There was a resort in the north Georgia mountains my family used to go to when I was a kid. The resort eventually went bankrupt. My dad’s best friend was friends with the caretaker, so after the resort closed, my dad and his friend would sometimes slide the guy a couple hundred bucks to let us stay for a weekend.
It wasn’t too strange at first. It was the same old resort… just with my family and our family friends being the only people there. But as time went on, it got creepy: the golf course, once so carefully maintained, went to seed. The tennis courts started to crack, and weeds started poking up through them. The water in the swimming pool, once an inviting shade of blue, slowly turned a sickening green.
To my young self, the creepiest thing of all was the resort’s dining room. Like a failing restaurant, the resort shut down without warning, so that employees couldn’t make off with cases of Scotch and lobster. So the dining room sat – perfectly preserved, as if ready to serve dinner that night – for years. There were bread plates, water glasses, silverware, ash trays and cloth napkins, carefully fanned into peacock shapes, on every table. Silk flowers sat in vases frozen in time. The dining room bar remained perfectly stocked with whiskey, gin and vodka.
The (golf) pro shop was the same: perfectly still, with boxes of golf balls and sets of clubs sitting patiently on the shelf, awaiting purchase by people who would never come. And, by the cash register, a stack of scorecards and an acrylic box full of those tiny pencils – still carefully arranged vertically, point side down – as if the club pro had simply stepped away for a few minutes.
I was probably 3 or 4 when we started going there and maybe 6 or 7 when the club shut down. We went 4-5 times after that, when I was 8-10. And yes, I did walk around the resort by myself, pretending some disaster had happened, and I was trying to find a safe hide-out. Walking Dead-style. Still, I’ll never forget looking in that dining room. The doors were locked, of course, so I had to stand on my tip-toes to see inside through the wall of windows that faced the 18th green. And the windows got grimy with time, so even the ghostly dining room itself eventually faded from view.