The Disappearance-a paranormal short story to take your mind into a new dimension

My short story was published in Mason County Writes, a yearly journal of stories, poems, and drawings from regional writers.


Mayda Engel looked left, then right, before glancing behind her. She was sitting on a white wooden bench near a cobblestone footpath. Her heart pounding, her breath laboring, her mind wavering back and forth; yes she was meeting a murderer at his request, but no she told herself, he was never arrested, only suspected. His wife’s body was never found, no crime scene, nothing to indicate murder, only malicious gossip eight year ago when the wife of writer Gordon Manton disappeared. Mayda didn’t believe he was a killer, but still, one can’t assume, or at least, should not assume.

As her right hand brushed lint off her cream colored skirt a few pigeons landed in front of her feet. “No food birdies, so off with you.” They stayed; looking at her, with what she thought was certain insolence. Stupid birds. She kicked out her foot and they hopped across the cobblestones. She looked at her watch. Gordon was ten minutes late. What he wanted to meet about he did not say. She had tried to get an interview with him in the past, but even before the disappearance of Annalise, he gave interviews as often as vampires got suntans. Was getting a confession out of the question? It would certainly enhance her career and reputation. Not much of a risk she told herself. No body, no crime scene, nothing to worry about. But what did he want from her?

Gordon was fifteen minutes late. Twenty minutes late. Looking down the cobblestone paths, Mayda saw elderly people out for a stroll, kids playing. She said out loud, not necessarily for the pigeons benefit, “I have better things to do on this beautiful July day than be entertainment for you silly creatures.”

But she stayed.

While debating whether to leave or throw a shoe at the pigeons, Mayda saw Gordon hurriedly coming down the path.

“My deepest apologies,” he said. “I could offer some excuse, but I have none that would justify my lateness, none that would appease you I mean. Late start to the day, things just went wrong. But thank you for waiting for I do need to talk with you, and need your help actually.”

“Do you have something to get off your chest, something about your wife, or just want to talk writing? A confession would be preferred of course.”

“Neither. That is, I mean, it does concern my wife, not her disappearance, but her reappearance at our summer home, the one in the country.”

“What do you mean? Is she back?”

“Well that is what I want to talk with you about. She is there, at the house, but also, not there. It is hard to explain, but . . .”

“Oh for God’s sake, make some sense. What are you talking about?”

“This will sound like I am nuts of course. Believe me, I have considered it. I have seen her in the house more than once, in fact many times over the years, but I am unable to talk with her. Look, I could say she is a ghost, but I do not believe in that nonsense. Besides she is not some shadow, nothing ephemeral, no wisp of a smoky thing, or whatever ghosts are supposed to look like . . .”

“So she is at the house, but she is not a ghost, though she could be, as you seem unsure about what you are seeing . . . well you’re a writer, you paint a picture with words, so relax and get into your writer’s mind.”

“Well let me get to the point. I want you to accompany me to the house, the sooner the better before I change my mind. Maybe I am nuts, but I want somebody to see what I am seeing, to confirm everything, perhaps to give an answer. Would you come to the house? Stay there for a few days, a week, or I don’t know, just to give it a chance.”

“Why not call those ghostbuster people? They can document it, get it on TV you know. Then the world can see Annalise.”

“I sense you are joking, but I am not. You see I don’t think she is dead, I don’t believe in ghosts. It must be something else. I can see her as clear as I see you, but when she sees me I can’t hear a word, a look of panic on her face. Then again I must question my sanity. I need a respected journalist, a skeptic, and you have a no nonsense reputation, somebody who the public, and of course the police, will believe if you see what I see.”

“Thank you for the compliment. I remain dubious, but that is what you want isn’t it? On the other hand, I did write, and I make no apologies, a rather brutal piece about you and your wife, so I have concerns for why you chose me to be a witness.”

“Because if I asked a good friend, or my agent, or my attorney, people like that, then credibility of the witness would be questioned. But if you verify what I have seen, that she is alive, the public and the authorities are better inclined to believe you.”

