “Why exactly did you feel the need to have us come out?”
“Well, Cork. My grandpa built dis house almost a hundred years ago 'n it be in da family eva since.”
“Really? That is something.”
“Nah, Cork. It be only a house... wood 'n nails 'n nuttin more din dat.”
“You grew up here then. Right?” I asked.
“Yeppers. My pops grew up here... 'n din me 'n my sis.”
“Why exactly did you have us come out here?” I asked, focusing on what was most important to me at the time.
“Imma gettin ta dat. Jis hold on.” Richard scooted his seat up a little on his chair, returning from a slouched position to a more upright one. “She'd always been here eva since I can recall. A small girl I reckon.”
“So... a ghost?” I probed.
“Yeppers. Beth... Dat be her name,” Richard replied, worry in his eyes. “Where she come from... I dunno. She'd not da only one here. I think dares others. I know dares others.”
“When is the last time you've seen her or the others here, Richard?”
“Oh, Cork.” Richard pulled his hands out of his armpits, placing his right palm and thumb firmly on the table, thumping down in unison with the remaining four fingers, tap...tap...tap...tap..., over and over, one...two...three...four..., from pinky to his index finger, one...two...three...four... “Dem always 'round, son. Always.” His fingers came to a halt, mouth revealing a smile. “Dem part of da family.”
“Interesting,” I replied. “So... is that why you contacted me?”
He appeared to overlook my question. A long breath hissed out between his yellowed teeth. “Dare is something else dat happened when I was a youngin.” He took in a couple of swigs of his malt liquor before continuing. “My mama told me dat she'd find me out 'n da yard sum mornins jis starin up at da sky.”
“Really?” I replied.
“Yes sir,” followed by a thump of his empty, brown-glass bottle on the table.
Jill immediately responded, “What were you looking at?”
“Damn if I'd know, sweetheart. I'd be jis a youngin... 'bout seven or eight.”
Richard's enormous body rose from the chair and did a one-eighty into the kitchen, tossed the empty into the trash with a big Crash!, pulled open the fridge and replaced his Old Mil with a new one. Upon the sound of the fridge door slamming, Richard said, “She told me it be da same time all da time.”
I assumed that he was referring to his mother that said this to him.
Jill asked, “What time was it?”
“It be 'bout three.”
Just to check the legitimacy of what he was saying against what he had said earlier about it being in the morning, Jill asked, “Was it three in the a.m. or the p.m., Richard?”
Richard settled back in the old chair with a disturbed look, a cold bottle of Old Milwaukee in hand, and said, “Was ya not listenin’ young lady? I say mornin'.”
Jill’s growing eyes and frozen face revealed shock. I went ahead and probed a little more on what he was saying.
“How many times would you say that this happened to you, Mr. Nelson?”
“I dunno. At least six I’d guess. Sometimes in da summer din sometimes in da winter. One time I’d be out dare in twentin below lookin up. Wowzer!... my ma was pissed off,” said Richard, followed by a short laugh and drink of his beer.
I found this quite interesting. I have heard of many cases of sleepwalking, but to be out in the extreme elements of Minnesota’s below zero winters without waking up was shocking to me. I noted it and we continued with some polite exchange of words about random things for twenty minutes, nothing worth noting in the case file, just friendly conversation..
We were about half way through the questions I prepared to ask Richard, when I happened to glance up at a Felix the Cat animated clock Richard had on the wall, the eyes were going side to side and the tail swayed back and forth, all to the rhythm of seconds ticking away. The most eye-catching thing to me was that it pointed out the time, six o'clock.
“Wow. Time goes by fast, doesn’t it?” I announced.
Richard replied, “Oh, are ya in a hurry?”
I made eye contact with Jill and she said, “We’re okay. We can finish up.”
“Yeah, Richard,” I added. “The kids don’t need to eat tonight.” All three of us were grinning and chuckling at the table while Devin and Tatyanna were making funny, sarcastic remarks towards what I said.
I looked down at my papers and noticed we were at the section that tends to make some people a little nervous when answering. “Richard,” I said. “May I ask you what your faith is, what your religious beliefs are?” I always ask this question of potential clients. It is beneficial to know this because it may contribute to the findings from the investigation.
