Resurrection Diaries Entry 28: The Nephew

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 28: The Nephew: Friday August 5

I thought about Wednesday’s night dream all morning. It wasn’t really the images of the dead kittens floating in the pool that bothered me, but the question of who had done the drowning. Did Mischa’s mystery friend really do such a thing? And if so, did that automatically classify him as a murder suspect? And just who was he anyway? Tommy Blaine said he was the Pastor’s nephew, but even he couldn’t remember his name. But was Tommy even telling the truth? I find it hard to believe he would forget the name of the boy who may have been competing with him for Mischa’s affections. I really wanted to know who this guy was, and if he was any way responsible for the girl’s disappearance.

So after doing a little cleaning this morning at the church, I thought I’d check its library and see if I could find anything on the Pastor’s elusive nephew. I went through all the photo albums from the seventies I could find. I tried to keep it to seventy-five and seventy-six, where I had once located the picture of Mischa herself. There were a lot of pics of the Pastor by himself, and I glazed these over, not even paying attention, until I finally came across the nephew’s picture by accident.

I had flipped a page and the photo came loose from the paper, falling to the floor by my chair. I leaned over and picked it up. Looking upon the picture at first, it meant nothing to me, but as I was putting it back in its place on the page, I saw the writing in the empty spot it had come from: “Pastor Shiflett, wife, daughter, and nephew. Easter portrait 1975.”

In the picture, the preacher was smiling, as his wife held a newborn baby in her arms. Beside them, a gangly teenage boy with pimples grinned at the camera. The boy had kind eyes and was a good-looking kid. But who was he? What was his name? And then something struck me about the caption. Pastor Shiflett? Could that be right? I looked closely at the woman in the photo. She was standing in the picture, but sure enough, it was the wheelchair bound woman who had told me to never come back to visit her.

So that’s why she has been lying all this time. Her own nephew was connected to Mischa. I found myself wanting to get in the car and go back over there to confront her. Instead, I flipped through the photo album some more, hoping for something else. Within a dozen or so pages, I found it. A picture of a Sunday school picnic. The pastor stood smiling, his arm around his nephew: “Pastor Shiflett and nephew Eric.”

Bingo! His name was Eric, his uncle was the preacher at the time of Mischa’s disappearance, and his aunt was the Mrs. Shiflett I knew. Now all I needed to do was find him. I knew the only way of locating him was by going back and confronting Mrs. Shiflett again. I didn’t look forward to such a thing, after my last visit there, but it seemed to be my only option. Either that or forget it. But something told me that Mischa would find a way to not let me forget it. I have learned she is a very persistent girl.

I sat in the car outside the Shiflett home for ten minutes before I could work up the nerve to go up the porch and knock on the door. As one could imagine, when Shaedra opened the door she looked pretty surprised to see me.

“Mrs. Shiflett is not receiving visitors,” she said.

“You mean she’s not receiving me,” I mildly corrected her, remembering the outcome of our last visit.

“She’s not receiving visitors,” she stressed.

I stood there for a moment, the silence stretching between us, as if one were daring the other to say something else. “Tell her I need to ask her about her husband,” I finally said. “And her nephew.”

Shaedra seemed taken aback for just a moment, but she told me, “Wait here.” Then she closed the door and was gone.

I had to wait there a little while. I think they both did that on purpose, but finally the door opened again. Shaedra had a smirk on her face, as if she were privileged to a private joke, most likely concerning me. “Come on in,” she said, and led me to the parlor where her mistress waited in her wheel chair.

“So what is it now?” the old woman asked. “Come here to blame my husband or nephew for that girl running away?”

“No ma’m, I’m just wondering where they fit in.”

“Fit in? Well, that’s easy. One was her Pastor, the other her friend. And like everyone else that cared about her, she let them down.”

“You had told me your late husband had worked in the barbershop. Why didn’t you tell me he was the Preacher at Resurrection, too?”

“You didn’t ask,” she grinned. “And what would that have mattered anyway?”

“It would have helped fill in the picture a little.”

She leaned forward in her chair. “I’m afraid your picture is made of conjecture and opinion, not facts nor the truth.”

I ignored her snide comment. “What of your nephew?”

“What of him? He’s a nice boy. He’d been friends with Mischa. Then when she ran off, his school studies slipped and he didn’t handle her leaving every well.”

“Why not?”

“Because she was his only friend. He never fit in with the rest of the children. Being the new kid isn’t easy, and teenagers can be cruel to each other at that delicate age.”

“Why were they cruel to Eric?”

She looked hard at me. I think she knew I was fishing around, trying to get her to admit something to me. “I think you already know,” she said.

“Because of the kittens?”

She nodded. “Rumors can follow you all your days.”

“So it was just a rumor then,” I prodded. “He didn’t really drown a bunch of kittens in a kiddy pool back home?”

She looked disgusted. “What does it matter now if he did or not? That was before he came here and stayed with us. That was before Jesus came into his life. It was a child’s prank that went too far, nothing more.”

“So it did happen?”

I could see her temper trying to flare behind her eyes, but she held it in check and smiled. “Have you ever done anything you regret?” she asked. “Something you knew was wrong, but you did it anyway?”

“Yes, I suppose.”

“What happened with my nephew and the kittens was just like that. He felt bad about it, but he got over it and went on with his life.”

“And when Mischa disappeared?”

“He didn’t want to stay here anymore. We sent him back home.”

“Is there some way I can reach him, maybe talk to him? A phone number or an address?”

She looked at me incredulously, as if I had just asked her the dumbest question in the world. “Are you trying to bait me again?” she asked.

“No ma’m, I’d just like to talk to…”

She held up her hand. “Stop,” she said. “My nephew adored that girl, and she broke his heart along with everyone else’s. He has done his best to forget her and live an exemplary life. If she is dead, as you seem to think she is, then let the dead rest and the living live.”

