22 minute read

Promise Fulfilled - Joan Clay

Promise - Fulfilled Joan Clay

The trip to Middle Tennessee from South Georgia was not an easy one for Susie. Her knuckles were white from the grip she had on the arm rest of the door with her hand, the other clutched to the edge of the seat. Her husband TJ was tackling the thirteen miles of hair pin turns up and down the treacherous Mount Eagle like a stock car driver at Daytona. They were headed to pay their respects to Dino Coulson, the brother of Susie’s Father and her favorite uncle.

“I would like to live to get to the funeral, slow this damn car down. You are going to kill us, kill us all.” Susie snapped while glaring at TJ.

“Hell woman, we ain’t doing but 45. I ain’t going to ride the brakes and get them hot cause you think we’re going to run off the mountain.” TJ stated as he glanced at the big rig on his bumper in his rearview mirror.

Susie’s grip became tighter as the tears began to flow down her pale cheeks. She closed her eyes as she remembered the last conversation with her Uncle Dino.

“Susie, why are you crying? I’m only moving back to Tennessee not across the country.” Dino said as he took the trembling hands of Susie.

“I know but I have this feeling that I will never see you again after today.” Susie said through her tears.

“Nonsense child, we will see each other again, if not in this world in the one beyond.” Dino said.

“You didn’t have to say that…You know death scares me.” Susie whimpered.

Susie was remembering the pact she and Dino had made when TJ pressed down on the accelerator, speeding the car up. This broke her thought process as she screamed, “What the hell are you doing, trying to kill us?”

“Calm yourself woman, we are on the Nashville side

of the mountain, I’m getting away from all the eighteen wheelers.” TJ explained.

***

TJ and Susie were staying with Susie’s brother Bob and his wife Nancy. Bob was also close to Dino and had taken the news of his death hard. Bob and Nancy were under the carport when TJ and Susie arrived. Once everyone was settled, the conversation turned to the unexpected death of Dino. “You know Sis, Uncle Dino had his yearly physical only twos month ago.”

“Really? Did they find anything wrong with his heart?” Susie asked.

“Not a thing, the doctor reported he was in good health.” Bob said.

“I can tell where this is going,” TJ said as he leaned back on the couch while putting his hands behind his head then added. “Remember when it’s your time to go, you go, no matter what your health is like.”

Susie nor Bob replied. As Susie was glaring at TJ she asked Bob, “When was the last time you saw Uncle Dino?”

“The night he passed in his sleep. He was here at the house, we all were playing Rook. After the game we sat around chewing the fat for about an hour before he departed back to his house. When he left he was in great spirits and told us he would see us soon.” Bob explained as he was sliding to the edge of his chair. “The only thing he said out of the ordinary was about the Thunderbird?” With his fingers interlocked Bob explained the conversation about the classic car, one of Dino’s many cars. “We all knew Dino and his stepson Ralph has never seen eye to eye on anything. Every year when his physical was due he would say the same thing. ‘To the doctor and if he don’t kill me then to the lawyers to draw up a will.’ Then he would laugh

as he invited us to the store for a few colds ones afterwards.” With a tear appearing in the corner of Bob’s eye as he cleared his throat as he took a deep breath. “I was curious if he had followed through on going to the lawyers this year. So joking I asked him if had left the Thunderbird to Ralph or me, which would chap Ralph’s ass.” Robert paused and was reaching for the glass of sweet tea on the coffee table in front of him. After a big gulp he continued. “Sis, we all were laughing and joking and I wasn’t serious. However Uncle Dino’s joyful demeanor changed and his statement was firm as he slammed his fist on the coffee table.” “What did he say Bob?” TJ asked. “He informed us he wasn’t planning on dying anytime soon so there was time for the drawing of a will. Then he blurted out the statement that shocked all of us. ‘Bob I can promise you that whether I’m living or dead I’ll make damn sure Ralph never drives the Thunderbird a day in his life.’” “Damn, someone needs to let Ralph know that. Strange things happen when a Coulson shouts out in anger. I have seen a litter of kittens meowing one night and all dead the next morning” TJ stated.

