Monday, July 13, 2009

I Am At A Loss

Something strange happened to me yesterday and I haven’t been able to wrap my arms around it.

Last year, my little Brain Tail friend and I met in Pennsylvania to watch the new X-Files movie together. We don’t get to see each other very often, since eight hours separates us, and Brain Tail suggested we meet in the middle this past Sunday to catch up. We found a picnic table, and set to have a very enjoyable 2.5 hours chatting. It was a gorgeous day in PA ~ the sun was bright but not overwarm, the birds were trilling, the scenery spectacular, and the company was as enjoyable as ever without a hitch in the conversation. We had a lovely time. We’ve decided to try to make this an annual event.

At 2:30 pm, we cleaned up our picnic and parted ways; Lacie to attempt to mow her lawn, and I to have dinner with family. I plunged back into the gaping maw of perpetual construction that IS I-81.

A moment: one of these days, I need to write solely on I-81 and the construction it has undergone in the state of Pennsylvania for the last 235 years. Seriously, I remember my Aunt bemoaning Pennsylvania road construction 40 years ago. I’ve been driving I-81 to visit family for 25 years, and there has always been construction in this state. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. I’m convinced that Organized Crime must be lining their pockets SOMEHOW and I’m bitter. One lane back ups for no apparent reason other than to give the United Orange Cone Makers of America extra coin to put bling on the necks of their trophy wives.

Thank you for the indulgence. I continue.

A mere half hour into my trip home, I noted a green van on the side of the road under a shade of trees. As I sped by at 65 mph, I saw the hood was open and a white man, slightly balding, wearing a blue short sleeved shirt and brown pants, standing in front of the vehicle with his hands gripping the open hood. His body language conveyed gloom, like “How am I going to get home now?”

My heart went out to him; I’ve had my share of breakdowns on the road. Not being a manly man with a tool kit in my trunk, but a single woman with few automotive resources, I did not stop. I wondered if he had a cell phone, and then spent some time pondering on the plight of today’s drivers versus vehicular predicaments in days past. What did we do before cell phones? I continued on that line of thinking for a bit before I RAN INTO STUPID ONE LANE TRAFFIC FOR AN HOUR.

As I said, I’m still bitter.

After breaking free from the bondage of that particular corridor of construction, I drove on listening to Christmas in July on Radio Classics. Jack Benny’s “A Christmas Tree Cactus” was great fun. Traffic had picked up to a normal pace. The trip was going well and I had no need to stop to use any of the rest area facilities or to get gasoline.

Two and a half hours into my trip home, I noted another green van on the side of the road under another shade of trees. As I sped by, I saw the hood was open and standing in front of the car was THE SAME WHITE MAN, SLIGHTLY BALDING, WEARING A BLUE SHORT SLEEVED SHIRT AND BROWN PANTS, WITH HIS HANDS GRIPPING THE OPEN HOOD. HIS BODY AGAIN CONVEYED GLOOM, LIKE “HOW AM I GOING TO GET HOME NOW?”.

Now, please understand. I am not given to visual hysterics of this nature. I’ve never seen a Cheetoh shaped like the Blessed Virgin, I’ve never seen a ghost and I have never met a psychic I considered really worth her $75 an hour fee. I love to hear the stories and I’m completely open to paranormal oddities, but I do not receive them. My kids do, a couple of my sisters do, some cousins, and even tiny little Brain Tail gets them. Not me. Though I get the occasional tingle when I need to pray for someone, I am mostly bereft of psychic ability. I’ve accepted this with equanimity.

For a second I was messed up. Had I somehow gotten turned around and was back in the same location? That couldn’t be right. I bounced back into character and said a “Hail Mary”, quickly and with fervor. I called Lacie. Surely, the brain tail would tingle if there was a psychic disturbance. There was apparently no hint of anything pawing at the cosmic continuum. I called Guest Blogger Who Hasn’t Blogged since 2007. Other than asking me if I was compelled to help him (which I was not), and considering a variety of urban legends, nothing solid was postulated.

I said a few more prayers but continued to feel a sort of unreality settle on me. An hour and a half later I picked up my daughter, went to Guest Blogger’s house, enjoyed a wonderful meal and put forth the mystery to my friends gathered around the table. All agreed the incident was creepy, and their responses were indicative of their personal character:

Guest Blogger – (curious, open to phenomena but not a medium to same, highly analytical with a psychological bent) - “I have no idea, but I immediately googled blue shirted, brown panted men on I-81. I found nothing. It’s strange.”

Starbuck - (a child of the universe, willing to believe the fantastic) - “You need to be more open to possibilities.”

Pamplona - (a devout Catholic Naval Officer) - “Did you pray? I’d have prayed.”

My Daughter - (scarred by years of my rigorous attempts to keep her from being victimized by teaching self sufficient situational awareness) - “Obviously, he wasn’t able to net any victims at his first location so he got back in his vehicle, sped ahead of you, pulled over to the side again hoping to lure someone into his green van of death and dismemberment.”

Guest Blogger’s Husband - (a solid thinking, no nonsense guy) - “Everyone in Pennsylvania looks the same.”

Additional theories:

It was the ghost of a soul trapped in purgatory who needed my prayers.

I was abducted by aliens, probed and didn’t notice I had a period of lost time.

It was a man driven insane by the never ending construction of Pennsylvania roadways who ended his misery by self-decapitating via his van hood. I was witnessing the paranormal re-enactment of the bloody event.

Now, in all seriousness, the only plausible explanation is that Creepy McBlueshirt got his van running after I first spied him, sped ahead of me and his engine broke down again. I simply happened upon him a second time as he peered curiously under his hood. It was all coincidence.

I’m not buying it. I don’t get it, I may never get it. I’ve looked on line for creepy stories, but none of these descriptions sound like my story.

You know what I’d love - I’d love to hear from someone who has seen “The Man in the Breakdown Lane”. And if you told me that I-81 is actually hell and Satan is the Head of the Pennsylvania DOT – I’d believe you.

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