There was a hard look in her eye as if her pent up anger would spill over any minute.

“Sometimes the dead can’t rest until the truth is known.”

That did it. Her face turned beet red. “And you know the truth! Mischa was a bad girl. She got pregnant, she ran away, and that was that.”

“She didn’t run away.”

“So YOU say.”

“I doubt she was pregnant either.”

“Whatever.”

“And I’m having a hard time believing she was a bad girl.”

“Well you didn’t know her, now did you,” she spat.

“No, not then. But I know her now.”

“As I said before, your picture is guesswork and your own opinion. But the truth is, she wasn’t the good little girl you have placed on your pedestal.”

“Why do you dislike her so much, Mrs. Shiflett?”

She hesitated for a moment, and then answered. “She broke our hearts.”

I reached into my pants pocket and pulled something out. It was a Kleenex. “Here’s a tissue,” I said and dropped it in her lap. “Sounds like you’re the one who needs to get over it and move on.”

I turned around and left. I kept expecting to hear words of rage aimed at my back on the way out, but it was silent. Even Shaedra was quiet as she followed me to the door. As I stepped out on the porch, I thought of something. I turned around and Shaedra was standing in the doorway, leaning against the doorjamb, one hand on her hip.

“You don’t know her nephew, do you?” I asked.

“Not very well,” she replied. “Over the years he has come to visit on occasion, but I don’t know much about him.”

I nodded and turned to go.

“…But I may remember more over a candlelight dinner,” she suggested.

I stopped and looked at her. She was smiling quite seductively.

“It’s amazing what candlelight can do,” I replied.

She continued to smile and raised an eyebrow.

“But most of all, it reminds me how much I miss my wife,” I said. Her smile vanished and I went down the walk.

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 27: I Dream Of Kittens

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 27: I Dream Of Kittens: Thursday August 4

I woke up this morning more groggy than usual. Last night was a restless one, full of waking thoughts and haunting dreams. Oftentimes I can’t remember my dreams very well, but last night I experienced a vivid one that I feel like must have a meaning in there somewhere.

In my dream I had been walking through a neighborhood. I don’t know where it was, just one of those suburban landscapes you find all across America. For some reason I had decided to take a shortcut through someone’s yard. Cutting between two almost identical houses, I passed below a window and could hear the strains of piano music behind the glass. It sounded like an old church hymn. “There’s Power In The Blood” I think it was.

Emerging into the backyard, I saw a swimming pool. Not one of the big ones, but a children’s pool with about two feet of dirty rainwater filling it up. But what stopped me in my tracks wasn’t the water itself, but what was in it. Kittens. Floating dead on the surface, about two dozen little felines, all drowned and bloated.

For some strange reason, as things often happen in dreams, I climbed into the pool and slowly lowered myself into the water. I sat there, surrounded by all those dead kittens, as if we were all just lounging around in the sun. Suddenly one of the kittens cried loudly. It was alive! I made my way across the pool towards the animal. Reaching for it, the kitten lashed out at me with its paw and hissed. I saw something was attached to its paw. It was an anklet. The initials “MM”.

I jolted awake and nearly jumped out of the bed. Penny looked up at me from her place at the foot of the mattress as if to say, “Are you OK?”

I sighed. It was just a dream. But there was something to it. I’m sure it was brought on by my talk with Tommy and what he’d told me about Mischa’s unnamed friend, the one who’d been rumored to have drowned cats before moving here. Would I have dreamed this if it hadn’t been for my visit with Tommy? Probably not. I told myself it was just a dream, but the fact that the anklet had been in there bothered me. What did it mean? Had Mischa been drowned? Or did it mean anything at all? Were these thoughts just silly things that were at the front of my mind when I went to sleep?

Because I missed a whole day of work yesterday, I spent all day at the church cleaning. No ghosts today, but the phone did do its little trick again. I was collecting trash in the office when it rang. Out of habit, I picked it up.

“Resurrection Church,” I said in greeting.

There was nothing on the other end of the line. It was silent. But within a few seconds, the sound came. Air escaping a pipe with a hiss. The same sound that had led me to seek out factory stacks in the industrial park. That had led me to Roger Blaine, and eventually to Tommy.

It sounded again: air, steam, the release of gas. I couldn’t quite place exactly what it was, but I knew it was a message.

After work, I decided to break down and call Donna at her parents. After all, she had been gone since Sunday. Her mother answered and of course, she didn’t seem too happy to hear it was me. But she did let me talk to Donna, for what it’s worth. Donna’s voice was quiet as if she didn’t have any privacy and was just trying to talk low so her parents wouldn’t hear.

After our hushed hello’s, I told her that I missed her. “I miss you, too,” she replied.

“How do you like it there?”

“It’s not home,” she confessed.

“Yes, I guess it’s not.”

There was a brief pause and then she spoke again in a quiet tone. “I want to come home.”

“I would like that.”

There was a momentary silence before she spoke again.

“Are you still interested in her? You know, the..um..ghost.”

I could tell she never believed a word of my story. “Mischa needs me..” I began. I didn’t get out the rest, for she had hung up.

I could have kicked myself. I don’t know why it is, but when it comes to Donna, it seems I never say the right thing. At the rate I’m going, she’ll file divorce by the end of next week…

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“Resurrection of Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 26: Visiting Tommy Blaine

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 26: Visiting Tommy Blaine: Wednesday August 3

I went to go see Tommy Blaine today. It is my conclusion that if he is crazy, then I am just as mad. I feel sorry for the man. Because of things he says he’s seen, he’s been confined to this hospital off and on ever since Mischa’s disappearance in the late seventies, and it’s taken its toll. I guess I got off lucky. I just lost my wife in all this madness; he’s lost his freedom. But I fear I may lose mine too if I don’t find out what happened soon. At least now I feel a little closer to the truth. But I’m getting ahead of myself here; I need to back up to this morning.

