…We found the wall and being totally disoriented used our hands for touch and feel and bearing and began to move, ever so slowly. All of a sudden the walls gave way to nothing, an abyss perhaps, although it did seem to us on reflection that we were in what appeared to be a large cavernous room. We kept moving but in extremely small exploratory steps hoping with all hope that we would find the landing and the stairs. But, unbeknownst to us at the time we were going in the opposite direction. So we stopped for what seemed to be an eternity and stood there in frightful anticipation of what to do, where we were and what would come next. The only sound that we heard was that that came from our diaphragms, from our deep breathing and from our heartbeats. It was as if our hearts were about to burst forth from our chests. We were bewildered, disoriented, lost. And as our eyes adjusted to the darkness we could sense that we were not alone in this room.
“Helloooo?” We cried out in the darkness. Only silence. That there was some form of artefact here with us was without question. We just didn’t know what. Suddenly these weird shapes came into a blurred but darkened outline and focus. Long, and short and stubby cocoon like objects took shape in a spectral like fashion. As our eyes became adjusted and we acquired limited night vision, ghastly apparitions suddenly filled the room and our senses. Recognition of what we were seeing instantly came over us. We gasped in horror. A casket showroom befell upon us. Open caskets, half opened caskets, closed caskets: on the floor, on shelves, on their sides, on their ends, in organized disarray. White pillowed laced interiors. It was ghoulish and very, very frightening to us.
We screamed, turned and ran. Without missing a beat we ran down the short hallway, found the stairs and in what seemed to be two leaps found the bottom. Turning again we found the lobby then stopped dead in our tracks again as we couldn’t quite make out or accept our current reality. In the darkness there was suddenly light. But not the steady, comforting, yellowish, incandescent evening light but the flickering dancing light from a thousand candles that moved along the walls and ceiling as if shadows of large, floating apparitions. Menacingly grotesque shadows that seemed to shrink to smallness then gradually billowing out in bizarre, monstrous forms. These deformed and twisted images were somehow exaggerated when someone moved along the hallways or within the rooms of the funeral home. The dim light, the shadows, the living and the honoured dead plus what seemed to be a thousand candles all added up to one very macabre scene for a 14 year old kid. I was shitting my pants and I ran for the exits.
This was one memory that wish I could forget and one that still send chills down my spine.
By the next day, all was back to normal. Someone had turned Niagara Falls back on!
Besides Darren and my Grandfather, there were many other deaths that occurred when I was young. Some were people that were very close, like my own father who died at the tender age of 54, or others at school who had the misfortune of leaving us at a very young age. Or O’Grunt’s mother who died 6 months after my father. She was only 50. Or the two teenagers I knew as acquaintances that lost their lives by driving over a cliff in a Volkswagen beetle. They’d only had the driver’s licences for about a couple of months. Sixteen for heaven’s sake! I was always reminded of that horrific incident as I passed one of their graves on the way to work each day. His name carved on the granite headstone that was in my field of vision as I passed by the cemetery on the bus.
Or the “Greaser” I knew who died in a street brawl. And motorcycles seem to claim the lives of an inordinate amount of young men that I knew in those days. When I think back to those times I can only shake my head in disbelief that I made it through those years unscathed. For in their particular cases there was really little difference in our circumstances except that: “there but for the Grace of God go I.” Lucky me!…