“That’s far enough TJ, and I see where you’re going. You’re about to start in on we are witches.” Susie said. TJ tossed up his hands while shrugging his shoulders as Susie asked Bob. “Well did Uncle Dino have a will or not?”

“Nope, Beatrice gets everything.” “So a man in good health dies of a massive coronary and no one is suspicious.” Susie barked.

“That is correct, it appears that you and I can only see the pattern.” Bob said.

“I guess so. I don’t understand why others can’t connect the dots, the facts are there.” Susie said as she began raising fingers as she stated them. “Uncle Dino was the fifth husband of Beatrice Mavis. We all know her four previous husbands suffered heart attacks. None of them survived and wound up six feet under before their time…like Uncle Dino.”

“Oh I agree Sis. For the life of me I can’t understand why she hasn’t been questioned about any of the deaths.” Bob stated.

Although there was much more speculation Susie and Bob wanted to cover, they agreed sleep was needed when TJ reminded them the services for Dino were at ten the next morning.

***

They all had gathered around Dino’s graveside to pay their respects and bid a final farewell to Dino. Susie looking around noticed the lack of flowers, the coffin was even bare of a spray. Tears were streaming from her eyes as the sky turned black and a cold wind blew over the grave. Goose bumps began to cover Susie’s body causing her to shiver as an uneasy dark emerald green aura arose from the grave, hovered, then vanished in another gust of cold wind. She clutched TJ’s

arm tighter as she whispered. “Did you see that?” “See what?” he asked, his forehead wrinkled. “That dark green mass of gasses or light that rose from Uncle Dino’s grave.”

“What? No I didn’t. Don’t be making something out of nothing.” TJ said as he was patting Susie’s hand as he added. “What you probably saw was caused by the thick clouds blocking the sun then uncovering it. The changing of light caused a weird reflection in the lenses of your glasses.” TJ explained.

TJ along with Susie and the other attendees jumped and were looking skyward as what sounded like thunder was rumbling across the heavens. “I hope the weather holds till we get Uncle Dino buried.” Susie whispered to TJ.

“I don’t know what that was, but I do know it wasn’t thunder.” TJ said as he was exploring the sky and horizon.

“Now – Now; let’s don’t be getting paranoid, it was just thunder.” Susie said then snickered.

“Cute Susie,” TJ said as he changed his focus from the sky to the people at the grave site. “I have heard of being late for a funeral but this is ridiculous. I see Beatrice but not Ralph. What time you got?”

Susie looked down at her watch then at TJ. “It’s only 9:45, so maybe Ralph will get here on time.” Susie answered as she began wiping her tears. Susie gasped as the aura returned and streaked down into the grave as the sky cleared and the bright sunshine returned.

The service started on time as a few were still arriving as the preacher began to speak. Two seconds in, Susie’s face showed the disappointment she had with the man of the cloth. He wasn’t giving a eulogy or any type of celebration of life service. There was no talk of Dino that would bring comfort to those that were mourning the loss of him. Instead the preacher dove into a hellfire and brimstone message. The man of God closed his part of the service by offering those attending a chance to escape hell. When no one accepted his invitation his face showed disgust as he was turning the service over to the Mason representatives. They were from the local lodge Dino and Bob were members of.

The final part of the service included family and friends returning a shovel full of dirt to the grave after the vault that contained the coffin was lowered. The pattering of the soil was rising from the dark opening in the earth as the shovel was emptied then passed. Bob took the shovel from a lodge brother and retrieved a scoop of earth. Bob started turning toward the grave when he paused and lowered the shovel to the ground. Bob squatted down beside the dirt filled spade. The tears flowing down his cheeks were falling from his face. They were being soaked up by the soil within the shovel as Bob began patting the black earth. Letting out a sigh, Bob eased back to his feet then lifted the shovel from the ground. Bob extended it over the dark abyss, rotated his wrist, returning the dark soil from which it came. Susie was taking the shov-

el from Bob as a ping from the grave reached her ears along with the pattering of dirt. Susie the right ring finger on Bob’s shaking hands was free of his Masons ring. After the service TJ was driving Susie along with Bob and Nancy back to Bobs. Susie turned looking at Bob and asked. “Did you toss your Mason’s ring in Uncle Dino’s grave?”

