[Mysteriousheartland.com] An elderly woman scowled as she sauntered past the dark blue Toyota Corolla and eyed a bumper sticker that proclaimed ‘Necrophilia is Dead’ in skeletal lettering. The five members of the Fallen scarcely noticed. Mike, Aurelia, and Davin examined the seaweed-green cemetery fence while Greg and Emmet chuckled behind them.
“Let me know when you find those two bars,” Emmet snickered.
“Darn it,” Mike yelled back. “They could be any of these.”
“Don’t you have a picture of the bars?” Aurelia asked, growing impatient. She folded her arms below her chest and blew her bangs away from her eyes.
“If I had a picture of them, I wouldn’t be standing here like an idiot, would I?” Mike shot back.
“You wouldn’t look like an idiot if you weren’t wearing those combat boots with those shorts, buddy,” Emmet laughed.
The five stood inside the yawning gates of Resurrection Cemetery in southwest suburban Chicago, Illinois. Cars honked and whooshed past along Archer Avenue not more than a few yards away.
“Why do we always do everything the hard way?” asked Greg. “Why don’t we just go ask?”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” Mike replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “Let’s just go ask.”
Before Mike could continue, Emmet and Greg piled back into the car and gestured for the group to follow. Aurelia sighed deeply and threw open the back door. Mike reluctantly took the driver’s seat.
The Corolla puttered down the blacktop until it screeched to a halt inside the visitor center parking lot, and its four doors simultaneously swung open. Mike climbed out and strolled up the sidewalk. He stopped at the entrance to the Romanesque building. “I ain’t going in alone,” he yelled back at the quartet who had taken up positions in front of the car. “It was your idea. Are you just going to stand there?”
Aurelia did not wait for the others before she marched to join him. Greg, Emmet, and Davin stayed behind, shaking their heads.
Mike and Aurelia entered the lobby of the imposing building where several mourning widows stood looking at maps of the cemetery. The man behind the main desk glanced with disgust at the two as they strode up to him. He was an elderly gentleman wearing a dark gray suit and red boutonnière.
“Excuse me,” Mike said with feigned enthusiasm. “I have a question.”
The old man coughed violently, cleared his throat, and adjusted the button on his shirt cuff. “Yes?” he asked in drawn out syllables.
“I’m sure you’re familiar with the story of Resurrection Mary,” Mike began. “In the ‘70s she supposedly bent bars on your main gate and you straightened them out afterwards. Do you know which bars that happened to be?”
With a sound like a flooded engine turning over, the elderly gentleman cleared his throat again. “There’s nothing like that here,” he gargled. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yeah, right,” Mike replied. Without looking at his friend, he scowled and walked out of the building with his hands thrust deep into the pockets of his shorts. Outside, he found Greg and Davin pointing at a family assembled on the other side of the parking lot. They ogled the oldest daughter, dressed more for a day at the beach than a funeral. Mike glanced to his left and to his right; Aurelia was missing.
“Where the heck did Aura go?” he asked.
Davin grinned. “Who cares,” he said offhandedly.
Suddenly, Aurelia’s shrill voice broke through the air. “I’m right here!” she announced from a few steps behind Mike, who jumped.
“Let me guess,” Emmet piped up. “They didn’t know anything about the bent gate.”
Mike rubbed his temples with his fingertips. “Nope,” he sighed.
“They obviously painted over it,” Greg interjected. “Why would they want that publicity? This is a cemetery, not a tourist attraction.”
“It is to us,” Davin said.
“Well, we’re not going to get anywhere standing here,” Mike said. “Why don’t we go to that bar across the street and see if the owner knows anything?”
“Let’s do it,” Emmet seconded. “I could go for a Corona.”
Without protest, the five piled back into their blue Toyota, drove out the cemetery’s front gates, and screeched onto the crowded street, nearly missing an oncoming van. Greg tightly gripped the panic handle until they were safely on the parking lot’s cracked and worn out asphalt beside Chet’s Melody Lounge.
“I guess I’ll just wait in the car,” Davin muttered.
“Oh yeah,” Mike said as he threw the gear shift into park. “I forgot you’re not twenty-one.”
“No one is going to care,” Emmet interrupted. “Just as long as he doesn’t order anything. We don’t want him sitting in here alone. He’s going to start cutting himself again.”
Davin glanced at the expiration date he had written on his arm and laughed. “Hey guys, I’m expired,” he proudly announced.
Mike rolled his eyes and climbed out of the car.
The five marched up the handicap ramp under the awning and entered Chet’s Lounge single file. Once inside, Emmet removed his Cubs baseball cap and folded it into the back pocket of his shorts while the bar patrons turned their heads in unison to gape at the interlopers.
Mike walked straight up to the bar and ordered a beer, sliding his driver’s license over the damp counter. “Has anyone in here seen a ghost?” he asked with a grin.
“Are you one of those guys from TV?” the sweaty bartender replied as he slammed down an equally perspiring bottle.
“Nope,” Mike said. “We’re just tourists.”
Emmet thrust his hand across the bar. “Before my friend makes a jerk of himself, can I have a Corona?” he interjected. The bartender motioned for his ID and Emmet produced it from a wallet thick with single dollars.
“You might want to talk to Łukasz over there,” the bartender suggested as he examined Emmet’s driver’s license. “He claims to have seen Mary one night a few weeks ago. Ain’t that right, Łukasz?”
The Fallen focused their eyes on an aging man hunched over the bar with three empty shot glasses lined up in front of him. Greg, who had come in behind his friends, had the pleasure of taking the nearest stool.
“That’s right,” Łukasz confirmed with a Polish accent so thick Greg could smell the pierogi. “I saw her. February I think. Must’ve been February.” He took a deep breath. “Can’t remember any details.”
“Would ten bucks jog your memory?” Mike asked.
“Whoa,” Greg cut in. “Relax, man. Let the guy think.” He snatched the ten dollar bill from Mike’s hand and used it to pay for his drink–a tequila sunrise.
“I think…” Łukasz wheezed. “She was standing on the side of the road, plain as day. Just like you’re sitting right there now. She wore a long, white dress. The next thing I know, she’s gone. It was the damnedest thing.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t just someone crossing the street in the dark?” Emmet asked as he squeezed a lime wedge and pushed it into the yellow bottle of Corona resting in his palm.
Łukasz belched. “Nope. She disappeared.”
Mike bombarded the man with questions, but did not get any more details.
After a few minutes, the bartender leaned over the counter and nodded his head at Aurelia, who had been looking around contemptuously. “Do you want anything, babe?” He asked.
Aurelia’s eyes narrowed. “No,” she said. “Alcoholism destroyed my family. I won’t touch the stuff.”
“So, you live near here?” he asked, quickly changing the subject.
“Excuse me?” Aurelia replied.
“Do you live near here?” the bartender repeated.
Mike threw the bartender a dirty look and removed the quarter he left for a tip. “Let’s get out of here,” he whispered to Emmet, who chugged the rest of his beer.
Greg tossed a few dollars on the counter and spun off his stool. “Let’s go!” he yelled.
“You kids stay out of trouble!” Łukasz shouted after them as the group followed Greg out the door.
“Why can’t we ever see anything like that?” Davin asked once the five were safely in the parking lot.
“I can think of a few reasons,” Emmet replied. “The most obvious being that ghosts don’t exist.”
Mike simply sighed and shook his head. “We can’t take the word of a drunk,” he said. “Even if he really did see Resurrection Mary. No one will believe it. We’re going to have to find proof elsewhere.”
[New episode every Friday…]
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