Everyone in and around Secaucus, NY knows the legend of the man on the roof. What is actually just a chimney forms the silhouette of a man at night when the light is just right. Even though it's an optical illusion, it hasn't kept the locals from creating a lore about it.
The “man” has become something of an icon and people flock to see him. Some of the stories that have been attributed to him are that of being a ship's captain who is waiting for his crew to return after being lost at sea. Another, more grim, tale is that he was a father who's entire family was murdered in a botched burglary, and he is forever doomed to the silent lonely nights as he stands watch. Of course, none of these stories are true, since the “man” is just made of brick and mortar, right? Well, that doesn't explain the time I saw him move.
At the time, I was new to the area, and figured that I should go out and see him after hearing about it a lot. One of my coworkers told me all the stories, pointed out the best direction to see him, and the best times to go for the most dramatic effect. So, one early evening, I decided to check it out. I parked at the end of the street that leads up to the house, and began to walk towards where the house was supposed to be. I saw a group of young adults coming from the other direction, and laughed a bit to myself when some of them went into a sprint after pointing up at the “man” and gasping in a feint cry of fear.
As they went by me, one of them said “Better watch out, or else the man on the roof will get you!” and I said something like “I hope so!” with a laugh. It was probably a bit darker than recommended to actually see the man, but with the lights of the city around, I didn't think I'd have any trouble seeing him. But to my surprise, when I looked up at the place he was supposed to be standing, there was nothing there. I stopped in my tracks and took a look back up and down the street, since I figured that I must have had the wrong spot. Though the group had been looking up at that building and reacting to it, so I was more confused than anything.
I thought that maybe I had come from the wrong direction, so I went up the street and turned around once I had reached the end. But again, when I got to what I had thought was the right place, there was no man, made of chimney or otherwise. I was about to give up for the night, when I heard something that sounded like footsteps on the roof of the building. They were heavy, and noticeable, even over the sounds of cars on the busier streets around the house. After a number of thuds across the roof, the shape of a man in a large coat stood up at the edge of the building and took a stoic pose looking out.
I, too, was a statue at that moment. I couldn't believe what I had just witnessed, and felt like I had been witness to something that was never meant to be viewed. Had I caught the man on the roof? Was I at the wrong spot and just seeing a real person? I didn't stick around long to find out, and never made any mention of what I had seen to anyone else, until now. I often wonder just which of the legends is true, and why is there a chimney there during the day when it's a man at night?