“Sis that I did, but it wasn’t mine. I wanted to throw it as hard as I could and scream, I would rather have you than the damn ring! I figured putting it in the dirt was more subtle.”

“I don’t understand are you mad at Uncle Dino or the Masons? Hell if it hadn’t been for them Uncle Dino would not have had a word said about him or a decent burial.” Susie stated.

Bob bent over holding his head in his hands sobbing. Nancy began rubbing him across his back as she explained. “No he is not mad at the lodge or Uncle Dino. Grief over took him and I’m suspecting he thought his actions would help him with the hurt.”

“Sorry but I don’t understand,” Susie stated. “Your Uncle Dino had told Beatrice that once he passed that Bob was to have the ring. She had the undertaker remove it and give to Bob.”

“I get it. Please thank the lodge for us.” Susie said. Bob was nodding as Nancy said. “The lodge was going to play taps on the bag pipes but Beatrice said that Uncle Dino wanted no music, which is bullshit.”

“Damn straight it is Nan. Uncle Dino believed in making a joyful noise to the Lord. At least now I know why there were no hymns sung. What a bitch! I watched her, she shed not one tear.” Susie said as she was wiping away tears.

“You noticed that also. I started to walk up and slap her silly to see if that would bring a tear to her eye.” Nancy snapped as Bob was raising his head.

“I know Uncle Dino and Ralph didn’t get along, but Uncle Dino has kept his ass fed for all these years so he could have at least made an appearance.” Bob said then took a deep breath letting his head fall back on the seat.

“I’m going to give that asshole a piece of my mind when I see him.” Susie snapped.

“Well here is your chance,” TJ said as he was slowing the car.

Susie turned to see Ralph standing in the road beside a fire truck. He was dressed in a suit and tie and was being looked over by a first responder. TJ stopped the car, all four got out. TJ looked at the smoldering metal in the ditch that was being sprayed by a strong steady stream of water.

Ralph was quick stepping toward Bob as he said. “Sorry I missed the services, but your uncle is trying to kill me from the grave.” Ralph stopped in front of Susie, Bob and Nancy along with TJ.

“No I don’t think so, if that was his intention you would be in the burning Thunder Bird.” TJ said.

“Look, as soon as I backed the Thunder Bird out of the drive it stalled. I got out to see what was wrong

and must have forgot to put it in park as the car began to roll. I tried to get back in to stop it, but the door was jammed. The next thing I know the car rolled in the ditch and fucking exploded. I call that a narrow escape of death.”

“TJ is correct, if Uncle Dino wanted you dead, you would be dead. Maybe he only wanted to destroy the car.” Susie said.

“Yeah, so you couldn’t have it.” Bob barked. “Tell me Ralph, what time was this?” Susie asked. “About 9:40,” Ralph answered while glaring at Bob. Once again the goose bumps began to rise on Susie skin, starting at her neck and spreading over her body. Her vision was blurring as she shivered. Susie. She be began swaying back and forth as the air filled with squealing tires. Nancy turned toward the screeching and shouted. “That bitch Beatrice just almost hit your car TJ. I’m sure she’s own her way to Ralph.”

As Beatrice was grabbing Ralph, Susie fell against TJ while wrapping her arms around his neck. “I need to get to the car before I pass out right here in the road.” She whispered.

“What’s wrong, you are whiter than normal and trembling?” TJ inquired.

“I’ll explain later, right now I need to get to my pills and lay down.” Susie whispered.

TJ looked at Nancy as he continued holding Susie up. “Nan can you get the back door open, Susie is not feeling well.” Nancy was jogging to the rear door as Bob got on the other side of Susie helping TJ get her to the car.

Over his shoulder he shouted back to Beatrice. “We need to get Susie home…I’ll call later and check on you and Ralph.”

Once Susie was comfortable laying in the back seat, Bob and Nancy slid in the front with TJ.

