Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Screw

There it sat somewhat to the left of center on the wooden living room floor: one 2 ½ inch sheet rock screw standing straight up on its head. I didn’t put it there or drop it there.

I spotted it from the dining room where I was mixing plaster in a bucket on the floor standing all by itself at attention. It got mine.

The site is an early nineteenth century farmhouse owned by the borough of Califon. Kathie is chairman of the committee charged with raising funds and restoring the property as a town museum. As is true of our marriage, she is management and I am labor. I go down there for an hour or two at a time when I get the chance and have been working to get the place in shape. Currently I am repairing the plaster in the old kitchen. At this point I am the only one who goes in there on a regular basis.

I purchased the screws and a piece of sheet rock with the idea that I could use them to span some of the larger holes in the wall before re-plastering them.

I went into the living room and looked at the screw. There were no other fasteners in the vicinity and the box sat on the window sill six feet away exactly where I had placed it. It is entirely likely that I dropped it there since I am whatever the opposite of anal is in my work habits.

Still, I did not understand how a screw with a very narrow head and a long body could randomly drop in this position. As an experiment, I dropped a few handfuls on the floor and, not surprisingly, they landed on their sides. Some fasteners, like roofing nails, with heads that are wide in relation to the length of their shaft will often land in this position. Take this as a fact from someone who gave himself two flat tires and a punctured foot while re-roofing the garage.

I am not a believer in ghosts, but I am a fan of the Ghost Hunters show on SyFi. I don’t know why, perhaps it's an older person’s longing for any proof of life after this one. They would have a field day with this evidence.

There are reports that this house is haunted. According to the story, an elderly woman who lived in it had a son who was a “little bit off” or disabled, depending on the source. One Thanksgiving the woman went to dinner at a friend’s and left the middle age son a plate of turkey and fixings. Supposedly, he choked to death while trying to eat the goodies in bed.

Confronted with the “evidence” of the screw, the Ghost Hunters would have read the spook the riot act for placing an object in a position where it could do someone some harm. I didn’t have the heart for that. After all, the poor guy choked to death on a turkey bone by himself on Thanksgiving Day. He has a right to be pissed off.

Well, I told myself, as unlikely as it is that a screw could land in this position by itself, it is still more likely than the notion that someone from the next dimension placed it there in my path.

I go back to work, but not without the occasional look over my shoulder.

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