Grandma Baker and I stood out in the pouring rain, milling over our choice for a potential Jack O’ lantern carefully. I picked up various pumpkins, feeling them for heft and softness. Once I found the perfect one, I showed it to Grandma Baker and carried it to the checkout stand, already set up near the entrance to the pumpkin patch! Mr. Gravy wore blue jeans and an oversized Kent State Hooded sweatshirt.
I paid for the pumpkin and carried it to Grandma’s pickup Truck. It’s purple exterior served in contrast to its leather interior. Grandma cranked up the heat. I started sweating. I had a shirt rolled up at the sleeves, whereas Grandma wore a big bulky coat.
The music of the windshield wipers lulled me into a pre slumberous state. I was eleven at the time. The radio started playing country, but I changed that to some good old rock n roll. Most kids my age were into hip hop or rap, or worse, that awful pop music. Not good stuff like from the 80’s. We’re talking about Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus type garbage.
People that listened to that crap were sort of the dregs of society. Yeah, I was not the most popular kid in seventh grade. I was and still am a loner. The music kind of washed over me and I started to daydream. Only a Midwestern boy could fully appreciate a daydream. Midwesterners were sort of the daydreamers of the United States.
Many of them usually found their existence to be extremely repetitive. There was a circular motion to life in the Midwest. They got up every day, went to the same job, kissed the same wife, blah, blah blah. East Coasters had the opposite problems. They were too free. There was no need to be responsible, therefore they usually offed themselves with drugs because they felt unfulfilled. Later on, I would become a big shot novelist, but at that point in time, I was an anonymity, devoid of any form of identity. I found myself to be some faceless clay, hoping to be molded into something great. I pictured the highway patrol men telling my grandmother we would have to turn away because our neighborhood had been invaded by alien bacteria and it was turning everyone in town into crazed zombies- craving human flesh.
Grandma Baxter snapped me out of my daydream. ‘’That Julie girl will be stopping by the house tonight.’’
‘’Really?’’ I asked, trying to sound cool and not at all desperate. ‘’Any particular reason?’’
‘’I promised I would make a costume for her Halloween Party tonight,’’ Grandma Baker replied.
‘’I see,’’ I said.
‘’She’s awfully pretty: don’t you think?’’ Grandma Baxter eyed me.
‘’I shrugged. ‘’She’s okay I guess.’’
‘’Oh come on,’’ Grandma Baxter’s voice came off a bit accusatory. ‘’I’ve seen the way you look at her. And I’ve seen the way she looks at you too.’’
‘’Really?’’ I asked, allowing my cool guy façade to drop a little.
‘’Grandmother’s intuition, kid,’’ Grandma Baxter stated, ‘’Grandma’s intuition.
The rain made its pitter patter against the truck, and yet, in my imagination, the skies were clear and I was sitting under a big oak tree, hand in hand with Julie, reciting love poems I had written for her. In reality, to those who knew me, would probably balk at this, because my poetry was slimy and creepy, but, I had never been in love before. So who knew what love would do to my poetry. Another scenario I imagined, was Julie and I holding hands on a haunted hayride and whenever a monster popped out and scared her, she would bury her head in my chest and I alone would protect her.
Talk about cheesy, but I was thirteen, we could be a pretty cheesy bunch. When we got home, I ripped out the pumpkin guts, and Grandma Baxter carved the Jack O’ Lantern. She was pretty artistic with a knife, but this year, the pumpkin seemed extra terrifying. It looked the same as it always did.
That rounded head, the same jagged teeth, but this year, the Jack O’ Lantern seemed more hideous, more alive; totally evil. Since those days, I could take a scary Halloween or a cutesy or funny Halloween. Back then, it had to be scary. I watched scary movies, I read scary books and wrote scary stories. It might have been a morbid fascination, but to me, I was just a thirteen year old boy who needed an escape.
Like I had mentioned before, I was a loner. When you spent most of your time at school, being looked at as different, dodging the occasional bully, and not being invited to parties, made me lean toward the strange and unusual. It was therapeutic in a way, to write about bullies getting eaten by scaly things, or the pretty and popular cheerleader who turned down the geek for a date, to be shown a mirror of how ugly she is on the inside and having that ugliness manifest on the outside for a change.