“I don’t mind ya asking. Janice and I are Lutheran. Dats Christian,” replied Richard. “I never liked all dat Catholic stuff. We should be adult enough ta come ta terms wit our own guilt. It be not God's job ta wipe da slate clean so we can go ‘n sin ‘gain.”
I safely replied with, “I can see where you’re coming from.” Even though I work with clients no matter what their faith is, hearing a client respond with similar faith as my own tends to make things go smoother. My family’s belief system is rooted by the Christian faith.
I was just about to ask Richard a little more on what he had said early about his sky gazing, but the old man cut me off just as I went to separate my lips.
“I needa hit da head one more time. Damn beer gone right through me.”
“No problem. We will be right here,” I said.
“Nah, yous go head and looksy ‘round. I may be a while,” replied Richard with a ridiculous smirk.
Jill and I made eye contact with each other, smiled at what Richard just said, and got up to look around some more.
Just around the corner, and through an opening in the wall and separated by a set of beautiful French doors, sat the spacious living room, fully furnished, comfortable, and inviting with matching couch, loveseat, and armed chairs, which complemented the warm feel of the deep red colored walls laced with Currier and Ives. The fragrances of potpourri and wood soap filled the air. Bright and glossy accent of golden oak colonial woodwork outlined the room at the top and at the baseboard, where it was joined by a solid hickory planked floor, looking professionally installed and so shiny that you could see the impressions of every wood grain. White light from the pair of large windows at the far end made them look even more breathtaking.
I paused for a moment upon entering the room, overwhelmed by the massive, luxurious fireplace.
“What a breath-taking focal point,” I said softly to Jill.
“It is beautiful, but-” Jill hesitated for a second or two before continuing, “but, it looks far too large for the room.”
I had to agree with her on that point. It did occupy quite a large amount of the living room.
Richard yelled out from the bathroom, indicating that he was going to be awhile, so Jill and I went outside and walked the entire property, house and outbuildings, so that we could be familiar with the place during daylight.
Jill suddenly stopped near the yard swing on our way back to the house. “I just remembered a dream I had a few nights ago.”
“Do you think it had something to do with this case?” I asked her.
“I don't know for certain; but the dream had a small woman in it, the size of a little girl.”
The screeching sound followed by the retracting slam of the screen door told me that Mr. Nelson was on his way towards us. “Can you remember anything else about the dream?” I asked her.
“The woman in my dream had sandy blonde hair.” She paused momentarily before adding, “She was dressed in a pink princess gown that reached the floor and she wore a crystal crown.”
“So, she was a princess then?”
“Oh, wait! Let me think for a second.”
I remained silent, allowing her to focus.
“She was also holding a glass wand,” Jill said, her voice cracking. With her body now more at ease, she added, “I do think that this dream may have something to do with this place, but I don't feel right mentioning it to Richard.”
“Well... then I will.”
Richard's heavy breathing was getting louder and louder as he approached us. He turned and lowered into the delicate, cedar swing. “Ah. Dat betta.”
“You have a fine-looking place out here Richard, such a peaceful location,” I said.
“A man's eyes can tell ya lies young man. Safe House… my ass.”
Jill quickly responded, “What do you mean by that, Richard?”
“Oh, I jis babblin. Me and Janice use ta enjoy it out here.”
I asked Richard, “What do you mean by Safe House?”
“Nuttin really. As far back as I can ‘member folks in da area wud always say dis ole house was da Safe House.”
“Really? Do you know how it got that name?”
“Nah Corker. Jis some supa-stition or summin.” Richard let out a little chuckle. “More like stupid-stition,” he added.
Even though Richard didn’t think much of the Safe House nickname his house received in the past, I noted it as we were talking.
“I spose yous gonna come wit a bunch of dem devices when yous come back. Like dem box things.”
“Actually Richard, we don’t use them. Our most important devices are Jill and Tatyanna.”
Richard appeared a little shocked by what I said. “What. Dem shows use all kinds of junk. Why doncha?”
“Because Richard, most of those devices, if not all of them, provide inaccurate and false results… especially the Ghost Box devices. What you see on television is made for television, pure entertainment, Richard.”
I had to ask before it slips my mind, “Does princess mean anything to you, Richard?” Jill seemed to cringe a little, but I felt as I had to know.