I called Larter this morning and asked him if I could have the day off. I explained I was having some marital problems and wanted to take a day to try and work things out. He didn’t need to know I was really going to the state hospital, so the marital strife excuse was going to have to work. It’s not like I was lying; my marriage had gone south. He said go ahead and take it off, but he did tell me that Sunday night they were having a baptism service and he needed me to fill up the baptismal pool no later than Saturday afternoon. I told him I’d take care of it.

The drive to the hospital took about thirty minutes. It’s out in the country, bordered on all sides by wide-open fields. It reminded me of some prisons I’d seen, where the area around the place was all open spaces and escapees were easily tracked upon their flight.

I had Roger Blaine’s ID, and lucky for me it wasn’t a picture ID. It was a standard visitor pass, had his name and address and other pieces of info. I had made it a point to memorize everything on the ID just in case I was questioned.

Another thing I did was park as far out in the parking lot as I could, away from the hospital entrance. I took my license and any other forms of my own identification and locked them up in the glove box. Then I walked across the lot to the front entrance. I presented them with the ID and just as I thought they would, they asked me for another form of identification. I complained a little about going back out to the car to get it, seeing I was parked so far away, and finally they let it slide with a few questions like my full name and address, and my relation to the patient. By the time I answered their questions they believed I was Roger Blaine, brother to Tommy.

They led me to a day room, a sort of common area they used for visitation. There were tables and chairs scattered around the room, and in one corner was a television that several patients huddled around. They sat me at a table towards the back of the room and I waited for them to bring Tommy out.

When he came through the door escorted by an orderly, his eyes scanned the room briefly before settling on me. Something in his eyes told me he recognized me, and he sauntered over to where I sat. After he had taken his seat, the orderly left and took up a position by the door.

“You’re not my brother,” Tommy said.

I smiled apologetically. “No, I’m not. But you don’t look too surprised to see me.”

He nodded. “Well, she told me you’d be coming.”

“She? Who told you that?”

He looked at me like I was stupid. “You know who,” he said. “You’ve seen her. She’s shown you things. In fact she’s even kissed you.”

I touched my cheek, remembering not long ago how Mr. Martin had slugged me. On the drive home, I’d felt what I thought to be a breeze graze my cheek, though it had left traces of lipstick on my face.

“I thought it was the breeze.” I replied.

“Her kisses are like that.”

“She told you these things about me?”

“Yes. She tells me a lot of things. And then there’s a lot she can’t tell. I guess that’s where you come in.”

“What do you mean?”

“Once I realized she was dead and her ghost was haunting the Resurrection, I tried to get a job there. This was back around eighty-one, several years after she disappeared. They wouldn’t hire me, said it was a conflict of interest. They hired some old geezer from out of town instead. He didn’t last long though. Died of a stroke they say. So I tried again to get the job. I knew if I could get in the church like that, I could find out what happened to Mischa. I was going to the church then regularly for every service, and sometimes I’d see her sitting in an empty pew or standing in a corner. I made the mistake of telling someone and they thought I was crazy.”

“I don’t think you’re crazy,” I said.

He didn’t seem to hear me, so intent he was on telling his story. “They hired a lady custodian next. She lasted a little longer. By this time, I was trying to convince everyone that Mischa was in the church and that she hadn’t run away. Finally, my family had me put here, said I was a danger to everybody. I admit I did attack a few folks who aggravated me, but I was under heavy duress. After I got here, she started talking to me.”

“Is it just a voice, or do you see her?”

“Oh I see her,” he smiled. “And she’s always just as young and beautiful as she was when I last held her.”

I could see him trying to fight a tear, so I tried to get him to think of something else other than how he missed her. “Do you think she tried to show things to those other custodians? I mean, I can’t help but wonder, why me? I never knew her. I’m not even from around here.”

“She tried to communicate to them, but they weren’t very open to such things. She came to me first, but I couldn’t really help her. Stuck in here, there’s not a lot I can do. The few times I’ve been out, I’ve tried to find out things and it’s just landed me right back in here. No one trusts you when you’re certifiable crazy”.

“Well I may not be certifiable, but sometimes I feel like I’ve gone crazy.”

“She told me your wife left.”

This should have surprised me, but I just nodded. “Yes, Donna thought I was having an affair with a young girl.”

“Well maybe when this is over, you can try and get her back.”

“Do you think it will ever be over?”

“Well, she’s not going to leave either of us alone until it is. And it’s gotten much worse lately. It’s been quiet the past six years or so. Every now and then she’d come to me. She wasn’t talking. I’d just see her or feel her presence. But about a month and a half ago, she started showing up more frequently, almost urgently, trying to tell me things and show me stuff. I managed to get out a couple weeks back and I went back to the church. She led me to the old playground. I think there was something there she wanted to show me. But you were there. You and some other guy. So I took off. They locked me back up before I could return to the playground again.”

“I remember that. Matt and I thought we were being watched, then we heard someone take off through the woods. So that was you?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I think I know what she wanted to show you. My dog Penny found a duffel bag in some bushes and thorns. I think it may have been buried, but she dug it up. In the bag was what I believe to be her dress, a sweater, and some other clothing items.”

He nodded. “How do you know they are hers?”

“Well the sweater had initials marked on the collar. But the dress I’ve seen her wearing before. Or her ghost anyway.”

“Where do you see her?”

“Upstairs in the hallway. Running down the hall chased by…wait a minute.”

“What?”

“I recognized you the moment I saw you come through the door. I have seen you before.”

