Cumberland Times-News

February 22, 2014

He still walks the floor ... but there’s no floor

Jim Goldsworthy, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News

— Here’s a question you probably never expected to hear:

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened while you were sitting on the toilet?

I’ll give you a while to think about that before I tell you what happened to me.


The idea was to go to Gettysburg on Sunday to watch the Super Bowl and stay there to celebrate Capt. Gary’s birthday at Gettysburg Eddie’s on Tuesday, then come home on Wednesday morning so I could go back to work.

 However, extended weather forecasts are like pre-season college football or basketball rankings. What happens may not be what the experts expected.

And so ... on Wednesday morning, the streets in Gettysburg were merely wet, but the roads outside of town were layered with ice.

Also, coming home would have meant crossing Western Maryland’s version of the Alps to get to Allegany County. Hannibal, I am not.

So, on Wednesday morning, the captain and I decided to stay put for another day. That settled, we thought it would be a good idea to follow Goldy’s Rule 157: Goldy eats.

Gary eats, too, and it was time for breakfast.

The streets were good enough to drive to Dunlap’s, where we usually take our breakfast, but my car was encapsulated in at least a quarter of an inch of really tenacious ice.

Never before, in all my born days, have I been as sick of shoveling snow and chipping ice and scraping frost from the windows of my car as I am at this point.

We walked a couple of blocks to another restaurant we had been told was open. The sidewalks were slick, and it would have been easier to walk in the street, except that too many cars were using it. There was enough texture in the sidewalk ice that our boots were able to gain enough traction to keep us vertical.

Remember Tim Conway’s little old man on The Carol Burnett Show and how he walked? That’s how we looked on that ice.

The restaurant was open, and the waitress was glad to see us. She lives in the country and said the roads were not at all good.

One of life’s basic truths is that when it comes to fastballs and restaurants, location is everything. Here is an example of how that works with restaurants:

Dunlap’s is not in the tourist section of town, and its No. 4 Breakfast Special — two eggs (any style), sausage, home fried potatoes, toast and coffee — costs $4.80.

This other place is in the tourist section. Its virtually identical equivalent of Dunlap’s No. 4 breakfast is the No. 3, and it goes for $10.50.

That said, the value of anything is whatever someone is willing to pay for it, and we were willing. It was a very satisfying breakfast, too.

Bill, our buddy who owns Eddie’s, had decided for practical reasons to hole up for a few days in the same motel where we were staying.

Technically, his place was closed that day. No pointing in risking the health and safety of the staff, most of whom live out of town, and there wouldn’t be enough business to make it worth opening the place.

However, he did open for us and himself and some of his other cronies, including Mark — who runs the motel — then sent out for pizza. Didn’t turn the heat up, though.

He put my bout with the medics (see last week’s column) on his Facebook page and said that for a time, I was getting more hits than his cat.

It was a pleasant day. Overnight, the ice melted and the road crews had everything under control, so we came home on Thursday.

Mark has become as good a friend to us as Bill.

This means that one of our best buddies owns a bar and restaurant, and another rents us rooms in a motel that is less than 50 yards down the street. Sometimes, life is good.

Mark put us in a double-room suite similar to the one we stayed in at his other motel nearby, which as I’ve told you before was as haunted as all get-out.

For a variety of reasons, we’ve been staying lately in single rooms, where there has been only a minimum of paranormal activity.

Our usually unseen visitors, whoever they are, apparently are drawn to double rooms.

The first morning in the new suite, I asked Gary if he’d heard somebody walking across the ceiling in his room during the night.

“Yes,” he said, “I did. And somebody kept closing my bathroom door. Woke me up two or three times.”

We both heard an unmistakable clomp-clomp-clomp across the ceiling, as if someone was walking across a bare wooden floor above our heads. This happened more than once, three nights in a row.

Footsteps from an unknown source, whether on your floor or the next one up, are a common manifestation. So is door-closing.

However, this motel has no second story. Nothing is up there but the roof, and nobody would be traipsing around on it at 3 a.m. during an ice storm. I wonder if, back in the day, there was a two-story house on the same ground. Whoever is up there may not be aware that things have changed.

I was peacefully minding my own business in my own bathroom when someone yelled at me. The door — which opens outward, from where I was sitting — wasn’t completely closed, so I called, “Gary? Did you want something?”

No answer. OK.

Later, I asked him if he had hollered at me before he went out. He said he hadn’t.

Well, I told him, someone did. (Not the first time we’ve had such a conversation and it probably won’t be the last.)

The next morning, I was in the same place, with the door ajar. Gary had already left to go visit Mark in the office.

While I was watching it, the door gently closed the rest of the way and the latch clicked.

The only thing I could do was sit there and laugh. Truth is, I’m still laughing about it.

The next time I visited the toilet, I said to whoever who may have been listening, “I’ll close it all the way, this time.”

I was left undisturbed.

And I’ve been thinking: A couple of years ago, as we were turning in for the night, I told Gary I planned to take a shower when I got up.

The next morning, I awakened to find a bath towel and washcloth neatly folded on the floor beside my bed.

The least I can do for such kind ... souls? ... is show them a little courtesy in return.