Monday, November 26, 2012

NaNoWriMo day 26


After dinner, Mackey excused himself to go for a smoke. Morgan directed him to the backyard, and Mackey stood in the silence of the snow, a stand of pine trees bordering the backyard. Their yard was big and Mackey stared up at the clear winter night, the constellations bright and visible, a rarity in all the haze and light pollution, especially considering Bonneville's proximity to Chicago. Mackey decided that he needed to stare at the stars more often, that maybe being cooped up was the source of his funk. There were many factors -- the holidays were never easy for one set adrift, when reminders of family just reminded Mackey of how messed up his family was. But people can be good, he thought. A change of perspective can reveal some amazing things.

 

And as he stepped back through the door, the warmth of the situation and the home enveloped him. For the first time in weeks, he smiled.

 

Morgan was waiting for him in the dining room, photocopies of various documents arrayed in some semblance of order.

 

"As you can probably guess," Morgan said as Mackey took a seat, "I've done a little research on your residence and made a few surprising insights. As suspected, the video and audio surveillance we did was inconclusive. Nothing exceptional really showed up. And the electromagnetic wavelength detector didn't do much in your room, but started to go haywire when we were walking to our car. There's definitely some spiritual energy in the air around those places, not uncommon in a historic neighborhood or any other places where humans or even non-humans left an imprint of their presence."

 

"Non-humans?" Mackey asked. He thought ghosts, if they existed, were only humans. In spite of his recurrent vision of the lady, Mackey was still skeptical about ghosts. He didn't have the same level of belief and interest, obviously, as Morgan.

 

"Oh, yes. Animals can be ghosts, too. A lot of people maintain contact with their pets after they die," she said. "Anyhow, I was undaunted by the lack of instrumental detection. As you said, the ghost appears only to you. And, of course, during the two minutes when you said the ghost appeared, even though I saw nothing, I certainly felt something. Remember, how I said I felt I was another person, in another time. That's what we call a temporal shift, which is common in time nexuses. Do you still follow me?"

 

Mackey nodded, but he was looking down at the documents arrayed on the table, wondering when she would get to those. Morgan, sensing his impatience, assured him, "Don't worry. We'll get to that in a minute. I just wanted to give you a little background information.

 

"Well, in a temporal shift, it is helpful to learn a little more about the history of a location. So, that's what I did. And here's the most interesting find."

 

Morgan held up a photo of the Augusta Inn. Scrawled in white in the corner was the date, August 6, 1902. The porch then was free of shrubbery, and a horse was tethered to a post near the street. The windows on the second and third floor were in the same locations, albeit with different windows, the kind with slatted panes, but on the first floor were smaller window openings, which appeared to have stained glass in them. Now there was just two large pane picture windows, but the view inside was always obstructed by mangled venetian blinds and a bed sheet.

 

"Look at the roof," Morgan said, circling her finger.

 

"Oh, yeah, that looks totally different." Mackey said.

 

In the picture, the attic windows were the same as Mackey knew them, but where his roof came to a point, there was another box of windows, a small roof peak with a weather vane on top, and a tower with more pane glass windows. Surrounding the turret was a small deck with wrought iron railing around it.

 

"That's what's called a widow's walk. They are a beautiful feature of older homes, but notoriously difficult to upkeep. No doubt at some point the one at your place fell into disrepair and the roof was rebuilt."

 

"I know where you're going with this," Mackey said. "The vision I'm seeing is a woman in the past walking on this widow's walk. And from the sad look on her face, she would even be a widow, even though she appears to be younger than most widows."

 

"Which way is she facing?" Morgan asked.

 

"I think she's facing west. She'd be looking at the river, towards the sunset."

 

"That's significant, because then as now, there isn't much of a view to the east, uphill, into the other neighbor's houses. But the westward view, downhill, gives a nice panorama of the river."

 

"Yeah, there's a house blocking a direct view, but when I stand at the west window and look at an angle to the south, I can see something of that view that maybe she enjoyed."

 

Morgan pulled forward a series of documents. They looked to be photocopies of phone book pages, small text in two rows on each page, inset paragraphs set in bold.

 

"Of course, the next thing to ask is, who lived here? From the time it was built, in 1874, Up until about the mid-1970s, the home was the residence of a single family, the Vanderhoys. The earliest census records, from 1880, show a Hans Vanderhoy, a furniture manufacturer, wife Ernestine, two daughters, Wilhelmina and Gertrude, and a son, Hans Jr. The 1890 census is the same. But in 1900 it's different. Hans Sr. died in 1896. Here's his obituary."