“Oh yeah?” he asked curiously.

“Yes, you are the one who chases her ghost down the hall every time I see her.”

He nodded as if he understood. But I sure as hell didn’t.

“How can that be?” I asked. “You are locked up in here. And you aren’t a ghost. Yet I have seen you as one, laughing and chasing her down the hall to hide out in one of the closets.”

“What you see there is a different kind of ghost.”

“What do you mean?”

“Some ghosts are the manifestations of a particular person. You see a solitary figure; it may speak to you, lead you somewhere, show you something. Much the way Mischa does with me. And I imagine with you, too. But some ghosts are nothing more than memories engraved in a location. They could be special memories or traumatic experiences and for whatever reason they leave their imprint on the place where they occurred.”

“I think I follow you.”

“Imagine it like this. What you are seeing in the hallway is like a movie reel playing over and over. It never changes and it always ends the same way, right?”

“Well yes. Each time it has led me to the closet where I find the anklet.”

“The anklet?”

“Yes, it’s an anklet with the initials MM engraved in it.”

“MM?”

“Yes, at first I thought it was Mischa’s. But now I’m not so sure.”

“That’s not her initials. Were those the initials marked on the sweater, too?”

“Yes.”

“Then the sweater’s not hers.”

“Then who is MM?”

“I don’t know. Doesn’t ring a bell.”

“Did you recall anyone referring to her as Mischa Martin? I know now her real last name was Boudreaux, but is there a possibility someone thought it was Martin and bought her a gift? Or maybe she herself had wished Mr. Martin would adopt her, and so she had taken on the name herself and had an anklet engraved with those initials on it?”

“I guess it is possible.”

“But if MM isn’t her, I wonder who it could be. The one responsible for her disappearance maybe?”

“It could be. Maybe she’s trying to identify her killer. But if that’s the case, being the initials are on an anklet and sweater, then that means the killer is a girl.”

“Did she have any female enemies that you know of? Maybe someone who had a crush on you?”

He laughed. “Oh, nobody had a crush on me. Except Mischa.”

“No girls who had disagreements with her?”

“Not that I’m aware of. Everybody liked her. She was a nice girl. Good student. Faithful churchgoer, a friend to everybody, even to the kids everybody else thought was weird.”

“Weird?”

“Yes, there was this guy, a bad boy really, you know the type, always getting in trouble. He was the nephew to the pastor I think. He came here from New York to live. I heard he’d gotten into trouble up there.”

“What kind of trouble?”

“He killed some cats in the neighborhood.”

“Cats?”

“Yeah, the rumor was he drowned them in a little kiddy pool, about twenty or more cats and kittens. So his parents sent him here to live with his uncle.”

“What was his name?”

“I can’t remember. I didn’t pay him much mind. Nobody did. Well except Mischa. She felt sorry for him because everybody avoided him.”

“Were they friends?”

“Yes.”

“Was there something else there besides that?”

He stopped and looked at me, the first time I’d seen a flash of anger in his eyes since our conversation. And then it was gone. “I thought there might have been, but I asked her about it and she said they were friends. She said I was just jealous.”

Briefly a thought occurred to me. Was he jealous enough to hurt someone? Jealous enough to hurt Mischa? I decided to go for the big question I’d been wanting to ask, but I slid my chair back a little first just in case it got ugly.

“Was she pregnant?” I asked.

Again, he looked at me and I could see something akin to anger just under the surface. “No, she wasn’t pregnant. One of the rumors was she had gotten pregnant and ran away to have an abortion, but I never believed it. Her own Sunday school teacher started that one. And if there is truth to the rumor, if she did run away, why didn’t she come back after the abortion or birth or whatever was done with the baby?”

“Maybe she was ashamed of it. Maybe it was because the baby wasn’t yours, maybe…”

This time the anger came out and he slammed his fist on the table. “Mischa loved me!!! If she was having a baby, it would have been mine!”

I backed away from the table. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply…”

He jumped up. “You think she was sleeping around with everyone?! She was an honest girl, a good girl. She wasn’t a tramp!!” He reached across the table and grabbed my collar. “I thought you was here to help. She said you were a friend. That we could trust you.”

“You can trust me,” I tried to reassure him. “I am here to help.”

“No you aren’t,” he snarled. “You are just like the rest. Poor little tramp got pregnant and ran away. Couldn’t face her family or her boyfriend, so she took off.”

“I don’t think she ran away.”

“Damn straight she didn’t! Somebody killed her and now she won’t rest until she drives us all mad!”

A voice interrupted us. “Is everything alright over here?”

I looked up. The orderly was standing over us, and Tommy’s hands were clenched up in my collar. Tommy let me go and sat back down.

“Yes there’s a problem,” he said. “This man isn’t my brother. Take me back to my room.”

The orderly looked at me. “You’ll have to leave now, sir.”

I nodded and got up.

Tommy glared at me. “Cover not thou my blood,” he said.

I knew those words. They had been written on the office wall in our cottage. “What does that mean?” I asked him.

He shook his head. “Don’t come back here again. You can’t help us.”

“Why can’t I?”

“You have no faith.”

I didn’t say anything. He was right. I had never been a big church person, or into bible stuff. But I was in a state of surprise how the conversation had deteriorated so fast. The mention of Mischa’s possible pregnancy with another guy’s child and bam! Tommy had gone ballistic. And now, here he was calmly telling me to get lost because I lacked faith or something.

I turned around and left the dayroom. I didn’t look back. I could feel Tommy watching me. I almost got the feeling he was disappointed, and I knew I wouldn’t get anything else out of him. I was on my own once more. And Mischa was still something of a mystery…

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 25: Mischa’s Message

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 25: Mischa’s Message: Tuesday August 2

I didn’t go to the state hospital today to see Tommy. Something happened last night that unnerved me and I have stayed in bed much of the day today. I figure if I don’t get out of bed, then I can’t see ghosts…unless they start coming to my bedside.

