A young man died years ago in the park where I walk Solomon. Though the cause is unknown I know his death was clean and gentle no foul play or suicide. He walked the park as I do and one day knew it was the end. No one was aware of his disappearance or even existence. A true missing person. I would like to name him for this telling but know that would be wrong. I have no idea of his identity or evidence of anything. My family and former friends were amused and entertained at first then worried embarrassed and annoyed. Now they avoid me.
My name is Rosemary. I am twenty eight years old and manage a fishing tackle and camera store that my father owned and operated before he retired and sold it to his friend who kept me on. Someday I will own it. Unfortunately and unfairly there are a lot of rumours flying around about my stability. With the exception of this one unusual story and obsession there is nothing whatsoever to warrant concern. The paperwork was written up for me to take over the store when the dead young man in the park thing began to get out of hand. Why couldn’t I just drop it? Their words not mine.
Growing up my family tented at Dagger Creek Park until we were the only ones left. They closed the campground and turned it into a picnic park before abandoning it altogether. On hot summer days locals still seek the hidden pools for swimming. Friday night teens come to get drunk and sometimes busted. A few of us walk our dogs and the occasional fisherman is still found wandering the creek’s edge. Last autumn after the leaves fell dry curled and wind scattered I had the notion of him. Saw him standing black and white white collarless shirt bone buttoned to the neck baggy wool pants knee deep in the yellow grass between maple and ash bare branches scratching the grey sky. I knew his story then and there. Nothing spoken and it was not a haunting. Rather a thought that crosses your mind large and complete that words try but cannot capture. I never saw him like that again. Maybe I would have dropped it if he hadn’t given form to a feeling I always had at Dagger Creek even as a girl fishing or poking the fire.
Why am I so insistent on talking about this when I should know better? Because it matters. Matters to who they say bored exasperated and touchy. Just drop the stupid fucking thing already is what they say. Also I am trying to understand and hold onto something important before it’s gone again. The knowing.
Imagine that my mother and father are celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary and throwing a huge party. Over three hundred family friends and local dignitary are invited. I was asked but they are rolling their eyes praying dear god that I am a no show. Eventually I walk into the rented hall the band stops mid waltz dancers seated guests and guys lined up at the bar stop turn and stare. I am standing there with Solomon at my side. Cupped in one hand dirt under chipped nails is a brown spotted skull. Cradled in my other arm frail limbs dangling the decayed skeleton that will later be identified as a young man mid twenties dead since the fifties. Although I make people nervous I will no longer be considered mad but rather curious interesting perhaps even gifted. We would all know.
If I did find trace I would touch but never disturb him reveal or tell a soul. Chances are I would stop talking about it all the time. Eventually we might all forget and move on.