Then there was the horror stuff that was actually terrifying. Monsters, aliens, killer robots, psychos, none of these were scary, in a way, they were more wish fulfillment characters. They were strong, had a courage to be who they were and could literally destroy their enemies. If people in civilized life, outside of these films or stories, would find themselves dead or in prison. What truly sent shivers down my spine, was ghosts.
Ever since I was a kid, I feared the thought of seeing a ghost. In documentaries or in the movies, families always talked about how powerless they were to stop the things. It was like trying to fight smoke. To quote a line from Stephen King’s IT.
‘’You going to help me pass out candy to the trick or treaters tonight?’’ Grandma Baxter asked.
‘’Don’t I always?’’ I answered.
‘’I thought since maybe you were a teen now, figure you’d be too cool pass out candy with your grannie.’’
Someone knocked on the front door. I answered the door. It was Julie. She wore black hooded sweatshirt, a pink skirt with match leggings. ‘’Hi,’’ she said.
‘’Grandma, B,’’ I said. ‘’Julie’s here.
I decided to go formal with it, trying to sound cool in front of Julie.
‘’Your costume is upstairs,’’ Grandma Baxter admitted. ‘’I’ll go up and get it.’’
Soon, Julie and I were alone. ‘’would you like to come to my party?’’ Julie asked.
‘’My jaw smacked the floor. Okay, it didn’t really smack the floor, I thought it was going to. ‘’Sure.’’
‘’Great,’’ Julie said.
At that time, Grandma Baker returned holding the dress. ‘’Here you go, honey.’’
‘’Thanks,’’ Julie said, waving.
Before leaving, she turned to me and said, ‘’see ya tonight?’’
After Julie had gone, Grandma Baker asked, ‘’See ya tonight?’’
Red faced, I admitted Julie had invited me to a Halloween party.
‘’So I guess I’ll be handing out candy solo tonight, eh?’’ Grandma Baker raised her eyebrow.
‘’Looks that way,’’ I replied. ‘’Hope you’re not disappointed.’’
‘’Not at all,’’ Grandma Baker asked. ‘’Sunrise, sunset.’’
I had no idea what that meant at the time. I remember having them put that on Grandma Baker’s tombstone after she passed. That would come later. I was well into my thirties at that time, but that was a different story. I asked Grandma B if she could take me to the Halloween shop. She offered to make me a costume, but I insisted on going to the Halloween shop.
My two favorite Holidays were Christmas and Halloween. Christmas shopping did and still does, accelerate my spirit for the season. Same with Halloween. The Halloween season became official whenever I would step into a store, specifically a Halloween shop and look at all the neat Halloween stuff.
Grandma Baker stayed in the car while I ran inside. There phony body parts hanging on hooks, ghoulish clowns with diseased faces grinned at me, and I found the perfect Halloween Costume; it was Prince Charming costume. Normally, I would be some kind of masked psycho, or a zombie or mutant, but none of that screamed romance. Unless Julie and I were Bonnie and Clyde or Woody Harrelson or Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers. Julie seemed a lot more The Notebook than the slasher film type. I paid for my costume and headed back to Granny’s. I spent a long time between combing my hair just right, applying cologne and putting on my costume.
Grandma Baker looked at me and said, ‘’Let me get the camera real quick. I’m sure your parents would love to see this.’’
She raced off to get the camera and returned quickly. The camera flashed and I headed out the door. I headed off into the night. A night of enchantment and horror. The buzzing of the crowd created a mess of heat and noise. Some kids were dancing and others were practicing their wallflower mode. Thirteen was definitely a unique age. You either were one of those kids with enough bravery to believe you were Batman, or battling your feelings of nerves and inadequacy.
Whatever the case, I looked around for Julie. When I found her, my breathing grew a little more-shallow. She was wearing perfume, her blonde hair was put up all fancy and she was dressed in a beautiful blue gown.
‘’Cinderella and Prince Charming!’’ Julie postulated. ‘’Our costumes match!’’
