(Notice: All information in this story was gathered from The Madison Historical Society. I requested information from their research group so I could be as accurate as possible. Certain details have been lost i.e. Exact year, and name of the victim. I did my best to get as much information as I could; unfortunately I was never the best researcher. For now the best I can do is give you my experience. I will update if the Society gets back to me with more information. This story is a bit long but not short of my usual writing style. Please stick with me. Enjoy).
The dark. Years after my first experience and the dark still chilled me. The lights would go out and I would still feel the lump in my throat, heart and in my stomach. It was unnerving being the only nine year old girl I knew who still used a night light. Though at this time things started to happen more and more to me. Shadows would move. I'd see people that weren't there. I'd know things I shouldn't. It wasn't something that I was easily getting used to. Still I did what I had to, everything I was told.
It was summer now, and I still feared being home alone. The fire of last year and the recent launch of more activity made me jumpy. My parents felt it their responsibility to cure me. Things like this, however, cannot be cured. They either vanish completely or grow into a normal part of life. My father's line of work was dangerous for a young girl to be around. He worked at Carter Lumber in both Madison and Austinburge Ohio now. They built things, worked with glues, paints, and machinery. Most concerning large trucks. Knowing the danger my mother decided it was best for me to continue going to work with her and my sister who had begun to waitress there.
I didn't mind working at the tea room doing the odd jobs as I had done for a year then. Besides it was almost as if it was a family business. My mother the cook and manager. My grandmother worked desserts and tea's, Close family friends helped my sister waitress and buss and the owner was just as sweet as possible. Her name was Michael Loparro (Wife of city council men Vince Loparro) and she paid me for doing some of the easiest things. That's how I liked it. Never alone, never in the dark. At least that is how it was for a good while.
Our dish washer Belinda was probably one of the smallest people you would ever lay eyes on. She was tall and no more over ninety-nine pounds. Though I don't remember the details completely I do remember that she began to work less and less. That is how my story truly begins. The day I began to take her place. The work wasn't hard at all. It only took my mother about a half hour to show me the steps of using the dish washer, grabbing dirty dishes, stacking new ones. As the others washed take the dry ones back up or place them in the cabinet. It was tedious but not difficult.
After I was assisted with the first load I was left on my own. The dish washer tumbled and roared as it sterilized the second load of the day. And since my mother had already taken up the finished ones all that was left for me to do was wait. Count the ceiling tiles. Or watch the water rush from one tube to another. Just as the boredom became too much for me to handle it all went silent. The roaring stopped, the water dripped, and the steam released itself from the small cracks in the medal washer. As I stood I adjusted my apron and began the gruelling work of drying and stacking in the hot little basement room.
The fact that I was in a basement, cut off from the rest of the building, and that the building itself was so old I saw no reason to be truly afraid. I had been experiencing the paranormal for so long that I thought for sure I knew the difference between an old creepy building and a true haunting. So when I felt eyes on the back of my neck, or my hair on edge I pushed it off as a cold basement, and a hot room battling and me simply caught in the cross fire. At nine years old I felt so grown up. That I had a job and got paid and was able to be down there all alone but as the days passed I always found myself more and more hesitant to go anywhere but the dish room itself.
The basement was composed of three rooms. Cold storage. Box and can storage and the dish room. Coming down the stairs the first room you see is the cold storage. This was the room that often reminded me that I was not grown up at all. It was nearly always dark and I ran past it every day to get to my station. When carrying heavy dishes I held my breath deeply until I'd past it. Suddenly being alone was no longer feeling right. Suddenly turning my back to the door made my hands shake. Suddenly the eyes on my back no longer felt like a draft.
"Who's there?" my small voice asked into the thick air of the room. I didn't turn to face the door. No reply. "Who's there?" I asked again, this time I turned and I saw it, a person walking past the dish room door and up the singular step into the box and can storage. I sighed, my mother. I surely thought it had to have been her. I smiled and ran out into the next room. "Thought you scared me didn't you" I giggled. My laughter fell on no one's ears. The room was empty. My eyes swelled with tears and I felt myself fall.
Too scared to move I sat and covered my head with my arms. I had never seen one that put such a sense of uneasiness and fear inside of me. It made the eyes when I was a toddler seem like child's play. The presence that was so easily ignorable to me had me now in a foetal position unable to run from an empty room I had just seen someone enter. My grandmother at that moment had decided since it was slowing down to come keep me company on her break. She found me and comforted me. When she asked me what was wrong I lied. I told her I had a very sharp pain in my stomach. She stayed with me the rest of the day.
It was an early morning and my mother and I came in far before opening hours. She had a large party to cater and I had some left over work from the day before. My mother handed me a tray full of Miscellanies plates, glasses, and bowls that she was unsure if she would need that day but it was best to be safe than sorry. Down the first set of steps was a small landing before the basement. Before I reached it my eyes closed on me, almost as though they had a mind of their own. It was dark down there. Not a single light on. I took a deep breath and once again began my descent downward. I looked carefully at the plates in my hands. A plate was teetering very close to the edge. When I was sure I had a handle on it I let my eyes gaze up.
I'm unsure what it was my mother heard first, my blood curdling scream, or the crash of dishes and glasses, bowls and silver wear hitting the concrete floor. For the second day in a row I laid in the foetal position holding my head in my arms and sobbing. What was it that sent me to my weak and shaking knees? It was a man. He stood at the bottom of the stares in a dark brown coat and matching hat. His facial features were shadowed by the rim of his hat. His crooked smile was all I could see as he stood, hands in his pockets.
The next thing I knew my mother had placed her hand on my shoulder and I screamed again. She pulled me to her and reassured me I was ok. Leading me up the stairs the front door opened and Michael and Vince walked in. "What's wrong?" they asked. Michael pulling me in for a hug which I gladly accepted.
My mother looked at the two of them then back at me "She saw him" it was always odd to me exactly how my mother always knew without me saying. "Him" was the bank man. And I was not the first to see him. Vince being a council man had a love for the history of the building. Before it was the tea room it was many things. Another restaurant, a dress store, but before all of those it was a bank. In the dining room by the register and waitress station there was a large vault now used for coats. Back in the 1800's it was what the new city thrived off of.
Vince had many times told the story of the bank man; it was my turn to listen. It's been many years since he told me the story and I remember clearly his every word. Still I hoped to do my own research. Back when the town was in its first fifty years the bank was thriving and the square itself was filled with life. One afternoon a man from out of town came into the bank, he wanted to get a loan so that he could move him and his family there and start a new life. As the banker turned to get all the man would need the other man pulled out a gun and robbed the bank. He ran from the bank and jumped on the back of his horse. He would have gotten away with it except he was shot right off of his horse. He fell and died on the church steps just two doors down from the bank.
They asked one of the other buss girls to become a dishwasher that day, and I spent all of time no longer working, no longer being paid, no longer being grown up. I spent my time with the cat woman next store named Shirley. I haven't returned to the building since Michael decided to sell several years ago. But we have run into the new owners here and there. It turns out that the Bank Man is there to stay. They asked us once if we ever noticed a man on the stares or in the basement. Vince was more than happy to share his story with the next generation. Hope it was worth the read. See you next time.