“Why not bring in a large audience?”

“Because,” said Gordon, “I am afraid that if a large group was there and did not see, anything, then word spreads so fast that I will look ludicrous and any subsequent attempts would be . . . well it just wouldn.t work. You are one person, not much damage done, even if you write one more negative story. I think you are my best shot.”

Mayda bent over, her head towards her lap, she brushed back her short dark hair with her hands. Sitting back and looking at Gordon, his gray hair impeccably combed, she said, “let’s go.”


Nearly 800 country acres of rolling hills and ponds is where Gordon and Annalise purchased a house, bought because Gordon professed he liked the country feel of the area, was tired of the noise and distraction of big city life; rich green lawn preferred to gray hard pavement, birds chirping and tweeting preferred to horns honking, deer and an occasional raccoon or two preferred to angry, hostile people. Three months later his wife Annalise disappeared.

The house sat in front of a large wooded area, the woods enveloping the house on three sides. In front of the house a circular paved driveway winds through a deep rich green manicured lawn.

As Gordon drove his British grey Bentley towards the house, Mayda, seeing the house for the first time, did not think the house was imposing in any manner whatsoever. Influenced by Gordon’s ‘ghost story’ she expected something ominous. Both relieved and disappointed she resolved not to make any judgement the rest of the stay. Watch, listen, and see what happens.

It would be a great story if indeed she saw Annalise. And if she didn’t she would still file a story, one in which people would think Gordon had emotional issues. Of course, she thought, he might be setting up some kind of insanity defense.

Entering the door was a long entryway deep into the house with stairs to the upper floor on the right. To the left was the living room with dark red carpet and floor to ceiling windows.

The entire house was well kept, the furnishings giving the appearance of an Architectural Digest photo spread. The difference is that some of the furniture had protective covering for Gordon spent most of his time in New York. Mayda thought the house warm, friendly and inviting.

“How often do you return here Gordon?”

“Usually on our wedding anniversary, her birthday, and sometimes just to come back.”

“But not on the date of her disappearance?”

“No. That is not a day to celebrate. But I have been coming back more often, usually when I finish a book. I can write here, but I am often distracted. I see things, things I hope you will see.”

“Noises, do you hear noises?”

“There are always noises, even alone in a big house. Wood creaks depending on heat or cold. I paid no attention, not much anyway, of noises, until Annalise disappeared. Since then when I hear noises, they seem louder, more menacing, more imposing. Is it my imagination? I don’t know.”

“Which happened first? You saw her, and then noises, or the reverse, noises and then you saw her?”


Gordon then took Mayda to her room on the second floor, far left from the top of the stairs, a library and bathroom between her room and Gordon’s. Wooden floors didn’t creak when Mayda walked heavily on them as a test. Her mind eased, she smiled. Bright yellow wallpaper gave the room a cheerful look, the window facing the front of the house brought in lots of light.

“When you see Annalise, Gordon, do you see her downstairs or up here, near or in your bedroom?”

“The first time I saw her was in our bedroom down the hall. I had fallen asleep while reading, so the table lamp was on. I don’t know why, but I felt something wrong, even though I was asleep, and that I always found odd, but when I woke up she was standing at the foot of my bed. I thought I was seeing things of course. But she was as real to me then as you are to me now. As I said in the park, no specter, no shadows, nothing like what a ghost is supposed to look like. All rubbish I say. Anyway her mouth moved as if she was talking, but I heard nothing. She then seemed panicked and looked like she was almost yelling. She looked frightened and here is the odd thing, she was pounding the air is if it were a door. Now imagine me standing here and pounding the air. If I were pounding my arms they would not always stop in the same place, but hers hands did. In fact it looked like her fist had flattened out as if she was pounding on glass.
Of course there was no glass. Then she walked hurriedly away towards our walk-in closet, but before she could get inside she vanished into air.”

“I confess I have never heard of anything like that. I don’t know what to make of it. What about other sightings. Does she always pound the air with her fists?”

