Sunday, September 22, 2013

Notes from my Knapsack 9-26-13

Notes from my Knapsack – Granville Sentinel 9-26-13

Jeff Gill


A story on the way home (pt. 5)


(The fifth installment of an ongoing story)

It was beyond frustrating, this long day in Granville.


Nelson knew his sister had been here, repeatedly, over the last few years. As next-of-kin, he was trying to determine what Sheryl's wishes would have been, given that her unexpected, accidental death had left a sum of money that, as her brother, he wanted to use in her memory.


Somehow, he was convinced that if he could find out what this town meant to her, he could make sense of what she would like done. Their uprooted and disjointed childhood had left them moving away from each other, without rancor, from early on, and the last few decades had given them a few phone calls, the last few years some e-mails, but little else to go by as a relationship.


He didn't know her, he said to himself for the umpteenth time, but she knew this place. How?


The one clue that tied into the village was up the hill, the college as everyone here inexplicably called Denison University. Nelson knew their father, the largely absent figure of their youth and long deceased himself, had briefly taught here in the 1980's. That was after they'd gone on to college themselves, he and Sheryl, and before she had tried to make contact with him, something that happened just before his death and a reconciliation Nelson had wanted nothing to do with.


That farewell took place in Dallas, though. And dear old Dad had been there a while, or so he thought, but Nelson had fended off all Sheryl's attempts to talk to him about what was discussed between them in that Texas hospital room.


At any rate, the campus records such as he could access told him little, and the editor he'd pursued across Broadway after dinner had said he'd have to check on his sister's name in their records, but not until after he'd done a dozen things none of which could wait: deadlines, you know.


Even with the press of deadlines, he'd been given a quick hand-drawn map of some historic buildings along the south side of Broadway to look at, with notes indicating age, or history, or some other point of interest.


Working back past the bank, Nelson looked appreciatively at the Granville Historical Society Museum, an aged sandstone structure that doubtless had layers of history woven around it. Strolling east, he ducked into the Post Office to check out the WPA mural, a primitive rendering of a pioneer scene complete with fresh cut tree stump and buckskin clothing, and silent mouths singing out what was obviously a hymn.


The library, which had to be his first stop tomorrow morning, adjoining a slate grey Greek Revival building with a charming clock tower on the side facing the library main door; heading further east, a Federal style home probably older than the other buildings he'd passed, a "mere" hundred year old house on the corner, and then he saw a salmon-pink wood frame building on ahead.


His penciled map showed on the other side of Pearl St. what had to be that building, and the cryptic note above it: "Ghosts." Nelson thought to himself "Now I know where I'm getting a room tonight," and crossed the street as the light changed.



Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; tell him what you think happens next at, or @Knapsack on Twitter.