Eventide at the Soul Food Cafe
[Middle English, from Old English fentd : fen, evening + td, time; see d- in Indo-European Roots.]
Hello? Well, as a matter of fact we are open. No, really we are open, it's alright come on in. Yes it is a little darker here then in the rest of the Cafe, isn't it? But as you can see, we have plenty of candles. And those chills come and go, you won't even notice them after a while.
Who's that? Wow, are you jumpy. It's no one. Yes it does look like a woman doesn't it? Yes it looks like a shadow, only it's not a shadow exactly.
The man who designed this part of the cafe believed that if you captured a soul and pinned it to the wall it would keep your home safe from earthquakes.
So what he did was wait for a shadow to be cast against the wall and then he took that silver spike and placed it right there, between the eyes and hammered the spike in. I've been told it's just a painting of sorts. Or maybe he scorched it onto the wall...somehow.
It's okay, come a little closer and take a look.
But if you believe the legend, that person's soul was taken from them and is trapped in these walls now.
Of course, the Builder also told me that he heard stories that in the old times they didn't capture shadows. He says they use to sacrifice people, not their shadows. What happened if you removed the spike? Do you want to give it a try?
Go ahead and have a seat, I have a story just for you. It'll help pass the time...
What? I know it sounds like someone is in the hall. But trust me, there's no one there. Go ahead and take a look. Boy, did you just jump a mile there, but it's okay, it was the breeze slamming the door shut. So relax, it's only you and me after all.
When my grandmother was a young girl, she was about 16 at the time this took place, she took her youngest sister Cassie to the beach. It had been extremely hot all that summer. She told me that the heat came early that Spring and just got worse as the months wore on.
They left early that morning while it was still cool and they walked the quarter mile to the shoreline where people were already gathering in their swim outfits and complaining about the heat.
My Grandmother found her friends and they set up for a long hot day of doing nothing. Cassie was about 12 at the time amused herself by running from the water to the beach umbrella and by making a nuisance of herself. Grandmother said she had finally tuned Cassie out when one of her friend's said " hey June, what's Cassie doing? " My grandmother looked towards the shoreline and saw Cassie looking out towards the water. She was shaking so hard that my Grandmother swore she could hear Cassie's teeth clicking together and she was over 16 feet away.
And then Cassie began to scream, a horrible cry that seemed to start off as a whimper. It grew and grew until all you could hear up and down the beach. It was a horrible wail that shouldn't have come from a little girl. She didn't even sound human.
Then Cassie turned and ran, she ran up towards them, stopped a few feet away from my Grandmother and then she turned and looked back towards the water. Before my Grandmother could reach out and grab her Cassie was running, running and screaming that horrible scream all the way to the road.
My Grandmother, her young man and some of their friends ran after Cassie but they just couldn't catch her. Cassie had never run so fast in her life, my Grandmother remembered to me years later.
When they got home Cassie was running from room to room, her cut and bloody feet leaving smears all over the hardwood floor and the rugs. She was trying to shut windows, lock doors and begging everyone to help her, to not let him get her.
She was crying to them that she could still see his horrible teeth, his eyes blood red eyes and his red blistered skin. She could still see him when she closed her eyes. She begged and begged for us to help her. To make him go away.
" Who? " they asked and begged because Cassie was looking right through them. They doubted she could even see them.
The Devil she said, the devil came up out of the Ocean and chased her home. Didn't anyone of them see? He was right behind her the whole way home. They must have seen him they were right behind him, right behind her. Didn't they see?
Cassie insisted some more and probably would've stayed that hysterical for the rest of the night but a few hours later she suffered a terrible seizure, the first of several she would suffer for the next 4 months.
At the end of those four months Cassie died.
It was a lifetime later, for my Wedding in fact that my Grandmother came home. She didn't like visiting Seattle, she hadn't for years. It reminded her of Cassie. But that's where my Mother and Stepfather lived now and where my wedding was going to be so Grandmother steeled herself and made the trip.
So it was at my Mother's house, a day after my Wedding that a former neighbor stopped by to visit my Grandmother, her name was Nadine.
Nadine and my Grandmother were sitting on the porch visiting on a very nice Spring afternoon when Nadine asked about Cassie.
" Do you remember that day at the beach, the day your sister got sick? "
My Grandmother said she did, though she always thought of that day as the day Cassie actually died. She just never said that out loud.
" I feel just awful for asking this, and look it's taken me over 50 years to bring it up. It didn't seem right, being how Cassie got so sick and..."
My grandmother was curious and encouraged Nadine to go on.
" Well, I was wondering if you ever saw that young man again... the one who tried to help your sister? "
" What? "
" He was right behind her, a handsome man in a red swim outfit. He had the most wonderful smile and green, green eyes. All these years later and I can still see his face. I've always wondered...if you knew his name, or if Cassie knew it. If he told her when he caught her...
" My Grandmother flinched, and said just above a whisper " you say he caught her..."
" Yes, I saw him on your porch with her, before she opened the door. He had his hand on her shoulder."
" I think he did tell her" my Grandmother said more to herself then Nadine " who he was but she was so sick that night, and of course she just kept getting worse. I'm afraid, well, it wasn't important at the time. I'm sorry, I just don't remember it. "
" Then you're sure..." Nadine asked.
My grandmother didn't like the look on Nadine's face. That hungry, covetous look. That was it. There was no mistaking it. Nadine was still jealous after all these years that it was who Cassie who had spoken with, and been close to the golden haired man in the red swim suit.
My Grandmother made some excuse about helping my Mother in the kitchen and both women rose from their chairs. "
I am sorry about Cassie, June. " My grandmother could see that Nadine at that moment meant it. She was sorry for that little girl who never grew up.
Then as my Grandmother watched, Nadine's eyes started to shine and she new that Nadine wasn't seeing her, or anything else around them. Nadine was gone. She had the same look Cassie had when she begged to be helped all those summers ago.
Nadine turned and walked down the porch steps and when she got to the walkway she called some pleasantries back to my Grandmother and reminded her that if she remembered anything to please get in touch with her.
My grandmother watched Nadine walk off down the street and a few moments later a man passed the porch. He was a young man with shoulder length golden hair and he was wearing a bright red t-shirt. He didn't see my grandmother, but she saw him and she could her him whistling.
When Nadine turned around the young man suddenly turned the corner and was gone.
And as she walked on, the young man suddenly reappeared behind Nadine, right out of thin air, right before my Grandmother's eyes. And after a few more minutes, when they were both out of sight, my grandmother could hear that aimless little tune drifting through the air as it suddenly became warm.
Very, very warm.