Later that evening after a long nap Susie joined the others who were in the living room. “Good evening, we saved you some dinner. Would you like me to heat it up for you?” Nancy inquired as she was rising from a chair.

“Not right now Nan, but thank you for saving me some.” Susie said as she sat down beside TJ who was on the couch. “I guess I should explain why I almost passed out and needed a valium to calm down.”

“Only if you think it will help you put it behind you so it doesn’t happen again.” TJ said as he took her hand. “I think it will and plus it explains what happened to the Thunder Bird.” Susie said.

“This I got to hear?” Bob said as he slid to the edge of his seat.

“I believe the sky darkened when Uncle Dino left the grave and the sun returned once he was back in the grave.” She paused and squeezed TJ’s hand as she watched the confusion spread across the faces of Bob and Nancy. “Hold up; before you call the guys with the straight-jackets, let me explain.” Susie cleared her throat and began describing the events she witnessed at the grave of Dino. She added the times the

spirits exited from the grave, the loud boom of thunder and the return of the spirit. The time of Ralph’s accident correlated with the rumbling they heard.”

Bob and Nancy looked at TJ. “Hey, I didn’t see this mass that she claims she did.” TJ paused as he took Susie hands with one of his while rubbing her across the shoulders with the other trying to keep her calm as he added. “After we all heard what we thought was thunder I asked her what time it was. So I know the time frame she laid out is right and the way she explains it makes the story plausible.”

“Damn, the car exploding in the distance was what we heard.” Bob said as he jumped up and began to pace. The tears were streaming from his eyes as he was wringing his hands. He turned facing Susie and Nancy while sniffling and shaking his head.

“What is it Bob?” Nancy inquired as she got up and started walking to him.

Every one jumped as Robert raised his hands in the air as he shouted “Uncle Dino kept his promise. Ralph never got to drive the car a day before it was totaled in the fire.”

“Bob, you can’t believe all this. Yes it all makes sense, but C’mon. I think maybe your grief for Dino and anger of not getting the car, well… it’s allowing your imagination to get the best of you.” Nancy said with her hands on her hips.

“Can you explain why a classic Thunderbird that was maintained as well as a new one exploded? No you can’t.” Bob snapped with tears flowing.

“I can’t believe that three grown people believe that Uncle Dino’s spirit left the grave, blew up a car and returned to the grave. I got to have some coffee, anybody else need anything?” Nancy asked.

“Hang on Nan I’ll come with you and heat up the left overs and grab a Pepsi. I feel better now that I got that off my chest.” Susie said as she was walking toward Nancy.

Before the two made it from the living room a rumble shook the house. The winds began howling and the lights flickering. TJ sprang from the sofa and was rushing to Susie and Nancy as they began screaming while Bob got to his feet and dashed to the end table by the couch. The four began to shiver as the room began getting cold. “What the hell is going on?” Nancy shouted as she eased down on the couch, followed by Susie.

Bob was removing a flashlight from the drawer of the table as he answered. “I’m guessing a popup thunderstorm is over the house. Any other time we wouldn’t pay it any attention but all the talk of Dino’s spirit has got us paranoid and a little edgy.”

“That makes sense Bob, but doesn’t explain why the house has plummeted from a nice 70 degrees to around 40.” Susie shouted as TJ handed her and Nancy a throw from the back of the couch.

“Go check the thermostat Bob, maybe the power going on and off has messed it up.” Nancy said as she was covering up.

The lights were still flickering and the winds howling through the attic vents as Bob was striding toward the hall. He stopped as the wind died down and the flickering lights remained on. The four jumped as footsteps echoed through the room followed by a tap – tap - tap. Bob was spinning trying to pin point where the sounds were coming from. The lights without warning went out. The house became dark and once again filled with screams. Bobs shaking hands were wrestling with the push button of the flashlight. With a faint click a beam of light protruded from the lens to the carpeted floor. Bob raised the light, shining it at the couch as he said. “Calm down, the footsteps and tapping may have something to do with us losing power. We can’t tell where it is coming from with y’all two shouting at the top of your lungs.”

“Who could be visiting in this weather,” Susie whispered.

