I have Ghosts, How ‘Bout You?
The ghost story is perhaps the oldest of horror staples. A natural fear considering the terrifying speculations one can conjure about what lies beyond life, the idea that someone who has died can come back and haunt, or maybe even watch us. That’s a nice thought, right? That a loved one departed is watching you while you’re sitting on the commode or while you’re making love to your partner.
No, I don’t buy into that train of thought, however I am willing to accept the possibility of spiritual life beyond death. In what form that “life” transpires, I can endlessly speculate (and I do). Sounds to me like it would be a bitch to have to live in the ethers, watching the people you’ve left behind. And what happens when they die? Do they join you in the art of people watching. Do you swap secrets about how to manipulate physical objects, how to alert the living of your presence? I doubt it, but there are a lot of people out there who believe. The ghost story has been popular since cave paintings were all the rave, and I suppose, to a certain degree, they will always have their niche in the horror genre. Though some people won’t admit it, I think just about everybody like a good ghost story.
And everyone seems to have a ghost story to tell. Not a Hollywood blockbuster or a fictional opus, but a personal story, and I’ve heard them all. For the most part I find it difficult to believe when someone tells me about his or her haunted house. I figure those people were the ones who moved the planchette during a Ouija session insisting into guilt that they hadn’t.
I’m not that person, but I do have a ghost story. Two of them. The first is short and simple. Back in high school I used to spend a lot of time with my good friend Darren. We were in bands together, drove around and wrecked havoc together, and I crashed at his house a lot. His mother had a curio cabinet filled from top to bottom with small porcelain figures. The cabinet was a pain in the ass to open, as it was very delicate, yet on several occasions a number of the figurines were mysteriously turned around so perfectly that the dust within the glass shelving wasn’t even disturbed. Darren’s mother thought that I was pranking them, but over time she realized that there was no explanation. I thought for sure that she was playing a joke on me, but one night we came home late and were raiding the fridge when Darren’s mother came into the kitchen, sleepy-eyed. She yelped and looked at me with eyes that became so wide they just about popped out of her face. She said, “Did you do that?” I casually looked to the curio cabinet and I’ll be damned, but every one of those figurines was turned backwards.
My second ghostly experience happened in the house I have now lived in for over ten years. There were several minor incidents (all of which I can rationalize), however only one is worth mentioning. My wife and I were dating at the time. I had a gift certificate to Kragen Auto Parts, so we both went to the local store in my new Ford Ranger. I bought a case of motor oil, a skull and crossbones decal, and a set of valve stem caps that were shaped as black dice. We went back to my house, into the living room, and opened my bag of goodies. I pulled out the valve stem caps, but there were only three in the package. I called Kragen and they told me I could exchange it. This time I opened the package as soon as I got home a put the dice on my tires. The following day I decided to clean out my garage. I finalized my cleanup by sweeping, when something rolled from the broom through a pile of sawdust and dirt. It was a solitary black valve stem cap. I grabbed it and went outside to compare it to the ones I had put on my truck the day before. Rounded edges, glossy, and in brand new condition, it matched perfectly. To this day I have no idea how it got into the garage, and neither does my wife.
Those are my personal ghost stories. Here’s a little about my latest fictional work of spirits and mayhem.
Post Mortem Press published my second novel, People of the Ethereal Realm, in July, 2013. I consider this book an unconventional ghost story. But I never would have said that before the book was published, before I had received feedback mentioning that there were haunts and ghosts aplenty. Somehow it hadn’t occurred to me that what I had written was indeed a ghost story, strange as that sounds. At first I was a bit put off about that label (I’m not the biggest fan of well-worn horror tropes), but later realized that my novel is not the type of ghost story I’d become accustomed to, what has been overdone in both Hollywood and in the world of horror fiction. Ghosts don’t have to haunt a house or a mansion or a hotel room or a ship. In my experience, they do, but in fiction ghosts, spirits, ethereal beings—they can haunt anywhere they goddamned want to. If you don’t think so, take a gander at my book People of the Ethereal Realm. I think you’ll like it.