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The Dark

Margaret Conroy, Michigan, USA
June 1998

Iwill try to tell you everything exactly as I remember it. Back in 1974 I lived in a little house that was a stones throw from Walled Lake but was fronted on another lake called Shalwood Lake. It was sometimes called Mud Lake by the old timers as it was boggy on three sides and a nature preserve uninhabited by houses or cottages. My house along with two other year-round homes and three summer cottages enjoyed a secluded setting. The first time that I looked at this house it seemed that I had been there before and after seeing the beautiful lake and back drop of woods the purchase was made and I officially owned it.

The spring there was beautiful the house had come with a speedboat and rowboat and I could spend hours reading or gardening. My husband and I had hoped that I would become pregnant soon and it was decided that I just take it easy and enjoy the sunshine. It was like a dream come true. I am from a large family and after several weeks of fixing up the house and redecorating I was bored and lonesome. I invited my five brothers, their spouses and my sister to come and spend the weekend. We planned to boat, B-B-Q and visit. I had corn cooking and hamburgers in the grill as they all arrived on Friday night. It was the first of June but had been a very warm day and everyone was enjoying an outing on the boat or a cold lemonade. As evening came it was still very warm and enjoying the company and the conversation we carried an old washtub down by the dock and made a campfire in it. We sat and talked and it was commented on by my sister how very dark it was getting on the lake. With no houses on the other side it did get very dark. Past the spotlights on the back of our house and the campfire itself you couldn't see a thing.

Six years before my oldest brother Mike had been to Vietnam and while he served his tour of duty there a friend of his, Jack, also in the army was killed there. He was a neighborhood kid that we all knew. His mothers wish was that my brother escort her son's body back, of which we were all grateful as this honor got our brother home 12 days early. That night as we sat by the fire noticing the total darkness outside of our circle, my brother Mike said, "You know Jack would love this, he always thought that darkness made him invisible". As the words were spoken every light in my house went out. We were thrown into immediate total darkness as the embers were dying down in the campfire. It was as though someone had pulled the main breaker on the house. More than a bit nervous about the situation we laughed a little about what a coincidence it had been to have a power outage at that exact moment. We all stumbled up the hill to the house in the darkness and retrieved some flashlights and candles. Everyone was a little frightened and dismayed when we noticed that the cottage next door, which could now be seen from the house had not lost it's power, though no one was there yet for the summer they left a front porch light on when they were there to open up the week before.

My husband looked at the breakers and we also had a separate fuse box and nothing was amiss. My sister kind of laughing said this really isn't funny ...if Jack shut the lights off, I sure hope Grandma knows how scared I am and turns them back on...My grandmother had lived with us and had passed away ten years before. As she spoke the words every light came back on. We are all rational adults. We had not had anything to drink that would impair our abilities. We had never had anything like this happen to us before and the most rational of my brothers said that it was a crazy coincidence as he packed up his stuff and said that he didn't really think that they should stay. I called Detroit Edison thinking that there must really be reason for the outage. A very concerned gentleman told me on the phone that he knew of no reason that the power should have gone out for that time and would send a truck out to make sure that everything was alright. He was concerned that the main line coming to the house may have a problem that could cause a fire. He said that they would be there as soon as they could but it was quite a way to travel. As all my brothers and my sister packed up their things and went home no one said "that scared the heck out of me" but kind of ...I gotta get outta here. I sat with a book waiting for the Edison truck to arrive. They came at 2am. They checked the main to the house...they checked the fuse box, the breakers, they went up the line and down the road and came back to tell me that they could find no explanation. They said that the main was new..installed the year before and that they had not received one other call. I went to bed but I can tell you I didn't sleep. The house turned out to be a very bad investment indeed, a month later I nearly drowned in the lake. It was very close as my boat capsized in a storm and my St. Bernard dog that was with me, a great swimmer, kept pushing me under the water. I lost my enthusiasm for boating that day as before I could get him off me and after I ran out energy a terrible storm hit. After fighting him I then had to fight the waves and wind that kept pushing me back to the middle of the lake. It is only by the grace of God that I am here today to tell of it. Winter came and the house could not be heated adequately. It was cold all the time and ice accumulated in my aquarium.

In the middle of November I discovered that I was pregnant with my first child and was very sick to the point that I had lost 40lbs by January. That was when the mother of all snowstorms hit. I was there alone. I was sick. The house was freezing and I woke up to snowdrifts off both lakes that blocked the doors. My husband was out of town on business and I couldn't get out. The road was impassible. I called our one "year round" neighbor and they did not answer the phone. I found later that they were at the hospital as she had become ill the day before. I called my dad and brother and he came and got me out of there. He had to walk in from the main road and it took us an hour working from the inside and out to get the door open (by then the phones were dead). When my husband returned he found me at my mothers. I told him that I couldn't go back. We looked for another house right away. We sold the Shalwood Lake house on a promisary note and never made a penny on it. Anyway the story of the darkest night is completely true there were many other strange events at that house during those few months that we lived there. I don't know how they were related but I am glad that I never had to go back.

Margaret Conroy, Michigan, USA
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