October 31, 2003

Spooky Story

Okay, I don't usually write too much about that'll reveal intimate details about me. But, since this is Halloween and people are eager for creepy stories, here's one from the life and times of Tuning Spork:

About nine years ago I drove from Tonopah, Nevada to Bradford, Vermont. I had been living and working in Tonopah for about two years. Why would a Connecticut Yankee move to Nevada? Bees. There aren't any in Nevada, the ground is too dry for them to breed, and I am deathly allergic to bee stings. (There are, happily, also no mosquitoes out there.) Working shirtless outside without having to keep an eye out for those little buzzing angels of Satan was pure joy.

I had just gotten into Bradford at about noon on a Friday to visit my father. I hadn't seen him since I left for Nevada two years earlier. He worked in the small town of Bradford, but he lived nearby in an even smaller town called Corinth. He was the last "back east" person I saw before I left, and the first I wanted to see when I got back.

The first person I met in Bradford that I knew was Corinth's own Hank the Postman. Of course, there are no letter carriers in Corinth. Hank runs the small post office in downtown Corinth; which consists of the Post Office, a gas station and a general store. Hank was sitting at the counter at Covey's Luncheonette.

"Hank!" I said, "How ya been?!" Hank looked at me with a somewhat puzzled face. There was no way that he didn't recognize me. I mean, I even dated his daughter during Sophomore year in high school.

Eventually he shook my hand and said "Bob, I...I thought you were in Nevada...", still looking at me as if I were a ghost. Oddly, like he was very concerned about something. "What are doing in Vermont?"

"I came to say hi to my Dad," I said. "I wanted to drop by before heading down to Connecticut."
(Bridgeport, Connecticut was where I had a condominium. My tenants had moved out a few weeks earlier and it was ready for my move back in.)

Then Hank asked me with a nervous stare; "Does Brian know you're coming?" Now, Brian is my younger brother. Why Brian would need to know if I was coming to visit Dad didn't make any sense.

"No," I said, "No one does. Just thought I'd pop in and surprise them!"
As this conversation was awkward -- and at the time it never occurred to me to wonder why -- I gave Hank my best, got back into the truck and headed to my father's house in Corinth.
I drove the twists and turns past rivers and ridges and sprawling farms, up Jones Hill Road (named for my grandfather), and up the steep and twisted unpaved driveway that leads to Dad's house.
There were two cars there, obviously he had company. I knocked on the door, and my sister, Jennifer, answered.

"Surprise!" I said grinning. The weird thing was, she didn't look all that surprised. But she welcomed me back, invited me in, and led me to the kitchen where I found my brother Brian.

"So, how was Nevada?" was the first thing he said, but the look on his face was serious; he had something on his mind other than smalltalk.
After some starts and stops, Brian and Jennifer finally got around to telling me that Dad had died.

This was horrible news, of course. Dad and I were very close. Dad and Jennifer were sorta close, too, but she was more of a priss; definately Mom's girl.
If I may be so bold to say: There was no sibling rivalry between Brian and me. Brian was a trouble-maker. He and Dad never got along. When Dad wanted to fish, shop for wood for -- and wanted help -- building a deck or shed, it was me he'd ask; and I loved doing that stuff.
The real kicker wasn't even that Dad died, though. It was that he died nearly two years ago.

Now, granted, living thousands of miles away in a town in Nevada that isn't even on most maps without a phone is asking for trouble when it comes to family news. But I never even wrote a stinking letter in all that time. If I had, maybe it just would have been returned. But I doubt it, if the house is still in the family (and especially if Hank is routing the mail), someone would have taken the time to send a letter back with the news of my father's death. I suck so much sometimes.

Over the course of the afternoon and evening I learned that the house was now owned by Brian. He'd bought Jennifer's share, as well as mine in absentia. Bastard. I spent the late-afternoon and evening, slathered in bug repellent, mostly relaxing on the deck and looking at the mountains in the distance, and after dark, just watching bats flying overhead in the moonlight. I longer I stared into the hills and forest of Vermont, the more the wide-open spaces of Nevada seemed like just a dream I'd had.

Early the next morning I went to Dad's gravesite in Bradford. There I saw, carved into the stone, the date of his death: November 15th, 1992. That was the day after I left for Tonopah. I wondered if I was the last person he ever spoke to.
But then I remembered something. Brian was there, too. He and I had been fighting that day, same as we always did. I was the one who always yelled at him for being a useless lying piece of shit...worse than Dad ever did. We were brothers, but we were never friends. As I stood at my father's grave my mind began to wander, and soon I was suspecting all kinds of horrible things.

