I have enjoyed reading the stories of Dr. Jeff Moore from Halloween’s past. Each year I have waited with anticipation to see what harrowing, near-death experience he has encountered. I have read those, while secretly thinking that Dr. Moore is like a modern-day superhero. He saves lives by day and chases the world of evil by night by slaying any would-be late night office predators. Little did I know that I would actually find myself encountering a near “Dr. Moore experience.” I guess selling cars by day is not exactly like Dr. Moore saving lives, but it’s the best that I can do.
This past spring Yellow Jacket baseball was in a complete frenzy. The boys of summer (or in this case spring) were on an historic pace. You see, Stephenville had last made the playoffs in 1980. This writer just happened to be on that 1980 team. So the adrenaline was flowing with each game in anticipation of a record breaking season. My son Kyle was playing on the JV team. The way the schedule fell most games, the JV and Varsity would play opposite locations home and away. So this dreadful, scary night that I was to encounter, had Varsity at home and JV away. With our JV road game completed and a victory in our pocket, we congratulated the team and visited with the boys and coaches. After that brief celebration, we began to make our way home as the team went to have dinner. It was a particularly dark night with a bit of a gusty spring breeze. My wife Lynda and I made a stop at the local Sonic to load up on Dr Pepper and Ice Cream. (Naturally, she had Yogurt). This is my staple “driving home late” recipe to stay awake. The only real issue is that I will stay alert for some time after this “give me energy” concoction. As you might guess, upon our arrival back in Stephenville, I was pretty wired. It had been a great night of baseball from both Varsity and JV topped off by my own created energy drink.
We needed to make a stop by the dealership in order to get my vehicle that was parked at the store. As I got out of the car, the lights from Taylor’s Convenience Store glowed in the darkness of the night. I noticed a cat darting around the dumpster behind Gifford TV. Now, you must understand, I have the tendency to be a bit jumpy particularly on gusty, dark nights so I tried to be aware of my surroundings. Lynda and I discussed that it would be another hour or so before the team would return, and she was ready to head to the house. Since I was quite alert and awake, we decided it would be ok to for me to stay at the office and get a bit of work done prior to the boys getting back in town. A quiet, still car dealership at night is perhaps one of the spookiest places to be. The silhouettes of the cars in the showroom tend to cast shadows in which anything could be lurking. If you dare go into the Service Department, which we call the Shop, the security light provides just enough light to keep you from tripping over items left in the floor from the workday. There are NO shadows…just noises and creaks of the overhead doors moving with the gust of wind and the occasional piece of equipment making random noises. You don’t even think about going into the Parts department with the parts bins lined up to the ceiling. It would be like going through a labyrinth in the dark. Even our valiant local police officers will only enter the dealership on late night calls with heart beats racing, guns drawn and flashlights shining! However, this night, those thoughts were far from my mind as I was basking in the glow of baseball victory. I entered into the store, disengaged the security alarm, and as I walked past the parts accessory wall I noted the time showing on the Mr. Goodwrench clock being ten minutes before midnight. Walking up the hall, I peered into the dimly lit Shop through the window of the Parts department swinging door and shook off the thoughts of even remotely feeling spooked. My office is centrally located within the dealership on purpose. In the early morning or early evening hours when the dealership is quieter, I can generally hear any noise from voices to footsteps up and down the hall. I sometimes learn different employee’s steps and can identify them from just listening to their walk. Thus I settled in for a good hour of catch up time. The building was at complete peace. Other than an occasional wind noise, the store was in complete silence. As I was working, I had just thought to myself that it was a shame that my body needed rest and sleep as I was being very productive in the quiet stillness of the late night. About that time, a startling noise occurred in the showroom. It was a crash of sorts, literally around the corner of my office. My heart was racing. My thoughts were running. Should I look? Should I call 9-1-1? Should I hide under my desk? I listened intently. Quiet. I debated in my mind the appropriate action. Resolved, I armed myself with 2 stress balls… it was the best I could come up with on short notice. Just as I had imagined Dr. Moore sneaking around the clinic late at night, I found myself doing the same. I peaked around the corner. Nothing. I listened. Quiet. So, I braved up to walk around the corner. As I burst into the showroom, to my great relief, a plastic banner lay on the floor. Whew, of course. That made perfect sense. The banner fell off the wall. So I made my way back to my office with relief that all was well. However, I did begin to think….how did that poster fall? It was part of a quarter-long promotion from Chevrolet and had been securely fastened for weeks. But, why did it fall now? I tried dismissing those thoughts and getting back to productive late night work knowing that my keen sense of hearing would protect me from any would-be villains. I glanced at the Mr. Goodwrench Corvette Clock on the wall of my office and noted the time was now well after midnight. I once again settled into my paperwork. But wait. What was that noise from down the hall by the Parts Counter? It was unmistakable. It was the swinging door moving between the Parts Counter and the Shop. But that was impossible. I was by myself. No gust of wind can get into that part of the building. Again, my heart began racing. I have heard that door swing for the best part of my life. I know what it sounds like. What was happening… a banner randomly falling… a door swinging into the Shop? Could a person have broken into the Shop while I had the alarm disengaged? With great anxiety, I found the most suitable weapon a car dealer can find…a tire iron. Surely, I could ward off any would-be attacker with this handy tool. I spoke out as I peered down the hall. “Anyone there???” Quiet. I tip-toed quietly, stopping ever few steps to listen. I was met only with silence. I crept up to the swinging door and stopped. I gently pushed on the door. Yes, the unmistakable sound. That was the same noise I had just previously heard while sitting in my office. Then all of the sudden noises from within the shop….loud noises. I looked through the window of the door into the shop. Lifts topped with cars were moving up and down. The front end alignment machine turned on. The TV in the technician break room was playing a training video. Headlights of cars in the Shop were blinking on and off. I froze in terror. Without thinking I dropped the tire iron I was carrying and turned to run. I tripped over my on feet and fell straight into a person! I screamed. AAAAHHHHHH!!! I looked up at my would-be assailant. He was well groomed, wearing an automotive technician uniform and had an eerie smile. I had fallen into the life-size cutout of Mr. Goodwrench which was standing in the Parts area display. I couldn’t handle any more. I hurriedly grabbed my keys, set the alarm and jumped in my car to drive home—vowing to never return to the dealership at such a late hour. There was only one explanation for all these after midnight happenings…… the Ghost of Mr. Goodwrench!!! Ok. The strange happenings within the Shop and running into the life-size cut out of Mr. Goodwrench really didn’t really happen, but I decided that it was an appropriate ending in order to keep up with Dr. Moore’s stories. However, the banner that fell and the unmistakable sound of the door opening and closing can only be attributed to the Ghost of Mr. Goodwrench!