Tag Archives: ghosts

Heather’s Ghost Nanny

Heather was a very precocious little five-year-old girl. She knew how to smile and giggle and always get exactly what she wanted. She and her family, mom, dad and brother, recently moved into a nice house with a swimming pool in a new town. She heard how her parents were very excited about the good price they got for the house, much lower than they expected. Heather’s bedroom and her brother’s bedroom were across the house from the master bedroom, so she thought she was going to be able to get away with a lot of naughty things after her family had gone to sleep.
That was before the first night she slipped out of bed after midnight to turn on the television to watch the shows her mom and dad didn’t want her to see. After she punched the on button and turned to sit on her bean bag chair, the television promptly turned itself off. Hmph, she thought to herself. That never happened before. So she stood and went back to punch the on button again but it went off even faster than it did before.
Frowning, Heather decided that wasn’t any fun so she went back to bed. A few days later a nice lady from next door came to welcome the new family to the neighborhood.
“Of course, you know about the Andersons,” she said.
“The couple who lived here before us,” Heather’s mom said.
“Yes,” the neighbor lady said.
“All we know is that their children seemed eager to sell the house,” Heather’s dad said. “They lowered the price very fast.”
“That’s because they both died in the house.”
Heather wasn’t really paying attention. She really wanted to go out to play but she knew she had to make a good impression on the neighbor. She might be giving out freshly baked cookies one day and Heather wanted to get one.
“Oh,” her parents said in unison.
“He died in his sleep in the master bedroom,” the neighbor said. “His wife died a year earlier.” She paused. “In the swimming pool.”
“Mrs. Anderson was a sweet lady but she had a drinking problem. Went to AA meetings but it didn’t seem to do much good. When she went on a bender her husband could not stand to be around her. One night she was particularly out of control, so Mr. Anderson left the house and just sat in the car, waiting for her to pass out on the floor so he could go to bed. An hour later he heard no more banging about inside so he figured it was safe to come back in. It was then he saw her floating face down in the swimming pool. Evidently she had staggered out to the patio and fallen into the pool and was too drunk to get out. I don’t think he ever forgave himself. For the next year he just sat in a lawn chair, staring at the pool and smoking a cigar, until he finally died.”
“So that’s why we got the house cheap,” Heather’s dad said.
Heather was only vaguely aware of what all that really meant to her. After all, she was only a five year old girl. That night she got up after midnight to turn on the television again, and again it promptly turned itself off.
“Mrs. Anderson, is that you?” she whispered.
She could swear she felt a dripping wet hand firmly but gently pushed her toward her bedroom. Heather never tried to watch television again after midnight. As she grew up, however, Heather seemed to forget about Mrs. Anderson from time to time, until the dripping wet ghost decided to become her nanny.
When her girl friends came for a sleep over, Heather was never able to get the refrigerator door open so they could sneak ice cream. No matter how hard the girls tried, the door was stuck, until morning, that is, when her mom easily opened it to get out milk for the girls.
By the time Heather turned thirteen, all the boys in the neighborhood knew the way to her house. She had parties all the time but when she and one of the boys wanted private time in her room, the door would never shut. Each time they tried to close it, the door would swing open and stay open.
By the time she was eighteen, Heather had started going steady with one boy after another. She was always the one to call it off and always had another boy willing to be her plaything for awhile. One night, on the front porch when Heather was saying good night to her latest boyfriend, he decided to get a little closer than she wanted.
Suddenly he felt a hard slap, right between his shoulder blades.
“How did you do that?” he asked, wincing in pain.
“Do what?” Heather asked.
“Slap me on the back,” he said.
Heather told him to turn around and, sure enough, there was a wet hand print on his shirt.
“Oh that’s my ghost, Mrs. Anderson. She thinks she’s my nanny.”
Needless to say, she never saw him again. A couple of years passed and finally Heather met a nice young man. One night he shyly started talking about marriage. He jumped and Heather asked what happened.
“I could swear I felt someone kiss me.” He felt his cheek. It was wet.
“My nanny ghost, Mrs. Anderson, must like you very much.”
By the next spring, Heather married her nice young man and had the wedding reception by the swimming pool. When the pictures were developed, there stood the beautiful bride and her groom, and standing behind them, very clear in the photograph, was an elderly woman, drenching wet and chugging on a bottle of gin.

