For over thirty years, Jerry worked as a police officer in Pittsburgh. In his time on the force, Jerry had seen some bad things, some worse things, and some downright evil things. Cleaning up when people got mad or got crazy was part of the job, but there were other things that Jerry saw, things that most people never see, things that prowl the night, things that refuse to die.
I interviewed Jerry several times in 2002. The following incident is just one of the many stories Jerry shared in hours of audio recordings. I have transcribed them just as they were told to me by Jerry.
“This happened back in the summer of ‘65. Frank and me – that’s my partner, Frank – we was doing night patrols around the Smithfield Street Bridge.
“See, that’s the oldest bridge we got here in Pittsburgh and they were doing some work on the trolleys they used to have on the bridge but every time the construction crew showed up for work in the morning, they found tools smashed and general vandalism-type stuff.
“We figure it’s a bunch of these kids – hoodlums – running around all hours, so we did the stakeout thing to catch ‘em. Only it’s a big bridge so we had to walk up and down the thing and around and under, too.
“We’re out there on the first night and we don’t see nothing. We come up from under the bridge on our rounds and there’s some of the new tracks they were putting in torn off and ripped up. Now this is metal track, right? You don’t just take it apart like that, not unless you got time and some heavy equipment, but Frank and me, we were only off the bridge for ten minutes tops.
“The next night, same thing happens, right? Nobody can figure out what’s going on and the union is starting to make waves about it. Now the only way to stop the trouble is to put like fifty guys on the bridge all night long, but the captain, he don’t want to budget that kinda overtime so he tells us, you better get on this right away and figure it out, Okay?
“So, it’s a real mystery and Frank and me, we weren’t sure what we were dealing with. But Frank, you know, he’s sure the whole freakin’ bridge is haunted, so he wants to do a seance or dredge the river for bodies or something.
“I say, ‘Frank, take it easy, there’s a top and a bottom to the bridge, so let’s split up.’ Frank agrees to give it one more try so that third night he’s down below the bridge and I’m topside at first, then we’ll switch.
“After a few hours, it’s pretty quiet and I head down to trade places with Frank. There’s a street down there under the bridge and that’s where Frank is supposed to be but he ain’t there. Now, that’s not unlike Frank at all, right? But I’m not letting my partner go off on his own.
“There some scrub and grass down there and I see Frank crouched down. He sees something, I can tell by the way he’s sitting there, so I creep up real slow beside him. He’s got his gun drawn, but he’s not pointing it at anything.
“He points off to this big flat rock under the bridge. There’s nothing there, right? I don’t know what Frank is looking for, maybe he thinks that’s where the body is buried, right?
“Finally I say, what is it, Frank? And Frank says, ‘He’s in there, inside that door.’ And I’m like, ‘Frank, maybe you been working too hard ‘cause there ain’t no door there.’
“Frank gives me a look like I’m the crazy one and I look back and, you know what? There’s a door there right where there wasn’t a door a minute ago. And it’s just standing there ‘cause there ain’t no wall around it, and it’s this big wooden thing like you’d see in a castle or something.
“I’m just trying to figure out where in the heck this thing came from when all of a sudden it opens – guess I should’ve expected a door like that was gonna open right then – and standing in the doorway is the biggest guy you ever saw.
“Now, I can’t see him real good on account of it being so dark, but he’s a mountain all right, and he’s just standing there waiting and I think he’s watching us, but then I hear this funny sound like someone got the sniffles and I think, this guy isn’t looking at us, he’s smelling us!
“He takes a step forward and there’s more light so I can see him better, and, remember now, Frank and me, we haven’t moved yet and we’re not too far from this guy, but I don’t think he sees us but he’s moving his head around like he’s listening.
“He’s big, right, and he’s got this long black hair and big long nose and his skin looks green, in fact it looks like a rock with moss on it or something, and he’s wearing some sort of crazy get-up that looks like a sack to me. And his eyes, well, his eyes were the worst part. They were like little lights, like keyholes, right, only there’s a fire on the other side of the door.
“Now, I thought this guy is gonna see us and he’s gonna beat the living heck out of us, but he just sniffs and cocks his head and he says something like, ‘I can smell you sitting there in the dark’ and I realized this guy don’t see too good.
“Frank stands up and says, you know, ‘What do you want?’ and the guy says ‘Tell them to leave my bridge alone’ and Frank doesn’t say anything at first and like the jerk I am, I said ‘You can’t have that door here, it’s against code’ and Frank and the big guy just both look at me like I passed gas.
“I admit, I’m not the brightest knife in the drawer, and I say some dumb things, but this was a real doozy. I’ll never forget how the big guy looked right at me for the first time and he says, ‘The rocks and trees are my code’ in this real creepy-like voice.
“Frank gives me an elbow in the ribs and he says, ‘Okay, Mister, we’ll take care of it’ and this guy gives a little sneer and steps back inside that door and ‘poof’ goes the door again.
“Well, Frank gives me a look like he’s gonna take me up to the bridge and throw me off, right? But I say, ‘Frank, how are you gonna take care of it?’ And for once, I think that Frank has no idea.
“Well, a few weeks later, the trolley work is done without any more trouble and the captain is pretty pleased with Frank but nobody knows how he did it. Turns out, Frank got the foreman to get a crane down there and they put that big rock on the back of a truck and, according to Frank, he drove it 100 miles north and dumped it beside the road.
“Frank told me how these types of things – he didn’t wanna say troll but I don’t care – these trolls like to be under a bridge because something about how all the people coming and going over the water, passing through this kinda in-between place like a bridge causes something like friction, which gives off an energy or something, and these trolls, they can live off of that. I don’t know myself, sounds pretty nuts to me.
“But that spot where they dumped it – that rock – was down a big steep gorge ‘cause Frank was hoping that the troll wouldn’t find its way back. Now, a few years after that and that exact spot is where they put Interstate 80 that goes across the whole state – goes from New York City to San Francisco – and they built a new bridge there, a real big one, and thousands of people cross it everyday and I bet that rock and that troll are still down there under that bridge.”