In My Room…

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Her Icy Charms

I will sense her presence in my room tonight,

Though I will never feel her warmth.

Like exploitations of the recent past,

My memories distort her image.

To grope for her in darkness

When she cannot be felt

After feeling her in darkness

When I could not feel

Is tantamount to taking trips

To towns where once you lived

Without stopping.

I will walk with her to the grave this morning

Before Phoebus warms the earth

And sears her icy charm.

His chariot, whose heat and radiance

Gives life to undeservers,

Destroys hope of life for two cursed souls

That once could live as one

And now must form their union –

Protected by darkness – clothed in chill.

Our love was never blessed by God,

Nor was it blessed by Satan.

Venus screamed when first she saw us,

For I am blind and she is a ghost…

* * * * * *

John Thomas McElheny – October 30, 1968

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Copyright 2015, Real Spooks – John Thomas McElheny

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The Bluff

The Marshallville Chronicles…

(Vingette from “119,” in remembrance of J. T. ‘Mac’ McElheny, Sr. of Marshallville, GA)

Photo date: 1976

Photo date: 1976                                                                                                                                        The Bluff at Bryant Hill:  It overlooked an expansive clay canyon etched by the prehistoric, erosive actions of the Flint, and its colorfully striated embankments trailed down into the river swamps.

… Across the little branch that ran to the river past the turn-off to Indian Lake at Vinings Road, the pavement ended and the dirt road began to climb. The brothers slowed. They parked the car just beyond the curve, and left it to navigate the ditch that separated the pavement from the edge of an escarpment, colloquially known as “the Bluff at Bryant Hill.” It overlooked an expansive clay canyon etched by the prehistoric, erosive actions of the Flint, and its colorfully striated embankments trailed down into the river swamps.

A few paces down the ridge on the left, they reached the site where the dilapidated structure formerly known as the Stage Coach Inn had stood for years amid dying oaks. Built by a man named Nathan Bryan in 1810, as a stylish carriage roadhouse along the old highway, the story-and-a-half dwelling, with its front and back lean-tos and rustic timbers, was said to have also housed the first ‘bank’ in the state of Georgia. After later use as a private residence, long since abandoned, it was eventually destroyed by fire, but during Tom’s youth, it loomed over the escarpment like a wooden mausoleum.

While the “Bryan Place” had always seemed hostile in Tom’s mind, as hostile as the house off Old Perry Road where the angry dogs had lived under the porch, the bluff was anything but. The bluff was a sacred portal, a magical transport to endless hours of adventure and exploration, a place where the dads were the guardians. No mothers ever went there. The canyon’s gentle slopes up from the swamps were for climbing, and jumping, and expending boundless amounts of energy, imagination, freedom. It was the farthest point in that direction that one could reach on a bike, and the short hike to the mill pond below extended the journey into the impossible, the place beyond bicycles, a place attainable, heretofore, when fathers took sons hunting.

Photo: 1976

Photo: 1976

Though the Bryan house was never the main attraction at the bluff for young Tom, it did add to the atmosphere. Thrill seekers from three surrounding counties ventured there amid rumors that the once-elegant inn was haunted. Indeed, a bullet hole in the large upstairs room remained as evidence that a murder had taken place.

Subsequently, every child in Marshallville knew it as the quintessential haunted house. Proof of the haunting, “House on Haunted Hill ain’t got nothing on Bryant Hill!” was proclaimed on the schoolbus in 1960. It was proclaimed on the afternoon Mac told all the kids to get into the car, and drove them to the bluff on an expedition. When someone suggested they explore the house, Mac led the way inside to the central staircase.

Photo credit: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, Ward Dennis, Photographer - June, 21st, 1936 VIEW OF GABLE END AND FRONT - Marshallville, Macon County, GA

Photo credit: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, Ward Dennis, Photographer – June, 21st, 1936
VIEW OF GABLE END AND FRONT – Marshallville, Macon County, GA

“Now, when you get up there,” he instructed, “look up high in the corner and see if you can’t find the hole in the wall where the bullet came clean through that woman’s head.”

Without question, the children carefully navigated the steps to the door of the second floor. It opened into a single large room, but the upward extension of the enclosed stairwell continued to the ceiling, creating four distinct areas, each with its own window. The surrounding interior walls of the room and the stairwell gave it a gallery-like appearance, as Tom, Nancy and their friends crept around the sections searching the high corners. Just as they were inspecting the darkest, there was a “creeeek” on the stairs. No doubt, Mac was heading up to help with the search, they thought. When he didn’t appear, they moved to check the stairwell, but no one was there.

They continued to search, and were excited to think they had located the ominous hole, when again, the “creeeeking” sounded. Again, they looked, to find no one. Several more ominous stair-squeaks, and Tom alone peered down the steps, but there was nothing.

Where was Mac? Tom wasn’t sure, and he relayed the puzzlement to the others who stood frozen and listening, but when he turned to look again, Mac was standing on the top step in the doorway, his head shrouded in shadow. Tom shrieked and fell backward. With terrified screams, the others scattered. When they regrouped outside, they learned that Nancy had bailed out of the south gable window into a brier bush.

Mac followed their flight down the stairs, trying to reassure them, trying to explain, and they laughed about it all the way home that day, and for years to come. The episode remained in Tom’s memory as one of the funniest, but scariest of those remarkable times his father had caught them off guard, as he was apt to to do, from the time they were small children playing hide and seek. The way he ducked behind the door each time he hit the bottom step, yet somehow bolted up the stairs without a sound was never explained. Regardless, nobody was in a hurry to explore the house again, and certainly not with him — the precise result Tom’s father had intended.The Bluff View West Toward The Flint

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Copyright 2015 – 2018, Real Spooks – Cynthia Farr Kinkel

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She Folded Time

Folded Time

The Marshallville Chronicles…

* * * * * * 

She folded time like a lacy linen napkin
And then snapped the creases out before
Draping it over my lap to catch the flood
Of memories and tabled dreams that my
Heart in my mouth could no more contain
And that cascaded in red rivulets
From between pouted lips now too soft
To dam the flow that had been held
Prisoner behind my still clenched teeth.
The memories splashed onto my lap
Making ripples in the newly formed
Puddle of unfolded time.
We held our breaths and played
Unabashedly in our puddle child.
I opened my mouth to rejoice and
Drowned us in a frozen tide
Of fiery emotion.

She folded time like the traveler she was
And then jetted across the empty room
Of our togetherness
Fast enough to vacuum the dust of life
Swirling just high enough off the floor
That it could not be stepped upon
But taken back as it had been given
When it was the dust of death
And the firmament from whence she came
Screaming like the Banshee she wasn’t
And threatening to yet return
On the day when I folded time
And she was real.
She folded time in a bare room.
She flew in the heaving of the drapes.
Again, she was never here.

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Copyright 2012, Real Spooks – John Thomas McElheny