The following is an excerpt from Hadley’s Haunting.


Where They Know Your Name

People have asked me how my parents came on the name Hadley. It’s sort of a cute story I guess, and it totally fits their personalities.

On the way to Palm Springs, there was a little orchard grocery store named Hadley’s and that was where they met. In the store there was a little mini cafe that sold snacks and stuff. The thing they were most famous for, though, was their date shakes, and that was what my parents, strangers at the time, ordered. Before I get too far, let me explain dates. Dates are kinda like overly sweet, mushy, gigantic raisins that come from certain palm trees. I find them utterly disgusting. This orchard place took these dates and then ruined perfectly good ice cream by blending the fruit into it and called it a shake. They even made date butter. Extra gross points score there.

Fair warning, by the way, I do get going on tangents. It’s a bad habit, but it’s an easy habit, especially when gross raisin like foods are on the line.

So, back to the story of my name. They both heard the dude at the counter yell, “Order up, single shake.” My mom’s nose was buried in a bodice ripper romance and dad was scribbling away on a story he was writing. They both were doing a miserable job at multi-tasking and both grabbed at the single shake, sure it was theirs. They ended up knocking it off the counter where it splattered out in a sticky mess, everywhere. It turned out to be my mom’s drink, which made my dad feel bad, so my dad bought her a replacement shake. They had this awkward talk and finally went in opposite directions.

On that day, a year later, my mom went back to Hadley’s. I suppose all the time she had spent reading romance novels planted the idea in her head that if he was her one true love, then he would be here. She had decided that the likelihood of him being there was minimal, but that there was nothing to lose by going for it. Worst case scenario, she’d get a shake. He was there. My mom said he sat there in a pair of jeans, tapping his pen on his notebook like he was trying to figure out what he was going to say if mom showed. When she walked up to him, his eyes lit up. He jumped up, pulled a chair out from under the patio table for her, and they sat down together. They talked for hours. One date, no pun intended, lead to another until it was serious and dad proposed on one knee and asked her to marry him in front of their special place, Hadley’s orchard.

I was named for a fruit stand. I guess it could have been worse, at least they didn’t meet at a bar in Pahrump.

I was dead and all I wanted was to go home to my mom. I wanted to curl up next to her on the couch and have her stroke my hair and tell me that it was going to be OK. I’d been sitting there on a rock, staring at my body in the dark for a while, just trying to come up with some sort of plan of what to do next. I didn’t know where to go from here. I wondered where the bright light was that everyone talks about that shows up when you die. I didn’t want to stay stuck in this ditch forever. Seeing my mangled shell lying in the dirt was breaking my heart. I wondered when someone would find me, how long would it take for them to realize I was gone. I wondered what would happen to me.

I had to get out of here.

It took me a moment to figure out how to move. I had to build up this energy push every time to get going forward. It felt almost like a stair stepper machine in the gym, pushing forward for every step. The wash wasn’t all that deep, really, but in that moment, it was like climbing Mt. Everest.

I felt like I had accomplished a trip to the moon as I climbed out of that wash. I looked at the road that I had been walking on before hoping to see the guy who killed me. I wanted to seriously haunt his butt. When I didn’t see anyone, I kept on the trek towards home. I had no concept of how long I had been in the wash. It felt like days. I used the stair stepper technique the entire way until I finally made it home.