THE STORE THAT WAS NOT THERE
In my life I have had many cases of seeing or experiencing events
or objects that were not actually there as would be scientifically
possible , or at least should not have been there . This is one of the
most vivid cases which happened in my childhood and is also one of
the handful of events of this type that I have experienced with
someone else present.
On summer nights when I was young the big event of the day that
all the kids looked forward to the most was when the ice cream truck
came down the road playing its familiar and unchanging music just as
darkness was setting in.
Our next door neighbors when I lived at 1519 had a grandson, Paul
, who would come to visit them from time to time and we always got
together to play every time he would visit. I was about 11 at the time
and he was a few years younger than me so I not only felt like his
friend , but also sort of that I was like his protector and as such I tried
to look out for him and set an example for him to look up to.
We were playing one night in the yard and had our money ready
when we heard the familiar sound of the ice cream truck coming. It
most often came right down our street, but some nights it came the
next street over and we had to cross a few neighbors’ yards quickly to
catch it before it was gone. This was one of the nights it happened to
be coming a few streets over. I ran as fast as I could to ask my mother
if it was ok for us to go the next street over to catch the truck if we
would be careful. She told me if I would be very careful and it was OK
with Paul’s grandmother it was OK with her. I assured her I would be
careful and then we ran as fast as we could to Paul’s grandmothers’
house. He asked his grandmother and she said the same as my mother
had. To be careful. I told her I would look out for him and she said she
knew I would.
We ran as fast as we could through the neighbor’s yards to get to the
next street and when we got there we didn’t see the ice cream truck
and we could only barely hear it anymore. I looked at Paul and said
sadly,” We missed it, lets go home “. He looked up at me and said ,
“Maybe it is just up the road stopped on a side street , lets go and look
“ . I agreed since it was a hot night and I was looking as forward to a
snow cone as badly as he was. I said that we would go a little way but
not too far since it was dark. We walked a few blocks down the street
looking down the side streets, but seeing only houses and street lights.
No ice cream truck in sight. It was gone for the night.
When we had walked only about 3 blocks down the road I saw
something that was totally out of place. I saw very bright lights in a
place where I knew there never had been any. I decided to walk a little
closer for a better look.
Paul and I were standing beside an apartment complex that I
recognized and knew very well since I had been by it many times both
walking and in a car. I knew exactly where we were, but as I looked
across the road beside the complex I saw something that I knew wasn’t
supposed to be there. It was a very large store or shopping center of
some kind with a huge and brightly lit parking lot. I could clearly see
inside the store. All of the shelves were stocked with groceries and
other items. One thing that looked completely out of place and strange
though was that there were no people in the store and no cars in the
parking lot. My heart began to beat fast since this didn’t make any
sense at all. There wasn’t a store in that location. I knew that for a fact,
but I was seeing it there.
I looked at Paul and asked if he saw what I was seeing and he said,
“Yes, that is where my mom works “. His mother did work at a large
grocery store, but it was about 2 miles away in the opposite direction.
I looked at him and said , “ No Paul that is not where your mom works
, that store isn’t there, oh my God we are bad lost and I don’t know
how to get home “ . He looked at me confused and laughed and said,
“Yes there is a store there, what are you talking about? I can see it, it is
where my mom works…can we go and see her? “ .
I looked at the apartment complex beside me that I knew to be there
and then back to the store that I logically knew wasn’t there and
became more and more confused and scared. I finally looked at Paul
and said, almost screamed, “We have to go NOW, come on and follow
me NOW “ and then I turned back the way we had came and began to
run as fast as I could. I didn’t understand what was happening, but I
knew in my heart that we needed to get home as fast as possible,
something wasn’t right. I had begun to think maybe he was right and
that we had some way went to the store his mother worked at. I had no
idea how we would have, but I knew if we did I had no idea how to get
us back home in the darkness and that scared me even worse. I looked
back behind me and he was still standing where I had left him and he
yelled out to me, “Why are you running, what is wrong? “ . I stopped
and yelled back in a demanding and fearful voice, “Paul don’t question
me just run NOW, we have to get home “. He finally began to run and
catch up with me and we returned home as fast as we could. I looked
back a few times as I was running and could see the lights fading
behind us until once again there were only house and street lights
behind us. My mind was still puzzled but I realized that we were
indeed where I had thought we were. Just a mere 3 blocks from home.
When we were back home he asked why I had gotten so scared. I
told him that that store was not supposed to be there and that it wasn’t
there, but I couldn’t explain it to him. He just kept laughing and saying
that it was there and that is was where his mother worked.
For some reason I decided to not tell my parents or anybody what
we had seen. Probably since I imagined that despite all my parents and
I had been through to that point that this would still be too
unbelievable to them.
I did tell my parents many years later what had happened that night
and a cold chill went down my spine at what they said. They both said
that they believed there had been a store in that location, but that it had
burned to the ground many years before they had moved to town or I
had been born.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Donald Ryles