Sunday, February 19, 2017
I started working at Barry M. Deep Memorial Cemetery in wonderful town of Present, when I was just a small lad. I was what you call a lawn boy. I mowed the grass the caretaker told me to, removed the dead flowers that were scattered on many sites, and picked up the trash and other detritus left by mourners.
I remember my first day, I was bright eyed and ready to please my boss. This was my first job where I actually earned a paycheck. It was all yes sir and no sir. He seemed satisfied with the work I had done as we walked together between the tomb stones at the end of the day. Mack was not as tough or sinister as he looked. He became a well spring of wisdom. One day we were in the older part of the cemetery walking along when he surprised me with a rare “Ask me anything”.
My mind raced, here was a man with many years of experiences. Finally I said, "Do you have any scary stories?"
"Scary stories? Well when the goths show up in the middle of the night, it can be quite scary, not for me, but for them," he began chuckling, "There's nothing more fun than seeing pasty-white teenagers running for their life."
With a smile I ask, "What did you do to them?"
"All in good time, if you stick around, I'll let you know." Mack joked.
"So, nothing paranormal then?" I continue to dig.
"Here take this," the wise caretaker said, handing me a lunch box, "Let's sit."
I sat down on the grass next to the headstone and took out a sandwich.
"This grave here is unique. Underneath the six feet of dirt lies Dr Legendre. He was buried in a security coffin. You see those two pipes over here," Mack said pointing.
I nodded. "The first one, that used to be a bell. The idea being, if you were buried alive, you could pull on a cord and the bell would ring. And in theory, someone would come running and you'd be dug out."
He took out a cigar, and lit it. "Two days after Dr Legendre was buried, the caretaker heard the ringing of the bell and began digging. It was an hour before the he and two others got to the coffin. When they pried it open, all that was found was the stagnant decomposing body of the doctor."
He dragged on the cigar and blew out a large plume of smoke. "They filled in the hole and went about their business. A couple of days later the bell rang again. The caretaker approached, but this time he didn't alert anyone, he took out his shears and cut the bell wire, scared of what was causing it to still ring."
I stared at the old copper tube, its patina betraying its age. "Over the coming weeks he heard screams and frantic howls coming from the ground beneath his feet. He hoped it would stop, but it never did. He finally decided to drop some food down the second tube, and the shrieking stopped. That one over there," he said, nodding to a shorter copper pipe about a feet from where I sat.
The other pipe had a small pointed lid on the top, to keep out the rain and other debris. It was a inch bigger in diameter than the other tube.
"He noticed that after a feeding, it was quiet for a few days. And so, he fed him every other day until he died.", Mack added looking out over the grounds drawing in old memories.
"Who was the caretaker back then?" I asked inquisitively.
He stood up, dropped his cigar and stubbed it out with his boot. "My granddad," he responded, "Make sure you clean that up," he said pointing to the cigar.
Shocked I asked, "When was the last time someone put food in there?"
Mack grinned and turned to walk away. Over his shoulder he said, "Yesterday. If I were you, I'd share half of that sandwich."