Thursday was long and hard. I had to go into the office and soon discovered that it was as if nobody had done a single thing the previous three days while I was telecommuting. Although the office usually hums along just fine without me, it was like that sometimes; I’d get a huge amount done while working from home, only to spend the day at the office fixing everyone else’s problems. That was Thursday, just one constant crisis. By the time my day ended at 4 PM, I felt I had things under control enough that I could telecommute again on Friday, but I was wiped out.
Despite being tired, the first thing I did when I arrived home was walk down to Strickland’s. I needed to stretch my legs and get some fresh air, but I also wanted to see if there was any news. Bob greeted me, but locked the door behind me.
“Hey Gill, I’m closing up shop now. If you want to help out a little, I have some two-person chores I need to get done and we can chat, or whatever while we do them. Galvin had been hanging out here all week, but he’s useless when I try to get him to do anything.”
“Sure,” I said. “Whatever you need. It’ll get my mind off of work.”
“Ha, I’m sure it will.”
He pointed out a large box. I picked up one end and followed him.
“Hey Bob,” I said as we reentered the front of the store, “what do you know about the new people in town, the Adams?”
“Well, that’s a mighty funny question given that you should have said ‘new person in town’, not ‘new people’. I thought Mr. Adams passed away last October. At least that’s what I heard.”
“I heard it too, but I keep seeing him around town.”
“Yep, I’ve heard that one too,” Bob said. “Seems a lot of people have seen him. They say he has lunch with his wife, Barbara, a couple of times a week down at Maude’s. Maude sometimes leaves a plate out for him, but has never seen him herself. Her granddaughter, though, swears she sees him and even serves him lunch, which he eats. I guess old George has quite an appetite for a ghost. Ha!”
“George, huh? That figures. I knew it should have been either George or Thomas,” I said.
“Not sure I get you.”
I laughed. “Everything he did seemed to be wrapped up with the Goodes and it seems like all of them are either George or Thomas.”
“Is that so? The only one I met was Martha, unless you count her grandson Bert, but he’s a Carter, not a Goode.”
“You don’t know their history?”
“Why should I? It doesn’t help the business any, does it?”
“I guess not.”
“No more than seeing ghosts, I’d say. Though seems strange so many people see George Adams.”
“What do you think? Do you believe them?”
Bob stopped and looked at me. “I don’t have time for ghosts. I don’t care if they exist or not, I can’t be bothered with them and so they don’t bother me. Never seen one, never will.”
“So, the ghosts up at the old Goode Mansion?”
“Don’t know nothing about them. I’ve heard people talk, but it means nothing to me.”
“Really? You don’t know anything about them? Their history? Anything?”
“Nope, as I said, they mean nothing to me. History is useless, unless it directly affects me. Now let’s talk about the past.” He laughed. His store was an old fashioned general store and had changed very little in the 60 years he had been there. In ways, it was a monument to the past, Bob’s past.
“Yeah,” I said, “I get it. On the other hand, history fascinates me, but I couldn’t care less about the past.” I shrugged.
“No use worrying about the past,” he said. “I think we need to remember it, but always live in the present. Maybe think about the future, but the everlasting ‘now’ is where it is. So I stay in the ‘now’ and time goes by. People say that time passes me by, that I live in the past, but…” He pointed to some of the newer magazines on the rack and a handful USB devices. “I know about the present. If I ignore some of the passing fancies? So be it, but I bet I know more about what is happening now, in town, around the country, hell, around the world, than most of those who say I need to get out of the past. All I care about is what’s here and now. I read four newspapers a day. That is as ‘now’ as you get.”
“But no ghosts,” I said.
“No ghosts. Well, it looks like we’re almost done here. I best get moving. ‘Mother’ will be waiting.” ‘Mother’ was his wife.
“OK. Thanks for chatting. I needed to unwind after work and this helped.”
“No problem. Thanks for the help.”
I walked back home and started to get dinner ready. When everything was in the oven, I sat at the computer. Now knowing Mr. Adams’ first name, George, and that he had passed away in October, it only took two minutes.
On October 24th George Adams had a massive heart attack while working on the Mill. Mrs. Adams was there and called for help, but he was gone before the EMTs arrived. The funeral was down in Waltham, Massachusetts, where he had lived most of his life, and he was buried in a family plot down there. He was 66 and had been retired for three years.
I looked at several pictures. It was impossible to deny that the man I had seen several times around town was George Adams. A ghost?
I could only wonder what Barb thought. She told me that he was gone, but then, everyone has seen her talking to him, including me.
As I was mulling over the George Adams obituaries, my phone “pinged” me. It was a text from Lyndsey. ‘Text’ was actually too strong of a word since she didn’t say anything, all she did was send a link to the website for Zimemrmans. I could take a hint. I dialed the number and made reservations. I texted back to Lyndsey, “Reservations = Sat 6. Pick U up 5:15”. She texted back, “K!” followed by “C U tomorrow!”. I sent back “C U then”.
I felt better than I had for ages; work, Bob Strickland and even George Adams were completely forgotten. The rest of the night I could only think of Lyndsey.