Seance in Black

Halloween of 1890 surprised Arthur Conan Doyle with a mixture of happiness and mysticism.
He was the guest of honor at a party hosted by Ward Locke, the publisher of his first Sherlock Holmes book, A Study in Scarlett. Ladies, all of them in black evening gowns highlighted with orange flowers or brooches and necklaces, were particularly attentive, smoothing out imaginary wrinkles on Doyle’s dinner jacket.
“What are you going to do, Mr. Doyle,” Ward Locke’s wife cooed, “when you become the most famous writer in London? You won’t have a moment’s peace.” Her eyes, an uneventful shade of brown, fluttered without producing their intended purpose of luring the single gentlemen with her non-existent wiles.
“I am certain I shall find a suitable safe harbor in the storm of public attention.”
Mrs. Locke practically swooned over the more sensual meanings of Doyles’ metaphor.
“Among my many new-found friends and acquaintances, such as your husband and yourself, indeed all the fine people who are here tonight.”
“Oh. Of course.” She stood erect in the middle of her collapse into the romance of her thoughts. Recovering, she smiled with due temperance. “And I’m sure your friends from the hospital will be a great comfort to you.”
A woman wearing too much rouge made good use of her ample hips to force Mrs. Locke from the inner sphere of Doyle’s immediate company. “You mustn’t ignore your other guests, dear. I shall entertain our wonderful young gentlemen for now. I am Mrs. Wickham, a dear friend of the Lockes. They tell me you are a doctor.” She paused a moment to admire his physical appearance. “My, you must have an impressive bedside manner.”
At that moment Doyle caught the gaze of his publisher and turned the corners of his lips into a smile that expressed mild desperation. Locke smiled in return, lifted his glass and clinked it with a dessert spoon.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a toast to the man of the hour, Arthur Conan Doyle!” Locke announced. After an appropriate pause for all the guests to murmur their approval, he continued, “We wish him continued success so suddenly found at the young age of thirty-one.” Everyone took turns commenting upon his promising career unfolding in front of him, remarkable for a young man of thirty-one years.”
“Oh, yes. I remember being thirty-one,” a voice boomed from the shadows. “Great expectations can wither on the vine as time passes, leaving you with sad dreams of what might have been.”
Holiday chatter died as all heads turned to watch a tall, swarthy man step toward Doyle, who suspected the man to be in his middle forties and under the influence of liquid spirits. A shrill giggle shattered the silence.
“You must forgive my friend, Mr. Doyle,” Mrs. Wickham said with forced cheer as she left his side to join the handsome stranger and grab the man’s arm, pulling him back. “His attempts at humor are an acquired taste. He’s Nathan Ladderly, my neighbor at the Nickleby Arms Hotels. The dear man has no family so I thought I would invite him to our soiree–“
“Mrs. Wickham finds me attractive and creates excuses to be in my company,” Ladderly interjected.
“Oh, Nathan, you’re so wicked,” Mrs. Wickham said with a laugh.
A second giggle erupted, this time from Mrs. Locke. “Ward, darling, what is a Halloween party without parlor games appropriate for this evening of ghouls and goblins?” She pushed her way through the crowd holding a small square table on which sat a mysterious wooden board. “This game has just been invented. They call it a Ouija board. It’s a way to communicate with the dead,” Mrs. Locke chirped. “Mr. Ladderly, Mr. Doyle, Mrs. Wickham, please pull up chairs, and we shall see what spirits we may conjure.”
“This will be droll,” Ladderly muttered as he sat at the table.
“I am open to spiritualism, though I am not completely convinced,” Doyle announced with a tight smile. He sat opposite Ladderly.
