Ghost! Busted!

GhostOf course it had to happen early in the morning.

My routine: Up at 7 a.m., coffee on, bathroom. But while switching on the home office lights, I happened to glance at the dining room table.

“Hmm. …That’s dustier than usual,” I thought. Petals had fallen off flowers in a vase. I ran my finger through a fine grayish-white powder on the tabletop. No idea what it was or how it got there.

Seems I’d left the 1978 diary there, too. Odd.

I showered while the coffee brewed. Over the roar of the water I heard—well, at least it sounded like—a throat clearing. I turned off the tap, grabbed a towel and dried off, bending an ear toward the door.

Silence.

After throwing on clothes and pouring some coffee, I saw him sitting at the table, leafing through the diary.

He looked up. “G’mornin’, Muffy.

“Pop?!”

He smirked a bit, just as he always did. Outside of that, he looked … well, normal. Usually he was dressed in khakis and a short-sleeve, floral-print shirt. But because it was late winter in Minnesota, he wore beige slacks and a dark blue crewneck sweater.

His thinning white hair looked as it did in 2008, when I last saw him. And he still had that world-weary look—even after all these years, you know, being dead and all. I would’ve assumed the time away would’ve crisped him up a bit. No such luck.

He went back to flipping through the diary. “This is where you’re at, huh?”

I glanced over his shoulder and flinched a bit when I saw the page: Tuesday, June 13, 1978.

He noted my embarrassment. “Care if I read it?”

“No, no … go ahead.”

He cleared his throat. “‘Oh, Oh, trouble, trouble, trouble…’” He paused and pursed his lips. “‘Scott, Harvey the Dink, Greg Eidem and I got caught drinking in the North Arm Boat Landing at about 9:00 this eve. Greg and I ran but when I eventually got home Dad took me up to the station where Greg was already—talked it over with the Cop—Let it—it … it?”

Us, Dad. Should be us,” I said, sheepishly.

“‘Let us off,” he continued, “‘with no attachments or fines or records or anything…

I snatched the diary out of his hand and started reading where he’d left off. …sadly, bitterly…turmoil and tears, guilt and fears (rhymes) I felt like jumping in the lake and taking an endless walk…” I put the diary down and felt his eyes on me while I glanced out the window.

At last I said, “D’you remember that?”

He nodded. “I thought I’d lost you, Mike.” I saw him tear up.

“Dad, it was a stupid thing for me to do. In fact, everything I was doing just after graduation lead up to it: partying with the guys, drinking, smoking pot—”

“—But why’d you do it?”

“I don’t know! Guess I was drawn to the adventure of it all.” Against my best intentions, I laughed, which seemed to annoy him. I shrugged, still chuckling. “You know, Scott was so proud of his car. We called it ‘The Party Chaser’ … That night we picked up Greg, in the back seat with his bong … I was drinking Bacardi 151 from the glove compartment mixed with a can of Coke … who knows what Harvey was drinking—probably a Michelob.”

He just stared at me, so I tried to explain.

“We parked by the lake, at North Arm landing. Then a cop pulled in, shined his light into our window and told us to get out of the vehicle. Which we did. We knew we were totally busted. I felt terrible.”

“—for getting caught.”My beautiful picture

“Yeah, well … I felt terrible for a lot of things, Dad. Anyway, when the cop asked us for identification, Greg—to my complete shock—bolted toward the road. The cop chased after him, but didn’t catch up. He walked back to me and Harvey, totally winded. At that point I took off, so he just let me go…”

If you’ve ever wondered if a ghost can sigh, I’m here to tell you that you can now put that question to rest.

“I met up with Greg behind Eric Miller’s house, you know, on the road toward Lord Fletcher’s. We hid out in the backwoods while the cop prowled the street, his car searchlight looking for us. We waited, then split up. I took the back trails home … and, when I finally got there—boom—a squad car was sitting in our driveway. Harvey had ratted on us.”

And,” he added, “That’s when I had to drive you to the police station to get you off the hook.”

He paused again and looked at me directly. “I didn’t want to kick you out of the house for good, but I seriously considered it. I thought I’d lost you again, son. I knew I couldn’t lose you.”

“I know … I know,” I said.

We sat there for a while not saying anything. Late winter light cast a dull glare on the tabletop. I looked again at the strange grayish-white dust, then at Dad.

“Pop? Can I ask you a question?”

He raised an eyebrow.

“What’s with the powdery stuff?”

Lifting an elbow off the table, he brushed at his forearms. “Oh. Residual ectoplasm. Comes with the territory, I guess.”

“Ah,” I nodded. “Gotcha.”

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~ by completelyinthedark on March 22, 2013.

4 Responses to “Ghost! Busted!”

  1. As always, you pull at my heart strings. Beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike,
    This is very touching. Your writing is very vivid. As I read this, I could feel the powder on the table, having just the slightest grittiness. I could hear Your father’s voice again. I could see how he moved. I remembered his expressions and I could see the look in his eyes.. I remember this period of Your lives. I remember how the tough guy exterior on your father fell away with the love for his son.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    Back-to-back reblogs and my apologies! All-new posts next Friday for sure, drafting & editing now! Here’s a ghost story for you. 🙂

    Like

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