Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Thanksgiving Ghost Story

GAR thinks our house is haunted.

But, then again, he thinks everywhere is haunted. He’s concocted some crazy story about how the husband of the woman we bought the house from electrocuted himself to death on some exposed wires on our pool filter box. He gleaned all this from when the woman told him at closing to “beware of the wires – you can get shocked pretty bad.” Obviously this meant that they had killed before. OBVIOUSLY.

I blame his overactive imagination on the various ghost hunting television programs he watches each week. They fill his brain with images of ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night (and, most recently, he’s also gotten hooked on zombies. If I hear him say “But what if we go to see ‘Skyfall’ and when we come out of the theater the zombie apocalypse has happened?” one more time…) He believes it and is terrified by it … but he also loves it. We’ve been ghost hunting in Savannah where, he believes, I had an encounter with an “orb” spirit. And we’ve been ghost hunting in Scotland where he very, very firmly believes that we not only encountered a famous ghost known as Mr. Boots in the underground vaults beneath the city, but that said ghost also followed us back to our hotel room where I dreamt of an evil creature chopping off GAR’s toes and, when he awoke the next morning, his feet were hurting so bad he thought he had broken every bone in them. Thankfully Mr. Boots couldn’t follow us all the way to Loch Ness where we totally saw Nessie (I'm waiting for my checks to roll in from the "National Enquirer" any day now) and GAR’s feet miraculously healed.

It’s not that I’ve never had strange encounters before. Growing up I believed there was a man who lived in my closet. He would come out at night if I forgot to shut the doors and hover over me in my bed. He terrified me but I knew he was simply a long-standing delusion of mine. Until, one time in high school, a friend spent the night and upon waking the next morning told me that she saw a man come out of my closet the night before. Okay, yeah, it was a strange coincidence. But I’m a skeptic and, as such, I refuse to blindly believe there’s more to it than that.

And so I indulge GAR with his ghost hunts and his fantasy hauntings and politely busy myself with other activities while he watches “Ghost Adventurers.” And, hey, when a Groupon came up for a “ghost hunt” in an old town just outside of Orlando I even said “Why don’t we do that? It could be fun!” (Spoiler alert: It was not.)

Let me paint a picture of our evening for you: It’s a cold night and we meet up with other “ghost trackers” in front of an ice cream shop (if only I had gotten the ice cream, despite the cold weather. I’m sure it would have been the highlight of the night). If you don’t know this, GAR is a professor and, naturally, we unexpectedly run into one of his students there. No, of course she’s not there for the ghost hunt, but she quickly learns that we are – I figure this knocks GAR’s credibility down quite a few notches in her book. At last our guide arrives. He makes a few jokes in poor taste and doles out some neon yellow vests that he tells the ladies (and only the ladies) that we "have" to wear – sexy. And then he starts (incredibly slowly) handing out some very cheap looking “ghost tracking” equipment that is very obviously nothing but a box with a blinky light on it. Here is GAR with his supposed "K2" device (which looks a heck of a lot like our ceiling fan remote).

Things are not going well for Mr. Ghost Tracker (or “GT” as he calls himself). But then something miraculous happens – GT gets “recognized” by some fans. These girls come up to him in a tizzy screaming “Is it you? Are you the Ghost Tracker?” And suddenly I’m intrigued. This guy is for real? He has fans? But how? GT explains that he has a national ghost hunting television show. What, we haven’t seen it? He’s shocked. After all, it airs at 2:30 a.m. on Sundays. Ah, okay, right. (After I got home that night I searched the tv channels for any sign of his show without avail. I may have to call shenanigans on the whole thing and say he paid these "screaming fans" to pretend to recognize him. My DVR doesn't lie.)

It’s at this point that we get to hear GT’s back story – his “superhero origin story” if you will. In other words, we get to hear about how it is that he came to have a supernatural ability to “track” spirits who are trapped here on Earth. As a young boy GT was in a terrible car accident that caused half of his brain function to shut down. To try to revive the dormant areas of his brain the doctors performed some sort of electric shock therapy on him by prodding his brain with metal rods. This electrocution opened up a portal to the afterworld that allows him to see, hear and communicate with ghosts. You got all that? Good. And, of course, he “proved” his abilities to us by showing us photos of alleged “spirits” caught on film (or digital “film” anyway) that looked like nothing (maybe a vague shadow at the very, very best) and saying “I know you can’t see it, but to me I can make it the whole figure … even what she’s wearing" (which was, shocker, "period clothing." Just once I'd like to see a ghost rocking a Flock of Seagulls haircut and some Hammer pants). "It’s my curse,” he would continuously say (it's also the name of his "book" - I'll be rushing right out to buy that one). Ah yes, the ghost that only you can see … because of your special powers … this should be a fascinating tour …

And that’s pretty much how it went all evening. He told stories about the time he went to the former site of the World Trade Center towers and all he could hear was the voices of the dead and the sound was so overwhelming that blood shot out of his eyes and his cameraman made him leave and find somewhere "safer" (Question: You had a cameraman? He caught this blood shooting out of your eye sockets on film?? Why has this footage not made serious national news ... or at least become a YouTube sensation?) And he showed us a house he bought that was the site of a vicious murder/suicide and how he was planning to restore the home to its former glory so that the spirits of those who were killed there can be set free (How? That part was unclear) and that he would "handle" the ghost of the murderer "in his own way" (no one even asked how on that one). And when his phone would ring he would shurg and say "Fox. They're always calling me." (Yes. I bet they are). But mostly he just showed us random things around town and gave us a history lesson. It wasn't so much a "ghost tour" as it was a "wandering around town and looking at literal eagles’ nests tour."

Oh, but the "equipment" he gave us? Some voice recorders that he told us to turn on but never played back the results for us, and an iPad app that "detects" ghosts in the area (which GAR also has on his iPhone .... he got it for free) - not so helpful. At one point GT asked the ghost of a homeless man who was murdered at a now abandoned bank to say the name of one of the people in our group (ghosts know our names?) and we heard nothing. But, of course, GT heard a name ... but did he tell us what it was? No. Instead he made everyone tell him our names and then at one point said "You said your name is Mike? That's what he said! Mike!" And THIS was the big conclusion to the evening. The giant ta-da! The definitive proof that ghosts exist and that GT can communicate with them.

Well you got me. I've never been more sure of anything in my life. You, GT, are telling the absolute truth (about one thing anyway) – you really DID lose half of your brain function, didn't you?

Thankfully the money from this tour goes to "charity" (don't ask which one, just "charity" – that's all GT would say). But I doubt we're done hunting for the dearly departed just yet. Why? Because even if we don't have special powers that allow us to communicate with the dead, GAR is still convinced that this is Mr. Boot’s face behind the gate in this photo (in Scotland), and that proves to him that some spirits ARE real. And if you don't see the face don't worry, GAR can. And if GT's logic holds up, if one person can see it then it must be true!

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