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Sometime after 3 am, at the Dollar Tree in Vancouver, Wa


folks--I've missed you all--switched computers, lost the link, hunted it down again, forgot my password, recovered that. sorry for not contributing more in the meantime. will be back later to do more but for now only have the time to offer this. I suppose it's something. I'm calling it a prose poem.

Sometime after 3 am, at the Dollar Tree in Vancouver, Wa


For some reason I find myself listening to late night radio on the way into work tonight—I don’t usually do it because craziness has become mainstream--pervasive--why subject yourself to more of it for entertainment? But tonight’s guest is a reputable investigative journalist, Stacy Horn, a past contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered. The twist tonight is she has just finished a new book, Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory. She wished to write a ghost story, and this book would be a departure for her—also a departure for late night radio—same material but a different kind of guest—someone sane, grounded, on the interview block tonight. And she’s writing and researching about studies and scientific inquiry into the subject done at Duke University. What? Turns out Duke didn’t sponsor or officially sanction, but they did open up space on their campus for it. There are plenty of holes in her story and my attention to it though—After all, I arrive at the Schneider terminal, leave my pick-up, locate my tractor, rehook to my empty, then drive to the Ridgefield Dollar Tree yard where I impatiently deal with the inanities and ineptitudes of a security guard from the 19th century in age and habits who can’t see or hear and must painstakingly peck at the keyboard with one finger after writing everything down 3 times in 3 different places, slowly. Then there are the commercial breaks which are always airing while I’m listening in the cab, but much of the body of the interview takes place while I’m in the guard shack or cranking the landing gear as I swap trailers.

What I catch is stuff about a naked medium, naked so one could see the ectoplasm when it came out from between her legs, Jackie Gleason’s interest in the paranormal and desire to do a serious film project on it but could get no backing for it, Richard Nixon’s correspondence indicating the government had alien remains in jars somewhere most of this gleaned from the boxes of correspondence between the head and founder of the paranormal research lab, Dr. JB Rhine. We learn that a poltergeist in a mansion on Long Island is investigated by a cop on the case whom, while he was initially skeptical and annoyed by it, filled out exhaustive police reports that were hilarious in their detailed descriptions of the directions and measurements of the movement of objects. Rhine’s theory was that poltergeists weren’t noisy spirits but a localized phenomena of telekinesis manifested from someone within a few miles radius. Poltergeist activity wasn’t something of emphasis because he couldn’t reproduce the activity in a lab at Duke.

She spoke of the ghost in Harlem—a ghost story she chose to research because she had heard of it as a child—10 children get to a Revolutionary War museum early before the curator arrives and are playing in front of the estate, when a woman comes out on a balcony to tell them to shut up, then turns and walks back into the house . The children don’t even consider it is a ghost, but truly believe it was a real woman—she is a little oddly dressed, but not translucent. Only after the curator shows up do they discover the museum was locked and empty, the doors to the balcony chained shut. Stacy Horn goes on to relay that she got this firsthand, after finding and interviewing one of the ten as an adult. Most of her talk is on the experimental research done in a scientific vein at the lab at Duke.

But then she speaks about desperate people, having tried every other avenue, turning to psychics to solve crimes, and is discussing the voluminous correspondence the Lab receives. In one case, a boy goes missing, Bruce Crimmon or Grimmon. The parents are distraught and don’t know what to do. They turn to the Laboratory, who then refers them to three psychics, but they have limited resources. Two of the psychics offer information. One tells them what he saw, after conferring with Rhine—how do I tell these parents their child has been murdered? Some of the images he sees as a psychic are valid, other times figments—he is never sure until the leads are followed and he is vindicated or proven false. He can’t know or be in control of the information, except that sometimes it turns out right. But he tells them. The other psychic tells the parents that the child was abducted by a childless couple who then relocated to Oregon. It’s clear from the correspondence that this is the psychic they choose to put their hopes in, and while he is being paid to follow up on the case, there is no mention of what the amount was. Rhine, at the university, had urged the couple to stop paying this psychic. Horn follows both leads and the name of the boy in her research, speaks with the mother who breaks down hysterically while talking about it even to this day. Finally Horn directs her research to the cold case file, but it is not there, which is a good sign—it means the case has been reopened. She is able to track down the detectives in charge of the case and offer them the letter written by the psychic who believed the boy was murdered. The detectives admit there is corroborating evidence in the letter but won’t say what or how much specifically, and they go on to say they believe the killer was a man named Macrae, who eventually confessed to killing 18 children over three decades and ended up killing himself in prison—they believe they know the names of 3 of the 18, but are still investigating the identities of the rest, which is why the case is still open.

