Friday, September 28, 2018
Al asked, “So, what’s up?” “Well,” Ray answered, “I just got off the phone with the sheriff up in the town of Wausoneke. It seems like an elderly man went missing. They found his car by the river and no trace of him.” “Wausoneke,” replied Al, “Where in blue blazes is Wausoneke?” Ray said, “What do you mean? You have been reading all the old papers, haven’t ya? It’s up on the river, close to fifty miles north of here. Over the years it’s been the spot of a few of the strange occurrences. We are going to meet the sheriff at the river, take pictures for him and wait around a while. Sometimes they call me to show up and just take pictures. Their cameras are junk. And, they know a professional when they see one.”
An hour later, Ray pulled the four wheel drive up next to the patrol car. The sheriff was standing down by the river tossing rocks into the swift current. With the wind picking up, Ray hollered out, “Hey Bill, don’t shoot me.” With that the sheriff turned around and said, “Now tell me Ray, it's dark out, how did you know it was me?” Laughing Ray said, “Well, I guess it could have been another officer, if he had stolen your cruiser. You are the only sheriff who drives car number 21, aren’t you? And, I get paid for paying close attention to details. Who knows, someday you might be famous around these parts.” With a laugh Bill said, “For an old fart, you’re pretty observant.”
Friday, September 21, 2018
Ray almost spilled his coffee at Al’s remark. In an instant he poured out, “How in the hell do you aggravate a tumor? Aggravate a tumor, I never heard of such a thing. What are you supposed to do, walk around with a helmet on?” “Listen Ray,” Al said, “My life has been in God’s hands and it still is. God never promised me that I would be pain free or even tumor free. I know that He cares about what is going on. When it comes right down to it, my life is in His hands.”
Al could sense Ray struggling with what he just said. After a moment of silence he got up and brought the coffee pot back. Refilling their cups he said, “Listen Ray, what is the real problem here? You knew what happened to me, you knew about the dreams and the headaches. Why does this eat at you so much?”
Ray’s cup was jiggling on the chipped table top. As he was fumbling with the cup and for words, Al spoke up. “Ray, my friend, do you think for a second that I hold you responsible for what happened to me? Do you feel guilty about what happened? Remember, I asked for the assignment, I was the one who wanted to go, go and make a big name for myself. That was all me, not you.”
As Al finished, Ray moved a bit in his chair and looked at him. He was clearly lost for words and choked up. Clearing his throat, he said, “Al you don’t know how many nights I have tossed and turned with images of you strapped down inside that plane. Knowing that you were working for me, I felt responsible.”
Friday, September 14, 2018
As the sun was inching down in the valley, the reflection off Salmon Stream River was enchanting. It appeared as if thousands of diamonds were dancing on the surface. The evening was cooling off as Gracie, Ray, and Al each sat on a wicker chair on the porch. As folks walked by, Gracie or Ray greeted them and exchanged small pleasantries, mostly about the weather. Al picked the chair near the far end of the porch, somewhat hidden behind a mammoth spruce tree.
Al asked, “So, what’s with the name of the paper? I never did get that figured out. I know enough of Latin to know it means something mysterious or weird, even freaky. Who in the world gave it that name?” Ray said to Gracie, “You give him the short answer and I’ll tell him later on.” At which time Ray lit another cigarette.
Gracie adjusted herself in her chair so she could look at Al a bit better and said, “Going back a couple of hundred years seems that this entire area has a history of strange events. Most of them connected to the river. The old timers tell stories of things they can’t explain. The library has local history books going back to the time of William Rogers. And, they tell stories that are pretty hard to understand.”
Al sat up in his chair a bit straighter as Gracie continued, “Some even say the Native Americans recorded strange things along the river.” Al asked, “What do these stories all have in common? What ties them together, anything, or are they just different random events?” Gracie looked at Ray and he nodded, Gracie responded, “Seems that all the events have to do with people, young and old alike.” Al noticed that Gracie was obviously nervous about the conversation. He asked her, “So, what about people, and what is the rest of this about?” “People just vanish,” Gracie said.
Friday, September 7, 2018
Ray asked, “What happened later on, after you came back, I mean, you know, with your injury?” Al said, “I started having bad headaches. I never knew when they would hit me and for how long they’d last. And, then the nightmares started.” Al was hesitant to begin again. “I would have dreams where every second was playing back in slow motion. I could hear the explosions; I could see the little girl, her tears, and the dirt on her white shirt.” By this time Al was having difficulty talking and Ray cut in, “You don’t have to tell me again.” Al’s voice trailed off, “Dear God Ray, she just vanished right before my eyes.”
Al continued as Ray emptied his cup, “After I recovered and began the Northern Virginia gig, I went to D.C. to cover a protest. That is where I met Sarah. She was at the protest and we hit it off over coffee. It didn’t take long, and I was in deep, I fell for her really bad. All I had to do was close my eyes and I could see her hair blowing in the breeze. And she always smelled like Lilacs. We spent a lot of time together. The weekends on the coast were the best times in my life.”
As he was talking about Sarah, it was easy for Ray to see just how much Al cared for her. Al asked, “Ray, do you believe in heaven?” Ray sputtered and asked, “Well I guess, I would like to think of such a place. We’ve both seen hell. Why do you want to know that?” Al responded, “Sarah was going to have our baby. She decided she wasn’t ready to be a mother, so she ended the pregnancy. I believe I have a baby waiting for me in heaven.”