Hello My Darklings
In my previous post on my beauty routine, I had a chance to write that out over a period of time, but this one, I wrote in the quiet of the evening over a few days, and with reflection. This morning I was up very early, taking Belladonna for her walk and enjoying the hint of heat in the air, the bird song, the way the sun slowly brightened the landscape, flowers, early squirrels looking for food and scampering away.
I felt a mixture of enjoyment of the beauty around me and sadness that someone I dearly loved was not physically here to enjoy it. When I returned I could hear my sister and Doyle moving around, we will leave in a few minutes to go out for breakfast, Belladonna in her carry-along. But while I’m waiting for them I re-read what I have written about my beloved Brother, his was the 2nd major tragedy that helped complete my turning to the Dark side of life, to my own type of Gothicness.
In this post I’m going to ramble down a sad portion of my Memory Lane, it may even explain why my mental thinking is the way it is, why I turned towards the Goth side of life.
On our Spa Weekend, my sister and I, in a period of deep reflection talked about our older brother, Matt. Now Darklings I have mentioned my sister and my younger brother but we did have an older brother and he was another tragedy in mine and my family’s life.
His was a death that should not have happened but it did. Matt was 8 years older than I, born before the start of WWII, and with Dad in the military there was a delay before there were younger siblings. Dad wrote long letters to Mother and Matt, he and Mother had devised a code to say where he was based when over seas, sometimes it was certain words, sometimes it was coded in a poem.
According to Mother, when she got a letter from Dad, Matt became excited and got out the maps and code book, together they followed the military movements carefully, then finally in 1946 when Dad was de-mobbed it was a joyous re-union.
Matt during the War Years, developed a liking for ciphers, and codes, Dad through a police friend was able to get a radio scanner for Matt so he could follow what was happening with our local and county police department. Because of this he knew what was happening in our town before it was printed in the paper, later because of his interest in hidden things, he learned about code words for mind reading acts, he and Mother develop their own mind reading act for amateur programs at the local Elks lodge that entertained and amazed people. Later as I grew up he taught me code words so we could communicate with each other while other people were around and have the others not know. At times it became very handy and Matt taught me how to be secretive without showing that I was.
Later Matt became adapt at spotting suspicious activity, or seeing that something was not quite right, and yet being “invisible”. Instead of privately investigating he’d go to the police station to talk to Dad’s police friend, Tom and report to him what he’d seen. More than once his observations helped crack a crime problem. My brother wanted to be a police investigator. He read the Sherlock Holmes stories, books on spies and how to spy.
But Dad wanted him to eventually go to college and be something else, he felt that what Matt was doing could become dangerous. But I and Sis thought that Matt was a hero, our younger brother admired him for his cleverness. Matt attained good grades in grammar and High School, and received a scholarship for college, we could not have been happier for him. He decided to major in psychology, he felt that would be a good basis for police investigation.
Through him both Sis and I learned about the behavior of people, but our earlier experiences with our older brother also taught us to observe people’s actions and to always be suspicious. We also, through his tutoring, learned code words and simple actions to signal to each other our thoughts when with a group of people. On hot days with the use of a simple fan to fan ourselves we could communicate with each other over a limited distance.
All of us loved to watch and listen to the mystery programs both on the radio (yes, at one time radio had programs much like television) and on T.V., because of this Dad would refer to us as the local version of “The Baker Street” irregulars. And when his police friend came over to visit we were always included in the adult conversations. In many ways it cautioned us about “evil people” and that men, women and sometimes children could be “evil”.
In those days we could wander all over town and not be afraid of being kidnapped, we learned from our brother, and most of the time he’d be with us, keeping an eye on us. If he wasn’t around we’d stay close to home or let our parents know if we were at a friends house. We made it a policy to let our parents know by phone when we arrived and when we were leaving, Matt taught us that as a pre-caution.
Dad’s police friend Tom use to quote several lines from Shakespeare “To smile and smile and still be a villain” and Poloneus speech to Laretes, as well as explaining Hamlet’s remark “The play’s the think where upon to catch the conscious of the King”. He told us that the play Hamlet and Macbeth were murder mysteries, how was Hamlet going to prove that his uncle was a murderer, Hamlet was not indecisive, but needed public proof, unfortunately, said Tom, Shakespeare could not find the words to express that, except on a spiritual level.
