I do not like scary movies.
Because they are scary.
There is always the guy with the axe, chasing the girl in a nightgown and she runs upstairs and locks herself in a bathroom, with no escape. Or else she runs down a bunch of rickety steps into a basement full of cobwebs. That is something I avoid on even on the nicest of days. Every once in awhile, when luck is on my side, the girl makes a run to the front door. And I am ever so grateful when that happens. Yet, deep down, we all know, that when she gets to that door, the fucking thing is not going to open.
But the movies that scare me the most, are the ones where children see things that other people do not.
And that is the reason that I do not lock my door.
Well that, and there isn't a key for it. It has a bedroom doorknob attached, because that is what Sven had handy the day I said the other one, which I also didn't have a key for, needed to be replaced.
Over the three decades that Sven and I have been together, I have tried on separate occasions to turn over a new leaf and to become a lock and key kind of family.
But with little success.
During these trial periods, we often found ourselves looking through a window at a set of keys, on the wrong side of a locked door.
We used to just leave our keys in our cars and Sven even left his hanging from the ignition.
"It's easier to find them that way," he would say.
One day, I decided that it was time to grow up and to hang my keys on a hook in the kitchen, just like the other adults. I worked and worked at fine tuning the old, take keys out of ignition, lock the doors, bring keys into house, hang keys on hook, technique.
Luckily this growth spurt happened back in the day when you could still pull those little knobs up with a bent coat hanger that you could slide between the window and the rubber track, if you accidentally locked your keys inside your car, because you missed one of the steps.
I gave up locking my car.
But I am proud to say, that I have at least mastered bringing the key into the house and hanging it on a hook.
I'm all growed up.
And what about Sven?
He is horrific.
He makes me look like I know what I am doing.
And what about the house?
The last time I went on a house locking crusade, was about fifteen years ago and it lasted about three months, or until I got sick and tired of coming home to find the spare key sitting in the keyhole.
"What?" Sven would say. "I just wanted to make sure you could get in."
That project had to be aborted.
There must be some other keyless people left on this planet besides the two of us.
Come one. I know you are out there. You just don't want to admit it, any more than you would confess that you still use a sunscreen with an SPF of four.
Did I mention that our house is haunted?
That is the reason I have been talking about locked doors.
You see, when I make my life or death, run like the fucking wind, to that kitchen door, because I am being chased down the stairs from my bedroom, by a dark, floating, figure from the other side, God damn it, it will open.
So, in the end, I am happy that we never conquered locking our doors.
It works for me.
It also worked for that kid who walked in and stole our shit, a few years ago.
But that is another story, 'The Case of the Missing Coconut Earring', to be exact.
It is probably a bad idea to write about THE ghost.
The more attention that you pay to the other side, the more the other side, pays attention to you.
But, I am a writer.
Or at least in my dreams, I am.
So, I must do, what must be done.
Ghosts Are People Too - Chapter One
The Face and the Whale
It all began in summer of 1991, the same year that we were building our house in the country, fleeing from suburban, breast feeding neighbors, and I was busy 'training' the world's best, worst, yellow lab puppy, ever, Leonard.
It was a balmy afternoon. We, as in Leonard, and I, were walking on the path through the woods. Leonard was trotting in front of me. His leash was dragging on the ground behind him. We were near the wild raspberry patch and I had needed both hands to stuff my face. Out of nowhere, a big, old, farmer, in a white T-shirt and overalls, with one strap hanging down in the front, was standing in the middle of the trail, about ten feet in front of us. I have no recollection of his face. And, I never did. I ditched the raspberries and stomped on the loose leash with my right foot, leaned over, heart racing and grabbed it, before Leonard, who's nose was to the ground, spotted the dude and made a mess out of him and an ass out of us.
This took less than a second. In other words, less time than to jump from a swing and hit the ground.
I looked at the man.
But, there was nobody there.
"Oh, my God."
I crept slowly ahead, peering into the woods on both sides, as I passed the spot he had just been standing.
I spun around to see if he was behind us.
"What the fuck?" I whispered.
Where was he?
I mean, I am shy, but come on.
Why would a big, old, fat, farmer hide behind a tree?
Was he going to jump out and rape me, slit my throat and leave me there to die?
The woods were silent.
Leonard, alias, Bob Barker, aka, the Nose, who could smell a piece of gum through a heating vent upstairs, track it to the laundry room in the basement and dig it out of the pocket of a pair of dirty jeans, at the bottom of the pile, was silent.
"What the hell?"
We continued on our way.
We made it home unscathed.
And life went on.
It was much later that I learned that strange events had been happening to all of us.
All of us that is, except Sven.
But Sven doesn't count. He is the kind of guy who could walk through a room, deep in thought and books could hurl themselves off shelves on both sides, by the dozens, right behind him and he wouldn't hear a thing. He would get to his destination and realize that he forgot that phone number that he'd scrawled on that little piece of paper in the other room, turn around and walk right over those books and broken vases and never think anything of it.
