There is definitely something odd going on at the Peaceful Acres Cemetery.
I had driven there with Aunt Ellen, who was feeling poorly and thought a nice ride through the cemetery might help. (Don’t ask.)
Just inside the front gate was a memorial stone of a life-size Jesus, arms outstretched. As we got closer, I noticed that the thing on Jesus’ head wasn’t a crown but a live crow. And the crow was eating some kind of rodent. Startled by our approach, the crow clutched his prey and flew away, leaving behind a little trickle of blood that ran down Jesus’ face. (I am grateful to the crow for this lesson—I’d always wondered how those legends of bleeding icons got started.)
Anyway, the crow, a standard death symbol, fit the atmosphere of the cemetery perfectly. But as we made our way further into the grounds, I began to spot incongruous signs of…well, life; for instance, a basketball goal. It was stuck in the ground at a height of four feet. I was puzzled at first, then realized that if you’re shooting from six feet under, that would meet regulation height.
Nearby was a spigot, cryptically labeled: “Last Chance for Water.”
There were other things—things in that cemetery that no dead person I know would need:
- trash cans (filled with McDonald’s wrappers and soda cans!)
- a fire hydrant
- a park bench (featuring a sign that read: “We have a crazy time in our backyard!”)
My skin was already beginning to crawl when we passed the pond, where I spotted a mysterious burbling in the center of it. Now I really had the creeps—the eerie silence, the dead tree stumps, the gray sky…and the burbling pond.
“Um, are you feeling any better, Aunt Ellen?” I ventured to ask.
Aunt Ellen seemed to shudder as she replied, “I’m not sure…”
I drove a little faster.
We eventually reached the far border of the huge cemetery. The rows of headstones ended in a little valley. And there, standing between the last headstone and the forest beyond, was a mailbox.
And the flag was UP!
My imagination went wild then, as I pictured outgoing mail bearing startling return names: Jimmy Hoffa, Elvis, Jonathan Pound (he was lost at sea and never found).
Why, this cemetery could be a gathering place of the presumed-dead. A place where, at midnight, they ate burgers, shot hoops, and wrote letters! A place where intruders were disposed of, burbling their last in the pond.
I don’t mind telling you, I was spooked. I hit the gas and sped through the exit gate, causing Aunt Ellen to gasp and clutch her bosom.
“Oh, Aunt Ellen, I’m sorry. I—”
“Never mind, dear,” said Aunt Ellen. “But next time, let’s just go for ice cream.”
© 2018 Lynn Lusby Pratt