Macbeth was more psychological, seeing how greed, vaulted ambitions could lead to murder and madness, unfortunately to be in politics, said Tom, it was best to not have a conscious. Even today I agree with Tom’s assessment.
Over the years we all, Dad, Mom, my siblings, Grandma, Uncle Mannie and Dad’s friend Tom, when we got together would discuss the dark side of human nature. And strangely enough Matt, I and Sis enjoyed it. Our younger brother would go off and play with his toy soldiers or listen to a sports game on the radio and in his own way tuned out, until dessert was served.
This along with other personal experiences led to my becoming more Goth, more darkly inclined.
Then one day tragedy happened. Matt disappeared, it was a Friday, he went to his college classes as usual, he was in the middle of his Senior year in college and working hard on his paper to receive a Bachelors in psychology, he was planning to go back to get a Masters and was being mentored by one of the psychology professors. For the last two years he was living in a dorm near the college but was always calling home to talk to someone in the family to stay in touch, sometimes calling as much as 3 times a day. Mom always sent to him a roll of dimes so he could call, and reverse the charges. Dad didn’t mind, it was one bill he liked paying, just to be in touch with his oldest child.
Matt had friends and acquaintances in college as well as home, lots of times he take the bus home for the weekends unless he had important exams or a paper that needed to be presented but he’d call in advance to let us know.
This time there was only one call, to say he was coming home for the weekend and to not to worry he was going to make arrangements for a friend to pick him up at the bus station and bring him home, we didn’t ask who it was.
He never made it.
We knew what the bus schedule was and we knew what time the last bus would arrive and even if it was late Dad would stay up to greet Matt when he got home, but he didn’t get home.
After Midnight Dad called Tom to find out if there was any accidents on the highway or in town, any kind of delay, there wasn’t. Tom was worried as well but protocol demanded that a person had to be missing 48 hours, I remember how upset Dad became saying to Tom that Matt could be seriously injured and time was a factor, so Tom bent the rules.
In tracing Matt’s movements after his last class, we discovered that he went and talked to his Professor and gave him his paper for review, grabbed a bite to eat with a couple of classmates and they saw him off on the last bus that left the campus that evening, he caught his connecting bus and the driver remembered seeing him get off as he was his last passenger. Before the bus driver pulled away he remembered Matt looking around for someone but didn’t see him and said to the driver as the driver held the door open “I’m sure my friend will be here soon, Thanks!” waved and the bus driver pulled away. But as the driver pulled away he saw a dark older model car go in the opposite direction then do a U-turn and pull up to where Matt was. That was the last time anyone saw him.
The days that followed were agony, Mother and Dad were trying to be brave, Grandma came to the house and stayed with us, Sis, our younger brother and I were told not to leave the house unless an adult was with us or to play in the back yard, but we didn’t feel like playing, we just quietly talked about Matt’s disappearance.
Uncle Mannie showed up about a week later after finishing an out of town contracting job. When we wanted to go to the store Uncle Mannie went with us, he made himself useful around the house doing repairs, yard work or painting to keep himself busy and to free up Dad so Dad could talk to our brothers friends. Tom worked the case looking for any possible clue.
Matt had been missing for three weeks, when one of our neighbors asked if we could baby-sit her dog, a beagle named Sammy, we loved Sammy, if we wanted to play with him she’d let us because it was good exercise for such an active dog. His owner was going out of town for a few days and knew we’d take good care of the dog. One game that we played with Sammy often was “seek”, we’d hide something of ours, like a doll or a shoe or something then we’d have Sammy sniff our hands and then say “seek” and Sammy would always find what ever was hidden making a howling bark too when on the trail, which the other neighbors didn’t exactly appreciate.
We had Sammy in our yard and Uncle Mannie was watching us, when we did “seek” Uncle Mannie jumped up, went into the house and brought out Dad, Dad saw what Sammy did. Now Sammy was not a trained blood hound or what now a days people would call Cadaver Dogs, but he had a good nose.
