31. The Wait

In a little house on Venus Drive, she waited for him to come home from the war.  She passed the time making airplanes and when he got home, he told all his friends that she was a better mechanic than anyone in town. His car ran because of her expertise.

Telling you that much, if you’re old enough, you can probably guess who they were.

They had the kind of love everyone hopes for.  Two young people devoted to each other, growing older together.

He said to her, often, “I will never leave you. Never.”

And she would say, “You can’t promise that. What if you die?”

“Even if I die, if there’s a way, I will be here.”

“Me, too, Mister,” she would say, “me, too.”

She died. Got hit by a car while she was out riding her bike.  He was at home, sensed nothing amiss.  Even when the police finally came to his door, he smiled much longer than was appropriate, because he simply could not believe she would leave him.

He waited all evening for her to come back in the door, to tell him it was all a mistake.

She never came.

Every holiday, he waited for some sign.

“Dad,” his daughter would say, “open the present.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought I heard something,” he would lie. He never heard anything.

When his grandson was born, he thought, “This is it, if she comes, it will be now.”  And he waited for anything he could consider her, a noise, an out of place shadow, the smell of her perfume.  But nothing.

He met a woman at church and eventually it seemed to make sense that they would get married.  Still, he didn’t want to offend his dead wife.  “If you mind,” he would whisper, “just tell me.”

But nothing.

His son-in-law was kind of a jerk and he would say things like, “Maybe she’s too busy. Maybe she’s got better things to do. Maybe she’s forgotten all about you.”

But he felt sure, if she could come back, she would have. She never did.

Finally, after years, with his second wife by his side, he died.

It went like this. He had been semi-conscious for hours, not quite able to do much more than mumble.  And then, he sat up, looked ahead of him, said plain as day, “Oh, so that’s why.” and started to sob.

And then, after a minute, he laid back down, and fell asleep. He never regained consciousness.

I’m Starting to Wonder if I Need Professional Help

Ha, not that kind. Professional genealogical help. Let us ponder the question of Luke Phillips from a new angle. The only people whose word we have that there was a guy named Luke Phillips who was born in 1808 in New York are Ole Luke himself and his family members, all of whom told Census takers that, on and after 1850.

I’ve been reading old public domain histories of Oakland County, Michigan, looking for references to Phillipses, trying to find my ancestors. And I find a Mrs. Philip Erenesberger from Lansing, Michigan claiming that her father, Luke Phillips, came to Pontiac, in Oakland County, in 1828. This seemed like a lead–an actual date of arrival for Luke Phillips. But I look up all Philip Ernesbergers who ever lived in Lansing, Michigan (or Michigan, period) in the 1800s.

There is one. His wife, Ellen, was born in 1806.

This, of course, makes it physically impossible for my Luke, born in 1808, to be her dad. So, then, I have a thought. What if my Luke is Ellen’s brother? And their father–also called Luke–arrived in 1828? I’ve had no luck locating a father Luke, though I have taken to calling my dad and saying, “Luke, who is your father?” which my dad is pretty good natured about.

I decided, then, to look at my dad’s great grandpa, Oscar F. Phillips and try to figure out why it seems that he lived in Oakland county his whole life, except for also living in Ionia county. Well, turns out that there are two Oscar F. Phillipses, married to women named Mary, who, by even greater coincidence, were both deaf. I can hardly believe it myself, but it appears to be true.

The Oscar who is not my relative (I don’t think), was the son of David Phillips (b. 1799). Oscar was born in 1825 in Wayne County, which is just north of Oakland County, and his claim to fame is that he was the first white kid born in Wayne County. He married his Mary and had three children–Walter, William, and Anna. At some point, they moved to Ionia County, which is the same county as Ellen lived in.

My Oscar was born in Oakland County in 1836. He was deaf from birth and married Mary E. Hildreth and moved west to be near her people. They had probably five kids–Barlow (who I can’t find in the censuses as a child, but my dad remembers my grandpa talking aout his uncle Barlow), Carabel, Ralph, Frank, and Clyde.

