I remember being a little kid and Mama walking around videoing anything and everything she could.
Dad had just recently published Facing The Music and he bought her a video camera. That thing was huge and it hurt your shoulder to hold it propped up for a minute. I guess it didn’t bother her. She gleamed with it. She was getting something new and recording her babies. I remember watching a video of us at my grandmother’s for lunch one day. LeAnne and Billy Ray were filmed fighting while my Mamaw was in the background frying chicken and baking biscuits. I think I was in and out of shots but don’t remember well.
But, what I do remember about that video is Dad. He was leaned back in a chair watching everyone. Mama throws the camera on him and asks him about the ghost story from a call he got the night before while on duty at the fire station. He’s wearing a navy blue “Firebuster” shirt and he leans his head down and his eyes get big. He twists the sides of his ear with a finger and thumb as he chuckles and shivers. He tells the haunting story of what he saw that night while on call. I don’t believe him as I study every word. I didn’t believe in ghost at nine years old.
Webster says ghosts are “the soul of a dead person thought of as living in an unseen world or as appearing to the living people.” Webster also says its “the seat of life or intelligence.” Webster can’t describe what I know, but “He” is close. Maybe Webster is telling me I know a soul that still lives, that it’s appearing to me. And yes, Webster knows a seat of life or intelligence. I think I know his feelings too from Tula. I’m starting to know instead of only wondering.
I don’t know at my age of thirty-five if I truly believe in ghosts yet or not. I’ve never seen one or have even considered for one second that my eyes witnessed its motion. But I feel things. I wonder if ghosts can make you feel things. If they can then I believe in them. That’s something that happens to me often, especially at Tula or somewhere my father frequented.
I’m sitting on the docks of Tula right now and it’s almost haunting, not a scary haunting but a powerful gut-wrenching one. Crickets are calling and bullfrogs are loud. They echo off trees and down into my ears and through my body. There is a white cloud of fog sitting on the pond as its glow dances from the moonlight. The moon’s cast has the fog circling which only shows the pond’s structure. The light runs about six or seven feet to the bank and up the tree and to its top as it blares up back into the sky. The white fog just sits in a gloom. It doesn’t move and neither do I. There’s a presence here.
I feel a presence over me and under me. I feel it in both of my sides too. It’s in my truck that I drive every day now. It’s the truck I got to pick out for my Dad one day when he said he wanted a pickup with air-conditioning, a CD player, and powered windows as he sent me and Mom to Tupelo to purchase it.
It’s that presence I feel when I’m asleep at the old Tula store that’s newly renovated as an apartment that he owned; it’s the store too he wrote about where “Joe” would pick up his workers. But the feeling down on the pond at Tula is more powerful than any I’ve felt. It’s a feeling where I start to believe in ghosts. It’s that feeling when I get chills and inspirations to do something I never saw I would possibly do one day. I still don’t see it, but I believe it!
Shane Brown is a HottyToddy.com contributor and the son of noted author Larry Brown. Shane is an Oxford native with Yocona and Tula roots. Shane is a graduate of Mississippi State University and works as a salesman for Best Chance. He has two children — Maddux, age 9, and Rilee, age 7 — and makes his home at “A Place Called Tula.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright Shane Brown, 2015. Photo in the graphic is by Tom Rankin.