Tuesday, November 26, 2013
When I was almost home I wondered why I was so adamant about getting off the property before it got dark. I brushed it out of my mind and climbed the stairs to my apartment on the second floor. I was exhausted and hadn't eaten dinner. I turned and walked across the street ot the KFC joint, bought the senior citizen buffet for $6 and change and loaded my plate.
Loaded to me was one piece of baked chicken, that I pulled the skin off of, 1 spoon of sliced-cooked carrots, a plate of salad, and a glass of ice water. I sat and ate while I contemplated what was going on at the "Place" as I had come to call it.
When I was finished with my meal, I walked back across the street, climbed the stairs again, locked myself in and went to bed. I slept like the dead. Woke up at 7:00am, which was late for me as I usually was out of bed and at least wandering by, 5:00 am.
I ate breakfast, changed clothes, took my meds, and headed out the door. I was back at the place by 9:00 am and wandering the place. The landscaper's crew was back but they hiked down to the first cabin and started clearing that area out, too. Later in the afternoon, I discovered they had uncovered the original paths between the cabins, still visible. "I wonder how many feet made these trails?" I asked myself.
But getting back to my morning, I wandered the earth a lot closer to the house. There was a huge old oak tree in back and just off to the side of the house, right about where the end of the lake was. It's branches spread out in all directions and held a bunch of Spanish Moss. It hung down like weeping willow branches, out over the lake and all the way around the huge expanse. As I scanned the tree limbs, I noticed something hanging near the trunk on one of those lower branches. I moved closer and saw that it was an old lantern. I actually stepped on something hard and looked down.
It was a tombstone at the base of the tree. "Oh!" I said. "I'm so sorry for stepping on your grave. I had no idea that you were here." I bent down and righted the tombstone. I had not knocked it over as it was obvious that it had been laying there for many years, but I brushed it off and found my hand was covered with black and green stuff from the stone. I went into the house, grabbed a rag and a small broom and went back out to the stone.
I cleaned that stone as well as I could. When I got done with it, I had dug the muck out of the letters and polished the stone to a shine. I set it up right, not knowing if it was going to continue to stand there, but it did. As I worked I talked, as though talking to someone that could answer me, but I got no answers and was actually glad of that.
I stood up, took three steps back being careful not to step on the area I figured was over the grave and said, "How's that look?"
"Oh, I think it looks great! Thank you. I think it is better than the day they set it there," a man's voice behind me said.
I know I jumped and I think I was at least half-way up to the first branch, too. I spun and saw a man standing there. "I apologize. I didn't mean to scare you."
"Well, I didn't hear you walk up. I looked at the grave. You don't look like a Bridget."
"Good thing," he said. "It would probably be as hard to explain as a man named sioux."
"Probably." I clutched my broom and cleaning rag tightly. "You from around here?" I asked.
"Yes," he said. "Did you know there is another stone on the other side of that huge root?" he stated as he pointed.
I looked around saying a silent prayer as I did, "Lord, please don't have this be a ghost. I am not at all sure I want to talk to a ghost." My heart was pounding.
He was right, there was a stone on the other side of the root. I knelt down. "I might as well clean this one, too." I first swept the filth off it, then I dug out the letters and polished it. He watched the entire time.
"Did you know Bridget and Calib?" I asked, still praying.
"Yes. They were my grandparents." This was the creep that had left this place to dilapidated so badly.
I set the stone straight and stood then launched into a the riot act on this guy. When I finished berating him over his lack of care of the place he stood there looking at me.
"My grandparents died when I was 15. I really didn't know them only that they lived here and were my grandparents. We were not close. I had my own life to live and figured the same about them. They were dead before I even knew they lived, really. You haven't said anything I haven't kicked myself about, but my only excuse - lame as it is - is that I was only 15. I was selfish and not interested in anything except getting out of school and away from where I was. By the time I made it here, they had been buried by my father, I believe. Now there's one you should blame for letting this place go to a wreck. Have no idea why he let it happen and don't care. We are not close."
"Why?" I asked as my blood cooled down. It probably came across as rude, but I wasn't at a point where I cared.
He shrugged his shoulders and looked away - far away. "There's a coffee shop a mile up the road, can I buy you a cup of coffee? To at least make up for scaring you so badly."
I have no idea why, but I relented, led the way into the house and washed my hands in the bucket of water I had drug in from the lake. He stayed in the kitchen and looked at it all.
"Are you planning on living here?" he asked.
"At some point, but there's a lot of work to do first."
"I don't doubt that." I still didn't feel safe enough so said I would follow him there then go do some errands after.
We met at the coffee shop and talked while we drank coffee. We were there 3 hours. He had just graduated from the CIA as a chef! I was surprised. "Did you know I was thinking of opening this place as a restaurant? I am now thinking it has to be more than that. I want to make the upstairs rooms to rent. I plan on making them fairly antique, as they are, but giving them electricity and putting in a couple of bathrooms so they are more like suites. I have a guy working out the designs now. There's about six cabins out back, down at the end of the lake. If they are worth anything, I might make them into rental cottages - long term or I may use one for my house and then if I hire someone needing a place to live, the others could be made as nice dwellings, too. They all need bathrooms, roofs, and kitchens, to start out with."
"interesting. I might be interested in applying for the executive chef's position if you take it there."
"I might be interested in hiring you." I said and smiled.
Finally we went our separate ways and I went back to the "Place" while he went the opposite way.
In the days that followed, I found myself migrating to those two stones everyday, first thing. We had something in common and it wasn't just their grandson talking to me. But I felt drawn to those two stones and wondered why.