 

Morgan handed another paper to Mackey, who was quickly becoming overwhelmed with all this information, but fascinated nonetheless. He wondered, though, if there would be a big reveal, if, at the end of all this, he would have a name to give to his ghost, or at least some idea of who she was.

 

"There's not much in the obituary worth noting, other than that the Vanderhoy name is still celebrated by antique furniture collectors to this day. Remember how I noted earlier the surprisingly good condition of the stairway. That's no doubt a legacy of Hans's. He had to have known quality work when he saw it. And may have even done it himself. But let's continue with the census data.

 

"Between 1890 and 1900, Wilhelmina and Gertrude marry and leave the residence. According to Hans Sr's obituary, Wilhelmina married a vice president of the furniture factory, Paul Blount, and they stayed in Bonneville and raised a family. The Blount family name still exists. One of their heirs owns the Ford dealership here in town."

 

Mackey was growing impatient. Although historical research was Morgan's specialty, she spent her work days helping researchers and often, nascent geneaologists, out-of-towners unfamiliar with the library's resources. But Mackey's mind, already overwhelmed by the newness of the situation and in a slight buzz, despite time and food, was utterly unprepared for this veritable onslaught of information.

 

"I'm sorry," Mackey said. "This is just a bit too much. But do you have any idea who my ghost might be?"

 

"The short answer," Morgan said, "Is 'No.' But it's most likely a Vanderhoy. The last Vanderhoy to live in the house was Margaret, Hans Jr's youngest daughter. She never married and lived the last 20 years of her life after her mother Evelyn died in 1954. There were many women who lived in this house. And we have a couple problems. I don't have any family photos for you to look at and compare to your ghost. And I don't know when the roof was replaced, thus destroying the widows walk."

 

"It is cool that this widows walk was in my attic room," Mackey said. "I can see where they replaced the flooring where the stairs were going up to it. The wood's different. There's a square pattern. I've got a rug over it, but it's there. But you know what I think is the coolest thing?"

 

"What's that?"

 

"Normal people with normal families lived out their lives, you know, lived and died and spent out their days right where I'm living now. And, like you said, there's still little traces of their presence. I've got a ghost, but I guess we all leave little clues of our lives. It's just that most people don't notice that stuff."

 

"And you're starting to get this kind of awareness?"

 

"Yeah, sorta. I mean, I gotta confess, most of this ghost stuff, even though I'm the one living with it every night, most of it is just a bunch of, I don't know, it just seems crazy and weird."

 

"A fair enough assessment, to the non-believer," Morgan said.

 

"But when you bust out all this stuff, the pictures and the obituaries and all this stuff about people who have lived here, I don't know, it makes sense about that time shift thing you were telling me about. You know what it reminds me of?"

 

"What?"

 

"Back a long time ago, I used to have a boom box, you know, the kind with two tape decks."

 

"Of course."

 

"I used to record songs off the radio and borrow tapes from other friends and dub them. And when I would use a tape over and over again, sometimes when I would be listening to it, I could hear very faintly, you know, like in between songs, the songs and stuff that I'd taped over. It was gone, you know, but just a little bit was left."

 

"You're starting to catch on," Morgan said. "Ghosts don't seem so crazy in that light. And I won't bore you with the details, but if you knew a little more about energy and its lasting imprint, it might give you a little more insight into the nature of the so-called supernatural phenomena.

 

"I won't lie. Ghosts get a bad rap because there's a lot of people making a ton of false claims. And as part of the ghost hunters club, I see a lot of that -- it's like 90 percent or something of what we do. Which is why you're unique. Clearly, we have someone who's a non-believer, not emotionally invested into the phenomena, you know, seeking out a loved one. This is just happening to you, right?"

 

"Yes."

 

"You see, most people come into a ghost hunt with an agenda. They have a conclusion they wish to have confirmed. And you didn't. Plus, I felt something. And I don't think I was affected by the power of suggestion. You didn't go into much detail about your phenomena. It's very tricky, you see. The mind is powerful and can conjure sounds and images to fit a preconceived notion about what one is supposed to experience."

 

"This is all so complicated," Mackey said. "But the ghost is simple. It's almost more real than all these ideas you're telling me about."

 

"And you may to be resigned to never knowing just who your ghost is," Morgan said.

"That's okay," Mackey said. "I guess if I'm meant to know, or if she wants me to know, I'll know, right?"

 

 

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