For starters, I was all alone in Monk Funeral Home at night. I have a vivid imagination that goes into overdrive if I hear or see something I am not anticipating. On the day in question, Glenn left Bobcaygeon in the afternoon to deliver a dead body to the Provincial Coroner’s Building in the bowels of Toronto. That would be at least a five hour round trip. Why didn’t I go with him? Because it was daylight. Everybody knows that monsters and goblins hide until darkness falls.
At the time, it seemed like a good opportunity to work in the office uninterrupted. I could catch up on bank statement and credit card reconciliations. I was managing fine and keeping my imagination under control. That is, until I heard the sound of water running. Goosebumps popped up on my arms and legs. I was the only one there and I was not running water. If not me, then who or what?
My “Fight or Flight or Freeze” response kicked it. Forget about fighting or freezing. I wanted to run… far, far away, but I could not. The gravity of the entire solar system was on my shoulders. And where would I run anyway? It was dark outside and Bobcaygeon shuts down for the night rather early. I knew I had locked all the outside doors. So how could someone have entered the funeral home? And then I remembered.
Earlier in the day, I had walked to the bank and stopped at MacDoos for lunch. I had locked the front door but not the back door. Had someone crept in and hidden somewhere in the funeral home while I was out?
Nervously, I checked the two washrooms outside the office. They were empty. The lounge area was empty. The visitation and chapel had no source of running water. Neither did the casket display room. Caskets? Was an intruder hiding under the lid at the foot of a casket? Maybe.
That only left the morgue. It was creepy enough in broad daylight, let alone at night. Someone was running water in the morgue and light shone under the door. Why was a light on? No matter how hard I tried, I could not summon enough courage to open the door. Should I call someone? 911? The OPP? The RCMP? CSIS? The FBI? Scotland Yard? The KGB? Interpol?
I could not stand it any longer. I left paperwork scattered over my desk and tore up the stairs to our apartment. The door at the top of the stairs was mostly glass and did not lock. I tried to take my mind off the situation by watching television. No CSI, Law and Order or Murdoch Mysteries for me — only heartwarming programs such as The Waltons, Road to Avonlea, Wind at My Back or Little House on the Prairie.
Glenn finally returned just before midnight. I quickly repeated my story and begged him to check the morgue. I trailed behind him like a scared puppy. We entered the morgue. Everything was just the way Glenn had left it. There was not a single thing to suggest anyone had been in there.
To put my inquiring brain to rest, Glenn opened all the cabinet doors and pulled out every drawer. He checked the storage cupboards. Nothing was out of place and no one was hiding anywhere. Just another case of my overactive imagination.
I tried to convince myself there was a perfectly logical explanation for the sound. Unfortunately, I just did not know what it was. The suspense was killing me.
Weeks passed before the phantom sound reoccurred. I was upstairs in the kitchen when I heard water running. It was exactly the same sound that had left me terrified and panic-stricken in the office.
This time, I followed the sound and it led me straight to the refrigerator. I found the explanation for the mystery of the running water. It was so simple. Our fridge had an ice cube maker and the water automatically flowed into trays to make more ice cubes as necessary. That was the sound I had heard when I was all alone in the office. I had heard it a thousand times before but paid no attention to it. How had I managed to turn it into a murder mystery?
A caring friend tried to help. She suggested I would feel safer if I got a dog. but that would only make things worse for me. A dog can be in a deep sleep and suddenly spring to life, jump up, look all around, sniff the doors, growl and go back to sleep. That only reinforces that an intruder is lurking out there in the dark.
My colourful imagination is an asset when I am reading. I can see, hear, smell, feel and taste everything that is taking place. I am the main character of the story who has travelled to far-flung, exotic locations all over the world. That limits the books I can read.
I used to read a lot of historical fiction set in WWII. I had to stop because my heart was always in my throat. I believed the Nazis were going to break down the door any moment and carry me away.
Would you believe I cannot even watch “The Sound of Music?” I get lightheaded, cortisol floods every nook my brain, the hairs on my arms stand up, my knees knock, my pupils dilate, my palms sweat, my breathing accelerates and my face turns beet red. I know that the Von Trapp family escapes safely from Austria into Switzerland. but I still must watch certain scenes through my fingers.
We are in Nova Scotia for a couple of months. Our house sits atop a rugged, bald hill where the wind comes from eve+ry direction. This house has a whole assortment of strange noises.
The fridge makes a noise like someone knocking on the door. The dryer vent goes rat-a-tat-tat in the wind. The front door does not always close completely. It blows open and slams into the wall. Birds hit the window. Raccoons sneak up on the deck and rattle the compost container. The peepers are particularly loud right now. Want to hear them?
The good news is that there is a logical explanation for every mysterious sound I have ever heard. So what is the source of my irrational fears?
First, I blame the Nancy Drew books I read in elementary school. I could never go to sleep with an unfinished mystery because the culprit(s) could be hiding under my bed. It is no wonder with titles such as The Whispering Statue, The Hidden Staircase and The Invisible Intruder.
Second, I had three brothers who loved to chase me with snakes, mice, toads and all manner of critters. They loved to hear me scream.
Third, our house was between two cemeteries. I was scared to walk up the driveway in the dark. Mom did not help the situation. Her advice was, “You don’t have to worry about the ones buried in the graveyard. It’s the ones walking around you should be scared of.”
Did she mean there were people in the cemetery watching my every move?
Most of all, I blame my Irish DNA. Check this out. A sound was never just a sound. Inexplicable phenomena were attributed to ghosts, goblins, banshees and boogie men.
I still have a vivid imagination. At times, I get carried away. Intellectually, I know there is an explanation for every sound I hear. It has nothing to do with banshees and boogie men. Even so, I am thankful that we no longer live in a funeral home. I would not want to risk waking the zombies.
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Copyright 2016 by Melda Roache Clark. All Rights Reserved. The use of any part of this document reproduced, or transmitted in any other form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, scanning, recording or otherwise, or stored in any retrieval system, without prior consent of Melda Roache Clark or her heirs, is an infringement of the copyright law.