While daylight brightens this Hallowed Eve, the six ghost stories that follow are transparent tales that cast no shadows .
While the sun shines, there could never be a Burning Island nor Haunting Globes, no Phantom Infant, no Hope House phantasm, no Corpse-Mother of the Forest, no Revenge of the eaten cats .
Not while the light lasts. But sunset today is at 5:09 p.m.
There was nothing spooky about our garden apartment in a complex just off Shirley Highway (I-395) until a pulsating globe of rosy light materialized on the bedroom wall one night. My husband called, "Honey, come here. You've got to see this." When I did, I jumped into the bed and under the covers. It seemed the only thing to do.
Being a calm sort, my husband went in for a close look. Searched the room for the light's source.
"Make it go away," I wailed.
"Would you please leave?" he asked it politely. "You're scaring my wife."
The light faded away.
But things were never the same. The two of us became the four of us. They -- somehow we felt two sets of psychic vibes -- were invisible. Wherever we went, they went. They were to follow my husband and me from Arlington to L.A. and back again.
They (we began to call them that after a while because it was convenient) would leave things -- lipsticks, paper fish, banana peels. Nothing from beyond the veil.
They would take things. Sometimes, however, an importuning look heavenward and a "Puleeze, gimme back my typewriter automatic erasing casette" would do the trick.
In Virginia, they first made off with my wedding band, a heavy gold item that would be hard to miss in a snowstorm. After searching the house and ripping the linens off the bed, I threw myself on the bare mattress for a good cry. It seemed to be the only answer. And there was the ring not a centimeter from my nose, propped on top of an empty matchbook.
They made off with a pair of glasses and kept them until I had forgotten the incident entirely. A month or so later, I made a run from the shower to answer the phone. I looked down and there were the specs in the middle of a wet footprint on the carpet.
But once the initial gooseflesh had subsided, we came not to mind them. By the time we moved to California, we kind of liked them and began to imagine they were just two nice old duffers stuck with the final task of looking after us as some otherwordly penance, or because of a Catch-22 at the heavenly gate. Banshees or succubae, poltergeists or ghouls, they even saved our lives by stealing the keys to our woebegone blue Volkswagen.
Our duffle bags, a papier-mache, llama from Tijuana and two guitars were stuffed into the VW and we were ready to leave Southern California for the promised land, San Francisco.
To our chagrin, they took the car keys. We searched the house, even dug down in the gritty stuff under the sofa cushions. The garden, under the bird of paradise. Our clothes, down to our underwear. The car.
Then we emptied the car, unpacked and searched again.
"It's them," I said.
"Yes," he said.
"Puleeze, give us back those car keys right now," I ordered.
We sat, waiting as long as we could stand it. (Not long: We were impatient in the '60s.) Nada.
"Let's try again," I said. "I promise we won't go to San Francisco until tomorrow if you give back those keys."
We closed our eyes and waited. When we opened them, the room was exactly as it had been.
"I'm going outside," I said.
The Volkswagen door was open. It had been closed. Inside on the seat lay the keys. Over the car radio came the news of a 14-car smash-up, carnage and death on the Harbor Freeway.
"Maybe, this is, you know, joint hallucination," I suggested. "We ought to call somebody . . . a group that knows something about this sort of thing."
A phone call to one of those associations, say, the Society for the Scientific Investigation of Psychic Phenomena, was reassuring. "Guess they were trying to tell you something," a mellow-voiced young man said soothingly.
Ten years have passed. My husband and I have gone our own ways. He got custody of our two friends. I kind of miss them all.