As I listened to all this in cold, numb detachment—it bounced off me as just one more brutal murder—something we hear about almost everyday--the main point and focus in this lengthy digression in the interview was whether this paranormal stuff could be legitimate and scientifically or journalistically credible? She thought it was. The sensational is the theme every night on these talk shows but this guest seems not only to have a heart, but a mind, and even seems in command of all her faculties--which is novel--a new kind of sensationalism? Next up the guests call in.
But the show was riddled with gaps brought on by me having to do this and having to do that out of earshot. Now, I must begin unloading my first drop in Portland, and that goes smoothly enough—the freight manager is actually in the trailer helping offload the freight, while we listen to classic rock with a heavy metal leaning and argue interpretations of bawdy lyrics about Rosy, marvel that some of the younger staff hasn’t even heard of some of these bands—!@#$, we must be getting old.

It isn’t until I get to Vancouver—now it’s a little after 3 am, and I’m deep inside the trailer, close to the nose, where the light isn’t so bright—not dark exactly, but certainly dim—as I’m throwing freight, I begin to think about the story of the young boy—the reality of the abduction. On the news in the break, earlier, I learned of a two year-old who escaped his parent’s grasp to run out in the street where a hit and run pick-up truck—thank God it wasn’t a big truck (yes this matters) killed the boy—I shouted Aw !@#$! when I heard that. Turns out it was a guy high on weed and cocaine. I think now this must have softened me up—overcome by the onset of a heavy liquid fatigue that isn’t sleepiness exactly but a deeper hunger for sleep felt in the weight of the limbs, thick eyelids and at the base of the throat and bottom of the brainpan. My mind is wandering. Suddenly what I see is a little boy, between 6 and 8—age if mentioned was in one of those gaps where I was out of the cab—and he is crying and saying over and over, “I want my Mommy—Please Mister Please”—and--"won’t you take me back to my Mommy. Why. Why won’t you. Mommy Mommy, I want my mommy." And then as if out of control of my vision myself I see a few different ways he might have killed the boy with a knife or straight razor in a walled off poorly lit soundproof room under the house, knowing he raped him, whether the killing was slow or fast, he saw it coming or not probably didn‘t matter by then—at some point of despair or resignation he realized there was no way out--release or rescue would never happen. Suddenly in the depths of the dim tunnel of my trailer, I want to howl curses at the evil-- weep, tear my hair cry a lament for this lost stolen innocent the parent could not deliver, and on whom God chose to withhold His mercy on a dank bronze LA night for whatever perfectly inexplicable reason. Instead, I step out for a brief moment to stand under the glaring dock light for a smoke and a chance to shake the mania from of my head. There must be some way out of this wilderness--please don’t tell me the only way is dying.
Mar/16/2009, 3:39 pm Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Sometime after 3 am, at the Dollar Tree in Vancouver, Wa


Good to see you back, Dave. Truth is I've missed your participation too. Sorry to hear about the pc problems and all. PCs are like cars, right? A sweet dream when they run, an aggravation when they don't.

I'll return to your prose poem soon. Just wanted to check back with you for now.

Tere
Mar/16/2009, 4:45 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Sometime after 3 am, at the Dollar Tree in Vancouver, Wa


Good stuff, Dave. Rather than calling it a prose poem, call it a vignette, story without beginning or end and a recognized genre, thereby keeping the form-namers off your back. (Form-namers. Now there is a sci-fi notion for you. A race of aliens invade earth, they are plasmic suckers, and they call themselves form-namers. Just kidding.)

I could tell you to cut the verbiage, keep to the essentials, clean up the story. Others will. But I find that more and more texture, something I more and more value, is in incidentals and digressions and feints and narrative development. I notice the narrative drive from home to road to terminal to parking lot and finally to the dark head-end of the semi's trailer. What comes through for me is the dead end progression: a job leading to nowhere. Good touch. I also notice the association between the cold case story and the news report that finally gets to the narrator. Another good touch.

Had the story been mine I would have maintained the motif established in the first few paragraphs. The end reference to Duke's parapsychology department. Think of the range of irony such a maintained motif could play in.

On a different note, personal like, I actually know Vancouver, WA. Trapped her river line looking for gypsy moths and trapped her port, finding gypsy moths. And I know Duke's parapsychology department, at least as it stood in the early seventies. Back then it was housed in make-shift, temporary buildings standing like unwanted step-daughters. I wonder if the situation has changed.

Tere
Mar/18/2009, 7:46 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Sometime after 3 am, at the Dollar Tree in Vancouver, Wa


quote:

Terreson wrote:

Good stuff, Dave. Rather than calling it a prose poem, call it a vignette, story without beginning or end and a recognized genre, thereby keeping the form-namers off your back. (Form-namers. Now there is a sci-fi notion for you. A race of aliens invade earth, they are plasmic suckers, and they call themselves form-namers. Just kidding.)


Thanks Tere--yes computers are aggravating. I think you're right about this not being a prose poem--it's too loose. I might have achieved prosepoemhood in the final paragraph, but if so, that's it. Form namers abound--if labeling is done as an attempt to better understand and appreciate a piece, then it's good--if it's done to write off a piece, not so good. I think what I'm searching for is to find whatever form best suits the subject matter--this probably had to be prose.

