d n english
I was sitting in my office one night when the telephone rang. The voice on the telephone identified herself as Mattie Lou she went on to tell me she was over 80 and wanted to tell me a story.
She began by saying , “Now I am not sure of the year but I think it was 1932. I was a young bride my sweet Alfred and I had only been married a few years. It was our duty to represent the family to sit with the dead at the funeral home on Chester. The man that had died was my husband’s Uncle Ben and from what I had been told he was a rounder. He had run around with a rough group of friends that hung out at the café in the bus station. Al’s uncle had departed this world under “ odd circumstances” as my mother in law told me. Odd circumstances my foot he got shot for cheating at cards.” Mattie Lou said
“ Now honey I remember that night clear as all get out. It was
8:00 when we got to the funeral home. We were taking his sister and cousin place who had been there since 6:00. They had to get home to their husbands and children. They lived in town so they did not have far to go.”she sighed
She continued by telling me they went into the parlor they spoke to the people that were viewing and making all the correct remarks. As everyone that was not family cleared out we settled in for the night. Sitting with the dead meant just that you sat there all night so your kin folk would not be alone on their last night.
I remember there were 6 other relatives in the room sharing memories, reading our Bible, or just sitting in reflection.
She laughed “ that meant they were napping.”
She went on to explain she looked up at the clock 1:16AM and all of a sudden the lights went out the room got real cold. A gentleman got up and declared “the body is gone”People started praying out loud and doors were slamming.
“I was holding on to Al for dear life. I was scared later on Al admitted he was scared also .” Miss Mattie took a deep breath and was quite for a few minutes.
“Now what happened next I swear to be true.” She said
She went on to tell me all of a sudden the door to the Viewing Room flew open and the lights came back on. At the doorway was the Bus Station night manager,Jim, he ran up to the casket.
Looking down he said “Ben is still here!” The man who had declared the body gone joined him by the casket. “He is right he is here.”
Then Jim explained he had been sitting at a table having coffee in the station and he looked up and there was Ben setting across from him . I looked up at the clock it was 1:18 that was around the time Ben would come by most nights. But when I turned around Ben was gone. “So I ran down here to see if I was dreaming. I must have been cause Ben is here dead.”
He made his apology and left.
“The rest of the night Al and I went and sat in the car. Then later we headed home to get freshen up and pick up his parents to go back to the funeral. We did not speak about what happened.” She said
The funeral went off without a hitch until the pallbearers headed out to the hearse. Al and his cousins were the pallbearers I mean Ben was not known for his friends.In the hall the lights went out and they dropped the casket. “Al told me for some reason he looked at the clock 1:16. When they picked the casket up it was light like no one was in it. He said he looked at his cousin who had been at the funeral home last night they shook their heads and got to the hearse real fast .
At the grave site the casket was still light. As far as I know none of the family has ever discussed this.” Miss Mattie said
The story around town that on certain nights Ben would be seen at the Bus Station even after it moved to Main Street.
As the years went on she and Al had a good life . They had been blessed with two daughters and two sons, six grandchildren.
But every once in a while Al would change he would get mean his personality would change he would be his Uncle Ben. “ Now I was lucky this only happened when the children were not around. His cousin saw this side of Al a few times it would not be good. Unfortunately Al had an accident on the job at the railroad he was only 55 the same age that his Uncle died.” She told me
The day of the funeral Miss Mattie said she had word with the funeral director. She asked him that when they got to the grave site she wanted the casket opened one last time. Her son overheard her he did not understand but he went along with because he loved his mother. At the grave site she walked up to the open casket kissed her fingers then pressed them on Al’s cheek laying a rose on his chest. They helped her back to her chair and closed the casket. Everyone was so touched by her jester.
I could not stand it I had to ask why. Over the telephone I heard a wicked little laugh. “ Honey, one I wanted to make sure Al was still in the casket and that the spirit of that mean Uncle Ben was really gone and my sweet Al was at peace.” Miss Mattie wished me well and said goodnight.
There were sightings of the man at the bus station even after it closed. Now I wonder if he will be seen at Doe’s the new occupant of the bus station?