Local view: Friend's ghost sent message about beliefs, the afterlife

The Hoyt Lakes shopping center is shaped like an "L," with a bank occupying the lower part of the "L" and several places of business making up the vertical line.

The Hoyt Lakes shopping center is shaped like an "L," with a bank occupying the lower part of the "L" and several places of business making up the vertical line.

At 3:30 a.m. on a Saturday last October, I drove into the deserted shopping center parking lot to deliver newspapers and bundles to the businesses in the complex, exactly as I had done thousands of times before. But this time I heard a sound as a cymbal would make just after the clash.

It was an unusual sound to hear at a shopping center at any time of day so I stopped the car in front of the bank and rolled down my window to try to hear from where the noise came.

Just after I stopped, the passenger-side door of my car opened slowly as if by itself. Nobody entered the car. I could feel the hair on the back of my head stand up. My entire body tingled. I whispered, "What is going on here?"

I reached my hand over to the passenger seat, very tentatively, to see if I could feel anything. There was nothing to feel, but almost immediately the car door shut again as if by itself.


The cymbal sound lingered in the car.

Trying to return to reality, I picked up a bagged paper to throw in front of the bank door. My hand was shaking so much I could barely hold the paper. Just then I looked out through the windshield.

There was a guy walking along the sidewalk toward the lower end of the L. It wasn't normal, though. Everything else in my vision was sharp and clear, but this guy was blurry. He stopped 10 feet in front of my car and turned toward me, smiling. I thought I should recognize the smile, but I couldn't be sure.

The sound of the cymbal got louder.

I sat paralyzed in my car. After a few seconds, the guy continued his purposeful walk toward the lower end of the L. But instead of turning left and walking in front of the bank, he went straight -- right through the wall of the bank building. The last thing I saw was his shape being absorbed by the bricks.

The sound of the cymbal stopped.

It took a long time for me to regain my composure, but I managed to finish the route. When I got home at 6:30 a.m., Shirley had ham and eggs ready for breakfast. I silently vowed I would never repeat anything I witnessed.

While we were eating breakfast, the phone rang. During the conversation, Shirley covered the mouthpiece with her hand and whispered softly to me, "Hon, Paul died yesterday."


"That can't be," I said. "He went to the lake to repair the pump and I was going to meet him on Monday to go fishing."

"I know," she said, sadly. "But he's dead. He died yesterday in the Baudette hospital."

After his funeral, and after the shock passed, I went over the entire shopping center incident in my mind. I remembered everything in great detail. Finally, it came to me. It was the smile that gave him away. I should have known right away; but now I knew for certain that it was Paul who appeared to me shortly after his death.

He was my closest friend for 40 years. We both believed after-death appearances and all other paranormal incidents were solely the products of people's overactive imaginations. We both believed human existence ends with the last heartbeat; then there is only black.

So why would Paul use his final moments on Earth to pull a stunt like that?

Joseph Legueri of Gilbert is a writer, retired educator and lifelong Iron Range resident.

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