Now, keeping in mind when the Oscars were born and how very few white people there were in Michigan at the time AND how very few Phillipses there yet were AND that they were born just a county apart to people who stayed in those counties, I’m finding it a little implausible that this is just coincidence. Though, I suppose, it must be.

Still, I find nothing, no records, no recollections, nothing, that puts my Phillipses in Oakland county before 1850 other than their own saying so.

This means one of three things. 1. They’re lying about being in Michigan before 1850. 2. They’re lying about their names. 3. I just haven’t found them yet.

You know I’m hoping for scandal.

30. The Demoss Hollow House

There is a house in Demoss Hollow, just off River Road, west of town that is tucked so far back away that you can’t see it from the road. It has the twin chimneys and the low slung porch that say that it was built a while ago.  It has, at least, been there as long as anyone can remember.

It also has, for the most part, been empty.

“It wasn’t the kind of place that seemed bad right away,” one of the neighbors told me.  “It was on my uncle’s neighbor’s land and we used to go there all the time, stay there when we were hunting, hang out there when we should have been at school.  It was up the hill a little way, so you could see out over everything.  Beautiful view.

“So, we’re sitting on the porch one day and we hear this voice, a gal’s voice, and she says, plain as day, ‘John, I will kill you.'”

“Were any of you named John?” I asked.

“Now, don’t take this wrong, but I wished there was.  Then at least we would have known it was one of our girlfriends or something.  But no, none of us was John.”

They looked around to see if they could find anyone, but they never did.

“Do you know Bub Dozier?” the neighbor man asked me.

“No,” I admitted.

“His family goes way back here.  Anyway, he married a gal from White Bluff and brought her back there until he could get them a house built up by his folks. And she hated that place.  Said you’d be just about to sleep in the bedroom and you could hear someone in the kitchen, sounded like they were doing dishes.

“And one night, she was woke up by all the noise in the kitchen and she gets up and sets off down the hall and she swears there’s no one in the kitchen, but the water glass that was in the sink is on a towel upside down, drying.”

“Well, it’d be nice to have a ghost to do your dishes, I think,” I said.

“You’re kind of an idiot, aren’t you? You think it’s fun not knowing in your own house that you can put something down and come back to find it in the same place?  That ain’t fun. It’s horrible.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.  We sat in silence for a while.

“Aw, hell, it’s just that if you haven’t seen it, you don’t know.  And if you have seen it, you can’t get no comfort because everyone thinks you’re nuts.”

“You’ve seen it?”

“Bub got real sick one Fall,” he said.  “He wasn’t going to go to the doctor, of course, but his wife called me up and begged me to make him.” He drummed his finger into the table to punctuate his point.  “She begged me.”  He took a long drink of coffee. “Doctor said that he’d been poisoned.  Called the police over it, too.  Well, of course, they thought his wife had done it.  Hell, I thought his wife had done it.

“So they set bail, but no one would get her out.  I said I’d stay with Bub.

“And I start to notice weird things.  Like I’d go into the bathroom and the closet door would be open, even though I’d know neither of us had been in there.  Hell, I wasn’t doing their god damn laundry and Bub wasn’t on his feet.  Or you’d find coffee cups right by the coffee maker in the morning, all by themselves.

“And that…” he looked over his shoulder, like he was trying to decide whether to say something.  “… I think that’s how she did it.  A couple of times, there was something in the bottom of the cup, some white stuff, looked like a fine dusting of sugar.  You might not have even noticed it, if you hadn’t realized already that the cups were strange. But I pick one up and I’m looking in it and I see that powdery stuff on the bottom.

“Now, I knew it wasn’t me.  It couldn’t have been Bub, and his wife was sitting in jail.  So, finally, I yell, ‘who the hell are you?’ and…”

“Holy shit.”

