Book Club Channel
Ghost Brother Angel: A Book Excerpt
My sisters regularly complained that they felt like they were being watched by someone when they sat in that room with their boyfriends. Perhaps my father was checking up on them through some shifty, covert means, but I don't think so. They swore that there was a presence in the room with them, and it would become so powerful and unnerving that they and their boyfriends would be forced to leave. It became too frightening to stay. Growing up, I had this same experience when I used to practice the trumpet in that room by myself. The presence would become so strong, looming right behind me, that I finally had to put the trumpet down and run out, not looking back.
In my teenage years, my friends and I began to toy with the paranormal and actually tried to make friends with the "ghost." We held a séance, and nothing happened at that time, but soon afterward we felt we had made contact through a very peculiar means. My parents had bought an old RCA record player, which was mounted on the wall in one corner of the room. When we played records in that room, we noticed that the ghost liked certain songs and didn't like others. With some songs, the presence would become very strong, almost to the point of appearing. On the other hand, when we played songs the ghost didn't like, the room filled with agitation. For instance, the ghost liked "Tuesday Afternoon" by the Moody Blues. It hated "Wild Thing" by The Troggs. There was an electrical short in the record player, so that occasionally it would give out a loud, screeching noise through the speakers. It seemed to happen randomly, but then we realized, in our innocent—or should I say ignorant and childlike?—way, that the screeching wasn't always random. Sometimes it was, but sometimes it was purposeful and creepy. If the ghost didn't like a song, it would make the record player screech. When it screeched, we'd yell, "Shut up!" And it would stop right on cue. This happened time and again. It was sort of a game. The ghost seemed to play with us, and we played with it, through the stereo.
This came to a head one day when my friend Mark and I were sitting next to the stereo listening to "Wild Thing." The 45 RPM record of "Tuesday Afternoon" sat right above it on the disc, ready to come down and play next. To our amazement, the room suddenly filled with agitation. Something moved in the direction of the record player. Both of us watched from less than two feet away as the arm of the record player rose. "Tuesday Afternoon" was lifted up in the air and the needle raced and scratched across "Wild Thing." Then the "Wild Thing" record lifted off the player, flew across the room, hit the fireplace, and broke into pieces. "Tuesday Afternoon" gently came back down onto the record player, the needle set onto the record, and the song began to play. We screamed. We ran. We cried in terror as we told my parents. But, like many ghost stories, there wasn't much we could do about it. We weren't hurt, so we sort of forgave the ghost and let it go. We stayed away from the room for a few weeks, but eventually went back in. I remember saying to myself a hundred times, maybe even a thousand times, that this couldn't have happened! But it did. It defied all the laws I had been taught, but it happened, and all I could do is accept that some weird things happen, and that we just had to live with it.
Living with it became fairly easy. In fact, my best friend and I spent so much time in that room, doing homework, listening to records, watching television, or talking, that we both became skilled at knowing exactly what part of the room the presence was occupying at the time. In our college years, one student came in and did a study of the room. In a controlled experiment, my friend and I were able to independently pick out where the ghost was in the room nine out of ten tries.