Sunday, May 24, 2015
The Soldier appeared again this year, just as he has over almost a hundred and fifty years. The first reports of him showing up here in Pointer date back to 1868 when the first Decoration Day (now called Memorial Day) was held. At the time most people assumed he was merely a veteran but when he moved there was no sound, and when he spoke everyone felt compelled to listen. It was as if an enchantment had been cast over all. He spoke of each soldier from the town who had fallen during the war between the states, telling tales of bravery and humanity. Then, once he finished, the figure marched back the way he came only to be swallowed by a mist that seemed to come from nowhere.
This happened again the following year, and every year after that. At first most people just assumed him to be a magician who had served alongside those who had died. Yet, none of those who had come home recognized the fellow. In fact, no one could even really describe his features even if he had been standing next to them. They could distinctly remember his uniform which had clearly belonged to the West Virginia 7th Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He had all the bearing of a soldier, but even if they looked up into his face all they could remember was that he was young, with a kind face, which had born witness to the horrors of the battlefield. But none of them could actually describe his face in detail.
Naturally the idea that the fellow was a ghost began to spread among the children and a handful of adults. But after thirty years passed and those children who had seen him close up could honestly say he had not aged in that time, that others began to believe the tale.
Throughout the decades, he has always appeared, never once missing a Decoration Day. And with each visit, he shared new stories about those who had served and fell in the Civil War. But it wasn't until the end of the Great War that this began to change. In 1919, one year after World War I ended, a new monument was erected in the town square with the names of those who had left Pointer to fight overseas. On that occasion the soldier appeared and shared several stories about those who had been lost on the battlefields of Europe.
From that day on he continued to appear on Remembrance Day (now called Veteran's Day) as well as on Memorial Day.
By this time few, if any, doubted the Soldier's existence. In fact many began to welcome his strange visits, but not all. Those who were too traumatized by their loss, could not bear to see him come. In particular there had been Violet Parker, who had been engaged to James Moore who fell at the Battle of Belleau Wood in France in 1918. When the Soldier appeared again on Remembrance Day in 1920, she rushed at him brandishing a pistol from her father's collection and shot him point blank. The Soldier did not flinch, nor did he fall. Instead, he gently took the weapon from her shaking hands, and pulled her close. She resisted at first, but then began to calm down. Those who dared approach them could hear his voice speaking gently to her in sympathy. Soon Violet slipped her arms around him and held him tightly. Then she kissed him on the cheek and walked back to where her father stood. For the rest of her long life, she was happier than anyone could remember, and strongly rebuked anyone who spoke ill of the Soldier or of anyone who served their country.
The addition of new names and stories of those who served that the Soldier spoke of continued with each passing year. Whether they were lost in peacetime or during America's entry into World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq and of course Afghanistan, he made sure no one forgot them or their service. And today was no exception. He spoke of the town's most recent losses with such feeling, one was convinced he had personally known, or had watched each one of them grow into fine young men and women.
Of course, I and a number of others know this happens to be the truth. There are at least a dozen families here in Pointer that know of Uncle Nate. And they preserve his secret with fierce loyalty, just as mine does. It is a loyalty based on love and respect. Whether he's the 'Soldier' or just the family friend or godfather, he has been there for all of us over the decades. Our dark guardian, the soldier who even when he does not wear the uniform, is always on duty. Ready to defend and protect all of us and our town, just has he did the day he marched off to war at the age of 16, back in 1862.
God bless him and all the men and women who have served, and will serve.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Lisa's Private Thoughts December 11th, 2012 - "Nathan, Mirrors and My Sweet 16th Birthday Party"... Conclusion
My heart was in my throat as he pulled me close for one last spin and I whispered, "I love you Uncle Nathan."
"I know," he smiled and finished our dance by putting me in a dip. "But, it's Nathan or Nathaniel from now on. You're not a little girl anymore Lisa. And since I age way slower than anyone else around here, having you still call me 'uncle' is going to get people wondering and I can't have that."
Stunned and a little disappointed I nodded and muttered, "Okay, Nathan."
Then he stood me upright and kissed my hand, while the room broke out in thunderous applause. I smiled as best I could under the circumstances. I'd just declared my love for this man and all he could say was "I know..." and then told me to drop the 'uncle' part. This was NOT how I had hoped things would go. What the hell had just happened?
But before I could dwell on things further some of my friends rushed over and dragged me to one of the crystal tables so we could sit and talk. I was too stunned to do anything but go along and soon, they had me in a much better mood. Yet, I couldn't believe how Nathan had reacted to what I'd said to him. Did he think I wasn't serious? I offered him my heart for crying out loud!
I tried to hold onto my annoyance with him, but it was slowly forgotten as friends handed me presents and told me how blown away they were by how much my family had done to set this place up. My dad had been passing by at that moment and said, "Actually, this was all Nathan's doing. He's spent the last few months planning this party and getting things arranged. Mind you he did consult with us and we gave the approval. But most of this was him."
"Oh my God, I want to see if he'll help set up my next birthday," one of the girls sighed. "This is so cool. I mean look, we can even see our reflections in the table."
Suddenly I stiffened and looked down.
Sure enough, she was right. I could see all their reflections in the tabletop, along with my own. Panicking I looked around and spotted Nathan coming towards us. Forgetting how angry I was with him I jumped up out of my seat and intercepted him saying, "I want another dance," and dragged him out onto the floor.
Then I remembered how shiny and polished the dance floor would be and looked down. Immediately I let out a sigh of relief. The entire floor was covered by a thin was covered by a thin layer of colored fog.
Immediately I let out sigh of relief.