By this time Tom and the other officers had figured that Matt had been murdered, and it was narrowed down to 3 suspects. Sis and I knew them but there was one we really didn’t like, and we told Matt some months before we didn’t like him, he seemed “off”, Matt understood but said that this friend had been helpful with some research and was just quirky. But I remembered telling Matt that I thought his friend hated him and explained to him why I thought that, Matt understood and promised to stay away from him if we felt that way.
Dad told Tom about Sammy, Tom thought it was crazy but thought that the idea of using Sammy might reveal something. Sammy revealed more than that. He found Matt’s body, or really a part of his body. My brother had been hacked into sections and buried in different spots. Sammy found Matt’s head buried in the back yard of the parents home of the guy Sis and I didn’t like. The person later showed where the rest of Matt was buried.
The reason he killed Matt was jealousy. It seems that the person that Matt had hoped would be able to pick him up was sick so Matt reluctantly called this guy, because he knew his other friends were out of town and he knew the family car was in the shop so Dad would be unable pick him up at the bus stop.
While they were driving to our house Matt talked to him about the final paper and about graduation and this was the trigger that set his alleged friend off, in stead of taking the usual route home he took a side route that was more deserted, claiming that road work was being done on the street, Matt was tired and just let the explanation go, then on an empty stretch of road he said something was wrong with the front passenger tire and pulled over, Matt got out to check and his friend ran over him with the car. He dumped the body into the trunk and later went to a deserted place and hacked the body into sections burying parts here and there with the head perversely buried in his parents back yard with some tomato plants on top.
Matt’s friend was brilliant, but quirky, sometimes talking about theories about President Roosevelt having been murdered and other things that was too fantastic to believe. He had a temper which would go off if he became too agitated, his parents refused to have him attend college because of his behavior, and instead he worked for a man that his parents knew, it was a menial almost degrading job for someone of his intelligence, but his behavior was, in his parents mind, too unstable. How right they were.
Matt liked the guy and appreciated how smart he was and thought that by having him do some research work it would make him feel important and valuable. At first it seemed to work that way, but then his friend began to resent Matt’s kindness, which even included going so far as to giving his friend credit for uncovering information that helped Matt pull his research papers together. Matt talked to his Professor to see if there was some way the guy could work for the college. But because Matt was going to college and graduating and going back for a Master’s, it tipped this man into a blind rage.
The guy never went to trial for his crime, when Sammy found Matt’s head, he revealed where the rest of Matt’s body was, then he went complete insane. He died a few years later in a fire at the mental institution where he was confined, it appears the fire was an electrical short that started in his room. When Mother heard that she had a very satisfied look on her face remarking at the dinner table to Dad “Matt took care of him”. In the years between Matt’s death and the death of his murderer, everyone was trying to get their lives put back together, Mother and Dad realized even in their grief that I especially was having a hard time, Matt had gone to college when my friend Betty had died and now this but it wasn’t until we heard about Matt’s killer having died in a horrible way could we finally put things behind us. Our parents and grandmother stopped having that haunted look. Uncle Mannie was credited with the solution to finding Matt. Tom received a promotion in the Department. In the end we all finally had a form of closure.
When Sis and I talked about our older brother and how much he had influenced us alive and dead and our choices, it wasn’t so much a dark cloud as a dark wing, that sped us to look into the darkness of people’s minds. We always were interested in the dark twistings of people’s minds after that, Mom and Dad never prevented us from reading about gruesome murder’s in the newspapers or on Television. The Death of John F. Kennedy was played out before us on the Media, that we even began to think about conspiracies even to this very day, the sunshine of our Camelot died for us a year before and now for the nation, we never looked at anything or anyone the same way again, we never trusted anything or anyone the same way again.
Sis and I fell back into using the code words, hand and facial signals, even again on hot days the fan signals to communicate. Our brother eventually learned as well. All three of us watched people more closely, more suspiciously, and it carried over into our college years, and beyond. I learned to shoot a gun, and carried a form of pepper spray when I worked nights, we never had our doors unlocked ever again. When either of us traveled alone we always used precautions to avoid harm. And today over 50 years later we are still suspicious, even more so, because we know and understand the dark side of the mind. Our brother even in death, taught us that.