TJ placed his finger over Susie’s lips. The room was silent as they continued listening. The footsteps couldn’t be heard anymore but the distinctive tap – tap – tap with a distinctive ping was piercing the front door, louder now than before. “TJ you got your sidearm close by?” Bob whispered.

TJ was shaking his head as Nancy was removing the blanket. “I bet its Ralph, it would be like him to show up during a storm. He needs to stop hitting the storm door glass before he cracks it.” Nancy said as she was rummaging through her purse. “Ah-Ha” she said as she was removing the twenty five caliber semi-automatic pistol from the depths of the bag. Once on her feet she headed to the door while giving Bob instructions. “I’ll snatch the front door open, you hit it with the light, and I will aim. That will scare Ralph shitless and teach him a lesson.”

Nancy eased to the door then slowly turned the knob. Once the bolt was clear from the doorjamb she slung it open as Bob lit up the area with the flashlight. Nancy screamed as she began falling back. The back of her left hand went to her forehead as she discharged the weapon with her right. Between the barrel flash and Nancy’s limp body falling against him Bob didn’t see what had made her fire and faint.

A thud echoed through the dark room as Nancy and Bob crashed to the floor. With the flashlight rolling from Bob’s hand Susie began screaming as TJ hurried from the couch. He slammed the front door shut then tracked down the light. With it in his hand TJ found the pistol in the floor and retrieved it as Susie whimpering was checking on Bob and Susie.

With the help of Susie, Bob rolled Nancy off him. Together they got Nancy from the floor and were moving her to the couch as TJ was dashing to the door. With his hand on the knob TJ checked to make sure everyone was clear from the doorway. With everyone clear he positioned the light on his shoulder next to his neck and tilted his head over to hold it place. With light and pistol aimed at the door he flung the door open then went down to one knee, ready to fire if the situation

called for it. With the light illuminating the opening TJ gasped then shouted. “What the fuck….This has to be some sort of sick twisted joke.” Shaking his TJ was rising from his firing position. With sweat pouring from his forehead a cold chill ran up TJ’s back causing him to shiver as he mumbled “Or what Susie saw at the grave wasn’t her imagination.”

TJ was still gazing out the door trying to rationalize what he was seeing as Bob shouted. “TJ what did you say and what’s out there?”

TJ lowered the firearm and removed the light from between his shoulder and neck as he was turning toward Bob and answered. “Nothing, thinking out loud. As far as what’s out here, I would say it’s a special delivery for you, from the grave perhaps.” With the light guiding his way TJ began walking toward Bob, Susie and Nan who was coming to. He stopped at the coffee table and was laying the gun down, pointing it away from everyone as he looked at Susie. “You feel like traveling tonight or first thing in the morning. We need to get back home, I don’t like what’s happening here.”

“In the morning I guess, but why TJ? What has you so spooked that you are sweating in a house that is freezing.” Susie said.

“There is too much weird shit going on. I’m sure it can be explained, but you don’t need to deal with it.” TJ said.

“He is right,” Nancy mumbled as she pointed to the door. “Let Bob handle the door, I suggest you and I turn in.”

“No, I appreciate y’all two trying to protect me from having a nervous breakdown but I’m going to see what has everyone looking like they saw the devil himself.” Susie said as she got to her feet.

TJ reached up and grabbed her arm, “I would rather you not, I don’t think you brought enough valium to deal with this. Please, you and Nancy go on to bed as she suggested. We will leave first thing in the morning.” “TJ let go of me now! I’m going to that door, come on Bob, it seems to involve you.” Susie said as she jerked away from TJ.

“Ok suit yourself,” TJ said as he was handing her the flashlight while Bob was patting Nancy on the arm. Bob leaned back up, Susie gave him the flashlight. Once Bob passed the gun he stopped and leaned down to grab it. TJ said while helping Nancy sit up. “You won’t need that unless it shoots silver bullets.”

Susie and Bob were walking slowly to the front door, TJ was close behind Susie. She took her older brothers trembling hand as they got closer to the door. Once they were in front of the opening, four to five feet back Bob began slowly raising the light to see what made Nancy faint and TJ break out in a cold sweat. The two took a couple of steps forward to concentrate the light in the area making the doorway brighter. Susie gasped. With her legs becoming weak, Susie went to her knees. She was heading to the floor face first as a lunging TJ caught her, helping her back to her feet.

