But wait…my ghost tale doesn’t end there… (points to the prior post)
First, details on this are a bit shaky, as I’m relying on memory. I haven’t told this story in years; I no longer have the book in question (at least, I can’t find it in my collection, and I could’ve sworn I’d kept it!), and the notebook where I’d written all this down is long gone.
Cue about a year later, December. We’d been laid off from the psychic line (it’d gone bankrupt — yeah, like Ms. Kincaid hadn’t seen that coming), I was doing Customer Service for CompuServe, Brett was working with MediaPlay as their lead sales associate, in their book section.
(For those unfamiliar with the chain, MediaPlay was an all-in-one entertainment store. It sold books, CDs, DVDs, movies, media memorabilia & whatnot.)
Brett came home Christmas Eve and handed me a wrapped package. “Open it. I’ve got a story to tell you, and you won’t believe this until you open the gift.”
So giving him one of those “wife-putting-up-with-crazy-husband” looks, I opened the gift. A thick yellow trade paperback, about Tennessee battles in the US Civil War (I *think* it was Thomas Connolly’s “Civil War Tennessee, Battles & Leaders”).
Now I’m really looking at Brett weird, and going “Oooookay, I’m really not interested in Civil War stuff…”
Well, he’d been doing re-stock when a customer came up and asked him to price a book: really old guy, wearing an overcoat, grizzled, white-bearded. Brett scanned the barcode from the back cover but couldn’t find it in the store’s stock records and had to search through the MediaPlay database as a whole to get the price. He gave the man the price (about $10-$12)…and the guy just smiled, laid the book face down on the counter, and said, “Well…it’s not meant for me, son. It’s meant for someone else. You’ll know who.”
…and the old guy then walked straight up the aisle & out of the store, without stopping.
(the book section in that MediaPlay was at the back. The customer info desk was a straight-line shot from the front door, right down the main aisle. So yeah, Brett saw him leave.)
So Brett’s just staring after the guy — you get all kinds of weird types in stores during the Christmas rush — then picked the book up to put it back on the shelves….and saw the front cover: “Civil War Battles of Tennessee”.
Then he took a closer look at the computer screen and realized that the book wasn’t in stock at their store. It wasn’t even in stock in any of the Columbus stores. Yet it was a brand-new book, in plastic wrap (!), no “bargain book” sticker or anything.
(Folks, shoplifters & scammers just don’t leave new books in stores. They just *don’t*.)
“I think Joshua wanted to give you a Christmas present,” Brett said, as I’m just sitting there, staring at him & not believing I was hearing this.
Okay. We had to leave for my parents (in Middletown), so I tucked the book into my duffle bag with my overnight stuff and put the whole puzzle on my brain’s back burner. There was about 2-3 inches of snow on the ground and more was falling as we drove out I70…and I’m staring out at the dark, snowy farm fields and getting that vision/dream/image of lying in snow and riding/running across it so strong that when Brett pulled into a truck stop to get a Coke to stay awake & shook my shoulder to ask if I wanted any…I *jolted*.
Later that night, after everyone else had gone to bed & I was up and restless, so I pulled the book out and opened it at random…and found myself reading about the 3rd TN Regiment’s (Calvary & Infantry) early battles during the winter…
Okay, Universe, I get it, I get it…