Richard seemed to start tearing up a little. “Princess was my daughter Bev's nickname.”
He seemed to close up a bit after mentioning the name, so we decided that we had everything we needed to investigate. Since Richard seemed so persistent in having us come back as soon as possible, we scheduled to return that Friday for a two day investigation.
“She’d no longer be wit us though,” Richard murmured through his slightly opened lips.
“I am so sorry to hear that, Richard,” I replied, followed by a temporary loss for words.
Richard remained in the swing as Jill and I went back into the farmhouse to gather the case folder. I located it immediately on the table.
“I feel a little uncomfortable how Richard started to tear,” Jill said through sadden lips.
“Well... let’s just walk down the path and back to our car. When we approach the swing, I will briefly say our farewell to him and we will be off.”
Jill nodded in agreement. “Okay.”
“I couldn’t imagine how it would feel to lose your daughter,” I added.
As we opened the front door to leave, we were greeted by the relaxing sound of cool, crystal clear water flowing over the rocky banks of the shallow creek, as well as a murmur of wind that gently followed the slight incline right up to the front door.
Jill and I started to step off the front porch to take the awkward venture past Richard and onto the car. Suddenly, without prompting, Jill's memory played a flashback sequence. She appeared to have her eyes fixed on an area just up an incline and beyond the neighboring creek. All that I could see through a clearing of trees and young saplings was an old barn that was taken over by enormous trees, tall grasses and deprived weeds, wild with untamed growth.
I was anxious to know what Jill was experiencing, but I didn't want to start that conversation in the middle of Richard's front yard.
“I feel like my heart is beating in my throat,” murmured Jill.
“Dad, we will be in the car,” said Tatyanna, as her and Devin darted down the walkway.
I urged Jill to continue on to the car so that we could at least get a mile or two down the road, then she would be able to share what it was that stopped her cold in her tracks.
At the twenty-sixth step we were right beside Richard, who was calmly swaying back and forth on the old yard swing.
“I am sorry for having to take off so quickly, but Jill is feeling a bit ill with her asthma. She really needs to get home to take her medicine.”
Richard tugged on the bill of his John Deere, corduroy cap, putting it low so it shadowed his face from the sun. “Oh dats jus fine Corker. I need ta be gettin goin back ta work on dat dam house n’ way,” Richard said politely with a warm smile.
Who was he kidding? I knew from the very first time I spoke with him on he phone that he had nothing to do anymore ever since his farming days had ended. His response was an example of what they call Minnesota Nice. This was embedded in him, just like many others that lived out in the country area and kept to themselves.
Jill took in a deep breath, and then made herself cast a smile toward Richard, followed by getting into the passenger-side car door.
“Yous comin dis Friday, right?”
I replied, “Absolutely, Richard. I am counting on it and looking forward to it. We will be here right after my daughter’s concert gets done, probably around eight or nine o’clock… if that is okay.”
“You have a girl dat sings? Janice sing once, but not dat dam good,“ Richard replied, with a half-smiled face, and then added, “Yes. A okay. I won’t be ‘round. I will leave da door ta da porch unlocked for yous guys.”
“Perfect.” I just want to get the hell out of here, I was thinking to myself. I was anxious to get into my car so Jill could tell me about what she felt. Her accuracy and details are always impressive.
“Okay then. Thank you again for meeting with us, Richard,” I politely said, while reaching the car and opening the driver’s door. I was in a rush, but I didn’t want to come off disrespectful to Richard.
“Have a safe trip home, Corker. Tells da wife I hope she feelin betta.”
“I will.” Then, as I was just getting ready to shut the door, he cried again, a loud, agonized wail that rose and fell over and over, like a siren’s call.
I politely asked, “Are you going to be okay, Richard?”
He was able to pull himself together just enough to respond. You could feel the pain that occupied his heart through every spoken word. “Corker, a man shud never outlive his kid.”
I was speechless. What could I say to that? It wasn’t like I could have responded with, I understand or I know how you feel, because I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to lose a child. I was relieved when Richard broke the short, awkward silence. “I be okay. Yous go on now. Thank ya ‘gain, Corker.”
“You and Janice will be in our prayers. Goodbye Richard,” I replied, followed by the slam of the car door, the placement of the key in the ignition, and the start of the car.
[end of sample...]