I am sure that ghost did the best he could to get his attention and he just gave up.
After the weird farmer situation, over the next several years, strange things happened around me, all the time. I would ignore them. It was often unexplainable feelings of not being alone or someone looking over my shoulder and senseless creaks in the night.
I lived in denial. I never spoke of any of it. I was a regular politician and my motto was, "deny, deny, deny."
The year is now 1998.
Sven is away for the weekend.
Adrienne and Marques are adults and have moved out.
Rene is sixteen and he has plans for the night.
Leonard by this time is a three legged, seven year old, world's best, worst, dog, ever.
And I am suffering from a bad case of the blues because Marques' recent move has left a void.
He had made some pottery pieces in his last year at school and there were two in particular that I liked. One was a flat, blue background, with a yellow whale and the other was a funny, brown face, that looked like it's maker.
So, I kept them.
I set them together in the kitchen window sill, next to the flat bottomed, clay turkey, that Rene had made in grade school.
Out of habit, I looked at the trio every time I entered the room.
The face cracked me up.
I was weirdly excited to have the house all to myself, because it was something new.
On my way home from work, I'd stopped and rented three super-sappy, chick flicks, from the video store. I was going to get my fill of stupid, love stories, if it killed me, in order to counter act the more than my share, of car chase scenes and martial arts, I'd seen, since Adrienne had moved away and left me home alone with all guys.
Put it this way, I knew more kung fu moves than David Carradine. And I saw that damn, Claude Van Damme, all of the damn time.
Yes. I was planning to overdose on badly written soap operas.
So, there we were, just Leonard and I, sitting on the living room couch, all cuddled up together in our pajamas. We had a bowl of popcorn and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
While the first movie, which I believe was, Sleepless in Seattle, was rewinding, I walked into the kitchen and was taken aback.
I shook my head and looked again.
And then again.
The face that had been leaning to the right was leaning to the left.
Jolts of shit ran up my neck and into my hair.
Now, I don't know about you, but in these types of situations, I prefer to act as though nothing is going on while I get my shit together.
My theory is, do not let a ghost know that you are freaking out.
So, I pretended that everything was perfectly normal and went back to the living room.
Leonard was a fan of chick flick night. I could tell by the stench of dog, popcorn gas, that he was thoroughly enjoying himself.
About half way through the second show, curiosity urged me back into the kitchen.
I walked around the corner and looked right at that funny face.
It was flipped back to the left.
I nonchalantly took the bottle of wine off the counter and walked back to the couch to sit with the three legged guard dog, who was now asleep on top of my blanket.
I nervously watched the rest of the movie and about every fifteen minutes I went to the kitchen for some made up reason, and every time I did, the face was flipped in the opposite direction and looking right at me.
Finally, the second cheesy story ended and I finished crying.
"Leonard," I said. "It's time for bed."
He looked at me with his big brown eyes and black nose and began stretching.
"We can watch the other one in the morning," I continued.
I did not want to look at that window sill anymore. I was tired and I just wanted to hit the stairs and get up into my bed.
But it was impossible not to peek.
And this time I blew my cover and I screamed.
I ran up those stairs, just like the idiots in the movies do. And I slammed the bedroom door shut, after Leonard finally made it in, which took forever, on account of only having three legs and being almost fifty, in dog years.
I turned on the fan, the lights and the bedroom T.V. I left everything on all night long and I was completely under the covers with only my nostrils sticking out, only to find that unfortunately, Leonard and popcorn were a bad combination.
Of course in the light of day it all seemed very silly.
Birds were chirping.
How bad could it be?
I decided that it must have been the wine.
So, I skipped down the stairs like any Saturday morning, without a care in the world. And in typical fashion, the world's best worst dog ever, about knocked me over on the steps, trying to get in the front.
"Leonard, you idiot."
I got to the bottom and looked right at the face.
Hallelujah, it was no longer doing a balancing act, leaning almost completely sideways, to the right.
It was again leaning slightly to the left.
The whale was minding his own business.
But the turkey, that Rene made in grade school, was as I'd seen the night before, still lying in the sink, with a broken neck.
I found his head in the garbage disposal.
Now, I am by no means a ghost psychologist. I mean, I don't have a degree in ghost psychology or anything like that, but it was clear to me that this guy from the other side, really wanted to be noticed.
Well, I did notice him.
Maybe I should have let him know that right away, when he was flipping the face back and forth at me.
Maybe I should have said, "Hi there, I am Millie. What is your name?" But instead, I ignored him.
And I think that is what led to the violence.
But even though I was probably partly to blame for the incident, I have to say that, we really did not get off on the right foot.
Because if there is one thing that I hate almost as much as those legs that sprout out of potatoes, it is sticking my hand into a garbage disposal to dig out the head of a turkey.