…into the darkness we look, and darkness we find…
April 26, 1952
They say the past haunts you forever. Photographs, letters, memories, the clothes hanging in the closets. It’s always there, for better or worse. But tonight, I swear to god, somehow my past was staring me in the face.
Lately folks have been talking about some mysterious drifter here in town. Didn’t surprise me much, drifters come and go from time to time in these parts. It’s a small town, and the folks here don’t care too much for strangers. Last year, a man came through and raised some hell at Millers’s Pub. Other than spending the night in a cell at the station to sober up, there was no harm done…sent him on his way. Besides, who am I to judge? I should have spent the night with him, I was as liquored up as he was at the time. Men tend to do stupid things when they’re down on their luck. When I lost Joshua and Edna a few years back, the only thing that made the voices and images in my head fade was the bottom of a bottle.
The other night Rosemary over at Miller’s said she’d seem someone peeking in her window. She didn’t get a good look at him. When reports like this come in, it’s my duty to look into it. Can’t let someone get hurt, and she’s got a little boy to look after. Thought maybe it was time I asked around about this drifter folks had been seeing.
It’s strange how no one’s gotten a good look at this man. No one can describe him. Hell, Bonnie swears all
she saw was “a shadow of a man” poking around the old Jenner farm. I don’t have time to be chasing ghosts. I say, if that’s where he’s at, let him stay there. See, me and Milton Jenner have “history”. Old Man Jenner was a hero of sorts in these parts…saved some men back in the war. I never believed it myself, but the star on his jacket said otherwise. That man was a loner, never married, and a piece of shit child molester. Folks called him a good man, and that he just loved children…never had any of his own. In ‘49 when kids starting telling their folks what he’d done to them, they called those kids crazy. No one was willing to press charges against the Great Milton Jenner…but I know what that man did. And he knew he’d gotten away with it. Sometimes we’d cross paths at Miller’s. That son of a bitch would smile at me with this shit eating grin…”Good evening Officer” he would say.
I don’t know what Rosemarry Frank was thinking letting little Tommy spend time with this man. I questioned her, and she scolded me saying “Just let the past go, he’s a good man…a HERO, Tommy needs a man like this in his life!”. But I knew what this man wanted. I confronted this “man” in the barn on his property about his intentions towards Tommy. He told me he’d have his way, and there’s nothing I could do or say to stop it…it was “God’s will”. At that time, I found it to be God’s will to break that son of a bitch’s neck. Farming accidents are so tragic aren’t they?
This morning at quarter after three, my phone rang. Woke me up out of a dead sleep. The voice on the other end hesitated. “Hello” I said, this is Sheriff Thompson. The person on the other end finally spoke. “That drifter’s over at the Jenner place, up to no good…”. The tone of voice was real low, I didn’t recognize it. “Alright” I said, “I’ll check it out”. I hung up the phone, grabbed my revolver and headed out.
I approached the Jenner farm slowly, with headlights out. Didn’t want to scare this man away. Parked down the street aways and walked. There were no outward signs of anyone being there. No lights, no fire, no voices. The yard is overgrown and this house is in ruins in the years after Milton’s “accident”. The front door is missing, so I entered, gun drawn. “Forest Junction Sheriff’s Department…show yourself!” I yelled. No response. I searched the main floor, no signs of persons. I headed upstairs, searched the rooms, no signs of anyone. Either this was a prank, or I spooked them, but there was no one there. Headed back downstairs. Took one last look around, holstered my weapon and headed for the door. My god, there was a man standing there in the doorway, but this was no man…just a shadow in the moonlight that moved towards me. Startled, I stepped backwards and tripped in a hole in the floor. I looked up, the shadow standing over me…”Good evening Officer” it spoke. Christ, I knew that voice. I gathered my self and got out of there any way I could. The occupant of that house was no drifter.
Milton Jenner, I sent you to hell once you son if a bitch. I don’t know how you escaped that pit, but it’s up to God to send you back. I’ve done my share.
As I write this, Rosemary reported that Tommy’s missing. I’ve got better things to do than deal with your ghost.
I hope whatever you are now, is worse than the death I gave you Mr. Jenner.
- James Thompson
Sheriff, Forest Junction
…in the darkness is a mirror, reflecting our deepest fears…