I don’t believe in ghosts. Don’t give me that look. They’re all real bastards so why should make the effort.
I’ve seen them all my life. They’re just figments. But, like I said, bastards.
One time when I was nine, I spent half a summer visiting with Uncle Rupert only to have my parents show up and ground me because the cops found his corpse floating half way down the Mississippi.
Worst trouble of my life up to that point all because Rupert couldn’t have been bothered to keep me in the loop. So what if the stiff would have been a little lonely.
I never got to do any traveling by myself after that.
Not until I was eighteen and applied to the farthest away college I could fathom.
The ghost sitings were worse there, but I figured out most of the ghosts right away. Even 90s fashion went out of vogue pretty quick.
One of the ghosts looked like a near-stereotypical nerd from the mid-80s.
I borrowed some anti-psychotics from someone who didn’t have any interest in using them. Didn’t help. I worried about the nerd anyway.
During my second year, I took a light summer load and made it my project to figure things out. Medication didn’t help, so I tried meditation, standing on my head, all that stuff. Even tried to get a priest to exorcise me. That didn’t go over well. He thought I teased him.
On a whim, I tried a different approach. I researched the nerd’s life. Tim Peterson. He’d died in 1982. ODed on stimulants. Teased by classmates and bullied by his parents whenever his grades dropped below a 100.
I sent letters to his parents and classmates. Tim faded away and I had a much better fall semester.
The other ghosts still haunted me, but I’d gotten rid of one. I could get rid of the others.
I even finished my degree on time.
Looking back on it all, I feel so naive. On the last day of class, I spotted someone out of the corner of my eye. It looked so much like Tim. Out of place in any era.
My heart skipped a beat.
I didn’t see him again, but I try not to spend any more time at my alma mater than I must.
The memory of Uncle Rupert intruded more and more often. I had to go back to St. Louis.
I didn’t tell my family or anyone else either. The story of my “adventure” spread pretty wide amongst my acquaintances and I didn’t want to hear about it.
The young girl on the Metro Link could be a ghost. So could the goth with no gadgets visible who sipped coffee at a café. I could never tell for sure.
I breathed in deep and slow. The air flowed out of me like so many old movie ghosts as I knocked on the door.