The city of Altoona, PA was normally quiet other than being full of the noises of school children playing at recess and after school. It was a happy town with happy people. Included in those happy people was me, Arthur Beasley, a mural artist. I had been working on a commission of murals of street cars for a local grocer that wanted paintings on his outside walls. Everything seemed to be normal as I worked. Children would pass me and smile at my paintings. Mothers and fathers would stop to ask about my work. Other business owners would inquire about my prices.
One day when I was working on the mural, I was painting passengers in the street cars. As I was painting the people, a sudden force grabbed my hand and I started painting this strange little girl standing outside where the market would be in the mural. She didn’t ride the street car, but she stared absently at it and at the market as well.
I tried to make her happy. I tried to paint blonde hair and I tried to paint brunette hair, but the force that grabbed my hand always made me paint a hair that was a light shade of gray. As I tried to make it look like her face and eyes were smiling, I couldn’t. That force still grabbed my hand and made me struggle. The force won as I painted the girl with ominous staring eyes and a scowl on her face. She wore a gray robe and gray shoes. I couldn’t do anything to stop painting this little girl.
The grocer walked outside his market and I asked him about the little girl. “Do you know anything about a little girl that may have died near here?”
“I have no idea. I just bought this site, Arthur,” responded the grocer.
The grocer then saw the little girl in the painting and he tried to speak, “She had to g.” He stopped at the G sound and tried again. “She has to g.” Once again, he stopped at the G sound and then he started choking. The grocer once again started to speak and he said, “She has to,” but then his voice didn’t sound normal. He spoke one word at a time, almost like a robot, as if he were forced to say each word. “Has. To. Stay. She. Will. Draw. In. Curious. Customers.”
I looked at the grocer and he shook his head. I just shook mine and pointed at my hand that was holding my paint brush. It suddenly moved as if a message were going to be written, but nothing happened. As the grocer started to move away, my paint supplies rattled. He saw what happened, but neither of us said a word. I quickly gathered my supplies and left the area.
The mural dried and the painting of the little girl stayed. It is said that now when customers come to the store, they often find that their carts are moved when looking at items and that they find things that were not planning to buy in their carts.
One lady insists that every time she is at the store, the station on her car radio is changed and she finds mysterious messages on flyers placed on her car windows. However, all she can tell us are the words, “lost, girl, hope, mother, here, store.” She insists they appear in different orders and we tell her that we do nothing.
Even the grocer calls me and says, “Arthur, my fruit was flying around the store last night. Did you do anything.” I just tell him, “No. I must be a ghost.” He laughs, but we secretly know that a ghost has to be haunting this grocery store in Altoona, PA.