Friday, October 29, 2010

True Story

Sorry I've been away for some time... tons of papers to write that affect my degree plan. Anyhoo, being that it's Halloween time, I figured that I would regale my small audience with a tale that I have limited to only close, personal friends... like those of you who follow my adventurous tales. I was living on Elmendorf AFB in Anchortown, AK. My closest sister in age had complained to my dad that she thought someone was lurking in our duplex basement house. Being "the favoritest" of my dad's six kids, my sister got her way when she requested that I sleep on a military-style cot in the basement in an adjacent room. The house had only one bedroom in the basement. There was a half bath and a kind of living room with a washer and dryer room on the way to the upstairs. The year was 1991ish, I don't recall the exact year, all I know is that I was in high school. After much protesting from me, my dad all but ordered me to sleep in the basement in the living room. I have always believed in the unknown out of principal: if it couldn't be disproved, then it must exist. Well, before complaining to my dad, my sister had accused me of turning off her stereo and turning off her bedroom lights while she was brushing her teeth in the half-bath before going to bed. I adamantly stuck to the truth that I never did the things that she claimed that I did to no avail. She had confided in me that she heard children's whispers and quiet laughter during and after these occurrences. Needless to say, I was freaked-the-fuck out at what my sister had told me. I agreed to sleep in the basement for fear on my dad's wrath if I didn't oblige. I decided that I didn't want to experience any kind of encounter with "the dead children" no matter how friendly they might be. I plugged a set of head phones into the stereo in the downstairs living room that I was to sleep in. I had the volume up high so as to not hear the ghost's whispering or giggling. I, being raised a Catholic, said a prayer to the children, "Please, children, I mean you no harm. I am only here because my dad told me to be. I don't wish to interfere with you, nor do I care what you are here to do. Please leave me alone and please stop messing with my sister. We are Catholic and we know people who can exorcise you from this place... not that I would tell annyony of your existence... it's just that I don't really want to be here and that if you would stop what you are doing, then we could all get along. Sorry... Amen, I guess."
        I fell asleep to a mixed tape that I had  created with numerous versions of "You down with O.P.P.?" and the like. All of a sudden, just before I lost consciouseness, the stereo turned off. "Ha, ha, verry funny Todd. I know you're down here." My younger brother had inquired about my absence from his room and figured out that I was on "ghost patroll." No laughter answered my response. Strange. I removed my headphones and walked towards the hallway leading to the up stairs. Nothing. I noticed faint footprints on the concrete floor. They distinctly belonged to children and led away from the bathroom. I quickly made the sign of the cross over my abdomen, forehead and shoulders. I ran back to my cot and covered my head with my blankets. "Please, ghosts, I don't want to interfere. If you let me be, I'll let you be."
       I woke the next morning weary and unsure. I reported to my dad that I hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary. My sister and I caught the bus to school without a word.
     I skipped the last two classes as usual, and decided to see my dad at work at the base hospital. I entered his office and decided to ask as to why he wanted me to sleep in the basement the night before. His answer came in the form of a question, "So, did you see or hear anything? Are you sure you didn't you notice anything out of the ordinary?" Not wanting to sleep in the basement again, I answered that I hadn't. I did, however,  inquire as to why he was asking such questions. He told me that he had checked into the history of the duplex we were living in. It turned out that there had been two young children who had died in the very same house. Ten years earlier, a young mother had decided to give her children a bath in the basement. The bathtub having been removed and a shower stall installed when we lived there. She had apparently left her two young children, a three year old boy and four year old girl, in the tub as she answered the door upstairs. The two children had drowned before their mother could return to check on them. When my dad told me this my face must have gone pale because he asked me what was wrong. I told him what I had seen and what my sister had heard. The wet footprints and the childrens laughter and whispers. He told me not to worry about it. WTF, how could I not? Six months later, we moved out of the duplex and it has since been torn down.

Monday, October 4, 2010

How does Mrs Andrews do it?