‘’How about that.’’ I replied, knowing full well it ahead of time.
‘’Care to dance?’’ Julie asked.
We took to the dance floor and lost ourselves in the music. ‘’Why are my palms so sweaty?’’ I thought, frequently wiping them on my pants leg.
‘’You’re a wonderful dancer,’’ Julie complimented me.
‘’I doubt that,’’ I answered.
She rested her head on my shoulder and the two of us, right then were sharing a moment. No matter which way our friendship, acquaintanceship or relationship, or whatever an outside interpreter would call our interaction, we were just a couple of kids lost in this one grand dance.
We spent most of the night dancing and laughing, sharing funny stories about each other. At one point in the dance, Julie kissed me and ran away upstairs. My heart leapt, but was replaced by an irrevocable sadness. Had she regretted the kiss? Had I done something wrong? Did she lose a bet?
That was when the party ended. Julie locked herself up in her bedroom. Some of the kids at the party gave me dirty looks. I was just as confused as they were, only they did not have to deal with the crushing embarrassment and shame of believing they were just rejected by the girl they liked.
I walked home, at one point, forcing my head towards the sky. That crisp cold of the Halloween air entered my long. It was not as cold as the chill of winter. There was also the aroma of chainsaw smoke. That was an aroma I would appreciate later in life. It would remind me of working at a couple of Haunted Houses when I was twenty three.
But, I had no knowledge of that at thirteen. I looked toward the houses near Grandma Baker’s house. Jack O’ Lanterns leered at me. Giant inflatable Mummy’s waved at me from front lawns. There were pumpkin, skeleton and bat shaped Halloween lights on several houses. I got home a bit after 10:30. Grandma Baker was sewing. She noticed me and said ‘’How’d the party go?’’
‘’It was okay at first.’’ I admitted.
‘’Did something happen?’’ Grandma Baker looked hard in my eyes. ‘’Well, I think Julie is mad at me.’’
‘’I doubt that,’’ Grandma Baker said.
‘’Why do you say that?’’
‘’She called for you, and sounded very eager to talk to you.’’
‘’Really?’’ I tried desperately to hide my enthusiasm.
Grandma Baker nodded.
‘’How’s your night been, Grandma B?’’ I asked.
‘’Peculiar,’’ she admitted.
‘’Peculiar?’’ I asked. ‘’How so.’’
She took off her glasses and looked at me. ‘’You know I’m not prone to spinning tall tales, correct?’’
‘’Of course,’’ I asked, leaning in because my curiosity was more than peaked.
‘’There have been some strange occurrences going on around here,’’ Grandma Baker answered.
‘’Lights flickering, strange smells, shadows.’’ Grandma B stated.
‘’What kind of strange smells?’’ I leaned against the kitchen table.
‘’Cigars and decaying dead bodies,’’ Grandma Baker admitted hesitantly.
‘’Woah. That’s crazy.’’ I stated.
‘’While you were gone, I rented a book from the library called Superstition and Legends, and it said we may be dealing with an entity known as Angry Jack.’’ Grandma Baker’s words were whispered.
‘’Who’s Angry Jack?’’ I asked.
‘’Apparently he was an old farmer that used to own his own pumpkin farm. Apparently one night, he went crazy and chopped up his wife with an ax,’’ Grandma Baker began.
‘’No way.’’ I added, biting my lip.
‘’Not wanting to spend the rest of his life in prison, Angry Jack killed offed himself via a shotgun.’’ Grandma Baker stated. ‘’I called Mr. Gravy tonight, and he said a Jack Darby owned his farm before Mr. Gravy did: that was the name of Angry Jack. Jack Darby.’’
‘’Wild,’’ I answered.
‘’That’s not the end of it,’’ Grandma Baker said.
‘’It’s not?’’ I answered.
Shaking her head, Grandma Baker continued. ‘’He got the nickname Angry Jack because the book alleged that Jack haunted his old pumpkin patch and would pick out his favorite pumpkin, and if a customer bought that pumpkin, his vengeful spirit would follow them home and torment them.’’
‘’That is wild,’’ I admitted. ‘’What makes you sure this was all Angry Jack’s doing?’’
