There’s a show on some channel or other called Gary and the Ghosts. As the title implies, it’s about some overenthusiastic, gullible doofus named Gary who’s parlayed his own idiocy into a bigger career than I’ll ever have. He and his ‘team of elite spirit-hunters’ take expensive, fancy looking equipment into old-ass houses and dick around until they hear some sound or other. Then they make a big show of freaking out and leave to collect their paychecks. I assume. I haven’t actually watched it. A show by a bunch of rich losers for a bunch of poor losers, all of whom think that hearing some weird noises somehow guarantees their immortal souls will survive their physical deaths. Exploitative, moronic, unscientific and pointless if you ask me. Excuse me if I sound bitter, but how are these people successful?
At the risk of digression, back to the point: Gary himself was sniffing about my parents’ home. Well, not just my parents’. It had been owned by the Everett family for something like two hundred years, starting with my great-great-great-whatever grandfather Jeremiah Everett, and his son Philip Everett, and so on and so forth until myself, Paul Everett. I’d own this dilapidated, smelly old building one day. But not yet. Right now, Gary was waving around what appeared to be a futuristic dildo, looking at readings on his watchamahoosits and reporting to his admittedly quite cute female assistant. You had to hand it to Gary, whether he was a fraud or just a regular old idiot-stick, he seemed really into this.
“The readings are fluctuating all over the place right around here. Definitely some sort of recent activity, Lisa!” he said, grinning. He was a spindly guy that looked like the offspring of a toothbrush and a stick insect, and when he got animated like this, he reminded me of Jack from the Nightmare Before Christmas.
“I bet this wall is it, isn’t it, Mr Everett? This is where they found the bodies?” Gary said, waving his dildo up and down the side of my dining room wall.
“I don’t know where they found the bodies, Gary, I was six. You’d have to ask my mother that one,” I said.
“Shame she couldn’t be here,” said Gary, “But I’d bet dollars to donuts something happened right here.”
I shrugged. I didn’t want to piss Gary off, because if he decided to film an episode of his show in my parents’ house, they’d get well paid. Not well enough that they wanted to be here to meet him themselves, of course, that would be asking too much. Don’t get me wrong: my mother loves this sort of thing, ghosts, hauntings, stories, and so on. She’s the one that set this whole thing up and she probably would have loved to be here but she’s required to travel in her capacity as a civil servant so she simply couldn’t be. My father simply didn’t give a shit, electing to just get the hell out of the house when he heard this might be happening, and my sister lived way the hell over in Indiana so she was out, too. That left me. I’d get a cut of whatever money we got, I guess, but right now, I wasn’t sure if it was worth it.
What they were looking for was evidence of the otherworldly presence of my Uncle Rooster; actually Lieutenant James “Rooster” Everett of the Confederate States of America. Born in 1823, died circa 1864, and depending on who you ask (and everyone had an opinion), either a proud hero in the War of Northern Aggression or a cannibalistic warcriminal. As I mentioned, the house myself, my good friend Gary and his hot assistant were now in had been in my family for generations. During the time of the Civil War, it was used to house soldiers of the Confederacy. Presumably to the chagrin of everyone living there who wasn’t in the Confederate army; but that number didn’t include my great-great-great-great grandfather Captain Philip Everett and his brother Lieutenant Rooster, both of whom served the cause proudly. Rooster was definitely the weirdo, at least so the story goes, and in the only photo anyone’s been able to find, Philip definitely looks like a handsome, proud Southern gentleman and Rooster’s got a bit of a creepy look to him, so it’s not surprising Philip is the one who had kids (hence: me) and Rooster never did. Nevertheless, whenever people visit us or talk about us on these shows of theirs, it’s never Philip they want to discuss. His life was boring, so they think, in that he raised a family, retired fairly comfortably after the war, and died in 1900 as an old man. Not great tabloid material, and definitely not the seed of a good ghost story. There are old legends of Rooster stretching back to just after the war, since he apparently took part in something called the “Kechika Massacre,” which involved the decapitation of a couple of kids and old people who sympathized with our boy Lincoln. After the massacre, his regiment fell