“I don’t hear nothing.  So, I shout, ‘Are you the one looking to kill John?’ and I swear, right as I said ‘John,’ that coffee cup just tore up out of my hands and slammed against the ceiling and broke into pieces.

“‘Bub,’ I said, ‘There’s something wrong with this place.  We got to get you out of here and burn it to the ground.’ So, I get under him and I’m lifting him up and I hear this low voice, like a whisper, but a little louder, a man’s voice, ‘Wait.’ ‘What’d you say, Bub?’ but he didn’t say nothing. I stand real still, with Bub kind of draped over my shoulder, and I whisper back, ‘What?’ and I swear, I hear, ‘Don’t burn it. Don’t let her loose.'”

“What did you think that meant?”

“Hell if I know. You’re supposed to be the one who can make sense of this stuff.” Again, it was quiet for a long time.

“That house is still there,” he finally said. “But we don’t let nobody live in it.”

My Baby Brother

Today is the Butcher’s birthday. I can remember when he was a baby, his chubby legs and his cute smile.  I remember when he was in little league and when he played high school football.

I am so deeply honored to know him and to have gotten to know him his whole life.

And I’m glad my parents didn’t follow up on their promise that my other brother and I could name him or that poor guy would be Bubbles Phillips.

29. Let Me Call You Sweetheart

“Lookaway” is the name of the old house on Manila Street. It was a wedding gift from Mr. Whitson to his new bride, Beth Slater Whitson. You have probably never heard of her.  When the house was for sale a couple of years ago, the listing made no mention of her ever having lived there.  The last thing anyone who wants to sell that house wants to do is to draw attention to Mrs.Whitson.

Of course, after a while, you can’t help but notice her.  You’ll come home to find your clean pots out of the cupboard an arranged on the kitchen stove. You’ll be sitting in the living room, reading a book, and the television will come on and start to flip through channels. Lights will be on in rooms you know you left dark.

And sometimes the air will hang heavy with the smell of magnolia blossoms, even with the windows shut, even when the magnolias aren’t in bloom.

Even the neighborhood children who use the huge front yard like a neighborhood park will come home singing “Let me call you sweetheart, I’m in love with you. Let me hear you whisper that you love me, too.” And when their mothers ask, “Did you make that up?” the children say, “No, that woman in the funny dress sings it when she’s on the porch.”

And, by this point, the mothers don’t even bother to look out their windows in suspicion.

“It’s like this,” one says to me, “I don’t want to live there and I would scream if I ever saw her, but she’s kind of our neighbor, so what can you do? I heard they called in a pastor to bless the place, but he said he didn’t think she was evil or trapped there. She’s just where she wants to be. There’s nothing he can do. Just wait for her to move on.”

“Or be forgotten?”

“How are you going to forget someone who’s teaching your kids those old-fashioned songs? Did you listen to what I told you?”

Photos Relevant to Recent Posts

28. Hickory Hollow Mall

Everyone says that the reason why no one goes to Hickory Hollow Mall is because it’s not safe, that it’s over-run with teenagers and gang members or teenagers who are gang members.

There’s another reason, though, in addition to that.

How many times can a woman be walking through the mall only to feel a small hand slide into hers and feel those small fingers squeeze and in the second she looks down to say, “Oh, no, honey, I’m not your mom,” find no one there and still want to shop there?

I know there are a few women who go deliberately, at least once a week, hoping that the child will reach out to one of them, hoping that they will not look down, will keep a hold of that small hand and…

And what?

That part they haven’t worked out.

“So, Your Uncle Got in Some Crappy Paper and You Get to be on NPR?”

Well, so, I am about to fall over. Right over. I just got asked to be on the weekend All Things Considered, and read them a ghost story.

They found them on Metafilter, because one of you was kind enough to stick them up there.

I am so excited and thrilled and unsure about which one is best to read.

Ha, whew. How weird.

