Have you ever had something happen to you that was just completely unexplainable? I’ve a had a few, but usually they’ve been sort of silly, innocuous events that simply made me shake my head. For instance, I once returned home from school on a bright spring day, got out of my car, and walked to my front door carrying my backpack and stuff. When I got to the door I reached in my pocket to get my keys and they weren’t there.
Frustrated, I walked the 20-feet back to my car, opened the door, and looked in the ignition. Nothing. I mean, I knew I’d had them because I’d just driven home 30 seconds ago. Long story short, I looked for those keys for the next hour as well as time and time again over the next few days. I combed through the car, my backpack, and retraced my steps over and over. Luckily, I had a spare set hidden near the front door, but I never found those original keys again. They had to be somewhere, either in the car or between the car and my front door. Nope, they were gone forever, never to be found again.
Gremlins? Key fairies? Ghosts? Did I drop them and a chipmunk or bird grab them in the few seconds I walked to the door? I never found out. It’s one of my life’s enduring mysteries, but somewhat amusing and not as intriguing, or unsettling, as one I’ll recount later.
Sometimes weird things happen and there’s an explanation. One year driving home from vacation, I stopped to get gas on the West Virginia Turnpike. As I pulled back onto the highway I heard something bouncing on the roof of my 4Runner. I suddenly realized I’d put the gas cap on the roof as I filled up (this was before they were attached) and forgot to replace it. That was my gas cap bouncing away.
When I got home I bought a new one, no big deal, and went on with my life. Weeks later I was walking out to get my mail and noticed something in my driveway. I walked over, looked down, and there on the ground was my original gas cap.
What the hell? After puzzling over this for a minute, the only thing I could surmise was that it had been stuck on my roof somehow, maybe on the luggage rack, and had fallen off in my driveway. Still, what are the odds it would fall off, after me driving around for weeks, right there in my driveway?
But without a doubt the most unsettling, surreal, chilling and to this day unexplained thing that’s ever happened to me occurred another time. It happened years ago when I was dating a girl who worked for a travel bureau. Her job was to act as a chaperone on bus tours around the country. Anyway, she had to work a tour through the south that was departing from Louisville, Kentucky and asked if I’d drive her to the hotel where everyone was to meet. The plan was that she would leave with her travel group that night and I’d stay at the hotel and leave the next morning.
I checked into the hotel, but at some point after she left I decided that rather than stay there I’d drive up to the University of Cincinnati to see my cousin Mick, who was playing basketball at UC. I called him from my hotel room, told him I was coming, and headed north. But once again something made me change my mind. I’m not sure why but I decided to go home. Remember, this was before cell phones, back when if you were on the road you were really by yourself, out of touch with anybody.
So I was a little surprised when I arrived home a few hours later (it had to be around 2 a.m.) to find my father standing on my front porch. Puzzled, I asked what was wrong. He seemed upset but really glad to see me. It was then he told me what had transpired. It seems he’d received a call from Mick, who was more than a little concerned about me. Sure, because I hadn’t shown up in Cincinnati, but also because of a call he’d received a few minutes after my call earlier in the evening. Here’s the call as he told it, word for word:
Male Voice: “Did you just receive a call from Dave Shoemaker?”
Mick: “Yeah. Why?”
Male Voice: “Is he traveling alone?”
Mick: “Who is this?”
Well, as you might imagine my cousin was more than a little alarmed. Had someone been in my hotel room? How did they know I’d called him? How did they have his number? Why did they want to know if I was alone?
What the hell?
After I called Mick and assured him I hadn’t been beheaded by a serial killer, I sat down with dad and tried to figure this thing out. We even called the hotel and questioned the manager.
Nothing. No answers. It just made no sense.
For years I puzzled over that call, and I was never able to resolve in my mind what happened that night. I think of it less now, although it still comes to mind from time to time.
Still, it lingers, and I still wonder.
Who made that phone call? And why?
Dave Shoemaker is a retired teacher, athletic director and basketball coach with most of his professional years spent at Paint Valley. He also served as the national basketball coach for the island country of Montserrat in the British West Indies. He lives in Southern Ohio with his best friends and companions, his dogs Sweet Lilly and Hank. He can be reached at https://shoeuntied.wordpress.com/.