“Would you like to see the room Annalise and I shared?”

“Of course, but about my question?”

“No, not always. Sometimes I see her just walking into our room like normal. She stops when she sees me, with a resigned, forlorn look on her face. She stands there, her arms hanging down, looking beaten, not physically, like she had been hit or anything, but beaten by something, a hopeless, sad look, her shoulders drooping down.”

“And naturally you have tried talking to her.”

“Every time, except the first time. I was too stunned to say anything. I could not believe what I was seeing. But since then, yes, always. Once I got frustrated and said ‘where are you?’ Knowing that she was standing in front of me I felt silly saying that, but it was simply frustration. No matter what I say, she shakes her head, or cries, or both. Once she screamed with a wide open mouth and I heard nothing. Nothing; how can that be? She showed all the physical signs of a scream. Mouth wide open, eyes large and nearly bulging out of their sockets, neck stiff with those tendons on the sides of the neck stretched tight. Other times she walks into the room, sees me, shrugs her shoulders, and walks out.”

“Does this only happen at night?”

“No, it can be morning, afternoon, evening, middle of the night. Sometimes I can be outside the house and I see her looking out through a window. She evened waved at me from the window and I waved back, though I felt silly doing so. After I waved she shook her head slightly and walked away.”

“You said the first time she vanished into air. Does that always happen?”

“It can, but those times when she walks out of the room, I follow and though she is not there I can’t say for certain that she vanished. A couple of times I followed her down the stairs and she walked into the kitchen, but when I walked in she was gone.”

“If that is the case, I could see her anytime. So I had better be alert for anything.”

Gordon looked at her without emotion, his eyes dark and empty. After an awkward moment she said, “What’s for dinner?”


Over the next five days Mayda read two novels, one by Peter Ackroyd about a mystery surrounding Thomas Chatterton and one by Paul Auster set in Brooklyn; called her office twice; wandered around the house until she had memorized every room, corner, floor, ceiling, and piece of furniture; left the house to explore the garden and was startled by either a large dog or maybea wolf, she couldn’t tell which. She stayed indoors after that. Gordon spent long hours in his study which he kept locked.

At breakfast the next morning Mayda asked Gordon if previously there had been long stretches of time where nothing happened.

“Depends on what you consider long stretches. There was always a sighting, a noise, something every week.”

“Well, to be honest, I’m bored and I do not plan on waiting much longer. This is wasting my time and in case you haven’t noticed there is a lot going on in the world and as a journalist making my living covering news and people, I must get back to work. I can’t sit around waiting for a ghost to show up. Instead of me trying to verify whatever you saw, how about an interview. That is something you can do for me since we are both here. You owe me that for the time I have been here.”

“As I said, I don’t believe she is a ghost.”

“Is there something you’re not telling me?”

Gordon put down his fork, swallowed his bite of pancakes and maple syrup, took a sip of orange juice, and said, “There are more things on heaven and earth . . .”

“Oh wonderful. You’re quoting old Will. Is his ghost here too?”

“No, he haunts the Globe.”

“Then spill it. What should I know that you’re not telling?”

“I would rather show you when I see it,” said Gordon. “It will be easier to explain. If I am correct and I have no idea if I am even close to understanding, but it will be harder to believe than a ghost. If we see it together, you will perhaps understand.”

“So you have seen something other than a ghost, something that makes you believe in something else entirely, is that it? And of course it has something to do with Annalise.”

“Of course.”

“I have to say I am disappointed by this shutting me out of whatever you think might be going on. So if something does not happen soon, I will call a taxi and head back to the real world.”


The next day Mayda was packing before breakfast. Before calling for the taxi she thought to ask if Gordon would take her back instead. She walked to his study and knocked, got no answer, opened the door, called his name, heard nothing, then walked into his bedroom. It was empty. She walked through the rooms on the ground floor and saw nothing out of
the ordinary. The car was still in the driveway. Mayda went outside, walked throughout the large yard and garden. There was no Gordon.