Edited to Add: Okay, I have more details, the most important of which is that I will get bumped if anything more interesting than me happens. If you read me, you know that is a very low bar to set, so I’m going to have to ask that everyone who reads this first tape everyone around you into their seats and then tape yourself into your seat. Don’t talk to anyone, don’t do anything, and, for gods’ sake, don’t tell anyone at NPR about the strange rash of people being taped into their seats.

Then we must all keep our fingers crossed that everyone else in the world decides this would be a good weekend to do totally normal things.

They’ve got some ideas about which stories they want me to read but they’ll let me know later today.  I will then practice reading it out loud. Then I’ll go tomorrow to WPLN to read them to Guy Raz.

And then nothing interesting can happen, at all.

My Dad’s so cute. He’s all like, “The important thing is that they asked you and I got to tell your Uncle.”

27. 18th Avenue North

No one is sure if the thing on 18th Avenue North actually constitutes a ghost. But no one is sure what else to call it. Some say that you can almost see it on rainy or foggy days, a shape, like a person, but not quite, around which the moisture bends as the shape moves down the street.

Kids say dirt will do the same, hit it and deflect, and it’s not unusual to see kids walking from the corner where 18th and Clarksville Pike split north towards Potter’s Field kicking up dust in front of them, trying to get a glimpse of the thing before they step into it.

Because stepping into it is like stepping into old grief. It’s the step you took, hands tight on your grandmother’s casket, as you helped to slide her into the back of the hearse, the first step you take after you hang up the phone from hearing, “I’m sorry but your son is dead,” the moments you pray to forget and can’t.

No one knows if it’s a person or just a bad feeling that lingers between the Jewish cemetery and Potter’s field. But it sticks with you, once you’ve felt it.

So people do what they can to avoid it.

Edited to add: Okay, let’s see if we can’t fix this.

This weird patch is not the most disturbing ghost on 18th Avenue North. That honor goes to a young boy, who is often seen playing just inside the gates of the Jewish cemetery.

“I finally told them,” the cop told me, “that if you see a white kid in the Jewish cemetery, do not even bother to call us about it. There haven’t been white kids in that neighborhood in decades, I mean, like 70 years, and the gate is locked. No one is letting their seven year old climb the fence and play in the cemetery. That kid’s not real. Do not call me.”

I waited for him to settle down. He looked down at his plate of food and continued. “I mean, I sure as hell do not want to ever, ever see that kid.”

“Who is he?”

“The Judge.”

Soon enough, I was walking into the barber shop that sits kitty corner from the Jewish cemetery and the three men in the place looked at the officer I was with like he had just violated all rules of social decorum.

“She’s asking about the Judge.”

“No,” said one guy.

“No way,” sad the second.

“I know,” said the third.

“Will you tell me?” I asked.

“Hell no,” said the first man.

The third settled into the barber’s chair and rested his head against the back.

“My dad used to run this place and he would tell me about how, when he was a kid, there used to be kids who worked in the mills over in Germantown. Small kids.  Or how you’d go downtown and there’d be these kids on the corners selling newspapers or stealing apples out of the barrels that sat on the sidewalks. Some folks wanted those kids in school, thought they were a menace and needed to be off the streets. Other folks said that they couldn’t run their businesses without those kids.

“Bad shit… Sorry, miss, bad stuff would happen to those kids, sometimes. The Judge, my dad said, was beat to death by a man right downtown, in broad daylight.  Worst part was that they just left that kid, like trash, on the sidewalk.  When his mother got off work, she came to look for him and found him in a heap, people just walking around him.

“He’s buried right there.” The third barber motioned across the street. “My father saw him once. He was sitting in this window and a white man pulled up in his car and got out and started coming towards the door. A few seconds later, a little boy, just a few years younger than my father was then, appeared and seemed to be hurrying to catch up with the man.

“He had some business with my grandfather, that man. I don’t know what it was. Times were different then, and you sometimes had to make some unsavory deals to keep your family safe. ‘Sir, your son doesn’t have to stand outside,’ my grandfather said. And my father said that they all looked out the window and there was the small boy, just standing on the sidewalk, staring in.