As if reading my mind Nathan smiled. "I thought about how shiny the floor is and how it shows people's reflections," he said proudly.
In the background a slow song came on and I allowed him to pull me in for a slow Rumba. I tried not getting too close to him, but when dancing a Rumba you have to be practically joined at the waist.
"Too bad you didn't think about the crystal tables!" I shot back. "They show reflections too!"
Immediately, his face turned into a mask of embarrassment. For several seconds he kept opening and closing his mouth without saying a word. Finally he managed one word, "Oops."
"Is that all you can say for yourself! Oops!" I hissed "Not everyone here knows about you!"
"Which is why all the mirrors on the walls and in the restrooms are made without silver," he pointed out. "They use a different backing that does reflect my image, so we're safe. Why are you so upset?"
"Because..." I began but then my words disappeared.
But once again, he seemed to know my thoughts and said quietly, "I know you meant it when you said you love me, Lisa. And believe me, of all the people and godchildren I've watched over these last fifteen decades, you've become extremely dear and important to me. So I'll make you this offer. It's one I've made to others before, but as you know, no one's taken me up on it."
Catching my breath I nodded, "Go on."
"As I said earlier, you're no longer a child but a young woman," he said brushing my cheek with his as he leaned in close so only I could hear him. "But I'm over a hundred and fifty years old. I look like I'm in my late twenties. I need you to catch up a bit first. So, I want you to LIVE! You must go on dates, go places, see things, maybe fall in love a couple of times along the way. Some of them won't work out, but one might. But if none have by the time you've gotten closer to my 'apparent' age, if you still want to be with me... if I'm still the one you want to love and marry, I WILL make you my bride."
"Really? You mean it?" I gasped pulling back so I could look straight at him. Even before he could reply, I could see the answer in his blue eyes, he meant every word.
Still he answered, "Yes," as the fog suddenly rose up and hid us from sight. That was when he kissed me, I mean really kissed me, as if we were already lovers.
After several moments our lips parted. Before he could speak I told him, "Now I can hardly wait to hit my late twenties."
"But you have to live first," he gently reminded me. "You have to get out and enjoy life. Date other people and explore the world."
"I will," I promised as we finished our dance and the fog slowly fell back to the floor.
That was of course the highlight of the night for me. Mind you, the rest of the evening was just as fantastic. Marisa did make an appearance but could only stay an hour, but still it meant a lot to me. I spent the rest of the evening walking on air. It's been a magical night and one I will always remember and treasure.
And I will keep my promise to Nathan. I will start dating and exploring all that life and the world have to offer. Then, when I turn twenty-nine, unless my life has taken an unexpected turn, I will go to him and become his wife.
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Lisa's Private Thoughts December 11th, 2012 - "Nathan, Mirrors and My Sweet 16th Birthday Party" Part 2...
I swear I'd never seen main room of The Crypt done up so beautifully before. The room was bathed in a magical blueish purple light, which had some hints of green accent. Fake ice crystals hung from the ceiling over tables that were beautifully set up, while soft music seemed to waft through the air. Only one thing was missing, people. There wasn't a soul in the room except me and my family.
Before I could say anything a greenish mist began to slowly envelop the floor.
It seemed to have a life of its own as it wafted and slowly covered the entire lower half of the room, leaving only the tables and upper halves of the chairs visible. Then I felt my feet moving forward, taking me into the center of the room apparently of their own volition. But in truth I could feel smoke-like fingers gently guiding me all the time. It felt almost like a lover's caress, in some ways and it set my heart beating like never before. I was brought to a halt in the center of the room where the mist suddenly rose higher until it blocked my view completely and all I could see was it. Then as suddenly as it appeared, the fog thinned and suddenly sank revealing a huge crowd of family and friends all smiling and wishing me a happy birthday.
That's when the party really started. I swear I never got hugged so much or kissed on the cheek so many times in all my life. My parents got everyone seated and I wound up hopping from table to table to say hello and thank everyone for coming. However, one person was missing, Nathan. He was nowhere to be seen and that started to bother me. I had really hoped that this day, of all days, he'd be here. Especially since the party was taking place inside the club he's owned since the 1940's.
I tried not to let my disappointment show, but I think my parents were starting to notice when suddenly the room got very quiet. I noticed everyone's gaze turned to a dark opening that led to one of the other dance floors. Oh, did I mention The Crypt has several different rooms with dance floors? Well it does and we'd only been in the main one which had been turned into a sort of a dining area where people could sit and eat.
Anyway, in the dark opening a mist began to swirl and make its way towards where I was standing. For a moment I was half torn between excitement and nervousness. It was Nathan, it just had to be. Yet a I wasn't sure. But then the fog began to circle around me and I knew for sure it was really him. Especially when a hand emerged from the mist and took mine.
Soon his familiar frame and warm smile emerged from the cloud and he kissed me on the cheek and said, "Happy Sweet Sixteen, young lady."
Young lady, oh how those words sounded so good to my ears. "Thank you," I whispered back as he turned to the archway he'd just emerged from and snapped his fingers. Suddenly, the lights came on revealing a large dance floor which matched the decorations of the room we were standing in. There were a few crystal-like tables on the outer edges, but otherwise it was clear this room was for one purpose, dancing.
A moment later, as if to let me know my suspicions were right, music began to play and Nathan led me into the room and the center of the floor. Taking me in his arms he led me into one of the most amazing and tangos I'd ever experienced. Mind you, he'd danced with me many times before, but never like this. He led me through turns and steps I didn't even know that well, but I could tell from the way everyone else was reacting as they watched us, that we were fantastic together. Just as I knew we could be one day. I just had to tell him...
...TO BE CONCLUDED NEXT TIME