At least the day was bright and cheerful she thought. But concern began to fog her mind, her spirit incongruous to the weather. Mayda walked back in the house and starting with the ground floor, checked every room, every closet, everything she could see that could hide somebody, and she thought ‘the somebody’ in question would be dead. Her mind even thought Annalise might be found, her body rotting. But how could that be. There would be a smell. Mayda told herself to stop having these stupid thoughts. Don’t panic. Remain calm.

She reached the second floor, checked everything, even looking at the ceiling in every room. She remembered a jewel thief who said ‘always hide things in plain sight because the police will never look there.’ Once the police came to his home looking for stolen jewelry, but they never found it. They did not look at the chandelier in the ceiling. It was in plain sight.

She walked down stairs and thought she heard a noise, one she could not identify. She stopped on the stairs and listened. It was quiet. Was her mind playing tricks? No. She heard it again. It was soft, not of voices, not anything she could compare it to. Slowly she walked down the steps until, she reached the ground floor.

Mayda heard the sound more clearly. It was a blend of a kind of a hum, a sort of whistle, and a type of whisper; all in tune with each other. The sound was all around, not coming from any direction. She moved away from the stairs, and moved to the left and looked down the hallway.

And then she saw it.

It was a vertical line in the air, long, not straight, but shimmering and wavy. It appeared to radiate waves outward across the hall on either side, the visible shimmering waves bouncing off the walls.

Her first instinct was to run. But she was frozen in wonder.

She approached the vertical ripple cautiously; afraid any sudden movement would make it disappear. She stood in front of it with awe and fear. It was inches away.

Mayda tentatively put her right hand up to the ripple and put her hand slowly into it. Her hand disappeared and she quickly pulled it back. She looked at her hand and it was normal, no sign of anything on it at all.

She bent down slightly and stuck her head inside. She screamed, but heard no sound.


After taking a long sip of a gin and tonic, her hands trembling, her heart still pounding, her mind still in disbelief, Mayda leaned back in the comfy chair in the living room of the house in the beautiful countryside. She knew what she saw, but decided not to tell anyone. Who would believe her? She saw what she saw and she was not sure she believed what she saw. She started to smile, knowing in time, a long time, she would not believe it; it would be some dream she had.

But for the moment she did believe. Believe what is the question. When she stuck her head in the ripple she saw a man and woman embracing each other. Annalise and Gordon. They turned to her, perhaps after she screamed, or thought she screamed. Gordon smiled. Then he took a deep bow and laughed. At least it looked like laughter. Gordon and Annalise walked away, not down the hallway, because they were not in the hallway. In fact they were in a room, one she had never seen before. Everything in the room, which see saw only briefly, was old, like an antique store, only everything looked new.

Mayda never asked herself if she was going to write about this. She had a career. Then she realized that Gordon having disappeared like Annalise would open up a new investigation. Police would ask her when she saw Gordon last. If she called a taxi, then the driver would say he picked up a woman at the house. He would give a solid description. If she drove Gordon’s car, provided she found the keys, where would she leave it. Would someone see her?

Mayda wondered if Gordon knew this beforehand. Did he know if he could disappear into another time with Annalise with me as a witness that . . .

She got up and went to the hallway. The ripple was gone. There was no escape. But it might come back. Mayda waited.


I hope you enjoyed the story. More weirdness can be found in 2 e-book collections of short stories at Amazon.




Free paranormal short story to chill your bones this weekend


This short story, “A Walk through the Cemetery” appears in one of my e-Books, “More Cemetery Tales and other Phantasms” and is copyrighted, but I offer it for you this weekend.

A piercing shriek roared through the evergreens; loud, hard, and violent, then died as soon as it began. A small branch, high in an evergreen, snapped off from a longer limb and fell to the ground. Leaves fluttered down from nearby maples. Upon hearing the howl a man walking in the cemetery stopped and looked up at the swaying tree tops. A storm coming he thought as he looked at the dark gray clouds swiftly arriving from the east, beginning to blot out the sun.