It was late. I had fallen asleep on the couch watching TV. I don’t know how long I’d been dozing, but I awoke to the sound of Penny barking outside on the porch.

I got up from the couch and shook myself awake. I could hear the excited “yap” of her barks right outside the door. The sound she was making wasn’t one of alarm or trying to warn of intruders, but sounded more like the kind of noise a dog makes when it’s excited to see someone.

“Donna,” I thought. She had come home. But I looked at the clock. It was two AM. She wouldn’t be arriving in the middle of the night. But who else could it be? So it was with excitement that I threw open the door ready to smile.

But I didn’t smile. Instead my mouth hung open, disbelieving the scene before my eyes. Penny was on the porch barking at someone who stood right at the foot of the walk. The dog then looked back at me, her tail wagging.

The person who stood in the yard wasn’t a stranger to Penny apparently, and she sure wasn’t a stranger to me either. I instantly recognized the long blonde hair, the yellow Easter dress, and the ‘going to church’ bonnet that usually hid her face. I’d stared at her picture enough times wondering what kind of girl she really had been. And now here she was, maybe not in the flesh, but she was right in front of me. The glow of the moon not reflecting off her, but shining right through form.

“Mischa,” I spoke, low under my breath, as if I didn’t want to believe it was her. I half expected her to smile or something, but she didn’t. Instead, she raised her arm and pointed at the church. Penny barked once more and came to my side, pacing excitedly as if to say ‘come on, let’s go.’

I couldn’t take my eyes off the ghostly apparition. Her arm outstretched and pointing, she was silent, and the only touch of emotion on her face seemed to be that of worry.

“Is there something in the church you want me to see?”

The girl silently nodded her head.

“Show me.”

The apparition, or spirit, or whatever it was, lowered it’s arm and began to walk across the ground towards the church. Penny and I followed, but I have to say we didn’t follow too closely.

Halfway across the lot, she faded. Like the afterimage on a television screen, she slowly faded away until she was no longer there. This would have freaked out most people to the point where they wouldn’t have gone into that church for nothing, and though the experience was unnerving for me, still I followed. I know, just as I have always known, Mischa is not out to hurt me. She’s not a violent poltergeist or a spirit wishing evil to befall the living. She just wants me to help her.

I unlocked the church door. Penny sat down on her haunches at the entrance like a guardian and I slipped inside. I hit the light switch on the wall, bringing light into the vestibule. I could see nothing was there. I seemed to be alone in the building.

“Mischa,” I called. The church was silent. “Where do you want me to go?”

There was a noise upstairs, one I had heard many times before, the sound of a young girl’s giggle and running feet traipsing across the floor above me. I went up the stairs, taking the steps two at a time. I knew what I would see when I got to the top: Mischa sprinting down the hall laughing joyfully as a young boy pursued her just as gleeful. They disappeared around the corner, but I knew where they were going.

I ran down the hall quickly, and bounded around the corner. I stepped into the room I knew they’d gone into and flipped on the lights.

“Mischa?”

Like times before this one, giggles came from behind the closet door. I put my hand on the knob and slowly opened the door on its hinges. The giggles stopped. The closet was empty. No one or nothing was there. I don’t know what I’d expected to find, after all the anklet was in my pocket where I kept it these days. I stood there peering in the closet, wondering why she’d led me here just to show me an empty space I’d seen before, when a grating sound came from behind me. A sound like that of nails scratching across a chalkboard.

I slowly turned, and there on a chalkboard that hung upon a wall, words were forming as if directed by an unseen hand. I could see the chalk move across the surface, seemingly by itself.

NOT MINE, the words read.

“Not yours? What is not yours?”

The chalk moved across the board. NO BABY.

Could this be right? Mischa hadn’t been pregnant when she disappeared? And what wasn’t hers? The anklet? I pulled the anklet out of my pocket, and there she was, finally materializing in front of the chalkboard, the piece of white chalk held in her hand.

I held the anklet out to her in an effort to give it back, but she turned to the board and began to write again.

HELP ME, she wrote. The chalk made a jagged line from her last letter, as if she had something else to add but hadn’t the strength. Her image began to quiver, reminding me of a radio station that was now getting switched off its channel. She faded away into nothing, marked by the sound of the chalk hitting the floor to rest where she’d stood.

“Mischa,” I called out, but I knew she was gone. Her visit this night was over, leaving me with more questions than answers. I put the anklet back in my pocket and returned downstairs. I turned off the lights in the vestibule and went outside, quietly closing the door behind me. Penny got up from her spot at the entrance and wagged her tail. I patted her head and she barked once, as if it were a question.

“Yes I know,” I said. “I wish she would stay longer, too.”

Together we went back home, and this time, to my surprise, Penny came in the house when I offered. She slept at my bedside as I lay down to try and get some sleep. But sleep didn’t come easy. All I could think of was that last chalkboard message, HELP ME, and the jagged line the chalk had made as she had tried to write more before fading away. HELP ME..

“I’m trying,” I whispered softly to the night.

I really wanted to go see Tommy Blaine at the state hospital today but I was so exhausted. It was as if my ghostly encounter last night had drained all the energy out of me. Thoughts flitted through my head, but my body was just too tired. I did finally get out of bed to let Penny out, and get her something to eat, but I stayed in the rest of the morning.

After lunch, I managed to go back over to Resurrection church and went upstairs to the room of the ghostly visitation the night before. The chalkboard was there, but the message was gone. It was as if there had never been anything written there.

