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Sometime in the spring of two-thousand and fourteen my friend Karl “Duke” Raczak passed away. To this day the matter of who exactly caused his death is some slight matter of controversy, however some events before and after his death were some of the most chilling experiences I have ever had in my life, which is why I would like to chronicle the events for future posterity.
I guess it all started many months prior in November the year before. His girlfriend, Tera Kinnan, kicked Duke out of the house to go live with his best friend Jerrit Lair. The matter of this relationship dissolvement isn’t important. What is important is that he no longer lived with Tera or her children.
Because of the social politics involved regarding the breakup I decided to let things cool off for a while and consciously avoided that group of people hoping that Tera and Duke would get back together. They never did and I eventually saw Duke hanging out at one of his friends house on Onyx street on one of my daily bike rides during the springtime afterwards. We exchanged a few words and buried the hatchet on a few matters and agreed to get together within a few days to go play some pool at one of the local bars. I took off and didn’t hear anything from him for several days. When I finally did the event would leave a very disturbing note on my psyche.
I hopped on Facebook one afternoon and Duke then private messaged me. It was strange. He said “Key…” then said “Get ahold of me.” I responded with “Where are you staying at?” because I was not sure if he was still living with Jerrit Lair. He then said “Directly behind D.Q.” (in an obvious reference to the Dairy Queen restaurant in town). Then he strangely said “Trade me a pistol fore my riffoll” then added a second later the word “Shotgun.” This was kind of bothersome because I knew Tera sold all of the guns Duke owned after she kicked him out of the house. I Promptly told him “No” then added how I bought a new .380 pocket pistol then asked him what his exact address was.
He never responded to my question, instead I got the following gibberish in almost rapid succession: “Whow” then “I’m imm smith” followed by “College. Me pree” and a final “Who zchrw.” I replied with “What?” in obvious confusion. He replied with “Com” and ended a few seconds later with “Hey.” Then he signed off of Facebook. I scratched my head at his bizzare behavior. I had no choice but to shrug off the episode thinking he was drunk or something, which, given the nature of Duke to imbibe frequently, would not have been impossible. Little did I know that would be the last time we would ever converse while he was alive.
Many days would pass before I eventually logged into Facebook again. This time I was met with a horrific surprise. One of the status updates for Duke’s biography popped up amidst many other people I have set to automatically follow and someone was saying something like “Rest in peace Duke, you shall surely be missed” on his publicly viewed profile. That seemed a little odd to me so I brought up his profile and noticed dozens of people writing their condolences for Duke’s passing. Nobody said anything about how or when he died and I didn’t bother to interrogate people I have never met before. This was disconcerting and I attempted to get ahold of some of the other acquaintances we shared and even his sister but to no avail. It wouldn’t be fore a few more days that I would receive the answers to his death and what exactly were the circumstances surrounding it.
Jerrit Lair, Duke’s best friend and then intermittent room mate, eventually popped on Facebook one afternoon. I asked him if he was at home and he said would be there soon so I arranged to come over to his mobile home for a bit of talk. A half an hour later I arrived at Jerrit’s mobile home. He let me in the house then took a seat in the recliner while I sat on the couch adjacent his recliner that separated both by a gap that led into the kitchen behind the wall in which the couch back ran flush with. After getting comfortable I then brought up the issue of Duke Raczak. Jerrit immediately broke into tears and he numbingly stared at the television set while rolling up a cigarette. He told me that Duke was coming home one late night after getting into an apparent fracas with some ruffians over a possible drug deal. The exact incidents were related by Duke to his sister, the home of which he went to afterwards. Apparently these hooligans clubbed him in the back of the head with something. Duke evidently refused medical care for the next few days and his condition worsened as he began to develop Spinal Meningitis due to his injuries. His mental faculties were wanning and he seemed to have lapsed into some form of dementia which explained his odd behavior on Facebook (I would later learn that I wasn’t the only person he spoke to in such a manner). A few days later his sister was out doing some errands or something and came back home to find Duke on the kitchen floor dead.
Jerrit isn’t exactly the most emotionally mature person i’ve met and he didn’t stop crying or bother to wipe the tears away as they streamed down his face as he related the story to me. I couldn’t fault the guy at that point in time and decided not to flick him any grief over his behavior. Once the story was done he just sat there staring at the television the volume of which was turned so low I couldn’t discern what the characters on the screen were saying. An uncomfortable silence followed and I decided to let Jerrit make the next verbal initiative as I was quite literally at a loss for words.
Then it happened.
I heard a noise. It was like some object was being slid across a solid surface then slammed against something else. It came from inside the house, possibly the kitchen behind me. I honestly thought someone else was in the mobile home with us rifling through some cupboard or something.
I turned my head in the direction of the noise then looked back to Jerrit. He didn’t reciprocate with the same somatic cues and kept staring at the television with tears still trickling down his cheeks. I was about to thumb in the direction of the noise and say, “Who’s in the house?” But before I barely opened my mouth to speak Jerrit said that those noises had been happening since the day Duke died and that he was still in the home.
A moment of terror enveloped me. If the previous silence was uncomfortable then this instant of spectral clarity was maddening. I no longer wanted to be in the home but I was honestly scared to get up off the couch and excuse myself.
I just sat there in silence for many minutes as Jerrit gently puffed on his newly rolled cigarette. He just seemed blasé to the whole creepy affair that just happened. A few more minutes went by and he got a phone call on his landline from his friend Zack and asked me to drive him over to his house so he could buy some pot off the guy. Without reluctance I agreed and we were soon driving out of town moments later.
Tera, Duke’s old girlfriend, would over the course of many months past Duke’s passing say that she somehow “felt” his presence around her. Even as we scattered Duke’s cremated ashes at Salt Creek Falls and in two places at the grounds of the Oregon Country Fair that summer she would confess about Duke’s spectral company over the course of the five day long road and camping trip.
I only imparted this story to a few people over the last year and a half with some persons openly concurring to the notion that they accept as a matter of fact all manner of supernatural happenings while relating stories of their own. Only a few were skeptical. I then finally managed to bring up the tale to my mother as I visited my parents earlier this summer. Being a religious woman of the evangelical variety her expression after I told the tale was, as to be expected, one of abject terror. She said to me, very bluntly I might add, that “If you ever hear something like that you just start praying.”
I honestly am not sure what I bore an aural witness to. Jerrit owned no animals and I’m sure we were the only persons in the house at the time. It was a nice warm sunny day and, as we left for Zack’s house, I visually checked to make sure no trees or other objects were rubbing up against the mobile home somehow. I am unsure of just what happened. The effect was so bothersome that the very night of the day the incident happened I actually lost sleep over it. I have only ever lost sleep two other times in my life over issues of family and job matters. It was just grating on my psyche the more I thought about it throughout the day until nightfall.
It was possible that Duke invented the whole story and his injuries were somehow unintentionally self-inflicted during one of his alcohol binges. He didn’t confirm much in the way of details to his sister and the police were never contacted. Whatever happened was something he dragged down with him into his grave. All I have now is memories of Duke and this bit of deposition in writing.
Even as I type this down I am constantly looking over my shoulder despite residing in an home office space of about ten foot by ten foot. My cat is sleeping on the floor and I even check to see if she is acting abnormal. It’s as if I am scared that by thinking about this or writing about this I am about to summon something. Something that the nature of which is so disconcerting I will be hesitant to explore in further detail.
Credit: Jordan Smith