“The white man went pale and started to shake. They tried to offer him a seat, but he rushed out, got in his car, and drove off. My father says that he looked right into the face of that boy. They weren’t maybe three or four feet apart. You can see how close that sidewalk is. Just separated by glass. And my father says he didn’t think anything strange of him.  He just waved at the kid and the kid, for the first time, smiled and waved back, and then… And I am not even joking… he just faded from view.

“Now, I heard from some white folks, and you might try to find them, if you can, that that kid followed the man who killed him everywhere, for the rest of his life.  Everyone saw him, all over town.

“And when that man finally died? No cemetery would take him. When that kid died, he was just trash. But by the time that man died, that kid was the victim of a monster. You know what I’m saying? People couldn’t ignore what he did or just pretend like that’s just what happened to kids.  And they didn’t want a child killer in their cemetery.

“So they put him in the field there. My wife will tell you he doesn’t rest easy, that he’s the bad spot. I worry about that kid, but she says the kid seems all right, not scared or sad, but where he wants to be.”

“That’s not what Granny Rose says,” the cop said, and I realized I was in the middle of a long-standing family discussion. “She says that kid is just waiting there for bad men, that even now, he can tell if you hurt little kids and he will torment you until you die. He just needs those bad guys to come close enough.”

“Then why are you afraid of him?” the third barber asked.

“Dad, that stuff is scary. I don’t care. It’s weird and it creeps me out,” the cop said. I thought for a second he might storm out and leave.  But when he got to the door, he turned back around and he said, “And I don’t want to stop him. If he does what Granny Rose says? Good. Most of the time, it’s more than we can do.”

Luke Phillips, You Vex Me!

On the Phillips side I have tracked me, my dad, Hick, Frank, Oscar, and Luke.  Oh, Luke Phillips. Claiming to be born in 1808 in New York to people who were born in Connecticut, I find no evidence for his existence prior to 1850, when he shows up on the Federal Census AND when he bothers to marry Patience, the mother of his nine children.

By 1880, he’s taken up with Jane, a woman from England.

I can find no evidence of Luke before 1850. Not in Michigan. Not anywhere. I wonder if “Luke” is his real name. I wonder why he waited until all his kids were born before getting married (1860s).  And I wonder if he wasn’t who he said he was, who was he?

26. The Cat that Said “Ma Ma”

The women who worked Dickerson heard the cat days before they saw it.  The noise sounded enough like a human voice, words in the distance, not quite made out. But the working girls had, if they had been on the street any length of time, learned to ignore voices not directed at them.

It was just safer that way.

But my god, can you imagine when the one of the noises the cat started to make was “ma ma”? Women who had children they hadn’t seen in weeks would gasp and shake. Girls who had come to miss their mothers so desperately would cry.

When the cat finally showed up and started to follow the women, for some it was a relief, when you could see the cat and see its open mouth and know the noise was coming from it, they thought it seemed cute and they called it “baby.”

For others, seeing it only made it worse, made it seem more unnatural, and they called it “demon.”

The police did not know about the cat, of course. So it’s hard to know if the disappearances really started after the cat appeared. Women along Dickerson Pike have a habit of disappearing.  Some go home. Some move on. And some just vanish.

The women contend that they are often preyed upon and that it’s ignored.  In the time the cat would follow them as they walked and waited for men in cars to stop, seventeen of them went missing in Nashville, six who worked Dickerson, meaning six who had heard the cat.

Every time a woman was arrested, she mentioned her missing friends.

If anything was being done about it, if they were even able to raise an alarm, they didn’t know.  A file was started, a detective was assigned. But he knew those women, he thought, and thought they’d probably just found something else to do with their time.

The women did what they could to keep each other safe, stood together, made sure every man who pulled over saw that someone else had seen his face.  And yet, one by one, over the course of the next three months, four more women disappeared.