I went back to the house and the first thing I wanted to do was call Donna. I needed to hear her voice, but something held me back from calling her mom’s. Maybe it was what her dad said about giving it some time, or maybe it was something within myself that said this thing with Mischa needed to be resolved before I could get my wife back. Maybe the girl’s ghost had planned it this way, knowing with Donna gone from the house I would be more focused on what she wanted from me.

Tomorrow I will go see Tommy. I have to tell him what has been happening. Maybe he has answers. Maybe he can help. And then again maybe he’s just crazy as they say.

+ + + + + + + + +

“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 24: Last Visit at Shifletts

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 24: Last Visit At Shiflett’s: Monday August 1

Sleep didn’t come easy last night. I miss Donna more than one could imagine. I realize that maybe our life has become a bit disconnected lately, but to have her here with me meant more than I realized. Even on those nights when I’d been late coming to bed or even slept on the couch, at least I knew she was there. But now our little cottage seems to creak and moan from the emptiness of her leaving.

At one point I woke up and went out on the front porch. The dog sat there as if he too were waiting for her to come back. I tried to invite him inside, but he wouldn’t come. It would have been nice just to have another living thing in the house, but the stray just wouldn’t budge.

This morning he was still out there when a visitor came calling. The mutt started barking like crazy and backed up against the screen door as I was coming out to see what was going on.

It was Shaedra, Mrs. Shiflett’s assistant. Funny time for a single beautiful woman to show up, the day after your wife has left you. Automatically I was on guard. I don’t believe in coincidences these days.

She said hello, I said hello, and thankfully she got right to the point. “My employer would like to see you,” she said.

“I’d like to see her, too. She lied to me about the anklet I showed her.”

She said nothing at first, and then commented, “My mistress has a bad memory. Details sometimes run together. She could have been mistaken about whom it belonged to.”

I didn’t say anything, but I thought it strange she already knew what the lie was, before I even gave any specifics. As if she had known from the beginning the anklet wasn’t Mischa’s.

“When does she want to see me?”

“Now.”

“Well,” I hesitated, “I was just getting ready to take my dog for a walk.”

“Nice dog,” she said in a condescending, yet somehow sultry tone.

“Yes, he came with the house. We named him…um…” I thought for a moment and then blurted out the first random name that came to mind. “Samuel, or Sam for short.”

She kind of smiled. “I think your he is really a she.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“Damn, Samuel won’t do for a name then.” I laughed. “Guess I’ll call her Penny.”

“Nice name.”

I agreed, but I still wasn’t ready to see Mrs. Shiflett. I needed to do something first. “Tell her I’ll be by later.”

Shaedra smiled politely and replied, “Certainly.” She started walking off and then stopped. “You may bring your wife with you if you wish.”

I hesitated at first, for I had had a sneaky suspicion she already knew somehow Donna was gone. “She’s out of town at the moment,” I finally explained.

“How convenient,” Shaedra said, giving me a knowing smile that would have stopped most men dead in their tracks with desire. Then she got in her car and was gone.

I looked down at the dog, patting her head. “Well Penny, should I trust her?”

The mutt just looked up at me.

“Yeah, I don’t think so either.”

I did a few things around the house, then sat down and called The State Hospital. I identified myself as Roger Blaine and explained I was inquiring about visitor hours so I could visit my brother Tommy. The receptionist told me visiting hours for that wing were between twelve noon and four pm. I thanked her and hung up. I looked at my watch, it was already approaching noon, and I’d already told Mrs. Shiflett I’d be there to see her. Maybe I would go to the hospital tomorrow.

I went over to the church and did a little work, trying more to make her wait than actually clean. It made me feel good that I wasn’t like her assistant. I wasn’t going to come running when she asked. And whatever did she want to see me for anyway? As I cleaned, I asked myself that over and over, but no answer was forthcoming, so around two o’clock I thought I’d waited long enough and drove over to see the old lady.

Shaedra let me in, and made sure to walk in front of me, leading me into the den. I think she wanted me to admire her backside as she walked, and I have to admit her every step seemed to scream sex. But that wasn’t why I was there, and I certainly wasn’t going to cheat on my wife.

Mrs. Shiflett was waiting in her wheelchair in the den and greeted me with a forced smile, as if she was uncertain she wanted me there or not.

“You wanted to see me,” I said as a way of greeting.

She grinned. “Straight to the point. I like that. You seem different than the last time we met.”

“Yes, I’ve changed quite a bit since then.”

“For the better I hope.”

“That remains to be seen.”

She seemed to think on that for a moment and finally replied, “I asked you here because yesterday I received a visit from Mr. Martin, and he was none too happy.”

“He doesn’t seem the jovial sort,” I agreed.

“He told me under no uncertain terms to ever send anyone to his house again asking questions about Mischa.”

“Well, you did have Shaedra give me his number.”

“Yes, but I didn’t know you’d traipse over there and ask all kind of questions about Mischa, and get him upset enough to hit you.”

“He told you that, huh?”

“Yes, and now he is angry at me.”

“Pardon me, but I don’t think you were on his likable list before I got there.”

“In any case, I would hope in the future that our conversation remain with us, and that you don’t go riling others up with your questions. Why can’t you just understand she ran away? And what is she to you, anyway?”

“With all due respect, at first I just wanted to return her anklet. But things just kept getting stranger and stranger. And now I believe that something very bad happened to Mischa.”

She opened her mouth to say something, but I wouldn’t let her.

“And I think the key to whatever happened is this anklet.” I pulled the anklet out of my pocket. “Now, whose anklet is this really?”

“I told you it is Mischa’s. I gave it to her.”

She reached for it, but I wouldn’t let her have it. I put it back in my pocket. “Mr. Martin says it isn’t hers.”

“Fathers don’t always know everything about their daughters.”

