Home Spirit Home, Part 3
Ray Feurstein, NY, USA
This story is a little darker than the rest. But I felt that leaving anything out such as history and what led up to the incident would make this story a little confusing.
When I was younger I lived about two blocks way from where I am now. The house I lived in was my Grandmothers house. So you see our family has been living in homes previously occupied by other family members. I never knew my grandmother. She died the year I was born.
When I was about 12 years old and I was at a ball game with my father in New York City. It was a class trip. We had a nice day and were returning home. As we made the turn to the school, there were people all around waiting to pick up their kids. I noticed that there were two priests standing there as well. I for got to mention I was an alter boy in our church and the outing was organized by the priests for the parents and children of all the alter boys.
We got out of the bus and one of the priests immediately came and got my father. The other priest grabbed me and kept me from hearing what they were talking about. I was a little afraid because at that time you could say I was a bit of a rebel. I thought I was in trouble for something I did. I couldn't remember anything that I did do but I guess because of all the past trouble I figured there must be something I did and I will find out soon enough. My Dad came over to me and took my hand. He didn't say much all the way home. We lived about a block from the school and church so it was a short walk home.
I must have walked that route dozens of time to and from school and the church. It didn't seem half as long as it did that night. We finally made it to the front door of our house and I saw a whole bunch of people inside. Man, I thought, I sure did something bad! We went inside and my mother was crying, so were some the other people. All of a sudden my godfather appeared and took me out in the backyard. He sat me down and told me my older brother Butch was dead. He was murdered in Troy, New York, another city just outside of Albany. My older brother was living there near his work. They said he drowned that afternoon while we were away.
Well the rest included a wake then the funeral and people coming in and out of our house for a week or two. My mother was very out of it. She cried all the time calling my brothers name. One day my father came to my other sister and brother and me and asked if we smell anything out of the ordinary by the staircase to the upstairs. We all had noticed that there was an odor. A cologne smell, Blue Blaze, the aftershave my older brother Butch use to wear. It was very heavy and only appeared in the staircase. The odor got more and more intense to where we almost couldn't bear the smell.
One day I was coming home from school. I was walking with a bunch of my friends, doing what kids do after school. When I saw one of the priests from my church coming out of my house, again. I hurried home to see what was going on. I was told we would be moving out of the house for a few days and staying with my godfather and mother. The priest would be performing an exorcism that night. It appeared that my older brother was still here. From what I was told, my mother's unwillingness to let my brother go caused him to stay.
The exorcism was done and the smell went away. About a week later I was sleeping and the phone rang. It was late at night and everyone was asleep. Back when I was little, if someone called you from a long ways away the connection sounded static and the voice seemed far away. The ringing sound the phone made was strange. The only way to describe it is lazy. The phone was on a desk outside my door so I answered it. I said hello and the voice on the other end said, "Hi, Ray! This is Butch. Tell Mom and Dad I am all right, and you be good." I said OK and we said goodbye. I was still half asleep and so I went back to bed.
I woke up the next morning and remembered the incident and thought I dreamt it. I went downstairs to the kitchen for breakfast. My Mom was cooking and my Dad was reading the newspaper. I sat down and started to eat when my father asked me who was on the phone last night. I almost choked but I said no one. I knew how much sadness my brother's death brought to the family. If I ever said anything about what really happened I was afraid that they would be mad at me. It wasn't until 40 years later when I was sitting in the kitchen having a cup of coffee with my mother that I told her. She remembered that night. And she actually said she understood and believed me. Maybe I should have told them then. But it felt like the right time when I finally did.