‘’None of this happened until we brought our pumpkin home,’’ Grandma Baker studied like I was some science experiment.
‘’I don’t know what to tell you,’’ I answered.
‘’That makes two of us, kid,’’ she said.
I went upstairs and called Julie on my cell phone. She had kind of given me her number at the party and I gave her mine. I had forgotten to mention it earlier because I was pretty lost in the memory of that dance. I called her up and she sounded relieved.
‘’Colin?’’ Julie asked.
‘’Yeah?’’ I answered.
‘’I’m sorry I had like a total meltdown at the party,’’ Julie apologized.
‘’It’s alright,’’ I replied. ‘’I’m just glad you’re not mad at me.’’
‘’Mad at you?’’ She repeated. ‘’OMG, no. I like you. I got embarrassed and wasn’t sure you liked me.’’
‘’I like you,’’ I assured her. ‘’I like you a lot.’’
‘’Really?’’ Julie asked, her voice filling with hope. ‘’Wanna go out sometime?’’ Julie asked.
‘’Sure,’’ I replied.
‘’Great,’’ Julie answered.
We said our goodbyes and hung up. I flopped down on the bed and my shoulders melted into it. I pictured myself standing at the altar, I was dressed in a tuxedo; my bride to be was wearing lavender Chiffon. Right before we kissed, I heard someone knocking on my bedroom door. Grandma Baker stood in the doorway.
Her head was cocked to one side, and her mouth was contorted in an uneasy smile. ‘’Want to have a Halloween Fest?’’ She asked me.
‘’It’s kind of late,’’ I admitted.
‘’Yeah? I can’t sleep. Not after tonight. I figure maybe if we have a Halloween Fest, I can get my mind off of tonight.’’ Grandma Baker said.
‘’I’m game,’’ I replied.
I was not tired either. We headed to the local Blockbuster video. Grandma Baker waited in the truck while I scoured the comedy section. Grandma Baker asked me not to get anything scary. I still wanted something Halloween themed, so I settled on Halloween Town.
I checked it out and we returned home. Grandma Baker made popcorn and the two of us sat on the sofa, under a blanket and watched the movie. A sudden cold spot came over the two of us. Grandma Baker periodically would turn up the thermostat, but the chill remained.
‘’Darn thing must be broken,’’ she stated.
‘’Aren’t cold spots supposed to be a sign of a ghost?’’ I asked.
‘’Let’s change the subject,’’ Grandma Baker pleaded.
‘’Oh come on, Granny B,’’ I stated. ‘’I’ve always to stay in a haunted house.’’
‘’You’re going home on Monday. I have to live here,’’ Grandma Baker insisted.
‘’Come on,’’ I said. ‘’It’s a ghost? How much harm could the thing do?’’
‘’The Conjuring, Poltergeist, The Exorcist and The Entity. They were ghosts too.’’ Grandma Baker shuddered.
‘’That stuff only happens in the movies,’’ I gave my Grandma’s shoulder a gentle squeeze.
‘’Three of those films were based off real events,’’ Grandma Baker’s muscles tensed.
We had all the lights off, but two white candles sat on the coffee table. I happened to look down and noticed that the flames had turned blue. I brought this to Granny B’s attention. ‘’They say when a candle’s flame turns blue, your house is haunted.’’
‘’That’s enough, Colin,’’ Grandma Baker scolded.
‘’I’m just letting you know what I heard,’’ I shot back. ‘’Don’t shoot the messenger her.’’
‘’You’ve got your mother’s smart mouth, young man,’’ she joked. ‘’I’m not sure I like it.’’
She shut off the movie and went up to bed. I was pretty beat myself. I blew out the candles and retired to my bedroom. I sort of laughed off my Grandmother’s phobia about ghosts. ‘’What was the big deal?’’ I wondered. ‘’Ghosts couldn’t hurt ya.’’
