I met Stanley, through his twin brother, Harvey, in the early 90’s. Harvey was a diesel mechanic. He did repair work on the semi-trucks I had driven, and we became friends. Some of Stanley’s family were transplants to the region and in the course time Stanley relocated too. He was facing a divorce and moved closer to his dad and brother.
Harvey and I had become good friends, but Stanley and I developed a much stronger bond. Over the years, we supported each other through many hardships. Neither of us had great luck meeting suitable women. Though Stanley was facing divorce when we met, I got the court papers first.
My wife bolted from the marriage, and Stanley helped her flee. He felt he had betrayed me, but I was both grateful and relieved the woman was gone.
Stanley’s marriage eventually failed. I was there to help move her out. I was also there to help Stanley pick up the pieces and move on. We both endured another marriage with the wrong women. Stanley’s only blessing, from his second marriage, was the birth of his daughter. I had learned my lesson. Although I had one more serious relationship, I became a confirmed bachelor. Stanley kept trying and took a third wife.
Life wasn’t always terrible and unlucky. There were good times. We had created a strong bond built upon trust. There are good friends, and evidently, it’s okay to have several best friends. But a brother from another mother is the ultimate. Stanley was that friend to me.
We sometimes fought. I remember a phrase I learned, Hardened steel is tempered with fire. Stanley was good at making friends, while I tend to be an introvert. Stanley was well-received for his good nature and warm personality. I ‘m hard to be friends with, but Stanley knew me well enough that he understood.
When we weren’t creating memories, we would reminisce about our adventures. I may have been one to elaborate and enhance a tale, but the adventure part was truthful. I’m a published author now, so I must admit I can weave with more creativity. Stanley had a reputation of honesty. Our history wasn’t fiction, it was fact.
Ghost stories weren’t readily shared. We tended to be careful of the audience. Ridicule didn’t concern us. We concluded our adventures would only be shared with worthy listeners. Our in-the-know circle was small. Harvey was in the circle, he believed. During a time when we were regaling one another, Stanley and I made a pact. If either of us became a ghost, and there was a way, we would give the other a sign.
Both of us have witnessed paranormal events. I had an extraterrestrial encounter when I was younger. We both were open to the possibility of cryptids even though neither had encounters. I have an unharnessed ability or sixth sense for spirits. Stanley didn’t claim one, but I knew he did too. Maybe it wasn’t a special ability, our minds and hearts were just open and accepting.
At one point, Stanley lived in a haunted house. Most people didn’t believe it, but I had a first-hand experience. Stanley and I were touring around the house, and a spirit must have sensed I was aware of its presence. The ghost made their anger very apparent, rattling doorknobs and tapping on the walls. I closed and held a door. Stanley warned me that was a mistake! The door was flung violently open again, pushing me away.
Harvey also lived in a haunted house but didn’t bother to elaborate on the fact. The spirit was a woman that didn’t particularly care for men. Harvey and his small family were moving out. I was working to dismantle the waterbed when I had an uncomfortable encounter.
I couldn’t overcome the feeling of being watched. At one point, I looked into the dresser mirror and saw a woman, in Victorian clothing, glaring at me. I turned to face her and was met with nothing. I began to work faster. It was eerie, sensing another presence while knowing I was the only one in the house. Harvey later admitted he knew of the ghost. He was uncomfortable while he had lived there.
The roller coaster of life continued tits trek of highs and lows. Financial difficulties, broken bones, and other life experiences became learning memories. Stanley and I weathered them. My life hit a low point in 2014. Both parents passed on that year and my creative financing finally caught up with me, leading to bankruptcy.
I almost deleted myself. That was a turning point. A spirit intervened, but that’s another story on its own. My life took a positive turn, and I had opportunities to better myself and become happy. Stanley continued to have his ups and downs, and geography created distance between us. But not for long.
The friendship endured a rift. Stanley was in the process of moving to another state. He needed a temporary place to live during his transition. By this time, I lived alone. I relished my privacy, but my friendship with Stanley was stronger. We discovered sharing a domicile wasn’t in our best interest. After a lengthier stay, than Stanley originally intended, I attempted to influence Stanley to move on and be happy. Stanley misunderstood and after heated words, we didn’t speak at all, for quite some time.
However, we were meant to be close friends. We eventually talked again. All was forgiven.
Stanley still struggled through life. He faced the hardship of the third marriage dissolving, this time taking him to financial ruin. If there ever was a time for a reason to end his life in despair, that was it. He had to start over. A relocation was in order. He wanted to be closer to family and friends. I did what I could, and of course, his brother Harvey, was there to help. He and I were concerned about Stanley’s mental well-being. If there was a time to be alert, that was it.
Stanley’s life took a positive turn. He, finally, met the right lady and was about to start on a career that brought him joy. He made a surprisingly tragic choice though. On a cold February night, he hung himself.
Everyone who knew him was devastated. Stanley was well-liked. I still take the loss very hard. I feel guilty and angry. I had always felt Stanley was the stronger of the two of us. Life went on though.
During a warm summer day a few months later, I stopped to visit with some young friends, that Stanley and I shared. The three of us were mingling around the doorway to the shop where the tragedy had occurred. Even though the shop was a happy place, it had been Stanley’s workshop, originally. To this day, I can’t be in proximity to it for long. Mixed memories are painful. We talked about Stanley, with smiles and good memories. Tough the pain of loss hadn’t completely left everyone, yet.
I returned to the driver’s seat, of my truck. The truck had never given me any mechanical issues. That day, after trying the ignition twice, the truck wouldn’t start. The starter would not even engage.
“Okay, Stanley! That’s not funny,” I mumbled.
The truck started!
It took me a while to realize it, but Stanley had kept his promise. Stanley could be a prankster. However, he had been too subtle. I realized my truck malfunction had to be his doing for forgetting our pact. I had gotten my sign. He’s probably still laughing at me, but glad I finally got it.
Maybe the truck not starting can be logically explained, but then again… Can it?