He walked through the cemetery nearly every day since his retirement. Good for the heart. Build up the legs as well. Mountain View Cemetery took up a few city blocks in length, so it was a good walk from end to end, then a few blocks to the park with a small lake where he once saw a river otter swimming.  There was a dog park farther down from the lake. Also there were sheltered picnic areas, ball fields, and a wading pool. Years ago he attended a memorial service in one of the shelters for a deceased relative. 

He thought about that service when he was walking through the cemetery last week. There appeared to be a celebration going on. A grave had dozens of balloons, the kind you find in grocery stores with writing on them, tied down with rocks. Cars were parked along the back of the cemetery where people were greeting each other like it was a reunion; everybody drinking something from cups, kids eating hot dogs, grownups with chicken in their hands. The man did not know whether to chuckle at a picnic in a cemetery or be impressed that so many came to honor what must be a deceased relative.

Today the cemetery was quiet, nobody in sight. Except for the man sitting on a small John Deere tractor with a large claw that was digging up dirt. As he neared the man he saw that there were two by fours on each side of the rectangular pit. It was a grave, one being made new and fresh for an occupant.

He watched for a minute. Then the man got off the tractor, got a long pole and placed it in the pit at various spots. “Are you measuring to make sure it is all even,” he asked.

The man with the pole said nothing.

“I didn’t mean to bother you. I have never seen a grave dug before that’s all. It’s kind of interesting. Not to you of course. To you it’s work. Do you mind if I watch?”

The man with the pole set it down and climbed back onto the tractor. The claw scooped out more dirt, and then the arm of the claw swiveled around and dropped the dirt into a wagon. After this was done twice the man climbed down once again and did his measuring. He began to stomp down a section of the pit close to where the tractor was.

“I’m guessing it must be close to being done huh?”

The man in the pit said nothing.

“Did you hear that wind screeching a few minutes ago? That was something wasn’t it?”

The man in the pit climbed out, walked to the tractor, opened a knapsack, took out a sandwich, took a bite, then placed the sandwich in a plastic bag, and placed it in the knapsack.  

“Is there some kind of rule about not talking to gravediggers, or whatever you call yourselves? I’m just trying to be civil and thought it interesting what you were doing. Forgive me if I am being out of line, but are you a mute? I’m not trying to be funny here, just wondering why you won’t talk with me.”

The gravedigger, if that was what he was, walked about ten yards to a grave and set upright a small vase that had fallen over. He walked away leaving the man to himself. The man walked over to the grave where the grave digger had set the vase and reading the headstone realized the man resting below was a new arrival, having died a few days ago.

He looked for the gravedigger, but did not see him. The man continued his walk until he was at the entrance. He stopped, though he did not know why. But he did not want to walk to the park. For some reason he wanted to continue to walk here. So he walked, not down his normal path, but on the path that took him along the outer edges, a much longer walk. After about twenty minutes he encountered another man who was raking up some fall leaves.

“Excuse me, but do you work here?”

“Yes, can I help you with something?”

“It’s about a co-worker of yours, the other one here today.”

“I am the only one working today. What man are you talking about?”

“He was over there; you see where the tractor is. He was digging a grave, then got out and looked to be measuring the depth of the grave, I guess anyway, with a pole.”

“And when did this happen?”

“Oh, I don’t know. About half an hour ago, give or take.”

Uh huh. Well I didn’t see him.”

“I did. The tractor is about what, fifty yards or more from here. Maybe you didn’t see him because you’re here working.”

“I wasn’t here half an hour ago. Just came over here a few minutes ago.”

“Well this guy had a knapsack in the tractor and I saw him reach in and get a bite of a sandwich.”

“What kind was it? Ham and cheese?”

“I don’t know what kind?”

“Well what about this guy you’re talking about anyway. What’s the problem?”

“I was watching him and asked some questions about what he was doing. But he would not answer me. I was trying to be friendly and all and he ignored me like I wasn’t even there. Don’t see the reason for him to be rude.”

