Years before I moved to Paris, or was even born, there lived a man on Hearon Street. His tiny two bedroom house was nearing one hundred years old, and it looked every bit of it. His wife was gone, and with her, his life, much like the house, went into disrepair.
He coped for as long as he could, but living life without her wore away at his very soul until he couldn’t do it any longer. He was found in the tub of his little white house and with a shotgun on his chest.
The house lay vacant for a time until it was given to a young couple with a baby.
10pm, midnight, that baby, now a toddler, would wake to the sounds of angry voices in another room. Her parents fought, but once everything was quiet and before falling back to sleep, she would notice him. The man in the doorway. She thought it was Daddy, making sure she wasn’t getting into mischief. Those nights she would fall asleep feeling safer than she had before she woke.
Brother and sister shared the room with her, but they never talked about the man in the doorway. By her reckoning, she was the only one to see it.
He was there when Mom & Dad fought.
He was there when Dad was home really late.
He was there when that drive by shooting occurred on the street.
He rarely moved. He just stood there, and any night she woke, he was watching over.
She thought nothing of it. Not until years later when she had moved with her family to a new house.
She mentioned him with Mom and sister and brother present. The man who kept her feeling safe.
“What did you say?” her mother asked, face pale.
“The man. There was a man in the doorway of our room on Hearon Street.”
Brother and sister both nodded and agreed.
The trio explained him as best they could. He was tall. Too tall for the door, so he slouched against the doorframe. His head faced the ground, and atop it, he wore a baseball cap. He was skinny, but his face and the rest of him was always in shadow.
I was that girl, and what I didn’t know at the time was that we had all three described a man we never met or discussed. He was our Pepaw. We’d never seen a picture of him or known his cause of death. No. We had just seen him nearly every night of our childhood, watching us as we dreamed.
I’m not superstitious. I never thought I was, that is. But of this, I am certain. That man in the doorway wasn’t some trick of light. He was real enough for me even if I didn’t realize it at the time.
Everything in me screams that ghosts can’t be real, because what of heaven and hell? I know they exist. They have to if I’m to keep my belief system. Yet, I have no other explanation for this tale. They must be real, and I confess I don’t want to think anything otherwise now.
Featured photo is a Google Earth (c) shot of the house I grew up in.