When Matt James Was a Kid He Found a Dead Body in a Central Maine Car
I have all the same memories of being a kid as most other adults I know. Camping with family, watching the fireworks in Augusta, skating with friends at Happy Wheels and of course finding bodies in cars.
It's not a story that I've told too many times because, well, it just never really presents itself as a relevant topic of discussion. I guess I should consider that a good thing, eh?
I'm going to omit hyper-specific details here just in case members of his family happen to read this and figure out who I'm talking about, but let me get this going and tell you all about the time 9-year-old me (yeah, 9!) found a corpse.
Before we moved to South China in 2001, my family lived in a good sized neighborhood in Randolph, Maine. There were tons of neighborhood kids my age, and it was the 90s, so we spent most our time outside.
Typically, you could always find us out riding bikes until the street lights came on and we could all hear our mothers beckoning us home for dinner and baths.
One afternoon I was out riding down our little rural street headed to my friend's house when I noticed in the driveway of, 'the grumpy old man' as we called him, (we'll call him Mr. Man) trying to get out of his old blue car.
Now Mr. Man was indeed a grumpy old man, and looking back on it now, I don't think he had all his faculties about him. He used to photograph us from his windows as we'd ride past on bikes and then come out and yell at us to stop riding our bikes around on the roof of his house. Yeah, some things just didn't add up.
Anyway, as I was riding by I noticed that he wasn't making much for progress in terms of actually getting out of the car. So I slowed down and watched for a minute. Mr. Man had his drivers door open and one leg out and planted on the driveway. The rest of Mr. Man was sitting back against his seat, head on the backrest. No movement.
Because I was the bravest 9-year-old of them all (I told myself that), I approached the car thinking maybe the guy had fallen asleep in his car- it wouldn't have surprised me. However, as I approached the open door it became quite apparent that he wasn't sleeping. He was dead.
I'll spare you the details as to how I ascertained that the guy was dead as skip to the part where I huffed and puffed my little legs over to my friend Josh's house where I bust inside and told his mom that Mr. Man was dead in his car. She immediately scolded me for joking about members of the neighborhood being dead. I told her again and then she lectured me about the boy who cried wolf.
Finally after what felt like forever, I convinced her to walk the 200 yards from her house to Mr. Man's house and take a look for herself. I walked with her as she informed me that if I was lying she was going straight to my parents about this.
As we approached the driveway and she walked to the car, she let out the loudest horror-movie inspired, blood-curdling scream I've ever heard. Yup, she also figured out right quick that this man was indeed deceased.
She apologized to me and ran back to her house to call the authorities. Remember, we didn't all have cell phones back then. She had to go old school and place the call on her landline.
Eventually the coroners showed up and all the neighborhood kids stood about 100 feet back and watched as officials pried his stiff body out of the car and wrangled him into the body bag. That was it, Mr. Man was dead.
As it turns out, he had in fact been trying to get out of his car (he was elderly) and suffered an apparent stroke or heart attack that caused him to fall back into his seat while trying to get out.
It is certainly one of my most vivid memories of being a kid and something I will never forget. And, it always makes for an interesting story around the campfire.
Wherever you are, I hope you're resting in peace, Mr. Man.
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