Saturday, March 10, 2012

Strange Happenings in Walton County, GA

by David Metcalfe

Erase from your mind history channel dramatizations, inept experts parading through graveyards, television psychics emoting around an asserted haunting, and return to the simple act of storytelling that has always been the center of Fortean investigation. Even the most powerful myths existed first as stories, experiences recounted in a shared word between friends, family and strangers.

With the rise of communication technology, it’s easy to miss the importance of mundane encounters. Stories act as a well of meaning where we can sink a whisper of some local memory, shadows playing past events, personal recollections gathered while investigating the borderland between real and imagined. We encounter them every day, meaningful, coordinated incidents measuring a slow rhythm in time, subtle glimpses of a possibility that strange, structured narratives underlie our common lives.


I’ve been spending time at Liminal Analytics new Georgia office, stories seeping from the walls louder than karaoke at the local bar down the street. The other night while walking through the alley out back I heard hints of a passionate and unnerving country version of Purple Rain emerging from that bar, proof we’re face to face with the regularity of everyday anomalies here.

In honor of those local memories laying at the base of all expositions of anomaly, here are two raw case studies in the form of personal recollections from folks I’ve met while acclimating to the new office. These are stories straight from the mouths of their tellers, ungarnished, translucent tales of strange happenings in Walton County, Georgia.

The Circle That David Drew (Source: C. Barts, Walton County, GA) -

“Growing up, my best friend David, and I had a mutual friend named Brandon. All three of us went to school together, played baseball on the same teams, and went off together on the weekends. We were what most would call pretty tight. We had each others’ back.

As with most friendships at school, David and I went one way and Brandon went another. He and his family eventually moved out of the school district to the other side of the county. While it wasn’t that far, as kids it seemed forever away. All three of us kept in touch as much as possible, but that eventually faded away until communication was almost nonexistent.”

“It had been a little over a year since we had last heard from Brandon. One evening David and I had been out with some friends, and I ended up at his house to crash for the night. At around midnight the phone rings awakening us both from our sleep.

I hear David say,”Hello?”

“Hey man, what’s up? It’s been a long time”.

There was a pause and then he said “Well hang on one second let me get something to write your number on and I will call you back tomorrow”.

I hear some papers shuffling on the night stand in between the two beds as David pulls a high school football program from the pile, the kind with pictures of the players and cheerleaders, and about a million ads from local businesses.

He flips open a page in the dark, writes down a phone number, writes Brandon’s name above it, draws a circle around it and says, “Got it, I will call you tomorrow. Bye.”

The next morning came on fairly uneventful. Around mid-morning David and I were just sitting in the living room watching television when the phone rings.

This time his mom answers from the other room. We here bits and pieces of the conversation and hear more than a few times “Oh, my gosh.”

She hangs up the phone and walks in where we are parked on the couch. She looks pale. With tears in her eyes she whispers, “You’re not going to believe it, but early this morning Brandon was shot and killed by his step father…” and tells us of the proposed funeral arrangements.

We were sitting there in shock when suddenly David bolts up to his room. He emerges with the football program he’d grabbed the night before when Brandon had called. He looks at his mom and says, “He just called me last night…” while shuffling pages looking for his number.

Suddenly a look of terror overcomes David’s face as the book falls to the floor. I say, “David what is it?” and his only reply is “Holy crap!”

I pick up the book and begin to look for the number myself. What I find I can’t believe. There was Brandon’s name and phone number written on an ad page for the very funeral home where his body would lay in rest. The circle that David drew around Brandon’s info also included the exact location, out of many in the county, of the funeral home his service was held at.

All we could do was stare at one another in disbelief.”


Born With A Veil (Source: Preston, Walton County, GA) -

“I believe in the unknown, because to me not to believe in the unknown is to not believe in God. I can’t see him ‘neither, but I know he’s there and I can see him working.

Now some people are afraid of ghosts, they don’t like to talk about them none. I tell them, now I believe in the Lord too strong to be worried about any of that.

I believe in ghosts because my daddy believed in them. He was born with a veil over his face, they say that folks born like that can see things, he used to heal kids with the thrush.

One time we was at the bus stop, and he tell me “Look over there…”
Pointing to a man standing across the street at the other bus stop, he was standing with his back turned to us so you couldn’t see his face. My daddy said “That’s a ghost…”

And I said “Now how in the world can that be a ghost? That’s a man standing there solid as me.”

He said, “Nah, that’s a ghost. You ain’t never gonna see his face, watch…”

So we did, we sat there until our bus come, whole time the man just stands there with his back to us. My daddy he said “Now wait, we’ll let this one pass, we’re going to sit here until his bus come.”

So we did, we sat there until his bus come, still that man never did turn or move. My daddy say “Now watch…”

The lights inside the bus was bright, you know, and I watched, but I never seen him get on the bus. When it drove away, he was gone. Now I tell you I ain’t seen him get on, but he was gone when it left.

We had an apartment in Atlanta, it was up on the second floor. There was a balcony off the back, you know, but no stairs coming up to it. One night I hear something kick at the balcony door and it bust open, and I hear someone screaming “Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh!” real loud, you know. I run out there on the balcony and I’m looking down all over the alley, but I ain’t seen nobody. We was two stories up, now if somebody been there I’d a seen ‘em.

My daddy he come out and said “Boy, just leave it alone. It’s just a ghost, it don’t mean no harm.”

He moved in one place, and they weren’t so peaceful, they threw him out. He seen something there one time, and after that he just left the place and wouldn’t go back in. My sisters had to go get the furniture and all the stuff, he tell them “I ain’t gonna go back, no matter what. They can have the furniture and all the rest, I ain’t messin’ with that.”

When he was a boy they used to bring kids over with the thrush to see him, he blow three times in their mouths and they was supposed to get healed. He told me that it used to work back then. They said peoples born with a veil could do things like that.

I ain’t seen nothin’ like that since he passed. Not that strong, but sometimes you see those things out of the corner of your eye, you see it, feel someone pass, but you look again and there ain’t nothin’ there.”


***

David Metcalfe is Books Editor for The Revealer, the online journal of NYU's Center for Religion and Media. An independent researcher and artist focusing on the interstices of art, culture, and consciousness, his essay“Of Dice and Divinity – Some Thoughts on Gambling and the Western Tradition,” was included in the 2011 publication of The Immanence of Myth.

Writing and scrawling regularly for The Eyeless Owl, his illustrations were brought to life in the animated collaborative grotesquery A Serious Enquiry Into the Vulgar Notion of Nature featured at select venues in downtown Chicago during the Spring and Fall of 2010. He contributes to Evolutionary Landscapes, Alarm Magazine, Reality Sandwich, The Revealer, and is currently co-hosting The Art of Transformations study group with support from the International Alchemy Guild.


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