With tensions running high, you can hardly blame the women who, when the cat showed up to follow her, grabbed it and tossed it into the street.  It was hit by a car, but managed to limp off.

Later that evening, she bent over to peer in a car window and saw the man in the car had a cast on his right wrist.  At first, she didn’t think anything of it.

“Wanna date?” she asked.

“Ma ma?” he grinned so wickedly at her.

“Excuse me?”

“Ma’am?” He smiled, like he was going to play it off like she misheard him.

“It was that damn cat,” she said later, “Or that damn cat was that dude. Either way, I didn’t get in that fucking car, believe me.”

Later, a different car, a different man, a different girl, still a right wrist in a cast.

“I’m looking for a place on Front Street.”

“There’s no Front Street, Mister.”

“I’ve visited a doctor on Front Street, before.”

“In Nashville?”

“It’s so easy to get lost when all the roads change names.”

“Shit, you’re creepy.  You go find Front Street on your own.”

What happened next is not the kind of thing any person wants to admit.  They killed the cat.  They killed the cat, put it in a garbage bag, and hid it in the basement of the Congress Inn, a motel they all were quite familiar with.

A week went by and no man with a cast in any car and no women went missing from Dickerson Pike.  Another week, another, and then another.

Then one night, they saw four police cars go by, lights flashing.  The cars stopped at the Congress Inn and a body was pulled out of the basement.  It was, of course, not the cat.  It was, of course, a man with his right wrist in a cast, badly decomposed.

Even still, weeks went by and no women disappeared.

Because weeks went by and no one claimed that body.  And finally, it was cremated.

The women didn’t know this, but they knew, soon enough, that almost-human voice, crying “Ma ma” in the dark.  And they knew, soon enough, that one of the would die.

One of them, a woman they called Krissy, said, “We should have hid that body better, put it some place where we could keep an eye on it, but no one else could find it.”

That was the problem, though, of course.  Where could they put a body that would remain unfound?  He knew.  He knew where to put them where no one could find them.  But they were not monsters.

“We have to put him someplace and then we have to keep folks away from there,” Krissy said.

“And how are we going to do that?  Who’s going to stay there and keep folks away?”

And Krissy said, “I will.”

The cat was captured again, eventually.  And killed, again.  And its body was brought, again, to the basement of the Congress Inn, along with bricks and mortar.

I have heard it both ways, that Krissy was dead by her own hand before they put her behind the wall, guaranteeing that she would not rest, because of her unholy death and I heard that she helped brick herself up from the inside. But that’s almost too much to think about.

I just know that, when you go into the basement of the Congress Inn, and you feel like the proportions are wrong, that the basement is smaller than it should be, that the voice you hear whispering in your ear, the tap on your shoulder that sends youscurrying back up stairs, they call that Krissy.

And I asked the woman who told this to me if she thought it was true. She looked away from me for a long time and then said, quietly, “I just hope that place never burns down.”

The Tennessee State Library and Archives

I spent the morning at the state library and archives trying to figure out where Elizabeth Bennett’s tavern was. No luck. But all of the people there were a hoot–from the guard who was telling me his philosophy on women and why you shouldn’t run around on your wife (it boiled down to “If you piss off your wife, who will take care of you when you’re sick?”) to the women who, one after another, tried to help me track down Bennett/Hensley/Hemsley/Durrard/Durratt/Durand.

What a nice bunch of folks.

Young Buck

I was on my way to the gas station when a beautiful six point buck leaped across Clarksville pike and then across Lloyd (so I got to see him twice) and he leaped like he was almost begging to be chased.

Even the truck coming the other way stopped to watch.

The Myth of the ‘Reasonable’ Discussion

I get tired of the dynamic of Kleinheider says something, I point out how stupid it is, he points out that I’ve pointed out how stupid it is, etc., etc., etc., but today he wrote something not so much stupid as nefarious.

And that’s this column which is, in essence, about how reasonable people can agree about certain facts about immigration, if only we got beyond our binary political thinking.

