Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mystery Walk

I’m walking the gravel roads around my house. Down Mashie Street to Iron, down Iron to Niblick. I turn on Hazard and a mystery grabs my eyes. Across the ditch from me, carefully spread out on the grass, lie two articles of clothing. One is a peach colored sweater, a woman’s outer garment. The other is a woman’s white, turtleneck undershirt. You can see the picture I took.

I don’t know how long they’ve lain here. It’s rained recently and they’re wet, but they’re also out of place. Sometimes people do throw out trash along this road, but these don’t look like trash. They aren’t new but there are no holes in them, no visible stains that might have turned them into waste. I wonder why they’re here; I wonder who so carefully arranged them. And in this modern world I feel a little fear.

A mystery in prose is enjoyable; every book needs puzzles in it, not just those we call mysteries. But this mystery isn’t confined to a book. It lies in the dirt in front of me. Maybe it’s innocent. It probably is. It could be someone playing a joke. But my first thought, ridiculous as it may seem, is “serial killer.” My heart is beating a little faster than normal as I explore the woods behind where the garments lie. I find nothing. Thankfully.

I reported my find to the police. They said they’d check it out. The clothes are still there. I hope it’s a joke. I doubt I’ll ever be sure.


Angie said...

Definitely weird, and I can see why it'd creep you out. :/

That'd be a cool way to start a mystery or thriller, though. [ponder]


David J. West said...

Very odd and I think that's where a lot of great stories are born-from our "What-If".

This could fit in with your "Where it Wanders" tale.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

This is most fascinating.

As a reporter, I have worked with police. But as a fiction writer, my frequently uncoverd hard facts of a case are sometimes bruised into fantasy. There is a schizophrenia in this writer between news reporter and creative type.

What you have observed does so parallel my own discovery some years ago, after a 20-year-old girl was
probably cut up and murdered; there had been lots of blood on the scene,certainlly hers, but they couldn't find the body. She was last reported to be wearing bib overalls and Birkenstock boots.

On the way home one day, in a parking lot, just outside a used clothing store dumpster, I found lying there , bib overalls and ladies' Birkenstock boots.

Conflict: Could this have been a spillover from the dumpster, or had someone placed these items there for me to see, as I was known at the time as an investigative reporter.
There was a jeweller in the town. He was known for weird goings-on, girls driven mad by drugs, wandering the streets and mouthing Satanic mantras. And they all knew the small town jeweller, said they'd gone to parties of his.

Now the alleged killer of the
young girl was Dutch immigrant who days later, after the murder (with no haebas corpus)--hanged himself while beingt hard pressed in a deserted factoy by the omnisicient, inquiring police.

But was there a connection between the alleged murderer and the jeweller with the Dungeons and Dragons Satanic games bent?
The articles of clothing I found could easily be the clothes of disappeared girl Tammy, from a newspaper account of these items; her body was never found, but she was certainly dead.DNA tests. But no actual body.
I had often seen the jeweller walking along this parking lot on the way to his store.
To this day, we often exchange eye contact, and I have the weirdest feeling that he knows that I know what he knows. When I go to turn away, he says,
"Ivan, are you feeling all right?"

I try not to give myself away.

My bureau editor at the Toronto Star used to say, "something has to happen three times before it's a fact."
The clothing lay there for three days, even after the waste management folks took away the nearby dumpster.
I contacted the police, but by the time they got there, the clothing was gone.
It's a mystery that bothers me to this day. The murderous Flying Dutchman. The jeweller and his Whitney Streiber ways.
What was answer to the puzzle?...And it's only stupid me with the bad eye who one day may have a clue.

Deka Black said...

Creepy indeed. Maybe.. a couple or girlfriends doing what he couples do forgot the clothing?

the walking man said...

As I read I had the same initial thought. serial killers in some cases do arrange either their victims or "trophy's" they have taken from them. It taunts the police and does exactly what it inspired in you, the public, fear.

Those two pieces of clothing were arranged, not just thrown from a car and it's too cold even in LA for two people to be getting a little lovin' outside.

If you see no signs of at least a cursory inspection of the area by the police and are not afraid of what you might find, take a friend with a good dog into the woods.

X. Dell said...

Many writers, it seems to me, are aware that they can draw upon life experience in the development of a narrative. I don't think as many writers--in fact, as many people-- are adept at seeing the mysteries in their lives as anything, well, mysterious. Someone passing along your scene, for example, might be tempted to say something like, "Oh, the wind randomly blew those tops into a pattern; it only looks arranged." and think nothing of it.

Perhaps they should think of the possibilities.

X. Dell said...

Ivan, that's an utterly fascinating story.

jodi said...

Charles-something is up with that. I would be totally freaked out if I came upon that. Watch the news for updates.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Bloody modern art gets everywhere!

Charles Gramlich said...

Angie, Definitely kind of a story book beginning, but without the pleasant connotations of that statement.

David J. West, that’s true. Hadn’t thought of that. Thanks for the suggestion.

ivan, that’s far weirder than my own story. I have found strange clothing scenes before but this one creeped me out the most. I’m glad there wasn’t any blood. Very weird.

Deka Black, I have one thought that it’s some kids playing a joke. I rather hope that is it.

Mark, I did go back by the place with my son and we explored the woods fairly well around the site. We couldn’t see any signs of disturbance but the rain might have taken care of that. A dog is a good idea.

X. Dell, thinking of the possibilities is kind of scary, though.

jodi, so far I’ve seen and read nothing about it in the news or on TV.

