Listen on YouTube
You’re listening to The Storage Papers. Episode 9: The Grinner
If you listened to the previous episode, The Lady in the Window, and made it to the very end, you would have heard a brief voice message that I’ll replay here now.[voice message]
I can’t help but to proceed with caution, as I believe I am not somehow personally wrapped up in something larger at play here. If you don’t already know, I work two jobs in my personal life, and this podcast is something I do in my limited spare time. In light of this voice message, I searched through a few boxes in the time I had available over the Thanksgiving break, and found a few references to someone referred to as “the Grinner.”
This week, I ran across some notes with some additional familiar names on it. I believe it to be the very first interaction between Benjamin Scanlon and Detective Mark Anderson. You may remember them from Episode 2, A Conspicuous Suspect. These notes pre-date the letter from episode 2 by just over a week, and it’s unclear if they’re related, however the timing of the events may indicate they are.
These notes look more official, and are likely part of a submitted police report because they contain an actual address and contact information for Ben Scanlon, as l well as locations where the described interactions occurred, which of course I can’t divulge on the podcast.
Notes regarding statement given by Benjamin Scanlon, Friday, March 5, 2015:
Benjamin Scanlon arrived at approximately 11:00 a.m. this morning claiming he was being followed by a “strange-looking character” who had actually interacted with him the previous day. He said he experienced someone of a confrontation with the man, though nothing physical happened, and thought the whole experience had been rather bizarre.
This was Mr. Scanlon’s initial statement:
I had just been visiting with an old friend who kind of showed up unexpectedly, and we had a brief chat and agreed to meet up later. After my friend left, there was a knock at the door no more than 30 seconds later. I opened the door expecting to see my friend again, thinking maybe he forgot something. Instead, a tall, slender white man who looked similar to a guy that I ran off recently. He was dating my sister, but I thought he was a bit younger. Still the resemblance was uncanny. The man at my door looked like he was in his late 50’s or early 60’s stood uncomfortably close to me, to the extent that I felt the need to take a step backward.
He didn’t say anything at first, but he was grinning. He looked like death warmed over, and I avoided eye contact for some reason. His presence felt somewhat intimidating, like he could overpower me if he wanted to, regardless of his age and stature. I took a moment to check out his clothing, which looked rather dapper. He donned black slacks and a white button-up shirt with polished black shoes, a black belt, and a black trench coat. He also carried a wide-brimmed black hat in his hand, and his head was bald. But it wasn’t until I gained the courage to focus on his face that I began to get even more uncomfortable. He didn’t have eyebrows or eyelashes. I couldn’t see any whiskers or any body hair at all in fact. And that grin. It was wide and unproportionally large. It looked like a genuine smile, but the way it lingered without a change in expression was off-putting. He had jagged, coffee-stained teeth that he was not hesitant to display.
He didn’t speak until I after I did. I think I was so put off by him that it took me a while to say anything at first. As my eyes moved back and forth taking in the details about his odd features, he seemed to look right past me. I decided to tilt my head to the right, and his eyes didn’t follow me at all. They just looked straight ahead as if he were blind or something. Considering that might be a possibility, I felt a little guilty for judging his dental hygiene and asked, “Can I help you?”
“Invite me in,” he demanded in a silky voice. I had been looking at his attire when he said this, but I’m not certain his mouth moved at all when he spoke these words. I glanced back at his face and his grin grew even wider, as if a wider grin would convince me to let him inside. Every hair on my body stood on end. For some reason, I was unable to verbally respond to him, and I was petrified. His eyes narrowed a bit, still looking straight ahead and not directly at my face, but his grin didn’t move.
“Invite me in,” he said again in the exact same tone. “Who are you?” I asked. His gaze shifted directly toward me for a moment before he said the strangest thing. I hope I’m remembering it correctly. He said, “the answer to your question is somewhat subjective, however, completely dependent on the choices you make during this interaction we’re having, Mr. Scanlon.” I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, but he knew my name. He went on. “Much like the relationship of light and time, for example. Some believe the concept of time occurs in a linear fashion, with past, present, and future tense.” His grin was still present while he was speaking, but returned to its full width when he paused. “But when one realizes that an event occurring here couldn’t possibly be witnessed at the same… ‘time’ in another solar system, no matter how powerful the telescope, hypothetically… well, then it all becomes relative, doesn’t it?”
He resumed his grin and squinted his eyes at me, as if he’s awaiting my response. I began to ask him what he meant, but he interrupted me, saying “It’s relative, don’t you see! You get to decide if I’m a friend or… something else. Invite me in.” He maintained his grin while glancing over my shoulder, which is easy for him because he’s at least three inches taller than me, and I’m 6 feet even. I turned around to see what he’s looking at. My laptop was open on the couch, which seemed to be what he was interested in. I turned to face him again, and his face was even closer, still with the wide grin, but his teeth were separated like he was about to take a bite of something. I could smell his breath, which didn’t smell like food. Whatever this guy was eating was putrid. “What will it be, Mr. Scanlon?” he whispered. He leaned closer and stared into my eyes. I felt his nose touch mine, and it was cold and damp.
Normally I would have backed up, but in this moment, I felt frozen and strangely enough, I actually began to relax. It was almost like I was being hypnotized, though I’ve never actually been hypnotized. It just reminded me of what you see in the movies when the hypnotist makes their subject go into a relaxed state of mind and free from any stress or anxiety before beginning a session.