I had no idea how wrong I was. That night I had a nightmare. Started off innocent enough. In my dream, it started off with Julie and I walking hand in hand on a farm. Cold rain beat down on our heads. Everything was in black and white and there were no sounds. I felt like we were in one of those old silent movies. We kicked rotting pumpkins away from our feet. She turned and looked at me. I could see by the look on her face that she was frightened, but she would not speak. She opened her mouth but no words came through. The sound broke through and we heard a lawnmower in the distance.
A brick farmhouse lie in the background. Julie and I approached it. My subconscious imagined the house seemed to be breathing. The sounds emanating from the house were truly terrifying. I heard a series of lunatic laughter, followed by feminine screams and the sound of pigs being slaughtered.
The closer we drew to the house, the louder the ghastly sounds became, including the tractor. Julie reached out and squeezed the doorknob. The plethora of sound mashed into a headache inducing frenzy. Stepping inside, we saw human entrails lying on the kitchen table and the woman they belonged to lying dead on the floor.
Julie and I ran screaming from the house. A man on a tractor chased us. His face was obscured by the hood of his bulky coat. I could feel the front wheel of the tractor nip at the heel of my shoes. Before Julie and I were trampled to death, I awoke. I looked around my bedroom. All seemed to be normal.
I lied awake a couple of hours before drifting back to sleep. Sunday came and went. Monday rolled around. Grandma Baker drove me to school. Dad picked me up. He was wearing a green sweater and black slacks. When I got in the car, he gave me an inquisitive look. ‘’How was school?’’
‘’Long,’’ I groaned.
‘’One of these days, you’ll appreciate what a wonderful opportunity school is,’’ he replied, sounding like his usual and proverbial broken record self.
‘’Sure I will,’’ I muttered.
I knew it was all garbage jargon. A kid like me had certain impulses. I was a story teller. Truly, I had a need to be by myself. My dream was to be a rich and famous writer. As soon as I turned sixteen, if I was rich by then, I would definitely drop out of school and write full time. Mom and dad had already lectured me over a billion times about the importance of an education.
The school week came and went. Julie and I rode our bikes to John’s Pizzeria and ordered a slice of cheese pizza each and two Cokes. The pizza place was filled with people. The smell of pizza and parmesan cheese permeated through the air. Julie swirled her straw around in her drink. She would look up at me and then back down at her soda.
I could tell she wanted to ask me something, but she was definitely stalling. ‘’Is something wrong?’’ I asked.
Julie bit her lower lip and said, ‘’I want to give you something, but I’m afraid you’ll laugh.’’
‘’What is it?’’ I asked.
‘’Promise me you won’t laugh,’’ Julie pleaded.
Raising my hands up in the air, I said, ‘’I promise.’’
She pulled two rings out of the pocket of her San Francisco 49ers jacket and placed one in front of me. ‘’I bought this for you, and this one,’’ she said, sliding the other ring on her own finger.
‘’Is for me. I want the other girls at school to know we’re official,’’
‘’That sounds great,’’ I answered, slipping the ring on my finger.
I saw a man wearing a hooded jacket walk into the restaurant. I felt a chill as he past our booth. He walked into the kitchen and stared at me as he placed his hand on a hot grill. I could not see his face, but I knew he was staring right at me.
His hand was sizzling and the grease was popping, but still, this creep was letting it burn, impervious to the pain. I pointed toward the kitchen. I tried to speak but words would not escape my lips. Julie looked at me and looked at the kitchen and looked back at me, crinkling her cute little nose at me in confusion.
‘’What’s wrong, Colin?’’ Julie asked.
‘’I- I,’’ I stammered.
‘’What?’’ Julie said, her exasperation growing larger.
‘’I see a g-ghost!’’ I stuttered.
Julie busted out laughing. ‘’Halloween was a week ago.’’
The ghost turned and walked away, vanishing into a nearby wall. ‘’I have to go,’’ I announced, leaping up.
Julie called after me but I was out the door too quickly. As fast as I could pedal, I raced home. The world raced past me. I had to get home. A crazed dog came out of a dark alley. He was a big brown dog. He started chasing after me. His barking intensified the closer he got to me. By the time I got home, I felt as if my lungs would explode. I left my bike in the driveway, ran up the steps and slammed the door shut in the beast’s face. There I stood, back to the front door, panting, on wobbly legs, panting like a mongrel, trying to catch my breath. Mom was on the sofa, reading a romance novel. ‘’Hi honey,’’ she said. ‘’What’s the matter?’’
