Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

From Linda G Hill’s Blog: Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “-tion.” Find a word that ends with “tion.”

It was Mark Twain who once remarked sagely, in the person of Pudd’nhead Wilson, that “truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction is obliged to stick to probability, and truth ain’t.”

If you asked me to pick one of the weirdest experiences I have ever had that I could apply to Twain’s quote,  it would have to be what I saw before I was caught up in the Nisqually earthquake in downtown Seattle.

An hour or so before it hit, a man in a blue plaid work short walked by my workstation. He was holding a white coffee cup and I remember thinking that I hadn’t seen a haircut like that since I was a kid and my Dad and his friends were rocking the dry look – in case you don’t remember it went something like this:

Well, I thought some of us just get stuck in a rut and that’s the way it goes.

I went back to my tasks and then I decided to go upstairs and get my friend for lunch and that was when the earthquake hit.

We were standing in a doorway, like they tell you to do in earthquake drills ( and it’s true, it’s great because the floor doesn’t move there ) and in those few seconds I looked up and the guy in the work shirt  and old school hairstyle is standing a few feet away from me with his coffee cup in his hand and he’s smiling at me, and then as if the floor isn’t turning to jello under his feet he walked away from me and headed down the stairs to the warehouse.

So a few weeks later we’re doing repairs in our building and we open up a blocked off part of the warehouse where they used to do repairs and maintenance on lighting fixtures.

We had to inspect the entire foundation and walls and what we saw right away was that it a pretty nasty in there- it was full of rusty tools, spray paint cans, lighting fixtures that were in the middle of being repaired or fitted with new wiring- and all of it coated with grime and cobwebs.

There were wastepaper baskets next to the desk in the corner and I had no desire to look inside of it. I know the smell of rat pee and I was sure there was a lot of it in that one can alone.

Our in house general contractor told me this area had been shut off back in the mid-1970’s which means nobody had been in here for around thirty years.

We poked around and I see sitting on the workbench  the same coffee cup I saw the guy in the Work shirt had been holding. It sort of nagged at me – it was just a non-descript white coffee cup with gold or yellow along the rim-  Why am I dwelling on that cup? There must be thousand of them out there.

As we’re trying to decide what cleaning this area out would involve  the Contractor’s assistant tells me that the Warehouseman who had my job  years and years ago had an aneurysm and died on the job- and he had heard he had died in his workshop.

He told me he assumed that the area was the one in the newer section of the warehouse but we guessed this was where ‘it’ happened.

Then out of nowhere the Contractor turns to us both and says, ” there are no ghosts in this building. I’ve been here for over 30 years and I’ve never seen a thing.

It was like he was challenging me, you know?

” We weren’t talking about ghosts. But if there were any I doubt they’d be haunting this place. It’s gross in here, plus it’s closed off. What’s the point in haunting something if nobody knows you’re there?

” Yeah, well. I don’t believe in ghosts.”

We finished our graphing and picture taking and note taking and we left the workshop area. I was the last one out. I remember I turned around and saw that cup on the worktable and it felt like it was yelling at me, you know?

I shut the door and then I locked it and when the cleaners came in and took care of it I never went back in.

Why?

Because I’m sure that cup is still there and it’s true, truth is stranger than fiction. I was more afraid of going into that room again and seeing that cup than I was of seeing the guy in the work shirt.

That’s why.

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