A Little Ghost Story

I never believed in anything. Like spiritual things, I mean. I used to go to esoteric bookstores for a good laugh. Nostradamus prophecies, Buddhist self-discovery guides, Reiki handbooks, accounts of shaman journeys, studies in Christian mysticism, rainstorms in the Amazon on tape, dream-catchers the size of truck wheels, and hundreds of different kinds of crystal balls and beads, and all in the same store? Who does not find that hilarious?

So when my friend Robert told me that the new house he had moved into was haunted, I laughed too. First, ‘cause I thought Robert was joking (I had never known him to be a gullible and superstitious fool), then because I thought he had lost it. Because, as it turned out, he was serious about the ghost that supposedly lived in his basement. Had he ever seen it? Not really. Once, he thought, it was rushing through his bedroom. What did it look like? Transparent. “Like a ghost, dude.” Ya, right. Was he sure it wasn’t a dream? He said he knew when he was dreaming and when he wasn’t. Of course. But, anyway, if he only might have seen it, and if this had happened only once, what made him so sure his transparent haunting friend didn’t just pass through his basement, but actually lived there? “It moves stuff.” Oh. “Yes, and I can hear it. And feel it.” Like, how? “It moans. And it pokes me when I sleep.” Pokes you when you sleep? Get outta here!

I finally decided to stay over at Robert’s new house with my good friend Paul. Paul was my favorite companion when annoying the shit out of the boring old hippies working in the esoteric stores. We just thought we’d get some cheap entertainment out of Robert’s newly developed mental problems while ordering pizza on his credit card, drinking his beer, and watching football on his big-screen TV.

We had a good evening, even though Robert seemed to get anxious when it got time to go to sleep. To me and Paul, however, this just added to the night’s entertainment. Eventually, Robert went to his room on the first floor, while me and Paul stretched out on the basement’s couches. Right in the heart of the supposed ghost’s quarters. It’s probably gonna get mad at us since we’re occupying his space, we laughed.

I fell asleep soon. I woke up like a couple of hours later (at least that’s what it seemed like) when someone poked me in the ribs. “What?” I mumbled, and pulled up the blanket. Then I got poked again, and now I got annoyed. “Paul, stop it!” I hissed over my shoulder. Then I got poked real hard. I span around and sat up. “Paul, what the fuck!?”

Paul turned over on his couch and slowly opened his eyes. “What?”

“Well, what? What’s that poking about, man? It ain’t funny. We had our fun. It’s time to sleep now.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Ya, right, what am I talking about? Your poking thing. Like the supposed ghost. Ha, ha. It’s infantile, man. I wanna sleep.”

Paul looked confused. “Poking? I didn’t poke no one, dude. You just fucking woke me up.”

I tried to read my oldest friend’s face. But there wasn’t much to read. It just looked like the face of a man who had just been woken up. Also, I knew Paul. He would have long cracked up by now if he’d been caught in a childish prank. I looked up the stairs. I didn’t see Robert and had to assume that he too was to be ruled out as the possible poker.

And then I saw it. It was transparent and just kinda floated through the room. It was behind Paul’s couch. Paul saw my dumbfounded face. “What?” he said.

The transparent ghost lifted up a lamp on the coffee table and whacked Paul over the head. Paul yelled “damn, what the fuck!”, I still looked dumbfounded, Robert burst out of his room upstairs, and I swear I could hear the ghost laugh.

Robert came running down the stairs. “What happened?”

Paul held his head: “I got whacked over the head.”

“You have a ghost here,” I explained.

“I know,” Robert said.

I later learned more about ghosts. Actually, most of them are really nice. Even the one in Robert’s house probably was. It’s just that they don’t like to be made fun of. They want to be respected like all other creatures. Paul had had to pay for our ridicule. Well, fair enough. He only needed five stitches anyway.

Robert moved out of the haunted house soon after that night. The ghost, I’m sure, stayed. Hopefully, it has more understanding housemates now.

For my part, I still go to the esoteric bookstores for a laugh. I just make sure there aren’t any ghosts around.

(2003)