Short Story Series 2: Down by the River – Part 2

[…continued from Part 1]

I didn’t have to wait long before Barbara, Carla’s mom, came out to greet me.

“Hi Blake. Welcome back!”

“Good morning, Barbara. Thanks.”

“I’m sorry to hear about your mother’s passing six months ago,” she said. “I know she would have rather seen you move back here when she was around – she always talked about your family.”

“Yes, I do think she was lonely since my dad passed away several years ago. I just couldn’t move back here yet.”

“Carla said you had a question for me?”

“Yeah…what can you tell me about the history of the church by the bridge at the edge of town,” I asked?

“Why do you ask?”3

“The property hasn’t changed a bit in over 15 years. It’s well maintained, never seems to be active as a church should be, doesn’t get visitors. For some reason, I was afraid to ask as a kid or maybe I did and never got an answer. Now, frankly, I’d want to know more about it. And what’s this about magic stones nearby?”

“I see my daughter’s been talking to you,” Barbara said with a tad of disappointment.

“The place has been quiet for several decades. There were some rumors about magic rocks, but after what happened back then with those kids, everyone in town has just become silent.”

“What kids? OK, Barbara. Tell me, what happened,” I said with a polite yet, slightly demanding tone.

Barbara looked around at the other tables, then at the door, and finally at the kitchen glancing at her husband working in the back. Then she sat down across from me placing both of her arms on the table.

“Look, Blake, I’ll tell you what I know, but you need to stay away from the church and keep your family away from the property if you don’t want trouble.”

“What trouble?”

“There were rumors that started even when I was a kid, that if you looked long enough along the river’s edge, you might find a small piece of red sandstone, like the large blocks the church was built with. They were supposedly very special rocks. Now, I never saw any of those rocks and no one I knew back then did either. But, about 20 years ago, there were a few groups of kids who went in search of them and it resulted in tragedy. A few of them went mad. One of them went to an asylum and, as far as I know, she is still there as an adult. One young man killed someone and then jumped in the river and was never found.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“That’s because the priests or clergy associated with the church spoke to the authorities and it just went away – like it never happened.”

“What does that have to do with the stones? Do you honestly believe the stones caused the tragedies,” I asked?

Barbara took another survey of the diner and then leaned in a little closer, and spoke a little softer.

“The rocks were reported to have the ability of taking away all of your negative feelings, leaving you…well, the kids called it a ‘high’, like a drug one could get addicted to. You were supposed to take one of the special red sandstone rocks, hold it in your hands, and mutter some mumbo jumbo. Supposedly the rock and the person holding it went into some kind of resonance. Afterwards, the person was supposed to throw the resonating rock into a very specific part of the river. If the rock went in the right place, the river would take the negative energy away, leaving the person…well…feeling great, peaceful and, some say, powerful.”

“Ha! Well, if you believe in that sort of thing, what’s wrong with that,” I asked? “It’s seems harmless enough.”

“Maybe. However… it is said that if the rock doesn’t go into the river in exactly the right place, the negative energy it absorbed rebounds back to the person who threw it, having multiplied the dark energy many times. Depending on the size of the rock, the dark forces could drive someone irritable, angry, mad – I mean crazy! And, even larger rocks could cause death.”

“Barbara, I’m sorry, but that’s a little farfetched.”

“Most people think so. There have been no reports of rocks being found since then. The only testimony given to the police was from one of the kids who survived only to suffer a permanent headache. Days after the tragedy when he talked to the police, he was seen talking to one of the clergy from the church. He then retracted his story about the rocks and insisted in was made up. He never spoke of his ordeal again.”

“This kid – this man – where is he today,” I asked?

“His name is William Kegan. He’s a night janitor at the high school. He keeps to himself, talks very little, and the only place in town I’ve ever seen him is at the library. I don’t think he’ll talk if you’re thinking about visiting him.”

“Well, I’ve got nothing to lose. I think I’ll pay him a visit tonight.”

Just as I spoke, Barbara’s husband walked in with my order. He set it down on the table and silently gave Barbara a stern and reprimanding glare. At that point, she looked at me and smiled. She lightly slapped the table with both of her hands as she stood up and said, “Good talking with you, Blake. Again… welcome back!”

With that she walked away. I had a breakfast – more like brunch – to eat. And, I believe I had made intriguing plans for the evening.

To be continued…

© 2018 Michael Armenia