The man with the rake lost a little color in his face. “What did this man look like?”

“Well he was maybe about fifty or so, not to good with figuring a man’s age you know. But was tanned like he worked outdoors, and his skin was real smooth, kind of aristocratic you might say. Tall and lean.”

The man with the rake shook his head. “Don’t know him, never seen him, don’t want to see him.”

“What is going on here? If you don’t know him, aren’t you worried about him fooling around with your equipment? Was that your sandwich he took a bite from?”

“Look, the next time you see him, just leave him alone. And be grateful he doesn’t talk with you. He is not somebody you want to know and you, for sure, do not want to engage in any conversation with him, about anything.”

“So you do know him then? What’s his story?”

“The truth I told you. I don’t know him, but I know of him. Just let it be, forget about it.”

The man with the rake then dropped it and walked hurriedly away towards an area where the tractor was stored.


Just forget about it he says, thought the old man later as he sat in his home watching a show on TV called “Diggers,” about two men with metal detectors who go to historic sights looking for artifacts. How do you forget something like this? Why was this gravedigger, if that was what he was, being so rude and why did the man with the rake tell me to stay away from the man he has never seen in the first place. None of it made sense.

The old man did not have a restful night. Sleep came in awkward fits, awakened by the sensation of something, maybe a spider crawling up his leg; then later on his other leg. He brushed the sensation or spiders away. The sound of what seemed like somebody standing outside his window scratching softly on the glass. He felt probed and poked. He woke up, but nobody was there. Sounds real or imagined-and if imagined-just as real, for delusions have their own reality, kept him awake. He would not give into sleep. He would remain watchful, vigilant. Finally the sounds, the sensations went away. All was still. His eyes weary, feeling nothing, sleep came whether wanted or not.

He awoke the next morning without any memory of a sleepless night. In fact he felt at peace, rested and refreshed. He was not hungry, but eager for a walk, so he headed out to the cemetery.

The morning was sunny and warm, birds chirping; a late autumn gift to soothe woes, lift spirits, the last chance to enjoy the warmth of the sun before winter brings gray skies, cold weather to chill the bones.

The man enjoyed the walk through the pioneer section of the cemetery, a section thick with evergreens, dirt roads, and tombstones so old that one was tipped askew; facing a tree as if looking into a mirror, the name and dates of the deceased could not be read without bending down and around and then the weathered name was near impossible to make out.

When he came to the columbarium the evergreens gave way to a few maples, but mostly clear spaces with long rows of graves. When he walked from the dirt trail to the paved path he saw the tractor exactly where it was yesterday and standing next to it was the aristocratic man who would not speak with him. He was standing next to an open grave below a canopy, chairs aligned facing the grave.

The man walked up to the tall and lean man and asked, “Do you remember me from yesterday?”

“It wasn’t yesterday, it was a couple of days ago, but of course, I do remember you.”

“You may be younger than me, but I know it was yesterday. I am not senile. Why wouldn’t you talk with me? What’s wrong with you anyway?”

“Don’t let appearances deceive you. I am much older than you. I did not talk with you because there was nothing I had to say to you. I was aware of your questions, but really, it was obvious what I was doing. I really don’t like small talk. I knew you would return and I knew your questions would be answered. I am patient. All things in their time.”

“You’re an odd duck. I talked to your buddy yesterday. He says you don’t work here, that I shouldn’t talk with you. So what are you doing here?”

“Well, ‘my buddy’ as you call him is not my buddy. He is the caretaker here at Mountain View. I am merely the gravedigger. We have separate responsibilities and never see each other. I don’t think he likes me much, not many do I’m afraid.”

“Well if you don’t talk with people you won’t have any friends. Kind of obvious don’t you think?”

“I talk with people when the time is right.”

“I guess the time is right for me because here we are chatting.”

“Yes the time is right.”

“So who died?”

“Look for yourself.” He pointed towards the head of the grave. The man walked over and stood in front of it. He did not know whether to laugh or be mad. He looked to the tall and lean man who was smiling.