I could tell you to cut the verbiage, keep to the essentials, clean up the story. Others will. But I find that more and more texture, something I more and more value, is in incidentals and digressions and feints and narrative development.

I struggled with these same questions--ultimately I concluded that it should be kind of messy, but not in any accidental way. I'm sure I've still got to clean it up a little to get rid of some of the accidental messiness.


  I notice the narrative drive from home to road to terminal to parking lot and finally to the dark head-end of the semi's trailer. What comes through for me is the dead end progression: a job leading to nowhere. Good touch. I also notice the association between the cold case story and the news report that finally gets to the narrator. Another good touch.

thanks

Had the story been mine I would have maintained the motif established in the first few paragraphs. The end reference to Duke's parapsychology department. Think of the range of irony such a maintained motif could play in.

I'll think about that

On a different note, personal like, I actually know Vancouver, WA. Trapped her river line looking for gypsy moths and trapped her port, finding gypsy moths. And I know Duke's parapsychology department, at least as it stood in the early seventies. Back then it was housed in make-shift, temporary buildings standing like unwanted step-daughters. I wonder if the situation has changed.

How fascinating that you've had some close associations with the area and history. Stacy Horn was interviewed Mar 9 (i think) on coast to coast am--I believe in 1980 Rhine attempted to get the program/department directly affiliated and sponsored by Duke, and they considered it but then decided not to and parapsychology dept was shut down. Horn's investigation and research into the history of it sounds really interesting. I may have to get the book. On the one hand I think it's funny that someone would use a scientific approach to monitor and investigate forces and phenomena that exist but are not controlable or predictable--on the other hand I find it laudable and admirable. Does that make sense--interesting that you were around during that time. Your description sounds like it rings true. So nice to hear your thoughts.

Tere





Last edited by dmehl808, Mar/21/2009, 10:45 am
Mar/21/2009, 10:43 am Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
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Re: Sometime after 3 am, at the Dollar Tree in Vancouver, Wa


You know Tere--you should post your own work here more--if someone wanted to be critical of that, well, then !@#$ em. What did you write yesterday?
Mar/21/2009, 11:02 am Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Sometime after 3 am, at the Dollar Tree in Vancouver, Wa


Hi Dave,

I enjoyed your piece and appreciated the unexpected turns it took from a Revolutionary ghost to a murdered child to the N's feelings about the latter, all interspersed with the N's work chores. The piece held my interest throughout, and I think what you referred to as the messiness of the vingette is part of its charm, so I hope you don't clean it up too much. I liked following the N's account and not being sure until the ending where the piece was going and then having the end itself come as a surprise.

The story of the American Revolution ghost reminded me of a story I had heard about a haunting at Gettysburg College. Here is one account I located online:

http://civilwartalk.com/forums/hauntings-great-rebellion/19686-famous-gettysburg-college-haunting.html

Good stuff. Thanks for posting this.
Mar/21/2009, 3:28 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Sometime after 3 am, at the Dollar Tree in Vancouver, Wa


quote:

dmehl808 wrote:

You know Tere--you should post your own work here more--if someone wanted to be critical of that, well, then !@#$ em. What did you write yesterday?



Dave, I keep holding back. You've seen enough of my stuff to know I got a bunch of writings which cover the whole spectrum of poetry to prose, so to speak. I made this board for other people, maybe even for people like you who can be online-real when you are a member among other members. Know what I mean? And for others who can feel free enough to just strut their stuff.

But I get what you mean. From time to time I strut my stuff too, fulling expecting, actually hoping, to meet with the full body slam.

Tere
Mar/22/2009, 11:38 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Sometime after 3 am, at the Dollar Tree in Vancouver, Wa


hi Dave,

fwiw, I'd call it prose. Really Good Prose which somehow manages to flow naturally, authentically and convey the confidence of finely crafted writing. I like it very much.

Chris
Mar/27/2009, 6:46 pm Link to this post Send Email to ChrisD1   Send PM to ChrisD1
 
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Re: Sometime after 3 am, at the Dollar Tree in Vancouver, Wa


Thanks Katlin, and Chris for reading and responding. I do appreciate it. Mystery, yes, mystery.

Tere--I understand, and respect what you're doing and why. Thanks for hosting. What I wish for you, is that someday you may be able to freely and wholly enter in and move about as host and partygoer without upbraid or potential recrimination even from yourself, your principles, or your critics real or imagined. Someday, eh? Or maybe not, if that isn't what you wish.
Apr/5/2009, 1:39 am Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
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Re: Sometime after 3 am, at the Dollar Tree in Vancouver, Wa


Thanks back to you, Dave. I appreciate the thoughtfulness.

Tere
Apr/5/2009, 12:12 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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You are very welcome--and I just noticed the bottom city thread--I'll have to spend some time in that thread at some point...

Last edited by dmehl808, Apr/5/2009, 1:32 pm
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