“Yes, but these aren’t even her initials on the anklet. Mischa’s initials aren’t ‘MM’, they are ‘MB’, because her last name was Boudreaux.”

The woman shifted in her wheelchair. She looked a might uncomfortable. Finally she burst out, “Are you calling me a liar?”

“No, I just want to know who the anklet belongs to.”

“I don’t know.”

“Then why did you tell me it was Mischa’s?”

Her face turned red and she tried to get out of the chair. “So you would stop asking questions!”

“What’s wrong with my questions?”

Shaedra finally asserted herself between us. I don’t know if she was trying to protect her mistress or me, but I could hear Mrs. Shiflett’s exasperated sigh behind her.

“Mischa was a bad girl. She got pregnant. She ran away. End of story.” The old woman’s anger seemed to be subsiding, replaced with what seemed to me a well-rehearsed explanation.

“How do you know she ran away?” I prodded.

“What else would she do?”

“What if she’s dead?”

“Sinners get what’s coming, I suppose,” she said sarcastically.

“You sound like you want her to be dead.”

She pushed Shaedra out of the way with her wheelchair.

“You don’t know me well enough to know what I sound like. Now get out of my house and don’t you ever come back.”

“Don’t ever invite me,” I returned. Then I headed straight for the door. Shaedra tried to get in front of me to show the way, or shake her rear in my face. I don’t know which. But I walked around her. “I know the way out,” I told her.

She started to protest with a sultry smile, but I stopped her with my next words.

“Don’t come to my house anymore. My wife would not like you coming around, and I don’t think I do either.”

I turned my back and left, but I could feel the anger she was hurling my way. I guess I could count those two out of being my friends. But I was feeling good after the exchange, because I learned a lot from it.

Mrs. Shiflett wanted me to stop asking questions, and she told me what I wanted to hear the first time I visited, in hopes I wouldn’t take my questions elsewhere. She also didn’t like Mischa very much, and the young girl’s alleged pregnancy changed everything where the old woman was concerned. But more than all that, I learned, or at least suspect, that my hunch all along has been right. This anklet is the key to everything. And once I show it to Tommy Blaine maybe the full truth will be known.

+ + + + + + + + +

“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 23: Donna Leaves

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 23: Donna Leaves: Sunday July 31

I slept on the couch last night. I was almost scared to go into the bedroom and sleep. After she had gone back to bed, I had put the dress back in the duffel and thrown it in the hall closet to rest in the back, out of sight. Maybe I should just take it back to where I found it. Maybe I’ll do just that.

To my surprise, Donna went to church with me this morning. We sat in the back. I saw Roger Blaine a couple of rows ahead of me. While we were singing hymns, he turned around and gave me a little nod and smile.

After the service, as Donna and I were on the way out, he came up to me. “Well, there’s the guy I thought was trouble,” he joked.

“Yep, that’s me,” I grinned. We shook hands.

“Roger, this is my wife Donna. Donna, Roger Blaine.”

She gave him a smile, with a little “pleased to meet you”, and he returned the greeting.

Then I got brave. “Roger, which hospital is Tommy in?”

He stopped for a moment, looked around as if he was nervous that someone had heard me ask the question. Finally he answered.

“Gunther Ridge State Hospital. They won’t let you in though. Only family.”

“Okay, thanks,” I nodded. “Well, look we have to go. Nice seeing you again.”

He nodded. “Likewise”.

Donna and I left. We were almost down the front steps of the church when Roger called out behind me. “Hey Paul, wait up.”

We stopped as he caught up to us. I noticed he had something in his hand. It looked to be like a credit card or something.

“I don’t use this. If you really want to see him, maybe it will help.”

He handed me the card and I saw it was a hospital pass with his name on it. “Now they may ID you, so I don’t know how far you’ll get, but hey, like I said, I don’t use it. You can tell him hi for me if you make it in.”

“Thanks,” I said, taking the card, and putting it in my pocket.

I turned around to Donna, but she was gone. She was walking across the parking lot to home. “Well, I better go,” I told him and sprinted after my wife.

When I caught up to her, I was pretending to pant and be tired from the run. The joke was lost on her though. “Hey wait up, hon. Why did you walk off?”

“I just felt like I was in the way,” she replied.

“Honey, you are never in the way.”

She didn’t say anything, but I could tell she was trying to find the words she wanted to say. We left the parking lot and stepped into the yard.

“Donna, I am really sorry about last night,” I apologized.

“It’s not just last night, Paul. You are distracted and occupied with things and people that don’t include me.”

“I can quit my job,” I suggested. “We can go back. We can leave here.”

She looked at me. “You’re just saying that for me. You don’t really want to go. You don’t want to leave…her.” That last word hung in the air between us, and I didn’t know what to say, because as cruel as it sounds, she was right. I didn’t want to leave Mischa’s ghost behind. I was wrapped up in something that I needed to see through to the end, and I was having trouble choosing what I wanted more, my wife or a ghost. So Donna decided for me.

“I’m going home with mom and dad,” she finally said.

“Donna, you don’t have to go.”

“Yes I do. I’ll stay with mom and dad for a while. I’ll wait for you to decide what you want out of life.” And then she added, “But I won’t wait forever.”

“I want you,” I told her, but she wasn’t convinced.

“I don’t know what you want. But right now, it isn’t me.”

“Please don’t go,” I pleaded.

“You will do the right thing,” she replied. “I know you will do what is best for both of us.”

I don’t quite understand what she meant by that, but before I could ask her, a car pulled up into the yard behind us. It was her parents.

She left me standing there and walked over to the car. She leaned in and spoke to them, and I could feel all eyes upon me. I felt like the lowest man on earth. Finally, I just walked up on the porch and sat down in the swing.