“Some joke. What’s the gag? This headstone has my name on it and yet I am here talking with you. Standing right here, standing and talking, and you are listening and talking. We are talking here.”

“Yes we are talking aren’t we?”

“Well then, I’m not dead, I’m alive.”

“Are you?”

“Of course I am you nut. I can’t be dead if I’m talking with you. That caretaker guy said there was something wrong with you, that I should stay away from you and now I know why. You’re going to get into trouble for this. What happens when the mourners arrive and see the name on the headstone?  What then huh?”

“Do you hear anything?”

“What? What do you mean ‘do I hear anything?’ Of course I do. I hear you don’t I?”

“Did you hear the cars arrive? Did you hear the car doors being opened? Do you presently hear any voices besides mine?”

The old man turned and looked. He saw his cousin Pamela first, then Denny, Brad, John, Mindy, all cousins. He saw his children, his grandchildren. He saw friends, acquaintances, business associates. Everyone he saw, he knew. He called to them. They did not answer. He walked up to them and said hello. They did not answer. Frustrated, he walked back to the tall and lean man. “I am not dead. I am standing here. I am wearing cargo pants, a Hawaiian shirt. I am not in a coffin. This is quite a prank, but it’s not funny anymore.”

“You did request, did you not, to be buried in comfortable clothing, saying cargo pants and a Hawaiian shirt?”

The old man thought for a second. “Of course you would know that. It is part of the prank. I told a few people about what I wanted. It is in my lawyer’s file. Of course you would know and be part of all this.”

“But alive you would be wearing shoes. Are you wearing shoes?”

The old man looked down. “I forgot them. I was eager to go for a walk, to see you, to find out what was going on with you yesterday, to question your rudeness.”

“And did you have breakfast. I think not.”

“I wasn’t hungry, that’s all.”

“But you always have breakfast. Don’t you?”

“This is absurd.”

Everyone was seated. Some man he did not know was speaking about the old man. The old man looked at the tall and lean man, and then turned and walked away. He was going to resume his walk. He was going to walk to the park today, to see the lake, maybe the river otter, stop at store for a candy bar. He would not take part in this stupid joke.

As he approached the building housing the tractors he saw the caretaker. He walked up to him, raking leaves as he was yesterday, and said, “That stupid gravedigger talked to me today. You were right. He is somebody you don’t want to talk with, what a nut case.”

The caretaker said nothing.

“Oh for God’s sake. Are you in on this joke too; they get to you. Who is responsible for this anyway? You must know?”

The caretaker said nothing.

“The joke’s over. I’m on to you guys. Very elaborate. Everybody I know is involved, but it’s over. You can tell me, you can talk with me.”

The caretaker said nothing.

“He can’t hear you.” It was the tall and lean man.

“You know I’m going to walk out of here you know. I just am. You can’t stop me. This is not funny.”

“You are free to walk wherever you want to go. It changes nothing. The last time you saw me I would not talk with you because it was not the right time, but the caretaker talked with you didn’t he. You were alive then. But today is your funeral. The caretaker, your family, your friends, all who came, could not see you, nor hear you. Because you are dead you see. I can talk with you now because I am the gravedigger.”

The old man stared at the tall and lean man, and then turned to stare at the caretaker; the old man’s face grimacing, he turned and walked in circles around the two men, pacing quicker and quicker, anger rising within him. He had enough. He stopped and all the frustration, all the anger, all the fed up emotion came out in one loud, bellowing scream.

A piercing shriek roared through the evergreens; loud, hard, and violent, then died as soon as it began. A small branch, high in an evergreen, snapped off from a longer limb and fell to the ground. Leaves fluttered down from nearby maples. Upon hearing the howl a woman walking slowly in the cemetery stopped and looked up at the swaying tree tops. A storm coming she thought as she looked at the dark gray clouds swiftly arriving from the east, beginning to blot out the sun.


Thanks for reading my story. I hope you enjoyed it.