I haven’t seen a ghost, and I’m not sure I want to. Even if it’s someone I know and love. Unless, I suppose, they approach from some distance instead of sneaking up behind me or only appearing in the dark when you’re alone like ghosts always do in movies. That’s just bullshit and any ghost who wants to hang with me had better not do it.
What should they do instead? Are they going to park their ass on a table in the front and wait silently till I go over with the coffee pot? I don’t know. I just know that the weeks leading up to Halloween are always iffy ones for me. I see things. I hear things. I feel things. I know things.
A man died in this building. It was once a grain elevator, remember? Long before it was a café. Well, one look at it and anyone who knows the difference between a barn and a granary sees it’s an elevator. Anyway, it was a gruesome death; he was a grain buyer buried by collapsing grain when he fell into one of the full storage chambers. I get the heebie-jeebies imagining it. But long before I found out about its history, Stubblejumpers Café was a place of warmth and refuge for me and that never changed no matter what I discovered. So bring it on, Ghost, if there is one. I expect you to be friendly and well behaved.
People still mention the sighting I had out at Sandy Lake. They’re kind about it mostly, at least to my face. If they know me, they know I’m sane and don’t imagine things. But they also kind of chuckle as if I’m a bit of a character who is always good for a surprise, even if it’s only something that comes out of my mouth. It’s goodnatured, is what I’m saying. One of the oldtimers did point me to the local history book, which claims that the village was named after a murdered girl a way back when, in its earliest pioneer days, and that she was killed down by the lake. Apparently no one ever reads the history book. No one alive would remember. So what I saw isn’t exactly surprising — if you believe in that sort of coincidence.
My little dog saw it too. Or smelled it. Or heard it. I don’t know, but she barked like the dickens at something. And I suppose the kafuffle did put Stubblejumpers Café on the map, what with the police divers and the lookyloos overrunning the place for those few days. And then all the never-befores who stopped in on their passing-bys because they’d heard there’d been a commotion here once, and now they always stop in when they’re going past. Those were busy days all right, and they turned us from a sleepy hole in the wall to a bustling diner. As far as free advertising goes, it’s as good as a sighting of the Loch Ness monster. People notice.
I do wonder why I saw her body floating there, face down in the shallow water. Why I saw her long dark hair streaming out from her head and no one else saw anything, even after searching for days. I still walk past the spot every morning when I make my loop past the lakeshore, and I wonder about that girl who died —who she was and who hurt her— and for just a moment I send a wish for safety and comfort back to her through time, to when she was still alive and before anything bad happened to her.