Monday, October 27, 2008

Jack and the Epilogue

This is the epilogue to Jack's story. I posted the story itself last Friday.

Jack didn't tell anyone about the little boy he'd seen. Figuring that anyone who heard about his ghostly encounter would probably either assume he was certifiable or having LSD flashbacks, he decided keeping his ordeal quiet would be best.

After a few years, though, Jack began hearing more and more inexplicable stories about the building and its inhabitants. Everytime someone else relayed a first or second hand paranormal event, Jack considered spilling his own guts. He didn't. He continued to keep his secret. For over ten years, Jack kept it quiet.

Finally, once he'd been working there long enough, and had the respect, authority, and credentials that made him confident enough that no one would strap him down and ship him to the looney bin or fire him, he decided to ask an older gentleman who'd been working at the college for decades if he'd ever heard or seen anything strange in the building. Jack was careful not to let too much information slip, he wanted to gauge the man's reaction, not tell him what he'd seen just yet.

Jack was still being very cautious. The gentleman Jack asked was the same custodian that said goodnight to him each night on his way out, including the night he had his little run in with Lil Casper. The same maintenance man that let Jack know he was the last one in the building that night ten years back.

If this story had been a cartoon, this is the part where Jack would peel a rubber mask off that crazy old Janitor Jenkins, and discover that he, in fact, was the little boy and an elaborate series of pullies and people covered in special glow-in-the-dark flour would have enabled this prank, but this was real life, so the old man just sat there in silence for what had to have been a full minute, but seemed like nine hours, pondering the question. Eventually he spoke. This is the story he told.

Oh, way back in the 30's, years before I was even working here, when this building was still fairly new, there was a young music professor. This kid was trying to make a name for himself, trying to impress the college big-wigs and the like, trying to do something great and important. He spent countless evenings locked in his office, an office that is right around the corner from yours Jack. The one right across from the water fountain. Not unlike you, he'd be here all night, til three, sometimes four o' clock in the morning before he'd decide that he should get home to his pretty young bride and their little son. Time always seemed to slip away from him, as it does for a lot of us.

One particular day, the professor's wife was heading out of town to visit relatives. She left the young son, probably around six or seven years old, in the care of his father. Now, just because he had the little tike to look after didn't mean that the prof didn't have work to do. No sir, he dragged junior along, sat the little guy down in his office, and got to work.

Junior got tired of drawing pictures on the chalkboard and lying on the office floor real quick. He begged and he begged and he begged, finally, the rascal disturbing his work enough, Dad relented. "Go, run around, just don't break anything," Dad warned, adding, "Just don't go down into the basement," as the boy dashed out of the room.

Freedom had its advantages. He ran up and down the steps. He did cartwheels on the stage. He sprinted up and down the theatre aisles. He tooted every horn, banged every drum, and punched every key up in the music room, but eventually he got bored. The only place in the whole Hall left for him to explore was the only place his daddy had told him was off limits. The basement.

Eventually, time, like it seems to do, slipped away from the professor and he headed home. It was late and shuffling out the door tired was his routine. Remembering to bring his son back home with him was not part of his regular routine, so he forgot.

The next morning, in a mad panic, the professor burst through the doors and frantically searched the building for his boy. He scanned the stage. He glanced down every row in the auditorium. He looked in each classroom, under every desk, and behind every piece of furniture. Finally, his gut churning and his heart in his mouth, he knew he had to look downstairs in the basement. That's where he found his son, crushed to death under a pile of lumber back in the far corner of the woodshop.

When the pieces were put together, it was found that the last person to see him alive was a friendly old maintenance man who was locking the building up for the night. He spotted junior up on his tippy toes getting a drink from the fountain. From the other end of the hall, that old broom jockey shouted goodnight and waved to the boy, getting a big smile and wave in return.

"I suppose, Jack," the old man said, "that you asked me because you'd seen something. By the shade of white your face turned there a second ago, I'm gonna go and say you saw that very boy."

"If I did?" Jack asked, amazed that the janitor's story so closely matched his own.

"Well, then you wouldn't be the only one whose thought they may have heard a little boy getting a drink late at night. Seems he comes back about once a year, every year, same time."

Jack marked his calender from that point on, making sure to skedaddle at a reasonable time at least one night a year.

In part one I promised that this would be a true story about something that happened to me. Hold tight, we're getting there. Parts three and four later this week.

3 comments:

ettarose said...

Oh boy, you got my attention. I belong in the first category. I believe, I really do. Very good writing. I like this.

The Hussy Housewife said...

Are you writing a book? You could. Oh, BTW you need to fix your link on hb.com....it is not embedded.

QuirkyLoon said...

Good grief, you made me drool on myself!

I was so absorbed by your story, I forgot to shut my mouth!

Extremely nice job!