Cue the ethereal moaning and roiling fog. Yeah. No. You can have your headless horseman and gnarled-handed specter. Tis the season, yet this ghost story is the stuff of legend. No disembodied voices from my disarming visitor.
It starts at an old hotel in the days leading up to Halloween. Doesn’t a disturbing-and-creepy story often begin in a refurbished historical landmark? Now, the lobby was fresh, and all the way up to the rooms, and the oh, so modern-day amenities. Guests like me enjoyed walk-in showers, Bluetooth Wi-Fi connectivity – all the latest gadgets and comfort at our fingertips. Yet, none of that erases strong cellular memory seeping from the marrow bones of a hundred years of life, love, and loss that was spread and layered over brick and mortar.
There’s no such thing as ghosts. Go ahead, dare them!
I was staying overnight before a job interview because my next day was set to start with a breakfast meeting at o-dark-thirty. That night, I just couldn’t sleep. Kept waking up and seeing the clock tick for minutes then hours; counting sheep didn’t help. We’ve all had those types of nights. Finally, I drifted off sometime around the witching hour.
Sometime around 5:30 in the morning, I woke to something shaking me at the foot of my bed.
I prop myself up on my right elbow, wiping the sleep from my eyes.
What in the … h-e-double-toothpick!
He was just there, standing beside me at the corner of my night stand, wearing nothing but a large, white towel wrapped around his torso.
Grey hair encircles his balding head, wrapping from ear to ear around the back of his skull. It stuck out every which way. He’d obviously just emerged from a sauna. His grey chest hairs covered him like a rug. I swear, I could almost see water droplets trailing down his skin.
“It’s time to get up!” he barks at me, one hand waving in the air. Oh, God in Heaven, please do NOT let go of that towel. Then he turns around begins walking away, shaking his grey head.
Kids, nowadays, I can actually feel him thinking. No discipline. I have a helluva job on my hands.
Hey, wait a minute. I’m not a kid. Uh, well, I guess to him I probably am just a toddler.
He stomps away from me; hard. Heel, toe. Heel, toe. His energy hits the floor with a thunk. Still gripping towel with his left hand, his back to me, he’s muttering things just beyond me – I can’t quite hear what he’s saying. He’s STILL shaking his head, reminding me more than a little bit of Mr. Wilson, the old curmudgeon from Dennis the Menace. He’s about to turn the corner and walk down the entry hall of my room.
I fling back my bed covers. My life depends on it (because it did) and follow him.
“It’s going to be a BIG day!” he squawks out. This time, BOTH of his hands go into the air as if they were exclamation marks. Goal Posts. A referee’s touchdown signal. You get the point.
I see his bare ass as the towel drops to the floor and he pads, scratching an itch right above his right cheek. I’m not kidding. He actually scratched his bare ass. He HAD to know I was watching. Both he and his towel on the floor disappear into thin air!
And, truly, it WAS a BIG day. Anything that happened at my job interview paled in comparison to his wake-up call for me. He is observation was absolutely spot on! I will always remember it.
So, yeah, during this nostalgic, haunted season, be sure to keep your sense of humor. You might just be surprised. And amazed. And laugh your bare ass off!
I sure did!