Thursday, August 11, 2005
Melody At Sunset by Anita Moscoso
When I was a teenager we use to go out to a place called Lost Lake and walk around the cemetery out on it's North End at Sunset.
That's all that left of Preston Prison which in it's day was such an awful place that no one in town would even admit to having known anyone who worked there, let alone say you had family or friends locked up behind it's bars.
Something about those walls changed people.
© anita marie moscoso 2005-text
It changed their faces and voices and natures so much that most of the staff ended up living on the grounds because their own kin wouldn't let them back through their own front doors after they'd been working at Preston.
Check the staff records against the records of the dead at the Cemetery in Lost Lake. You'd be surprised how many of those names match.
Later after they pulled the prison down they actually buried the stones, the bricks and bars and furniture, papers, books, clothes kitchenware too. There's a grave marker of sorts over the sight. It simply says,
" Preston Penitentiary B. 1899 D. 1942 Dead By Our Hands "
People use to go up there to hear see the ghosts of the condemned wandering the ruined tombstones. They were unable to leave the cemetery and you could hear them begging for God or the Devil or anybody to help them, and they were all suppose to be doing the same thing.
They were trying to dig up the graves with their bare hands. People guessed they were still trying to escape that Prison.
I was about 18 the year my friends and I made our first trip up to Lost Lake.
We knew this ritual ( and we knew that’s what it was called ) wouldn't work at noon or dawn or at midnight; you had to be there at Sunset in black and ready to walk the borders of the small neglected cemetery as the sun came down. If you did the ritual wrong something bad happened...instead of being able to look in you let something out.
I grew up around stories where people were suppose to have tried this and we knew what happened if your timing was off or you left something out or wore the wrong color.
" Do you remember Kelly O'Hara's sister Laura? The one who walked the cemetery gates? She died from a drug overdose last week," or " Remember that bunch of seniors who walked the Cemetery Gates back in 1981? Those four guys who always use to hang out together? They all died in car accidents last week...yeah ACCIDENTS.... plural they all live in different places but they all died last Saturday..."
When we went up we did what you were told to do to the letter.
We wore black we walked backwards and we also stopped at the front and back entrances and faced the gates and mimicked locking the gates.
Then we finished and faced in and there they were, the condemned, on their hands and knees and it looked liked they were trying to dig down to their caskets with their bare hands.
Men, some women in the clothes they were buried or executed were on their knees helplessly trying to touch the earth they were no longer part of. They cried, some were screaming others just crouched there shaking their heads from side to side and they were laughing.
They were the worst.
It was the woman buried closest to the gates that I learned the secret of Lost Lake from, the Phantom that haunts me to this day and who's image I will take with me to my own grave.
She was down by her own grave making the same motions over and over in the dirt and pine needles; so I simply leaned over on my side of the gate and copied her a few times. Then I put my hands down into the dirt on my side of the fence and copied her movements: I wrote, " I killed Bobbie Green, December 25, 1925 gunshot. "
When I asked later I learned that Melody Green was the Warden's wife and she shot him Christmas Morning because he bought her a dress she didn't like, probably because the card attached had his girlfriend's name on it instead of her own. I wouldn't have liked the dress either, if you want to know the truth.
But I wouldn't have shot him for it in front of my entire family.
They hung her in his office at the prison and I guess it took her a long time to die.
Melody's dieing words were supposed to have been the Prison made her do it. But in the end she pulled the trigger...didn't she? I guess she realizes that now, I think they all realize it now up at the Lake.
You can't see the Prison Walls anymore but they are still there, and there's no leaving them.
© anita marie moscoso 2005-text
Posted by Anita Marie Moscoso at 8:05 PM