The next day we headed out to the country just as we had the day before. We parked by the bridge as to not disrupt any possible residents at the Lodge. I didn’t know who lived there now, who owned it, or what purpose it was serving.
I first took Gage over the stone wall, through the blackberry and raspberry thicket of thorns, and thankfully spotted the old “mushroom house”. A round stone structure , with moss and ivy growing wildly around the top, and door.
We entered the small structure and I explained to Gage that I had used this spot to do my nightly meditation, bringing with me a candle and a flashlight. I never saw another living soul around this little mushroom house, so I kind of felt a need to protect and keep it secret. I never took my girls there, even though they would have loved it. I kept this secret place for my own sanctuary.
We sat inside, but left the door open to let some sunlight in. The water still behaved in the same way it did years ago. It truly amazed and fascinated me. Gage seemed impressed as well. We sat on the cold slab of stone. It was over 80 degrees outside, but 20 to 30 degrees cooler inside the structure.
“Very cool place. No pun intended. It had to be some type of cold storage. I don’t know what it is. I have never seen anything like it before. It reminds me of a little hobbit house.” Gage said.
“Me either, I just love it.” I whispered back.
“So what else happened here that makes you hold such a strong connection to this area?” He asked.
“Well, once when Grace was about four years old, she came running into my bedroom with a terrified look on her face. She said ” Mommy, I just saw a man in a black suit on the back patio.”
I ran to the back patio door and saw nothing. I couldn’t deny the look terrified on her face. I thought maybe it was a neighbor, or the meter man, or a stranger thinking he was at the big house. It happened sometimes that someone would wander around the property not knowing it was privately owned. The more I thought about it though, it was very unlikely that anybody would be wandering around the woods in a business suit in 90 degree weather.
I asked Gracie if she saw the man’s face, and she said no. She only saw his black, dirty shoes, and his “crumpled” black pants. She explained that she was playing with her toys while sitting on the floor. She looked up and saw this man in a suit. I told her not to be afraid. It was ok and normal to get startled, but there was nothing to be afraid of.
Then about a year later, during the spring, we had a really bad storm in the afternoon. I worked the night shift, so I had to take a nap everyday with the girls to make it through the day. We were all napping in my bedroom, when Charlotte decided to sneak out of the room. She went downstairs and went outside. It was in the middle of a downpour, and she stood there paralyzed. Apparently, there was a giant earthworm in her way and she was too scared to go past it to get back in the house.
I woke up with her standing at the foot of my bed. She was shaking cold and wet. I said “Charlotte, what in the world are you doing? Why are you all wet?”
She told me about the big, slimy worm that was blocking her way into the house. She stood out in the rain crying, but nobody could hear her. Then she said” A man with a wrinkled black suit and dirty black shoes brought me inside. He was really nice and he told me not to worry, that I was going to be alright.”
“Was he an old man or a young man?” I asked her
“He was old, like a grandpa. He had funny little ears that stuck out a little bit.” she replied
I went to the book shelf and got The Doctor’s Mayo book off the shelf. I opened it to the photo pages. I showed her a picture of Henry Plummer.”Is this the man who helped you?” I asked
“Nope.” she responded
Then I showed her pictures of Jay Neville, Augustus Stinchfield, Edward Starr Judd,and Christopher Graham. She shook her head no to all of the pictures. I turned the page of the book and she pointed to Dr. Charlie. “That’s him mom. That guy right there, does he live here?” she looked confused
“Have you ever seen him before today?” I asked
“No.” she answered
“Will you tell me if you see him again? I have something I want to talk to him about, but I can never find him. His name is Charlie and he is a doctor. He doesn’t live here, but a long time ago he did. He probably just stopped by to say hi, and saw you were in trouble.” I said calmly.
I didn’t know what else to say to her. She wasn’t even 4 years old. I didn’t know what to think myself. I knew he was the same man who Grace had seen in the woods behind Ivy Lodge cottage.
I walked downstairs to make sure the door was shut tightly. I saw two large and two small wet shoe prints on the wooden floor. I couldn’t deny Charlie’s presence at the Lodge, even though I never saw him firsthand. Neither one of the girls ever mentioned the old man in the wrinkled suit with dirty black shoes again. I felt him there often, but was glad I never had to explain anything unexplainable to my young girls. It was hard enough to explain to myself.” I told him.
“Wow!” Gage exclaimed.” That is unbelievable.”
“Yeah. I know. That’s why I never told anybody. I figured it wasn’t anybody’s business anyway. There was no harm done, no way to prove anything, and the girls grew up and never talked about the incidents anyway. I don’t know if they even remember it.Their dad always told me he heard” music from heaven” late at night when I was at work. He said it never scared him, but was the most beautiful music he has ever heard. I always thought he was loony until the girls saw the man in black. After he told me that information, I was convinced there was more going on than could be seen or heard by me.” I said
“Those are the main reasons I feel a connection to this place. I believe your great,great-grandfather had been watching over my family since we lived here, maybe even before that. I know it is kind of weird, but it just the way I feel. I don’t think it is a mere coincidence that we met each other either. I don’t know the reasons why, maybe I never will, I’m okay with not knowing. I’m just glad we had this time together to share.” I said feeling exhausted all of a sudden
“Yeah. Me too Guinn. It’s really been an amazing two days of knowing you. I don’t know how long my mom plans to stay here. She doesn’t tell me too much about her treatments or what’s going on. I can’t wait to tell her the stories you told me today.I know we met for a reason.I just don’t know what to think about all of this.” Gage said with a misty look in his grayish, hazel eyes.
“You know what? Let’s come back here tomorrow. I know you are excited to see the Lodge, but for some reason, I just feel so tired all of a sudden.” I said
“Sure. No problem Are you ok?” he asked
“Oh yeah. I just have this feeling we need to get back to town. I don’t know why.” I said gently
As we turned the corner around the stone wall, I looked back to see if I could get a glimpse of Ivy Lodge. It was well hidden behind the pine trees, but I could see the two lions were gone from the front. My heart sunk low. Those lions had been there for almost a century, I could only imagine what happened to them.I noticed near the little stream running in front of the yard, by the old horse hitch, a bright red sign that read “For Sale by Owner”.