Paul D. Brazill, now there’s a solution I didn’t consider. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I agree it would be a great place to start a book.

BernardL said...

Four things -

1. I'm with you on the hastened heartbeat. Hope you had a gun along with the camera.

2. Great start to a 'serial killer' story.

3. I'm glad you called the police.

4. It would have been nearly impossible for me not to have picked up the clothing. I'd expect to find two women's faces right underneath with only the oval outline showing.

Charles Gramlich said...

Alex definitely an attention getter.

Bernardl, I actually considered about picking up the clothes but then my paranoid thinking started to kick in. What if it was indeed a murder site and I would be 1) contaminating it, or 2) leaving my traces behind for the police to find.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have several local mysteries that drive me crazy. I should do a post on them.

BernardL said...

Not paranoid at all, Charles - if I had succumbed to curiosity it would have been with gloves on. :) As you point out if there is anything more to this it's a very good thing you didn't touch anything.

Charles Gramlich said...

Patti, that would be very interesting. I'd like to see them.

Bernardl, definitely. I guess I've watched more cop shows than I thought I had.

Anonymous said...

It's typical the police won't check it out. You are right Charles, there is a story there although maybe you don't want to find out what.

Charles Gramlich said...

Richard, I'm curious but also a little worried about what might turn out to be the truth.

Steve Malley said...

I'm often fascinated by the way other lives brush ours. Often we're left with mystery, like the touch of unseen fish when swimming in dark water...

Jewel Amethyst said...

I can see so many mystery and sci-fi stories in this. Who knows, a missing person murdered or kidnapped, or an alien taking over a human's body. But I can also see romance. I can visualize a steamy love scene between two really desperate lovers , where the clothes got abandoned in in the heat of passion.

Or a prankster stealing the clothes of a person bathing in the stream nearby...ok, if it was the 18th or 19th century and there was a stream in the woods. Or teenagers on a dare streaking or skinny dipping.

In either case, I hope it is nothing serious or dangerous. Those clothes afterall did belong to someone.

The Golden Eagle said...

That's strange.

But it would be a good start for a story; there are so many possibilities.

Jodi MacArthur said...

Ok, two things. First- Yikes!

Second- being the oldest of 7 siblings we all pulled pranks on each other, and esp our parents. This is something we would have done. On the other hand I am so glad you reported it, becuase yuo just never know. The pic is priceless and fodder of unspeakable horror.

Charles Gramlich said...

Steve Malley, a good metaphor for it. The passing of people in and out of our lives leave wakes, but we don't often see them. We see the effects.

Jewel, it seems harder for me to imagine a good scenario than a bad one. Although someone playing a joke comes to mind. Probably someone young.

The Golden Eagle, it could definitely go a lot of ways.

Charles Gramlich said...

Jodi, there are plenty of teenagers and tweens living in our neighborhood, which makes me think, most likely, it is a prank. STill....

Evan Lewis said...

Here's hoping you turn this into a tale, Charles.

Mary Witzl said...

I would have felt just the same!

I go out walking in the woods a lot and every time I find an abandoned shoe or any article of clothing, I think of serial murders and get creeped out. But it could be something entirely innocent: A woman I knew used to have a dog who pulled stuff off her clothesline and buried it in the woods, for instance. Or it could be another writer, messing with your mind...

Charles Gramlich said...

Evan,all this sort of stuff stews around in the back of my mind until one day I just spill it out on the page.

Mary, I'm betting on teenagers.

jennifer said...

I agree with X. Dell, Ivan's comment was fascinating.

I watch Criminal Minds so of course, this looks like bad news.

Maybe it wasn't something sinister though. I can picture four skinny-rumped teenagers sitting on the shirts passing a joint around, running off when they hear footsteps.

Or, free elves (think Dobby) could have been making hay before an emergency in which they had to apparate. I would much prefer the fairy tale to a serial murder.

This mystery and photo would make a cool writing exercise prompt! It certainly fueled my imagination.

jennifer said...

Oh shoot! I just thought of something. Have you seen the movie Left Behind? Only TWO (pantless) people were raptured? Very scary for Christians (me)!

Matthew Rush said...

I must admit that does look a little creepy. What is that blue and green object in the background?

Charles Gramlich said...

Jennifer, that's a great idea. Maybe I will use the pic as a prompt. Thanks for the suggestion.

Matthew, The blue green object is a broken riding toy. It has since been moved.

Liane Spicer said...

Definitely creepy, Charles. Underscores for me the huge divide between fiction and reality. There are so many experiences that I enjoy between the covers of a book - all the vicarious thrills of a good crime mystery, for example - but which I hope never to encounter in RL.

I hope it's a joke.

Charles Gramlich said...

Liane, my feelings exactly. In a book this would have been an enticing opening. Here! Scary.

Travis Erwin said...

Odd for sure. What a great opening for a book or short story however.

Erik Donald France said...

Well, let's hope the exhuberance of teenagers. Reminds me of a Kubrick scene from Barry Lyndon. Aside from the eeriness of it all, is there really a Niblick Street? What a great name!

Lana Gramlich said...

Where there are people there are inexplicable things.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis Erwin, I'm thinking of doing what Jennifer suggested and using it for a prompt.

Erik, there is indeed a Niblick. All the streets around us have names related to golf, because it is all area owned by a golfcourse. I don't know what a Niblick is, or who, though.

Lana, indeed that is true.

laughingwolf said...

looks to me like someone wanting to traipse thru the bush, showing off her set... to the wildlife... charles ;) lol

wv: sesti... almost 'seti'