I knew in my mind there was no way this guy was coming in my house, and he seemed to perceive my restraint. After a moment of silence and enduring his intimidating eye contact, his grin quickly dissolved into a frown as if he was offended. In an almost robotic manner, he turned his head to the right, paused, then turned his body to follow and simply walked away without speaking another word. He walked off the porch and stopped for a moment when he reached the sidewalk by the street and stood still for a moment. Then placed his hat on his head. I wasn’t sure if he was going to move again, but eventually, without looking back, he proceeded to walk into the middle of my residential street where he made a 90 degree right turn, and proceeded to walk down the middle of the road. I watched as a car slowed down and swerved to avoid running him over, then honked at him as it drove by. He didn’t react much, but he maintained his casual stride. And he just kept walking down the street until I couldn’t see him anymore.
Everything about the way he appeared, his manner of speech, the way he moved, it all seemed unnatural. It was as if he was something else, but wearing a person costume. I didn’t know what to think. At first, I thought he might have been part of some cult, going door to door trying to recruit people, but he hadn’t stopped at any other doors. And then on Tuesday that week, I saw him again. This time, it was in public.
During my lunch break, I sometimes walk down to a coffee shop nearby. When the weather starts to heat up, I like to grab those blended iced drinks. The walk is only about 3 blocks downtown, but as I was walking, I felt the urge to look behind me. I turned around, and I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary at first. But as soon as a group of people who had been crossing the street spread out in different directions, I saw the same guy. He was standing still on the other side of the street. Just staring. And grinning.
I walked quickly to the coffee shop, which was very crowded, thinking that being in a public place would be the safest thing I could do. I kept my eye on the window looking out front, and eventually I saw him walk by. He was in the middle of a crowd of people, each walking various paces, but he was going slower than everyone around him. I watched as he walked from right to left and eventually out of view. He never looked in the window, and I thought I had gotten rid of him.
I told myself if I saw him one more time, I was going to the authorities, and then I saw him again this morning. Every Friday, someone in our office picks up some kind of breakfast food for the office, and we rotate duties. Well, this week it was my turn and I decided to pick up doughnuts. The doughnut shop near my house opens at 6:00 a.m. and if you get there right when they open, you’re guaranteed to get a fresh batch.
So when I got to the doughnut shop this morning, it was about 5 minutes till 6, and there were already about 10 people in line waiting for the shop to open. So I waited in line, went in and selected my doughnuts and paid, and when I was coming out of the doughnut shop, I saw him again. He was across the street this time, just standing there, still. He was looking at me, and I could see his disgusting toothy grin from where I was. I walked quickly to my car, got in and drove off to work. The driveway exiting the doughnut parking lot pointed me directly at him, and he just stood there watching me as I turned to drive away.
At this point, I’m not sure what to do. I’m concerned for my safety, and I’ve started carrying a baseball bat in my trunk in case this guy threatens me, but I wanted it on record that this guy has been following me. I won’t hesitate to defend myself.
I sent Mr. Scanlon out to the front desk to wait while I attempted to make him an appointment with the sketch artist. Luckily, he had been in the building already, and could fit him in after lunch today. I set it up for 1:00 p.m. and I have attached a copy of the sketch to these notes.
As a side note, the appearance and behavior of the Grinner sounds very much like another statement I took several years ago. I will need to dig into my archives to see if I can find that, but for now, I’ll take the sketch over to the coffee shop and the donut shop to see if anyone recognizes him. I’m sure there’s got to be a security camera somewhere that might have an image of the man.
I’ll wait a few days and follow up with Mr. Scanlon to see if he has any additional interactions. In the meantime, I’ve given him my card and instructed him to call me immediately if he sees him again. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to do much with his statement since he didn’t physically threaten him, or even verbally state he was going to do anything to him. There’s just not much I can do with “an intimidating look and a smile”.
What’s interesting is now that I’ve found these notes, as well as a letter addressed to “Ron”, I’m fairly certain at this point that Ron may be the original owner of the storage shed that I won at auction. Since I don’t have a last name for Ron, I’m wondering if I can’t find a Detective Mark Anderson working locally. I can also try finding Ben Scanlon, assuming he lives at the same location, since his contact information is here. I wonder if Ron was the person who left that voice message for me. Ron, if you’re out there listening to this, I would definitely like to meet you.
I also have the sketch artist’s rendering of the Grinner. I suppose I could get really carried away and go out to this coffee shop and the doughnut shop to ask around about him, but I don’t want to look like I’m becoming obsessed with these papers. Instead, I’ll post the sketch to my social media accounts to see if anyone else recognizes the man. If you do, I would love to hear what kinds of interactions you’ve had with him, or where you might have seen him, and when.
As a general reminder, please consider reaching out to me if you have any pertinent information regarding any episode of The Storage Papers either by social media or email. You can reach me on Twitter and Instagram @storagepapers. Make sure to reference Episode 9, The Grinner. I’ll make sure to compile any additional information received in with the records I already have, and will commit to providing updates on the show if I actually receive anything pertinent.
Oh and one more thing… if you do end up leaving me a message, as some of you already have, please… by all means… let me know if I have your permission to share your messages on this podcast. There have been a couple that have piqued my interest, and I just wouldn’t feel right about sharing them without knowing I have your permission.
My goal with this podcast continues to be making this information known, so please share this via social media so these accounts can be spread. Hopefully, the more people that hear these accounts, the greater the chances are that we may be able to unravel some of the mystery here. I’m also under the impression, based on what a lot of podcasters say that writing a review on iTunes or any podcast streaming platform can increase the visibility of the show, allowing for a greater chance for other podcast listeners to find it. For the sake of making this information public, I highly encourage you to do so. I’m always here to help if you need assistance.