No Rest For Harry
On February 27, 1957, Telly Savalas, the late actor who was popular for the Kojack television series in the 1970’s, had an unforgettable encounter with the supernatural. While he drove home from a cousin’s house on Long Island, his engine began to sputter and then die. He was halfway home when he’d ran out of gas and found himself stranded on a lonely roadside in the heavy rain.
There was a red neon sign in the distance. He got out of the car and hurried toward it. It was a diner. He went inside and asked where the nearest gas station was, and a man gave him instructions to a garage that was a way down the road.
Telly thanked the man and left. The rain had not let up, and the road ahead was dark and intimidating, but he had no choice but to continue to the garage. He’d made it halfway down the street when a car roared up behind him. He slowed down as a sleek, black Cadillac pulled up alongside him with its headlights off.
The driver rolled down the window and yelled: “Can I give you a lift?”
Telly instantly felt wary. After all, it was the middle of the night, and why was this stranger driving with his headlights off? But the warm quality in the man’s voice urged Telly to accept the offer. Besides, there seemed to be no end to the chilling rain.
Telly got in the car.
“Where do you want to go?” the driver asked.
Telly briefly explained his situation and related the instructions that he’d gotten at the diner.
The man said nothing as he stepped on the gas, and after they’d driven for a few minutes in silence, anxiety gripped Telly anew. Something about the man disturbed him, and he regretted getting into the car. But he kept telling himself that the stranger, dressed in a black tuxedo with a white satin shirt and bow tie, looked perfectly respectable. The man’s dark hair was slicked back, his mustache neatly trimmed, his outfit impeccable.
The only oddity was his silence. As they drove down the dark street, the man made no attempt at conversation, and Telly was glad. Still, curiosity got the better of him. Why was this man dressed so formally? A wedding? A funeral?
“Where are you going, Sir?” Telly suddenly dared to ask.
Slowly, the man turned his head, and, for the first time, Telly noted how dark and expressionless his eyes were. “To the crossroads,” he said simply, “to meet my destiny.”
Great, thought Telly, a nut! But he just said, “Oh,” again regretting that he’d accepted the ride. When the garage came into view, relief filled him.
As the car came to a halt, Telly thanked the man and reached into his pocket, wanting to offer him a couple of dollars for his trouble, but, to his alarm, he discovered that he’d left his wallet at his cousin’s house. Nevertheless, he was determined to pay the stranger and so he asked for the man’s name and address.
The man became very nervous. An uncomfortable moment of silence ensued, but he finally told Telly that his name was “Harry Agannis.” He wrote his address and phone number on a piece of paper and handed it to Telly. He also gave Telly a dollar bill. “Please take it for your gas,” the stranger said.
Telly stuck the paper and dollar, thinking that he’d misjudged this man. He stuff the bill in his pocket and thanked the stranger again. Then he exited and found himself in a downpour. When he reached the shop door, he turned to give the black Cadillac one last inspection, but the car was gone. He looked up and down the road, but there was no trace of it. It was as if it had vanished.
A few days later, Telly found the piece of paper in his pocket and decided to call Harry and find out if he could drop by and pay him.
A woman answered the phone. “Hello, this is Jan Agannis.”
“Can I speak to Harry, please?”
Silence. Then the woman said in a broken voice, “Is this some kind of joke? Who are you?”
Baffled, Telly, nevertheless, tried to calm the woman, explaining that he’d met Harry, but she burst into tears.
“Is this the right number?” Telly demanded a few minutes later. “What’s up?”
He was shocked when the woman said: “My husband has been dead for three years!”
“That’s impossible. I saw him three days ago! Hhis name was Harry Agannis,” he repeated. “He wrote his name on a piece of paper and…”
“Harry Agannis! That was my husband, and he’d dead!” she said, then she hung up.
Shocked, but, nevertheless, determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, certain that there was some kind of mistake, Telly went to the address on the paper.
Mrs. Agannis answered the door and Telly introduced himself, even showing her his actor’s union card. He’d just landed a role on the Twilight Zone series. The woman let him in, and he explained what had happened on that stormy night and showed her the piece of paper.
She held it in her trembling hands for a long while. Then, she showed him some pictures of her late husband.
He immediately recognized the neatly trimmed mustache and the slicked back hair. It was the same man who’d given Telly a lift on that unforgettable night.
“He died in February, 1954,” Mrs. Agannis began as Telly continued to shuffle through the photos. “He had been returning home from a high school reunion at around 3 AM.”
The reason he’d been dressed in a tuxedo, Telly thought.
“On the way home, the Cadillac was in a horrible crash at the crossroads.”
Only half a mile from the garage, thought Telly.
“The Cadillac ran into a truck and burst into flames. The truck driver tried to free Harry from the burning wreckage but Harry’s legs were trapped. The trucker got a fire extinguisher from the truck, but it wouldn’t work. Harry screamed as the flames rose around him. In shock, the trucker punched Harry in the face repeatedly so that he would be unconscious and not feel the pain. Seconds later, the car was engulfed in flames and became a virtual fireball, even burning the truck driver’s face and arms.”
Telly could only listen in utter shock. From that day on, he refused to travel along that road again. To his death in 1994, he was haunted by the memory of the night he’d gotten a lift from a ghost–even if the ghost had turned out to be a good Samaritan.
© 2005 Bobette Bryan