Before too long, Jack and Sadie got out of the car. They walked across the yard to the porch. Donna wouldn’t even look at me when she came up the porch steps. Her mom gave me this glare that said, “I was right about you.” The ladies went in, but Jack stood at the doorway. Finally, he came around and sat down on the swing beside me.

After a moment of awkward silence, he spoke. “Paul, I know I’ve never really treated you as a member of the family. And I know sometimes couples have troubles that their parents shouldn’t get involved in, but I am a man first and father second. Men go through things women don’t always understand. Men and women are just different, I suppose. We don’t understand them, they don’t understand us.”

I wanted to get up and just walk away. This was the most uncomfortable in-law moment ever.

“What I’m trying to say is, if you need a man to talk to about men stuff, you can talk to me. It will stay between us.”

“Thank you Jack,” I said, just wishing he would leave me alone.

I think he caught the vibe, because he got up and walked around to the door. He opened it and got ready to go in.

“One more thing, Paul. I know you are going to come around. Us men folk always do when it comes to our women. But it would probably be best if you didn’t call or try to visit for a couple of days.”

They left later this afternoon. Though Sadie didn’t seem to approve, Donna hugged me goodbye, and kissed me on the cheek. I tried to give her a real kiss, but she put her finger to my lips to keep me from coming closer.

“Please don’t. I won’t want to leave.”

“I don’t want you to leave.”

She was fighting the tears. “I have to go.”

And then she was gone, in the car and spirited away by her parents. I said, “I love you” to the retreating car, instantly wishing I had said it more often, so she would have known.

I felt something brush against my leg, and I looked down. It was the mutt. I don’t know where he came from, but he was by my side now. I patted his head.

“Looks like it’s just you and me now, boy.”

+ + + + + + + + +

“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 22: The Dress

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 22: The Dress: Saturday July 30 – continued

I woke up around two AM, brought out of sleep by a dream. I distinctly remember someone calling me, repeating my name over and over, and then there was a bark. I awoke.

Donna was still sleeping and the night was still. No one was calling me. The dog wasn’t barking. In the silence I lay there, eyes open, staring at the ceiling. And then a thought hit me. Something I had forgotten.

The duffel bag was still outside, by the back door. I hadn’t brought it in. I got out of bed and walked quietly to the back door. I opened it, half expecting the bag to be gone. But no, there it was.

I lifted it and brought it inside. I closed the door as softly as possible so as not to wake my wife, and took the bag to the living room. I sat Indian style on the floor and opened the drawstring. Right on top lay the yellow dress. I pulled it out and unraveled it, as if it was on a hanger.

It was a pretty dress. There were a few stains and soils, but other than that, it looked almost new. I held it up to my nose and took a deep breath. There were no pleasant scents, no perfume, or the smells of summer. Instead the strongest odor was dirt and earth. And beneath it were other fainter smells. I took another breath, the fabric of the dress pressed to my face.

I caught one of the fainter smells. Kerosene. Not exactly on my list of favorite aromas, but maybe something else in the bag had been doused with it. Why would a dress as pretty as this carry the scent of flammables? I guess being exposed to the elements all this time, who knows what odors could seep into the fabric?

I held the dress against my cheek, pressed to my skin. I wondered briefly what it might have felt like to the person who had worn it. The dirt and earth smells, as well as the kerosene, began to fade, replaced by something else. A pretty scent. Like the smell of flowers, a young girl’s perfume. It grew stronger as I inhaled the scent, almost as if I were drawing nearer to someone whom had just prettied themselves up for the summer dance. The scent was becoming stronger, and it gave me an almost dizzying effect.

I closed my eyes and I could nearly imagine myself as the one who had worn this dress last. I had a vision, a quick fleeting thought that appeared not my own. A person standing in front of a tall mirror, admiring the look of this dress on their body. It was snug, very tight fitting, as the person twirled and spun before their reflection. But the mirror itself was cloudy. I could not see the person’s face, yet something told me there was something not right with this vision. This picture was not my own, and nether was it Mischa’s. It was something else entirely. I knew the last person to wear this dress had not been Mischa. But if not her, then who?

Suddenly I heard my name. “Paul?”

I turned around and there she was. No, not Mischa, but Donna. She was in the doorway, a look of extreme hurt on her face. She looked about ready to cry.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

I looked at the dress in my hands, the very one I still held pressed to my cheek. I lowered it quickly.

“I…uh…I found her dress.” I almost winced as I said it, because I knew how badly it sounded.

Tears welled up in her eyes. “What are you doing to us? Don’t you even care about me anymore? About us?”

I dropped the dress on the floor and stood up.

“Of course I care. What kind of question is that?”

“An important one,” she answered, her voice almost lowered to a whisper.

“Donna, I am sorry. I know I’ve been acting strange lately…”

She didn’t let me finish. “Strange? No, it’s gone beyond strange. You are a man obsessed. And what hurts is you used to be obsessed with me.”

“Donna, I still love you. Nothing has changed.”

A tear trickled down her cheek. “I still love you too, but something has changed. You have changed. You are caught up in something I don’t understand. I don’t know if you’re having a sexual affair, or some attempt at recapturing your youth through the attentions of a younger girl. I don’t know what…”

“I don’t love anyone but you,” I interjected.

“It doesn’t matter if you love her or not, but I can’t share you with her.”

“Donna, I swear to you, she’s not real. She’s a ghost.”

“Yes, well, so am I. I’m just a ghost in your life now.”

I started to walk towards her.

“But I won’t haunt this place anymore,” she added, as she turned from me and went back to the bedroom. I stood there alone, her words sinking in. and the realization hit me, as I sank to the carpet in tears. Donna is leaving me.

+ + + + + + + + +

“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.