First time I saw a spirit I was under the age of 5 and lived in Tacoma Washington. We were living in the Salishan housing projects, in a double unit on Roosevelt Avenue. Behind our house ran the railroad tracks, back in the 60s it was open trestles and only weeds between the homes, the tracks and all they attract. The homeless....the Hobos.
There was no initial fear of hobos, it was the fascination with their capability to living outside, in their "camps", that stirred the coals of my curiosity.
Had it not been for Scout Finch, this frightening experience, might not have happened, at least not to us... But it did and it was naive curiosity and child's bravado that led us to wander the brushy weeds behind our homes toward the tracks. I was not alone in this venture, along with me was my younger by one year brother, J.R. and his friend Mikey.
The day it happened my mom had let us make a "camp" on the clothes line with blankets and we were playing. There was a group of us, most native kids, but all of us were from the neighborhood. I had hammer with the feather cap that flew off when banged on a hard surface, a toy my grandfather gave me. We were running around, I stop to bang my hammer on a rock and the cap went flying high toward the bushes. I remember standing there watching it and looking over the field for the colored feathers. All of us were, but only three of us would do the search, the others ran home. More likely to tell on us, but we didn't care.
As we searched the brown weeds, most as tall as us, all three and half to four feet of us, we would declare our booty. "Look what I found !"
We found old tools, clothes and a lot of bottles. As we neared the train trestle the weeds thinned out. It was here we dropped our pile and walked to the tracks. We could see someone's camp but no one was around it. So we went to look around but as we neared the edge of the gully behind the tracks we could smell a stink smell, I ran off screaming "skunk". I stopped halfway in the field, when I saw my brother was stopped and kicking at something in the dirt. Reluctantly I walked back and looked at the ground. What he was kicking at was short reddish brown hair. I poked at it and it was not plastic like any of my dolls head was what I thought and recall, it didn't make a sound, we ran home and we didn't talk about it.
I don't know why actually we didn't say a word to my parents other than fear of an ass whipping or to being sent to Raymond Hall for delinquents and children who didn't listen to their parents. Of which we were at the moment.
Today I can be amused by this, but years I have kept quiet and tormented.
I cannot tell you how many days later I seen the headless man standing outside our house. But he came in the night and stood first at the edge of our yard. My brother would refuse to sleep and eventually my mom moved my brothers bed away from the window. But my bed stayed, too bad for my brother because after that he came into our bedroom and stood at our closet. He was dirty and had holes on his clothes and stood next to my brothers bed. Of course not making a sound. Just standing there night after night, relentlessly. Gradually we grew accustomed and just dealt with his presence.
You have to understand the times,..
Our neighborhood was a cultural mixture of poor people and during this racially tense time there were crimes and rapes occurring in our area. It was a time when it was easier to just keep quiet than complain.
Then one afternoon a couple of policeman were walking the tracks, their car parked at the at the playground we were at right by the tracks. We could hear the radio and of course the older kids were translating to us younger ones that they found a man with no head down in the gully and they couldn't find anything to identify this man. It was only minutes probably, but it felt longer sitting in that park, but soon all our parents came and brought us home, to be inside. Because the police had brought out the dogs.
It wasn't long until the head was found and the police blamed the crimes and the rapes in the area on this headless man.
But the man still came at night.
We moved and sometimes my brother would see the man in our new home, but not all that often.
I often wonder if he did not do any of these crimes?
After all he didn't harm us.
Or were we just lucky?