‘’Well, a dog that wanted to gnaw my face off chased me home,’’ I began. ‘’And I saw a ghost at the Pizzeria.’’
‘’A ghost, Colin?’’ Mom balked.
‘’Yeah, mom. A ghost,’’ I answered, feeling agitation rise in my chest.
‘’You know ghosts aren’t real,’’ Mom stated.
‘’How do you know?’’ I asked.
‘’It’s scientific fact,’’ Mom argued.
‘’What would you know about science,’’ I growled. ‘’You’re a high school English teacher!’’
Almost immediately, I regretted the decision to say it. Mom looked at me like she had an idiot for a son.
‘’What did you say to your mother?’’ Mom stated, giving me the you’re grounded for a year look. ‘’Sorry, mom,’’ I muttered.
‘’I realize you have a very active imagination,’’ Mom began. ‘’You were just imagining things.’’
I did not argue with mom. I retired upstairs. I debated whether to call Grandma Baker so late, but I decided to give it a chance. ‘’Hello?’’ She answered.
‘’Grandma Baker? It’s me, Colin,’’ I said.
‘’I’m glad you called, honey,’’ she stated.
‘’Really?’’ I asked. ‘’Why is that?’’
Activity has been picking up since you left,’’ Grandma Baker asked.
‘’I had a pretty nasty run in myself with a ghost,’’ my voice sort of trailed off.
‘’What happened?’’ Grannie B said.
I explained to her all about the ghost and how the skin on his hand boiled and bubbled, and he never flinched. Grandma Baker’s voice grew a little weak when she described how a lot of plates and dishes were flying out of cupboards. ‘’One almost clocked me in the skull; had I not moved.’’
‘’What shape’s the pumpkin in,’’ I inquired.
‘’Foul thing is starting to rot.’’ Grandma Baker admitted.
‘’I think the sooner the thing is gone, the sooner we can all go back to having a regular and ghost free existence,’’ I stated.
‘’I don’t know if the pumpkin being extinct will help or not,’’ Grandma Baker stated.
‘’Why not?’’ I said, my voice cracking a bit.
‘’I’ve been reading up on Angry Jack,’’ she started.
‘’And?’’ I asked.
‘’The book said sometimes he doesn’t haunt the pumpkin: he may become attached to a person or people.’’
‘’Major bummer,’’ I replied.
‘’I’m sorry,’’ she said, starting to cry.
Hearing her sob like that made my heart ache. ‘’It’s not your fault,’’ I tried assuring her.
‘’Yes it is,’’ Grandma Baker sobbed. ‘’I should have just taken you to Meijer or something. Mr. Gravy’s pumpkin patch is too dangerous.’’
‘’We’re going to pull through this.’’ My own self confidence reassured me, giving a confidence in myself I was not even sure I had previously had.
After hanging up the phone I decided to do a little online research. I discovered Grandma Baker was telling the truth. Something else I had discovered filled me with some hope. ‘’How to get rid of Angry Jack,’’ I read out loud.’’
The steps included painting a large pentagram using table salt in the center of my bedroom. On the floor of course. It seemed like in all those witch craft or ghost films, the pentagram had to be on the floor. Where else you going to draw one? On the ceiling? It also gave me some weird chant to say. Like I was the star in the newest Child’s Play sequel.
Alright, enough horror film references, anyway, I grabbed the salt. I knew mom and dad would be pretty upset with wasting all that salt, but when dishes and chairs weren’t levitating around their kitchen, they would definitely thank me. I drew the pentagram and said the chant.
Mother of the wind, I ask for your protection.
The deceased I ask to leave.
This mortal world is no place for you.
Definitely sounded cheesy. I heard what I could only describe as the boom of a shotgun blast. Grandma Baker reported by phone that the activity had stopped. For a couple of months, things were peaceful. Neither my grandmother nor I had any paranormal incidents. Things were great with Julie.