That afternoon I drove into Bradford to see who I could talk to. I found Mrs. Keirnan, an old friend of my grandparents, having lunch at Covey's. She was definately surprised to see me, but seemed just a bit off-put. I eventually got around to asking her questions about my father's death, and she answered some of my questions "yes" or "no", but she didn't volunteer much.
But she did tell me that if I wanted to learn more about my father's death that I could drive across the river into Lebanon, New Hampshire and look at newspaper obits.

I went to the public Library in Lebanon and began searching for the obit, found it, and it didn't tell me anything. Just the most basal facts; date, place, wake and funeral times, yadda yadda. But then I looked for news items for November 15-20. Ho-ly shit!
That's when I learned that my father was actually strangled in a ski-lodge at Mount Snow; cabin 12-C. I made some photo-copies and headed back to Corinth.

"Why didn't you tell me any of this?!" I shouted at Brian.

"Bob," Jennifer said trying to calm me down, "We weren't sure if you were ready to hear it."
WHAT?! I am the eldest here! Don't tell me what I'm ready or not ready to hear!"

From there the argument, especially with Brian, degraded into a shouting match. The more we argued the more I learned. Dad went skiing. He was found strangled dead in his cabin. Brian told the lawyers/court that I was "unreachable." Brian was awarded my share of the property.
I eventually flat-out asked Brian if he had killed Dad because he (Brian) was a dead-ender malcontent thief maggot who wanted Dad's house because he couldn't get a thing for himself any other way. Jennifer tried to calm me down, but I would have none of it. Maybe I was being unreasonable, but I was furious. At about 5pm I stormed out, got into my truck, and headed for Mount Snow just because I thought I might find at least some sense of closure there.

I reached Mount Snow after dark, at about 6:30, and met with the desk clerk. I asked him if he'd been working here more than two years, and he said he had. I said "Does 'Cabin 12-C' mean anything to you?"
Startled, the fella said "What do you mean?"
"Man strangled? Cabin 12-C?"
"Oh, yeah!" he said, and I began up the stairs as I swear I heard him say "yeah, strangled.. rumor had it that a son of his did it.."
Confident that no one was in the room this early in the season I opened the door and walked into the room.

It was a very large room, as you'd expect. I walked over to the fireplace and sat down. This is where my father died. Okay, maybe he died over there, or there, or in the bathroom or the bedroom. But I felt that it happened here, near the fireplace.

It seemed like hours, but it was only after about 45 minutes that I heard "Bob?"
I turned toward the door and there was my sister, Jennifer. She walked over and kneeled behind me, resting on my back.
"You were awfully harsh with Brian," she said. "But, just between you and me, I can understand why."

"This is where Dad died," I said.
"Yes," she answered.
"Do you know who did it?"
"Yes," she said and she leaned harder.
"Was it Brian?"
"No. No it wasn't Brian," she said.
"Who killed him?" I said, bracing myself.
"You did, Bob." As soon as she said it I knew she was right.

"But, Jen, I was away at the time." I protested without conviction. "I was in Tonopah, Nevada on November 15th, 1992."

"You've never been to Nevada," she said as she combed my hair with her fingers. "You were in a hospital in Massachusetts. You wanted to believe that you were out on the open range in Nevada, just like we pretended when we were kids, and we let you believe that."
Then she asked, "What do you remember about Tonopah?"

I tried and thought as hard as I could to remember.

"Nothing." I could remember nothing about Nevada. I was never there. But, after nearly two years away, I had finally returned.

P.S. None of this is true. Don't hate me, blame Jim!
Happy Halloween! :)

Posted by Tuning Spork at October 31, 2003 09:12 PM

Ooooohhhh! You had me fooled!!!;)

Posted by: Bloodthirsty Warmonger at November 1, 2003 12:00 AM

Great story!!!!!!

Posted by: Susie at November 1, 2003 12:38 AM


Posted by: Ted at November 1, 2003 07:23 AM

Nice writing! Sucked me right into the story!

Posted by: The Bartender at November 1, 2003 02:06 PM

Eh, I knew it was BS. : )

Posted by: Freedom's Slave at November 3, 2003 10:29 PM

Eh, I knew it was BS. : )

Posted by: Freedom's Slave at November 3, 2003 10:30 PM

Freedom's Slave,
That's 'cause yer special

Posted by: Tuning Spork at November 3, 2003 10:58 PM
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