He used to work in a cemetery. Of all the tales he told me, none might’ve been as horrid as this one.
This story started as they always do, with rain. So it was raining. Henry Mane was his name. Used to live by the mayor's office and by the rule of thumb, he too was of such importance.
He had this philosophy about life. That “use it while you can”. And so he was financially as poor as me, but expenses were of no bounds.
A man in his 40’s. Life moving towards nothing. Not even a wife. I mean, who would marry a caretaker of a cemetery. So his life was passing by as a forever bachelor. And that was the only one thing he always regretted about.
So, that day it was raining. His alarm went off at nine, like always. But it was still dark. Sunlight couldn’t penetrate the heavy rainfall and the gray clouds. Nowadays, the only passion in his miserable life was to sit on his chair in his booth and read Fredrick Forsyth. But it wasn’t going to happen and the thought of being stuck at home made him sigh even more.
Slowly the hands on the clock were moving to ten and then twelve. He could hear the bells in the church ringing. And every time it rang, his boredom increased exponentially. But it was now raining even more.
He couldn’t take it anymore.
Took the overcoat, the big Irish Umbrella his sister gifted to him and his ongoing Forsyth novel.
Amidst the severe drenching, it took him 25 minutes to walk up to his booth. Even with all his protection, he was dripping as a cat drowned in a pool.
But his book was still dry.
A man was sitting in there, in the booth, and in his favorite chair, the only one in the room.
With an anxious look on his face, he went in.
“What can I do for you today sir?” Henry asked.
“No, no, nothing, thank you though.” The stranger replied.
“Sir, if you could move out of my chair.”
With a look of hurt, the stranger looked around.
“But where would I sit, then?”
“I don't know. Are you daft mate. That’s my chair, that’s where I sit while I’m on the job.” Henry took him for a full idiot.
“Can you please wait till the rain stops? I’ll go away then.”
He started testing Henry's patience. Where Henry just wanted to peacefully read his book, but now this idiot is ruining everything.
“No, sir. That's my chair, please if you will now get up and go away.”
With a bit of disbelief and hurt in his face, the stranger stood up, but very slowly. Like he would feel if he did a bit faster.
And then Henry noticed. The guy had no legs. Like somebody has chopped off his leg. But he is standing or floating somehow.
Now Henry was getting scared. He started taking a few steps back towards the door. One two three, he opened the door and ran as fast as he could. Throwing away the book as if it didn’t matter anymore. He only cared about his life now.
He was comparatively fit than most his age. All it took him was a few minutes, and then he was in his room again. Straight on his bed under his blanket.
He slept straight till the next morning. At night he felt that he was having a fever. But he didn’t bother waking up.
Later that day, he went back to get his stuff, to see if what he saw was real. When he went there, the other caretaker was just finishing his shift. And there were a lot of people there.
“Who died now?”
“Didn’t you hear? The mayor's son died yesterday. His car fell into the cavern due to the heavy rainfall. They say that they couldn’t find his lower half. They’re holding the funeral here now.”
A curious Henry went on to see the grave. There was just a photo beside the coffin. The stranger from yesterday.
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