I can’t go with you standing there dead.

March 29, 2009

crossBased on my personal experiences, here is a short list of things which may or may not exist: a vampire who looks like Robert Pattinson/Stephen Moyer; UFOs; sasquatchs; magic; a winning lottery ticket; a sympathetic wife; an honest politician; any chance I may have of becoming a porn star; my continuing career in journalism.

Ghosts used to be on that list. Not any more.

Viking Woman and I live in an historic section of Napier. The area’s first post office is across the street. Nearby, you can still see the stables where the stagecoach made a rest stop to change horses. The land our 1960s-era house sits on once belonged to a missionary named William Colenso. This enterprising fellow did a lot of great things in his lifetime but is probably best remembered for doing his maid. Colenso is buried in a nearby pioneer cemetery. Not surprisingly, there is no mention of the maid on his tombstone.

The house that backs onto our property was once the church hall. It is now occupied by a lovely young couple who live there with their be-dimpled daughter and a cat that we made the mistake of feeding once and which now pretty much demands food every time it deigns to grace us with its presence.

Their house is also occupied by a ghost.

According to The Wife, the apparition is that of a woman who, for the most part, remains in their bathroom and is perfectly content to share her space with the living, providing the door is left open.

Although, The Wife tells us, there was that one time she decided to sleep in her daughter’s room to comfort the child, only to have the ghost poke and prod her, as if to say, “Get back to your own room.”

The Wife is quite calm and rational as she relates this story as if she is relating something that happens all the time, to everyone she knows.

On one recent weekend, while the family was out of town, they left a key with Viking Woman’s niece, Jenn, so she could attend to their eating machine of a cat. Their house is built into the shoulder of the hill that rises to the north of our property, meaning it overlooks our yard. Viking Woman, in the course of puttering around in her veggie garden, happened to look up at the couple’s bedroom window in passing. Catching a glimpse of someone standing there and watching her, she assumed Jenn had gone next door to feed the feline.

And then Viking Woman rounded our garage to find Jenn sunning on our lawn.

I don’t know about you, but my knees feel funny when I hear stories like that. My skin starts to pucker and those funny little hairs on the back of my neck do this strange kind of rustling dance.

In other words, I don’t like stories like that.

Except, now I have my own story.

Last night, the couple invited the three of us over for dinner. The Diet Coke flowed and I suddenly felt the urge to empty my bladder. I stood up and started to dig our house keys out of my pocket.

Viking Woman: “Where are you going?”

Me: “Home to, um, pee.”

The Wife: “Just use our toilet.”

Me: “At the risk of sounding silly, I really don’t want to meet anyone in there.”

The Wife: “You mean the ghost? Look, she’s harmless. She may grab your ass, but you might like that.”

I don’t know about you, but the thought of standing there, equipment in hand, while icy fingers from the grave goose me is pretty much guaranteed to have all my sphincters flap open in a simultaneous purge.

So I went home and then, like a good guest, came back. There was, after all, ice cream for dessert.

I sat down on the couch, turned to speak to Viking Woman and that’s when I saw her. The ghost. The appartition. The woman in the nightgown.

Just for a second, mind you, and just a brief glimpse. But I definitely saw someone walking across the kitchen from my left to right. By the time my eyes focused and my brain processed the fact that all the living people in the house were in the lounge with me, the, um, spirit had moved to the point where Viking Woman now blocked my view.

I sat up straight. I craned to look past my wife. Into an empty kitchen.

So that’s why there are no ghosts on the above list. That’s why I no longer empty the kitchen peelings after dark, because our compost container sits in a back corner of our yard, pretty much directly under the neighbors’ bathroom window. The bathroom where the lady in the nightclothes awaits.

Does any of this explain why there are so many flies around here? Are they somehow sensing something dead in the neighborhood? No, wait. Don’t answer that.

I really don’t want to know.

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6 Responses to “I can’t go with you standing there dead.”

  1. Megan said

    creepy…but kind of cool too. I have lots of stories like that if you are interested. Maybe your sphincter wont be too happy about that.

  2. Daughter said

    next time, try to make contact. We need a new X-files movie.

  3. Lily said

    next question…why do ghosts always wear long white pjamas?

  4. poietes said

    Hello, dropping in from Condron.us. Loved your story, and I believe it, too.

    How cool to have a ghost as a next-door neighbor; athough I have to agree with you: I wouldn’t want to use the, um, facilities with an otherworldly figure. Just seems too weird.

    Poietes

  5. Son said

    That’s my favorite blog post of yours.

    Write ghost stories.

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