Susie was gasping for air as the flashlight was illuminating Dino’s favorite pair of cowboy boots on the other side of the glass storm door. There were no tracks leading to or from the boots. As the light continued to rise Bob’s eyes filled with tears, he gasped as the beam of light began to shake and move sporadically about leaving the doorway unlit.

TJ with Susie leaning against him took the flashlight from Bob and aimed the beam of light at the doorway. “God it can’t be…it can’t be,” Bob shouted as he stood staring at a blob of green gases swirling around a Masons ring.

The ring was dangling from a fine glistening silver thread. As the wind blew the ring would ping against the storm door window, but never left the center of the gas blob. Bob taking small steps toward the ring as his tears became a steady stream. Once close enough to the ring he reached up. With the ring in his grasp, the gasses shot through the glass of the door and streaked across the dark cloudy sky. Bob opened the door and was retrieving the boots from the porch as the clouds broke revealing a full bright moon. The lights in the house flickered on and the house temperature was returning to normal.

Bob with Susie was slowly walking towards the coffee table, both trembling and crying. Bob gently laid the items on the coffee table. He fell back in his chair as Susie and Nancy headed to the kitchen, each with a bottle of pills.

Bobs elbows were on his knees, his fingers interlocked and under his chin as he starred at the boots and ring. TJ using his pocket knife was removing the 25 slug from the door jamb. Once he joined Bob the lead clanking on the coffee table broke Bob’s stare. “TJ you are a reasonable person and good at deduction, what do you think of this?”

TJ sat on the sofa as he was looking at the boots and ring. Susie and Nancy returned from the kitchen, Susie sat beside TJ, Nancy next to her. “Bob the first thought that comes to mind, is someone is playing some sick ass practical jokes on the family. You and Susie were the closest to Dino.”

“Why would they do that?” Susie inquired as she wrapped her arm through TJ’s.

“I don’t know, maybe trying to scare the two of you so y’all will not start asking questions.” TJ said as he picked up the ring from the table looking at it closely. “Wait, Bob I know you have looked at the ring but have you examined it.”

Bob was shaking his head while reaching for the ring TJ was handing him as TJ added. “My next guess is not a logical one but fits. “Dino delivered the ring and boots for reasons unknown.” TJ paused as he looked at the bottom of the boots then at Susie. “Susie these are the alligator boots we bought Dino last Christmas.” Susie grabbed the boots from TJ as Bob slipped the ring on his finger. Nancy now standing next to Bob asked. “Bob is that the same ring you tossed in the grave?”

Bob nodding removed the ring and handed it to Nancy. “Read the inscription and you tell me.”

Nancy began to shake as she read what was written in the gold band. She handed the ring back as she said. “I’m going to need another pill.”

Bob got up from the chair and headed to the phone that was on the wall between the kitchen and living room. After dialing he stood silent for a moment. …“Hello Beatrice, just calling to check on Ralph, how is he?”

…“That is great. Listen can you tell me what happened to the alligator boots Susie bought for Uncle Dino last Christmas.”

…“Really? No that’s ok I’ll tell her. She wanted to make sure Ralph got them, but I guess that’s not possible.”

…“I’ll let her know, they are leaving in the morning. Listen if you and Ralph need Nancy or I please don’t hesitate to call.”

Bob hung up the phone. Biting his lip he pointed at the boots and cleared his throat. Uncle Dino was buried in the alligator boots. Are you sure that pair is the same pair you gave him?”

“Are you sure that’s the same Mason ring you tossed in the grave?” TJ asked.

“I have no doubt.” Bob said as flopped back down in his chair. “I can’t believe Uncle Dino’s spirt is roaming the earth.”

“That or there is a grave robber running amuck who knew who the ring belonged to and who bought the boots.” TJ said.

“Either way TJ, you are right. My nerves can’t handle this, let’s head home at sunrise.” Susie said as she was removing her next to last valium from the bottle.