I guess things started happening again on Valentine’s Day. Can you imagine that? Now granted, ghosts had no need for love. And sure, winter was a time when all things were dead, before the alleged rejuvenating effects of spring took place. But, I digress.
There was some lame assembly on fire safety. It beat going to class I guess. Best of all, I got to watch the whole thing while holding hands with Julie. She smelled of tropical garden perfume and coconut shampoo. She wore a denim skirt with pink leggings and a white turtleneck. The haze of a school assembly overtook me. I would periodically glance over at the entrance to the gym. It was nice that this was going to be the last thing we did before going home. I loved Julie, but I hated school.
If it wasn’t for her, I might skip class. My parents would be upset, sure. But I was my own man, well at the time, I guess boy. There was a definite beauty in defying authority. It was pretty much what the sixties were all about. Not today, now a days everybody was somebody else’s robot. Maybe someone more creative than me could write a great science fiction book about that.
I felt something or someone touch my leg. I looked over at Julie, figuring she had accidentally brushed up against my knee with her leg. It was a reasonable thought. We were a middle school of teens and pre-teens in close proximity to one another. To say the least, it was definitely plausible.
She was staring straight ahead. The guest speaker was named Fireman Hank or something. When I first saw the dude, I laughed because his head is shaped like a knight’s shield and he wore glasses. Naturally this made me think of Hank Hill and I had to stifle a chuckle. Julie had scolded me that it wasn’t nice to make fun of someone.
I tried to explain to her that I was not really making fun of him, it’s just his resemblance was pretty humorous. Sweet hearted Julie was so kind, she would never understand that kind of humor. That was alright with me. If she had been less compassionate, I doubt I would like her as much.
I ignored the leg touching thing. Just an accident. Nothing else. It happened again. Looking at Julie, I addressed her. ‘’Julie.’’
‘’Yeah she answered, sounding innocent.
‘’Did you touch my leg?’’ I asked.
She blushed. ‘’We’re not married. Why would you ask me that?’’
‘’It was at that moment I knew, my girlfriend was so innocent, so sweet. It filled me with a kind of euphoria. I was a lucky guy. But, that euphoria gave way to fear, because if Julie never touched my leg, who did? I felt something sock me in the gut, hard.
It really hurt. I doubled over, gasping for breath. ‘’Are you alright?’’ Julie asked, giving my hand a gentle squeeze. ‘’I- I don’t know,’’ I gasped.
She wore a contorted mask of worry and panic. In my skull I heard that awful voice. The voice of Angry Jack. ‘’Did you really think you could get rid of me? You’ll never get rid of me.’’
‘’Shut up,’’ I growled.
‘’Did you just tell me to shut up?’’ Julie asked.
‘’No, forget it,’’ I said, feeling her eyes boring into me.
I had run away from her before, In did not want Julie to develop some kind of complex, so I stayed out. My leg began bobbing up and down furiously. My muscles sort of tensed up. I felt bile start to sting my throat. It was happening again. ‘’No, I stopped it,’’ I protest internally.
After school, I decided to walk instead of getting a ride. I had to be alone. Julie wanted me to walk her home. Being the dutiful boyfriend, I did so. Called dad and told him I’d be at the library studying. I wasn’t going tom be studying. I usually did my homework in study hall since I had it first period. It was cool being able to save up all my homework for the next day. If I did not get something done, I would work on it during lunch, and if it still didn’t get done, I wouldn’t have homework done for the day.
No biggie. Surprisingly I had never been held back a grade. There was probably no one less equipped to be a student than me. I had terrible ADD and more than that, the idea of school galled me. We were supposed to be Americans. Home of the free, land of the brave, but kids were forced to go to school by law until they were sixteen years of age, if they could get parental consent.
It would never happen with my parents, but that was another point entirely. I went to the library. Of course it was cold outside, but the library was well heated. In the library there was a lovely librarian name Jo Moss. She wore a white blouse tucked into her ankle length red skirt. She was about twenty four years old.
Her eyes were a grey blue and her sandy blonde hair hung a little past her earlobes. She was the type of girl that if I was single, I might crush on, but I was a one woman man. I approached the front desk. She looked at me smiled. ‘’Hi, sweetie. What can I do for you?’’