Hello again. I'm here to tell a tale of which I'm sure we all have some version of. A tale of fancy and make believe. A tale of flight, with nothing more than our childhood imagination and an umbrella.
    I was probably six or seven years old living of the Air Force base in Fairbanks, AK. It was an unusually warm summer, maybe an 'Indian Summer,' maybe not, but it sure was windy the night my parents decided to leave my eldest sister in charge of the five of us maniacs. Well, I guess that my younger brother and myself would be considered the maniacs and that my three older sisters would more likely be categorized as 'little princesses,' while my youngest brother, still being a baby, would fall into the 'poopin and eating' category. It must have been a special weekend though, because my parents almost never had any time to go out without us kids in tow like so much baggage. My sister, being the eldest, was in charge of feeding all of us dinner that fateful night, the boys usually got one thing to eat, while the girls got something better. I wont lie to you, I don't recall what me and my brother were served for supper, but I'm sure it was along the lines of peanut butter, jelly and mushroom sandwiches. All of us kids hated mushrooms, and any time the girls could get one over on their 'stupid' brothers, they would try. My brother and me, being 'trusting,' not stupid, would always accept what we were given without complaint. That is, until we would bite into a mushroom and totally freak out to the laughter and satisfaction of our sisters. They would say their sorry's and take the unfinished sandwiches away, promising to make us something normal to eat. We, of course being trusting, would accept their apologies and wait hungrily at the dinner table while they three went into the kitchen to fix us food. Again, they came out with sandwiches, but this time we both pried the bread apart to make sure that there weren't any mushrooms inside. Everything looked in order, so I told my brother to take a bite of his PBJ. He didn't gag or anything, so I dug in. Our three darling sisters just stood there watching us eat. I asked why they weren't eating and they replied that they had already eaten. Because I was jaw-jackin, my brother was three-quarters of the way through his sandwich while I had only taken a few bites. He stopped eating and his mouth fell open as his face turned red. The little darlings had put jalapeno juice in our sandwiches and my brother had gotten to his first. This would go on for as many times as my sisters could come up with new and torturous ways to make us eat things that we normally wouldn't. Usually, they would run out of bread by the time me and my brother would refuse to eat anything else. But I digress, enough about my scheming sisters and their unnatural enjoyment at our palatal suffering, on to the flights of fancy.
    After dinner, we all noticed that the wind was really blowing, branches of trees littered the front, side and back yard of our duplex at the end of our road. We heard the thunder and could see the sky light up as lightning streaked across the sky. Strangely, though, it wasn't raining. Intrigued, me and my brother bolted outside to see if the lightning was near. Our curiosity was contagious as our sisters joined us in the driveway. My eldest sister holding my youngest brother in her arms. We counted the seconds between the flashes in the sky until we heard the thunder, a trick our dad had taught us to see how close the storm was. Two seconds, the storm was almost on top of us. My eldest sister, realizing the danger, yelled at us to get back inside, just as a gust of wind slammed the front door shut behind her. Now we were locked out of the house in the middle of a thunder-storm. The garage door was unlocked, however, so me and my brother opened it up just enough to let us inside. My sisters, thinking that we were trying to get out of the storm, decided to follow. Only, just as they were entering, me and my brother were exiting with umbrellas in hand. We had seen Mary Poppins in recent years and always wondered if it was possible to fly just as she did in the movies. My sisters tried in vain to explain the difference between movies and reality to me and my brother. We weren't having it. It seemed like a sound idea that one could, if not outright fly, float down to the ground safely with the aid of an umbrella.
    We made our way to the roof via the birch tree in the front yard. The side of the house had a twelve foot drop to the grass below and this is where we attempted our first flight. I made my brother go first, obviously, and he landed pretty hard, but had let go of his umbrella halfway down. I jumped off and held onto my umbrella the whole way down. I landed on my feet and rolled onto my face. Well, that didn't go as expected.
I figured that we didn't have enough distance between us and the ground for the wind to get under the umbrella, so we tried again. This time, we jumped as high as we could as we launched ourselves off the roof. The same outcome. Maybe we need to jump from the back of the house. We scrambled onto the roof again and walked to the back of the house. The distance was about thirty feet to the grass. We thought about what such a fall would do to our fragile bodies and I had just convinced my younger brother to go first when a Military Police car pulled into our driveway with his lights on. Just as my brother was about to jump, the cop turned on his siren in an effort to stop us. It worked. He yelled at us to get down off the roof and to get back inside the house. That's when my sisters came pouring out from the garage and explained that we were locked out and that we couldn't get a hold of our parents. After me and my brother came down off the roof, the cop asked us what in God's name we thought we were doing, to wich we replied that we were trying to fly like Marry Poppins. He just shook his head and laughed as he ran his hand down over his face and mumbled something about getting his wifes tubes tied.
    My parents finally came home and we were all back inside the house as my dad talked to the cop. They were both laughing as the cop finally drove away. I didn't get in trouble for trying to fly, but I did get in trouble for being of the roof that day.
    I hope that one day I'll be able to fly like Marry Poppins, but that I should probably explain to my own son the difference between movies and reality.