***

Susie and TJ were back in the hot and humid air of Georgia. TJ had taken a week off to make sure Susie was stable before returning to work. Susie’s doctor suggested that she take an additional two weeks off as she was mentally drained and physically beat.

Over the last week Susie had resumed helping around the house and returned to being the mom and wife her family was accustomed to. With that hurdle cleared Susie knew that it was time to resume her work life which she found gratifying. The residents of the retirement home she worked at needed and missed her. Susie was glad that she was scheduled to return to work the next morning and ready for the challenge. TJ had taken the boys fishing so that Susie could take her time preparing for her first day at work in three weeks without interruption. Susie had everything done with the exception of ironing her nurse’s uniforms. The non-air-conditioned shotgun home she and her family lived in was like an oven this time of year. Susie had the front and back door open with a fan sitting in front of each, hoping to turn the hall into a breezeway. The sun was setting as Susie was wiping the sweat from her

face with a towel before preparing to press the uniforms. The ratcheting of the ironing board legs being extended echoed in the hall. Once at the height Susie preferred she released the lever locking the legs in place. After placing the protective heat plate on the board, she set the iron in it. The plug was under the wooden hall table that held a picture of her and her Uncle Dino. The picture was flanked by the alligator boots, above the table was a mirror. Susie kissed her finger then placed it on Uncle Dino’s face before bending down plugging the iron in. After Susie set the iron to cotton she was heading to retrieve the uniforms while the iron was heating up.

On the way back Susie’s brow furrowed as she noticed the hall was dark, the blue light on the iron was the only light visible. The hum of the fans were silent as she entered the corridor. While laying the uniforms across the board she jumped as the front and back doors slammed shut cutting what sunlight was left of the peaceful Sunday from the hall. With her hands empty she stepped to the switch to turn on the overhead light. She flicked it down then up, nothing happened. Susie along with sweating now began trembling as she hated the dark. Susie with her hand out stretched headed for the blue glow of the iron as a cold wind filled the dark hall blowing her hair while the corridor filled with the sound of footsteps.

“TJ, boys is that y’all? We got a blown fuse, outlets work but no lights.” Susie shouted. No one answered as Susie was picking up the iron while shouting. “The iron is hot so stay back whoever you are. I don’t want to brand your face but I will.”

The cold wind continued blowing through the hall making her shiver. The hair on her neck began to rise as she felt as if someone was staring at her…from behind. She screamed and dashed across the hall toward a bedroom as Uncle Dino’s voice filled the corridor. “Susie put the iron down, I will never hurt you.”

Susie turned toward the voice and with caution made her way back to the ironing board placing the iron in the heat tray. With the light from the iron shining toward the table, she could see the boots. They were walking in place on the table. Susie never took her eyes off the marching boots as she was rubbing her arms trying to get them warm when the boots halted. Susie breathing heavy jumped back as within an instant the mirror filled with the face of her Uncle Dino, surrounded by a bright purple aura. Susie screaming as she began uncontrollable shaking as Dino pleaded. “Calm down Susie, I told you we would see each again. Consider our pact complete,” Dino whispered. “So… So you were behind the incidents in Tennessee.” Susie whispered as she braced herself on the hall table trying to control her breathing as tears were flowing from eyes.

“Yes I was, but that didn’t fulfill our pact. You wanted to know if after death one could visit those who are still alive. Seeing my face proves that.”

“Tha - That it does, are you in peace and happy?”

Susie inquired.

“I am Susie. Till we meet again on the other side, I leave you with my love.” Dino said.

Before Susie could reply the face vanished from the mirror. A white mist flowed from the mirror and encircled Susie. The twirling mist that now engulfed Susie brought a peace to her she had not felt since her uncles passing. The mist cloud released Susie and disappeared through the closed front door.

“Authors note: The above story is based on a true account of my encounter with a spirit that I believe was my favorite uncle. I believe he returned to me because of the pact we made a year before his death. The pact was that whoever passed first would visit the other if it was possible. Uncle Dino has not appeared to me since the above encounter. As always the names have been changed.” - Joan Clay –Director of Contests