‘’Do you have any books about ghost hunting and or how to get rid of a ghost?’’ My mouth felt dry.
‘’No, but, my Uncle Billy is a paranormal researcher, or a Ghostbuster you might say, ha hah,’’ the librarian joked.
I remained stone faced. I had no time for jokes.
‘’I can have him meet you here tomorrow afterschool,’’ she suggested.
‘’That would be great,’’ I said.
She gave me a quick nod, and out the door I went. When I awoke the next day, my blanket was hovering above me. The final bell could not ring fast enough. When it did, I shot out of that school and hurried to the library. The librarian’s uncle was waiting for me when I arrived. ‘’Hello,’’ he said, introducing himself as Simon, reaching out his hand. We shook hands and got down to business.
He was thin man, wearing circular glasses, a black turtleneck, brown slacks, black shoes and black gloves. ‘’What do you want to know about ghost hunting?’’ Simon asked.
‘’I believe a spirit has attached itself onto my grandmother and I and I was wanting to know how to get rid of it.’’ My voice was low.
‘’Do you know the name of the spirit?’’ Simon’s voice sounded clinical.
‘’I have reason to believe the spirit is Angry Jack,’’ I confessed.
Simon stared at me, as he shifted uneasily in his seat. ‘’Angry Jack, you say?’’
‘’Yes, Angry Jack. The murderer,’’ I grumbled.
‘’Well I would say your grandmother and you are in great danger,’’ Simon replied.
‘’How can we get rid of this thing?’’ I asked.
‘’It’s certainly not going to be easy,’’ Simon stated, shaking his head.
‘’I would definitely pray. You a religious kid?’’ Simon asked.
‘’Sort of,’’ I answered. ‘’My grandma and I are more spiritual than my mom and dad. They don’t believe in anything.’’
‘’Well, I would convince them to start attending church with you regularly,’’ Simon suggested. ‘’Also, religious iconography will drive the rampaging spirit away.’’
A strange fire started in the wastepaper basket. The librarian, thinking fast grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the fire. The walls began to shake. I knew it was Angry Jack. The walls began to shake. Then the floor joined in. The three of us, Simon, the librarian and myself all held onto desks, trying to keep our balance. ‘’Are we having an earthquake?’’ The librarian asked.
‘’We don’t get earthquakes in Ohio,’’ Simon replied. ‘’Angry Jack is resentful of me helping you.’’
‘’Leave the boy alone,’’ Simon shouted. ‘’He’s done nothing wrong.’’
The windows smashed themselves out. Books flew off the shelves and the lights all flickered frantically. The three of us heard the most terrible and guttural growls. The rumbling stopped, the books quit flying and the lights quit flickering. All fell quiet. The three of us were reduced to quivering masses of trembling fear.
Simon placed his hand on my shoulder and spoke words of comfort to me. ‘’Sorry you’re going through this, kid.’’
Those words brought me little comfort. ‘’How do I know all this religion stuff will work?’’ My words sounded a bit accusatory.’’
‘’I have been doing this a long time,’’ Simon informed me. ‘’I have battled Angry Jack before.’’
‘’And you won?’’ I asked.
Simon looked at me. ‘’Of course.’’
With that, I started attending Church with my grandmother every Sunday. Grandma Baker bought both of us our own bibles and a bunch of crucifixes. I hung one in my room and in every room in the house, except my parents’ bedroom. They did not want any religious iconography hanging in their room.
I disagreed with them, but I honored my mother and father, as was asked of me in the bible. Angry Jack once again began to dissipate, until finally, he was gone. I noticed my father and mother became increasingly distant from one another. They would bicker over things they had never bickered over before.
It all culminated in a stabbing between my mother and father. I raced into the kitchen after hearing my mom and dad screaming. To my horror, I found them both stabbing each other in the abdomen with large butcher knives. Their faces were twisted into snarls. Blood pooled on the floor so thick I almost slipped a couple times.
I was sent to live with Grandma Baker. Angry Jack never bothered me again, that is, until I shut my eyes.