Upon a clouded and moonless night, at the quiet corner of Fayette and Greene, a man impatiently walked his wife’s miniature poodle. Ladybug had scratched at the front door until she had made her point. She needed to go. But to the chagrin of the unshaven man in robe and slippers, she still hadn’t gone.
Finally she stopped at the old Gothic church and sniffed her way through the grass. She circled twice and squatted.
“Thank God,” the man muttered sleepily.
He stood there holding the leash lazily between two fingers, waiting for the little monster to finish. He closed his eyes and swayed slightly in the silence. A tug on his fingers signaled that the dog had done her business. As he remained there blinking at the plume of steam rising up from the frosty ground, he suddenly felt that he wasn’t alone.
There is a sound that a body makes when it is nearby. An intangible sound that can nevertheless still be sensed. A vibration. A humming, not unlike a television that has its volume turned all the way down. A sound of a “presence.” From the graveyard behind the church, he heard that tell-tale sound. He whirled, fully awake now. Ladybug barked.
At first, in the pitch of the night, he saw nothing. But then slowly, unmistakably, he saw a shadow rise up from a large tombstone. He could make out the shape of a man, wearing a brimmed hat and a cape. As the figure became fully erect, it turned its scarf-covered face towards him and slowly backed away into a stand of trees and then... disappeared.
Every January 19th, since this one in 1949, this mysterious figure has returned to Edgar Allan Poe’s Baltimore grave to leave behind three roses and a half-bottle of Cognac.