And now it is time to finish the story started below.
So the story of Henry the Ghost went around the office. Everyone had something to say, having always complained about "noises" while working late. It is an office of women, with one man, and so stories like this cause excitement.
But some months went by and occasionally Henry was mentioned. I personally talked to him if I was in the office alone. In fact, one evening when I was the last to leave, shortly after I was there with Patrick, I called out into the dark building, "Good night, Henry! See you in the morning?"
From within, I heard the sound of what seemed to be a binder clip or a pen thrown against the wall.
"Right then," I said. "See you tomorrow!" Then I threw the alarm and locked the back door.
Threw the alarm. We each have a unique code that is used to activate and deactivate the alarm. Our security company can tell who comes into the office and when, as well as when they leave. Inside the office are motion detectors that, if triggered, sound the alarm.
But there are no detectors in the lobby.
On Wednesday at lunch, J., our receptionist, spoke about how she was beginning to think there was no afterlife. The conversation flowed, naturally, to the topic that has convinced many that there is an afterlife - ghosts.
I was seated in our kitchen with L. and M., two paralegals. We all recounted our own stories and then I said, "Don't forget about Henry." L. said, "Oh, he was here last week, when I was working late."
L. was at her desk, alone and after hours, when she needed to get up to go to the copy room. As she approached the divider between M.'s work area and S.'s work area, she distinctively heard the sound of typing coming from S.'s keyboard - loud enough for her to inversitagte before going to the copy room. She went around the divider and saw S.'s keyboard sitting on the side of the U-shaped work area, and the chair facing it. What struck L. as being unusual is that S. places her keyboard directly in front of her computer, with the chair facing it as well, and pulled in. The computer is in the middle of this U-shaped work area. Perhaps L. had mistakenly heard something and maybe S. had simply left that day in a hurry. But L. thought it was Henry.
"That gives me the chills!" J. said. "I don't like it!"
M. admonished her. "Patrick said Henry was friendly, so I don't think you have anything to worry about."
"That's right, " I said. "Henry might have some fun but I don't think he means any harm."
The day progressed and L. worked late again, leaving just before 7:00 p.m., activating the alarm. Before L. left, K., another paralegal, left via the front door, locking it as she left. The next morning, just before 8:00 a.m., M. arrived and used her code to deactivate the alarm, with L coming in shortly after her. But both L. and M. used the back door.
That morning, J. - the receptionist who had expressed her fears - unlocked the front door and came through there, seeing the cars of the other women and knowing they had deactivated the alarm. That's when she found the chair, as seen above, placed before the sliding glass window where she greets the clients as they come in.
J. thought someone had been working late and went to the front door without realizing that in closing the door separating the lobby from the rest of the office, they had locked themelves out. That would leave them with the recourse of climbing through the sliding glass window onto J.'s desk, which is immediately on the other side.
J. questioned all of us. No one said they had done that. By then, I had arrived and asked J. if she touched the chair. When she said no, I took a picture of it, where it sat. That's the photograph above.
Here is what we determined:
- Boss Lady called the security company, who verified from the security codes used that L. was the last to leave the night before at 6:48 p.m. and M. was the first to arrive that morning.
- K. had not seen the chair in that position when she left through the lobby the night before. We recreated her leaving and, in fact, she would have run into the chair if it had been there.
- Look at the picture - if someone had placed the chair there to climb through the window, wouldn't they have placed the back of the chair against the ledge of the window, to better brace it?
- Nothing was disturbed on J.'s desk and if someone had climbed in, given the very small space of the window, the little silver summoning bell, that you can see in the picture, would have been pushed aside.
- No motion detectors in the lobby would mean if the chair was moved after L. left and threw the alarm, it would not trigger any alarm.
We all agreed - Henry just wanted us to know he was listening. Especially J., the receptionist.
Do you believe?
These offices are fairly new, but built on old ranching and farming land in Chino Hills. We have even had the offices blessed (by our "chaplain," Fr. John). Maybe Henry is an old cowhand from the days of the rancheros in the area, who perhaps being all or partly Latino was a Catholic - and enjoys the drama of a family law office. As I have said, I don't sense any malevolence and frankly, I like having a bit of added protection.
Do you believe?