It’s pretty clever, actually, how it works. Tiny Pasture gets to set the terms–“On the flip side, conservatives tend to think that if progressives are amenable to something like guest worker programs or other fixes short of outright restriction, then it must be a backdoor ploy to throw open our nation to the world’s undesirables.” for instance–and, if you balk at the whole idea of calling any groups of people “undesirables,” balk at even setting the debate up in terms that treat groups of people like garbage, you’re being unreasonable, unwilling to compromise. You’ve proven yourself unworthy of participating in the discussion.

And think about how this idea that we should have ‘reasonable’ discussions about immigration basically rules out participation by the people most affected. If it’s you who’s about to be stripped of your mother, who is being sent back to a country she hasn’t lived in since she was three, you’re not going to feel very reasonable, very calm, and collected.  You’re just not going to have the right tone for a reasonable debate.

This idea that good people, if we would just be reasonable, can find some acceptable compromise is a way for us to abstract the wrong we do. We can take policies that destroy the lives of our neighbors and make the discussion somewhat theoretical so that we don’t have to face the real effects on our community members.

Calls for this kind of discussion are just ways of reinforcing the idea that our community is made of up of people capable of having “reasonable” discussions about immigration, and, if you can’t, maybe because it hits too close to home, then you aren’t really a part of the community and it’s not the community’s job to look out for you.

If you stand against treating immigrants like they’re outsiders who don’t belong in our community, then how can you possibly participate in a discussion like this, where the whole point is to establish that some folks don’t really deserve a say?

If that’s what “reasonable” is, then I’m happy to be unreasonable.

25. Adelicia Acklen

It works best if you have two young, suggestible pre-teen girls in your back seat.  You take them to Bobby’s Dairy Dip and then start filling their heads with ghost stories about Adelicia Acklen.  It doesn’t matter which stories you choose to tell.

Start with the ones about how greedy she was and so she never left her home because she couldn’t bear to be without her things.  Go on to the ones about how she sold her soul to the Devil in exchange for prosperity, even in the darkest days of war and reconstruction, and so is doomed to walk the land.

Or tell them about her grief for her dead children and how she cannot bear to leave them behind.

Just tell those stories as you drive across town towards Mount Olivet Cemetery.  As you’re pulling up the long drive, be sure to tell them how people have seen her figure around her mausoleum.  And yes, you’re going to have to explain what a mausoleum is.

But it will be worth it, when you pull up in front of the Acklen mausoleum and you dare them to go take a peek in and you make like you’re going with them, but you hang back.

They walk towards the door, the closer they get, the slower they go.  Slower and slower until finally, they are pushing each other and daring each other to look in.

And they do.

And they will see the figure and they will scream.

And you’re laughing, because you know it’s just a statue, a marble angel.

But when you hear the laughter of another woman, and you look around and see there’s no one there but you, then, maybe you’re the one who’s screaming next.


People, if there is ever another time when I have to pee in a cup for 24 hours straight, would you please just, I don’t know, at least make sure I have found my pile of books. I cleaned the kitchen and learned that the tiny cat, who claims to not be able to get on the kitchen counter without help is a total liar. I did a bunch of laundry.

I scratched the dog’s belly all a person could stand.

We went for a walk. I danced around the house. I contemplated how much the bathroom needs cleaning, but… alas, someone is peeing into a cup in there and then pouring it into a jug.  No sense cleaning it until that mess is done.

We went to Sonic for lunch.

I had some bread for dinner.  I lamented the fact that I seem to have lost the chocolate milk I purchased on Friday.

I discovered that my dad’s people are some cousin-marrying motherfuckers. I thought about compiling a list, but I did not. I recharged my phone and my iPod. I contemplated whether my ancestors Luke and Patience Phillips just sprang fully formed from the earth in 1850 and were lying about being from New York.

I was so bored I couldn’t even think of things to do.

I should have called my mom and whined at her.