It wasnít by choice that I was walking through our local park, in the early evening of what had been a fine summer day. The day had been a difficult one, and really turned sour for me when my car suddenly shut down in the middle of the road. Luckily, I had enough momentum to coast to the shoulder. I knew what the problem was, because it had happened before. There was some substance in the fuel line that was causing me fits. My mechanic was baffled, although heíd worked on the problem for hours. I left the car where it was, with the keys tucked in the visor, and called a towing service to bring the vehicle to the garage once again. The driver of the tow truck probably would have given me a lift home, but I needed to cool down after a harrowing day. So, I elected to walk the mile and a half to my home.
across the still pond
where cygnets are now at rest
a white feather floats
Years ago, my wife, rest her soul, and I used to walk in this park and sit on a particular bench, where we could look across the small tranquil pond. As I approached the slatted seat under the lamppost, I wondered if swans were still favoring visitors with their presence. I saw them on the distant shore, against a backdrop of dark reeds and pine trees emphasizing their white feathers. The moment was so familiar that I dropped onto the bench to take in the nostalgia, expecting a nanny to pass at any minute pushing a stroller. Of course, it was a bit late in the day for that.
I was so intent on the view and my musings that I didnít at first see the brown leather-covered journal. When I did see it, I scooted toward where it lay on the end of the bench. There was an embossed goatís head on the cover, which I slowly rubbed my fingers across, like a blind man reading braille. I unsnapped the small flap that held the book closed, and it fell open to a bookmarked page near the middle of the journal. I read the lines penned on that page. It was in the form of a haiku, typically a Japanese poem, themed to nature. The words described the very scene I was then witnessing:
At first, as the remarkable words sunk in, I had the eerie feeling that somebody was there, looking over my shoulder. As I peered about, I could see that I was alone in the moonlit park. Nothing moved, except for the swans and, perhaps, a floating feather. Smiling wryly, I turned back to the journal, thumbing toward the front. Then, on the previous page, nothing to smile about! The words actually slammed into my psyche:
the engine has stalled
thirsting for fuel that isnít there
a tow truck must come
As if hot to the touch, I dropped the journal in my lap and sat upright. What was happening? I blinked my eyes and shook my head several times to clear the notion that I, myself, had written these prophetic words. Slowly, I picked the book up once again and returned to my place. It took a moment before my incredulous eyes would do my bidding. One page forward was another frightening haiku that read:
he has left the house
the body in the kitchen
as he drives away
I was in shock now, and salted tears overflowed to run down my cheeks. Who owned this strange diary? What devil had penned my deed? I shuddered violently, and wracking cries filled the night. My cries! What was going on? Had my conscience somehow taken on a physical presence and somehow materialized by prepared this journal? For the longest time I sat there, tears of remorse and wails of regret pinning me to that bench, my thoughts at home in the blood splattered kitchen, at that horrible moment. Then, I was compelled to know! I picked up the accursed journal once more. The next page forward read:
he wielded the blade
she fell to the hard-tiled floor
and blood ran freely
I jumped to my feet and flung the satanic journal across the path, where it splashed into the pond. I stood staring at it as it floated for a few seconds, revealing other blurring pages, and then sank slowly out of sight. There was nothing else for me to do. Some things can not be endured. It had to end.
My final recollection was the one weak surge of indecision, as I reached from the depths to grasp frantically for the white feather floating over my head.