Editor's Note: The Admin was recently tapped telepathically by the publisher of The Metaphysical Times for a Ghost Story. At a loss for words on the subject, we wrote one. It's kind of automatic writing, so there are many references to things that actually happened. Turns out, there are plenty of ghosts. At least in The Admin's Life.
Ghosts Can Be Okay
By The Admin
I know there are ghosts. It doesn’t matter if I believe in them or not. A perfectly logical and self-disciplined academic I dated feared them because she made me search my house in every room when we came home at night together — for ghosts.
In truth, she only insisted on the search — upstairs, basement and closets — because I was sloppy about locking the door to my house. Or didn’t bother to lock the door. Or left a window open for the cats. If anybody came in through a window, they were in big trouble: I had four cats and none of them liked nobody but me. And I am not someone you want to meet if you broke into my house.
That didn’t ease her fears.
In any case, it was very sweet: This beautiful and intelligent child of two atheist parents, raised in the strictest of scientific households, trained to not believe anything you couldn’t prove and what you couldn’t prove didn’t exist maintained, quietly, a healthy fear of ghosts. How refreshing!
Her dad, I imagine he is still alive, was a physicist who studied fluid dynamics. You know, like, what happens to a pig after it is broad-sided by the initial blast of a tactical nuke. That kinda of stuff. She asked her scientific daddy once what existed outside the known universe.
“But what is nothing?”
“It is nothing and there’s no point in talking about it because discussing nothing is a zero sum game.”
This was a terrible way to treat a child who just sat down with you to watch Star Trek episodes. The non-believing father was a fan of the show.
I once told her that if she ever left me or broke my heart, I would come back and bug the shit out of her as a ghost. This really upset her.
“But you don’t believe in ghosts!” I said.
“It doesn’t matter, just promise that you won’t do it.”
I promised. And a promise is a promise. I will not ghost her, scout’s honor.
You see? There ARE ghosts. And even people who are trained to not believe in them know it.
The interesting thing is, I didn’t believe in ghosts, either. Yet when my sweetie demanded that I check all the rooms in the house, my adrenaline kicked in … the attic was a genuinely scary place in the dark; so was the basement. I didn’t want to go up or down there unless I was wearing a full metal jacket.
Not once did I encounter a ghost or an intruder. Still, I stalked each dark corner like an assassin with a telltale heart. My Samurai Louisville Slugger at the ready was, I knew absurdly large to swing in a confined space. I would have to shove it really hard into the forehead of the … ghost? – the burglar hidden behind the gas furnace?
The fact was, she was scared until I did this and so I conducted a through reconnaissance, returning to bed feeling very manly but with a slight tetch of the heebie-jeebies.
Ghosts follow me around. I mean, I’m the corporeal record of my family’s branch: Dad and Mom and deceased bro and all the relatives from kingdoms past course through my body and at any given moment, one might materialize and wanna chat. They mostly wanna chat. The only news they get is from us warm-bloods.
I got ghosted just last August.
I had a sudden desire for some ice cream. Mint ice cream Klondike Bars. Lumbering down the stairway to the freezer I noticed that my footfalls were heavier than usual and my gait, in general, weighty and unfamiliar. I stopped midway down the stairs and the objects along the stairwell, knickknacks and other pentimentoes all shrank away telescopically. I focused on the mini-American flag hanging from a lantern at the landing: It seemed to be flapping. I got it at a Veteran’s Day parade and suddenly there it was again, a psychic anchor of sorts. I saw the collection of my oddities as my father might — weird junk. But the flag was solid and familiar. In a kind of brain cloud I understood I was not just me — the heavy-footfalls, my cumbersome posture, the tunnel vision: I’d crossed over.
“Dad?” I said.
“Down here son. Just me and your brother.”
And there they were. My brother, dead since 1971, sat in the big upholstered chair parked in front of the fake log stove, a glow on his face. He had a mixed drink in a cocktail glass I don’t possess with a glass stir stick I don’t own but I recognized both: They were part of a set belonging to the boozy relatives who enticed my brother into Sunday debauches.
There wasn’t much conversation. I wasn’t scared. Here, indeed, somehow, was my dad, trying to pick up my cat, who didn’t like to be picked up, yet allowing ghost Dad to lift him up anyway.
“Jaysus, look-at the size of this cat, Dougie (my brother). The boy’s doin’ all right for himself,” My brother replied. “It’s a pretty nice place Frankie. You’re doing okay.”
The heft of the cat was, to my Dad, a measurement of my status in the world: You’re doing okay if you can afford to feed a cat like that. It was the first time I’d seen my dad on his feet since he took to his hospital bed and refused all treatment for his worsening rheumatoid arthritis.
I wasn’t doing okay in my own opinion, but there was no point in debating. I was happy to see them and it was all so … mundane – hardly a supernatural word.
That was about it for the ghosting. Dad wanted some ice cream, too, as he would in life, but there was a problem with getting him to understand it can in square blocks, not a bowl. Besides, he wanted Cherry Vanilla and I didn’t have that. It reminded me of the great “spoon wars” he and I had, a half gallon of ice cream, two spoons, the better man won the lion’s share.
My brother never touched his drink, I noticed. Back in the day he pounded them. He appeared to be serene and distracted. Which is to say, normal.
I bent down to put food in the cat bowls. When I lifted, Ghost Dad and Ghost Bro’ were gone. The parting was not sad nor unpleasant, there was nothing creepy in the wake of their departure. I felt spine shivers, warm ones, nothing like “the willies” I used to get.
That was really my dad. That was really my brother. They were checking up on me. It was so simple and un-ghostly and human, all I could do was walk back upstairs and remember how much I missed them all. I had a good cry. Ghosts can be okay.