I believe in ghosts.
I may not believe in them in the same way I believe in God.
I don’t pray to them. I don’t seek them. I don’t worship them.
And I certainly don’t ask anything of them.
Ghosts and I have a mutual understanding — they don’t bother me, and I don’t bother them.
If I read I Samuel 28 correctly ghosts don’t much care for the living.
When Saul had the witch of Endor call Samuel back from the dead, Samuel wasn’t none too happy about it.
“Why are you bugging me so?” Samuel demanded.
Don’t you wonder what Samuel was doing that he didn’t want to be bothered?
Was he playing some video game where ghosts come around the corner and scare the living daylights out of humans?
Or was he getting a divine massage at some heavenly spa?
Maybe he had choir practice for Handel’s Messiah that afternoon.
What exactly was Samuel doing that he couldn’t pull himself away for a chat with an old friend?
I’ve had a visitation by an angel. I wrote about that in After the Flag has been Folded. But I don’t think that’s the same thing as waking the dead.
When I was living at the Fairhope Center for the Writing Arts, Sonny Brewer told me about the ghost that lived there. He said the ghost portal was through the fireplace. That creeped me out so badly that I couldn’t sleep there the first night. So I took my laptop and went to the nearest Waffle House.
At about 2 a.m. as I sat working, I saw this man in his late 40s playing tongue-hockey with a teenage girl in the booth across from me. Now that really creeped me out. They’d just met about 15 minutes before. She wore a tank top and jeans, and weighed so much somebody else needed to tie her shoes. I’m betting his breath could have passed as rocket fuel. I loaded up my laptop and went back to the writer’s cottage, figuring any ghost there had to be better company than the pre-dawn crowd at the Waffle House.
The ghost at the Fairhope Center for the Writing Arts never did pay me a visit.
But there was a cranky ghost at the Carson McCullers Center in Columbus, Ga. The Center wasn’t officially open yet but they let me crash the place.
None of my friends could believe I would stay at the Carson Center, which everyone claimed was haunted. I’ve been told that I was the first person ever to stay at the Carson Center. The artist who had been there before me reportedly had a nervous breakdown and had to leave.
Carson was a very disquieted soul. She grew up in the house and she’d married in that parlor of that house, a marriage that was ill-fated from the start. Carson had a love-hate relationship with Columbus, Georgia, our shared hometown.
All those black-and-white photos of Carson, post-strokes, hanging around the house were the work of notables like Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Louise Dahl- Wolfe, and they lent an air of the otherworldly to the place.
I slept in the back room but I don’t know if the fireplace in there was the portal for Carson’s ghost. I did have to turn that ghastly-looking portrait of her on the mantel around, however, before I could sleep.
I’m sure there was a ghost at Carson’s old house, maybe more than one. And it didn’t help to know that the Stocking Strangler had killed several women in that very neighborhood back in the 1970s. I told you that humans could be a lot more scary than ghosts.
What about you? Any ghosts in your closets?
I love the quote from this gossipy piece about Carson: They always say murderers leave clues.