Sylvan Park has properly gentrified and West End has had a fancy streak for as long as anyone can remember, but Sylvan Heights, wedged between the two of them, laying along the railroad tracks is still waiting for its neighbors’ good fortune to spread through it.
So, a person cannot be blamed for not noticing at first that the neighborhood is haunted by Union soldiers.
After all, it’s easy enough to assume, when you catch a figure skulking along the railroad tracks, that it’s one of the hobos who lives in the camp on the other side of 440. And if you should be sitting in your living room and you hear the storm door open, see the door knob shake as if someone is trying a locked door, and you bound across the room to see if it is your loved one, home from work, and you throw open the door and find no one there, might not it have been just the wind?
It’s harder to explain the mornings when you are out walking your dog down Park Circle, when you cross Acklen Park and you look down towards the curve and you see a man standing there, a plain wool blanket over his shoulders like a cape, and a strange hat. In the early dawn light, you cannot make out much more than that, just a man in a blanket. You keep walking and when you get to the next block, you look downWrenwood towards the train overpass and you see a man–surely not that same man–hunched down in the middle of the intersection, watching you.
You should probably be afraid, but you have a big dog and a cell phone and you’ve spent most of your time in the city convincing yourself that those are all the tools a girl needs to ward off danger.
So, you stand there, in your overalls and your winter coat, your pajamas still on under it all. Your breath making an icy cloud in the cold morning. If he has a breath, he’s been holding it a long time.
Suddenly, right behind you, you hear “Ma’am?” and you turn towards the clipped Yankee accent.
There’s no one there.
And when you turn back around, there’s no one there either.