upon some supposedly karmic hard times, then vanished without a trace. That’s enough for a decent story right there, even if Grandpa says that the Kechika Massacre was blown out of proportion and that Rooster’s involvement was peripheral at best. Here’s where things get a bit creepier, though: after Philip died, this house remained a home for the Everett family for another generation or so, when Great Grandpa Hezekiah decided it would make a better bed-and-breakfast. It was that for about forty years, before that business fizzled and it fell into disrepair for a while. But while it was available to any old John Q. Public to sleep in, a ton of people started reporting strange stuff in our house. They said they’d hear boot steps late at night, they said there’d be unexpected chills during the summertime, all the usual nonsense. However, occasionally, people said they’d see a middle-aged man with crazy eyes, dressed in the uniform of a CSA officer, marching up the stairs, looking for something, and occasionally staring at some wall or other. By the time they approached him, of course, he’d have disappeared. They knew it was Uncle Rooster, so they’d say, from that family photograph that was still hanging up in the house. Sometimes, they said the old man was accompanied by a little girl, also dressed like it was still eighteen-whatever. He’d hold this girl’s hand – they usually said she was about six – and they’d walk the halls of the old house together. I don’t know if it was because of these so-called “hauntings,” but after a while, no one stayed at the B&B anymore, and the house didn’t get used for a while. Finally, at some point in the eighties, my dad realized that we still technically owned this huge piece of property and decided to sink a bunch of money into renovating it. It was still undergoing massive repairs when we moved in. I barely remember this, having been five at the time, but there was one moment that was genuinely horrifying and ruined my nights for quite a few years. While installing some new electrical outlets, our workers discovered two dessicated bodies. Stuck in the wall. Human bodies, if I wasn’t clear before. Brrr. As I told Gary, I don’t really remember which wall, but I definitely remember hearing screaming and seeing these two corpses lying on the floor. Both of them were brown and shriveled and shrunken. One of them was a grown man sporting a beard, clutching a rifle and garbed in a ragged, ancient looking uniform. The other one was tiny and wore a little dress. And I remember my mom pulling me and my sister the hell out of the room as quickly as possible. The cops were called, of course, and after what amounted to a pretty harrowing afternoon and evening, we were informed that these people had indeed died sometime in the 1860s. After examining the bodies, it was determined that the man was indeed the famous Uncle Rooster. The city paid for a full military burial, complete with a Confederate flag draped over his coffin. It was all very politically correct. No one ever did figure out who the little girl was, and I don’t know what they did with her. The media, of course, had a field day. All those old stories of Rooster came bubbling back up, and I’d hear more and more tales as the years wore on. Some people said Rooster had been trying to rescue a lost little girl, stuck in a wall. A more popular story said that my murderous great uncle had brought her there to eat her, she’d escaped, and he’d given chase. She hid in the walls, he came in after her, and neither one could get back out. Sensationalistic, yes? None of the stories made a whole lot of sense, but who the hell knew? All I knew was that those god damn bodies haunted my nightmares for pretty much my entire childhood, and I hated every night of sleeping in the house every night until I was able to firmly convince myself that ghosts did NOT exist. And why the hell do so many people want them to? Proof of life after death? Bull! If you proved there were ghosts, all you’d prove was that there were ghosts, not anything about the great beyond. Who the hell would want to be a disembodied spirit, wandering around an old house for eternity? You’d never do anything except wig people out and in the stories, they never seem to know what’s going on. Being a ghost would be like being in a retirement home with dementia, but likely way worse. Not for me, sir, I’ll take annihilation any day. This fascination with ‘spirits’ boggles my mind.
Nevertheless, here we were, and Gary definitely did not share my view. He had now ordered complete quiet and was recording something or other with another one of his little devices. I had the distinct urge to make a loud farting noise. I held it in, but this seemed like this was going to take a while.
To be continued…