I have always loved hearing people’s stories. And because I have such a poor memory, I am one of those rare people who almost never says “Oh, that’s okay; you already told me this one”. If the story is a good one, I want to hear it again and again. And each time it is retold, I ask many questions and often walk away with a brand-new tidbit to savour and ponder.
My brother-in-law often talks about his Dad, M_, whom I only met a few times and barely knew, as he passed away a good many years ago now. The stories my brother-in-law tells of his Dad have always fascinated me. By all accounts, he was an interesting man. He worked for many years as an overseer for large pulp-and-paper companies. His last job was as our town Superintendent. As the town supervisor, he had a great many responsibilities which ranged from the smallest, to the most significant, details. An honest, keenly-intelligent, logical and very practical man, he always improved the procedures of any place he supervised. Known as ‘The Whip’ at one place he worked, he was fair but extremely firm. If you did your job to the best of your abilities, you had nothing to worry about. But if you shirked your responsibilities or worse, tried to milk the system, you could and would be fired, whether you were upper management or blue collar.
M_ was not given to flights of fancy and he was not given to tall tales. He was an extremely pragmatic and reliable man. His word was his bond. The running joke was that you could set your watch by him: he used to laugh that he was so punctual, the hour of sleep he lost in the spring would only be recovered when the time changed in the fall and he finally gained the lost hour back again. If he told his wife he would be home at 5:00 p.m., she knew she should be concerned if he still hadn’t shown up by 5:05.
Of all the stories I have heard about M_, the following is by far the most interesting to me, mostly because he would have been the least-likely person to make it up. Some time back in the seventies, he had spent a quiet evening with some friends at his hunting camp deep in the woods, an hour out of town. He had told his wife he’d be home by 10:00, so promptly at 9:00, he left his friends at the camp and set out along the old dirt road in the direction of home. He hadn’t gone too far when he noticed some lights off to one side through the trees. An avid hunter, he knew every inch of the forest surrounding his camp and he knew there shouldn’t be any signs of life in that section of the forest. Curious, he brought his old green Volvo to a stop in the middle of the narrow dirt road. Leaving the engine running and the lights on, he got out of the car, stepping a few feet away but leaving the driver’s door open.
There is an inexplicable break in his story at this point, because his next recollection was of driving down the dark dirt road, with the car headlights off, on his way back into town. When he got back onto the main highway, he found it curious that there was no traffic on the road, to speak of. Clearly unsettled, he purposely drove by the homes of two of the men who had been at the camp when he left, and saw their trucks parked in their driveways with all the lights in the houses out for the night. Now thoroughly perplexed, he took a slight detour downtown to check the time on the big clock sitting in the town square.
It was after 3:00 a.m.
He hurried home to find his frantic wife standing in the doorway, asking him where on earth he had been and why he hadn’t called to let her know he would be so late. She was beside herself.
From the time he had stepped out of the car on that old dirt road until he suddenly found himself driving down the dirt road, headlights off, on his way toward home, he had somehow lost six hours.
While he never recovered any memory of those lost hours, perhaps 7 years after the incident, he became plagued by nightmares which bothered him for the remainder of his days. Two marks that had appeared on the back of his neck on the night of the incident would reappear each time he became agitated. On one memorable night, he woke from a nightmare and took off running, stopping only when he slammed hard into the door frame of the closet. In his final years, around twenty years after the incident, he developed Alzheimer’s and died soon after, childlike and unrecognizable. Before his memory failed, however, while he never told anyone about the content of his nightmares, he – the most pragmatic and least fanciful man anyone knew – admitted that he suspected he had been abducted that night.
Before you, the reader, scoff at this as the ravings of an old man who was losing his memory, keep in mind that he lived in a place where everyone knew his name and everyone recognized his vehicle. When he got out of the car that night, he parked in the middle of the dirt road. The road was too narrow for a car to pass around him. His friends, who somehow got home hours before he did, would never have gone by his vehicle without checking on him.
The only explanation is that his vehicle was not there when they left the camp after he did.
Oh, yes. And the car radio never functioned after that night, nor did the dashboard clock, which inexplicably stopped at 2:23…
Patti Moore Wilson © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com