Tittering, the two women filled in the gaps and Mrs. Locke placed a wooden disk on three small balls in the middle of the board. On one side was a pointer and in the middle a hole.
“Ward, darling, lower the gas lamps,” she said. “We must have the proper atmosphere. Now, everyone place your fingertips lightly on this little wooden pointer. It’s called a planchette.”
As the lights dimmed, Ladderly leaned his head, almost touching his cheek to the board. “Ouija, Ouija, Ouija, is anyone there?”
All the guests gathered around the table gasped as the planchette moved suddenly to Yes.
Ladderly pulled his hands away. “This is ridiculous. I want nothing to do with this.”
The planchette jerked over to No.
“Please, Nathan, dear,” Mrs. Wickham pleaded. “Open your mind. Participate. For my sake.”
“Why should I do anything for your sake?” Ladderly’s tone boarded on insolence.
Doyle leaned forward. “You seem nervous, Mr. Ladderly. Do you have anything to fear?”
“Of course not,” he replied in a huff. He placed his fingers back on the wooden pointer.
“I’m so flustered,” Mrs. Lock admitted. “I don’t know what to ask.”
“Are you trying to communicate with a specific person?” Doyle asked.
The planchette moved to Yes.
“Is it me?”
Again Yes.
“Why?” Doyle continued.
The wooden disk quickly moved around the board stopping to reveal specific letters in the hole. It spelled murder.
“Oh, Mr. Doyle,” Ladderly sneered. “How obvious. I insult you, and you accuse me of murder.”
“My fingers are barely on this device. Those standing over my shoulder can attest that. And why do you assume the board is speaking specifically about you out of all the people in this room?”
The pointer again moved to Yes.
“Oh, this is impossible!” Ladderly said with a hiss. “I refuse to continue with this charade.”
“No, I think we should continue,” Locke announced as many of his male guests moved to stand around Ladderly’s chair.
Again the planchette floated over the letters. I am Dickens.
Gasps and twitters spread through the room.
Someone murdered Drood.
“How foolish,” Ladderly said. “That was a work of fiction.”
“Then who did kill Edwin Drood?” Doyle asked.
Neville Landless.
“He was the young man from India who was enthralled with Drood’s fiancé Rosa Bud,” Doyle clarified. “Dickens was writing the novel and publishing each chapter in the newspaper as he finished it. Before he could complete his work, he died. Literary circles still discuss who the murderer might have been.”
“Everyone knows Drood’s uncle did it,” Ladderly added nervously.
The pointer moved to No.
“Is Neville Landless in this room?” Doyle asked, staring at Ladderly.
“N.L. Neville Landless. N.L. Nathan Ladderly,” Mrs. Wickham said as though the entire plot had been revealed to her.
“These parlor games have gone too far!” Ladderly tried to stand, but several hands pushed him back down.
“Put your fingers back on the planchette, Mr. Ladderly,” Mrs. Locke said in a flat tone. “Perhaps you can handle your destiny.”
“Is Nathan Ladderly actually Neville Landless?” Doyle asked.
“So he killed Edwin Drood?”
Yes. The disk’s hole highlighted other letters. Me too.
“No!” Ladderly screamed.
“Mr. Dickens, did Mr. Ladderly know you were about to incriminate him?” Doyle said.
“Nonsense! Why didn’t he go directly to Scotland Yard?” Ladderly demanded. “Why write it as a novel?”
“Obviously he had no evidence that would hold up in court. Once he published his novel, the public outcry would be deafening. Of course, he had to change names,” Doyle explained. “Nathan Ladderly became Neville Landless. Edwin Drood… Anyone remember the disappearance of a man with the initials E.D. around the time of Dickens’ death? No matter. Scotland Yard will know.”
Yes, the Ouija board responded.

A Civil War Christmas

Mary Louise and Santy
Mary Louise could hardly contain herself as she sat by candlelight, sitting as still as a child on Christmas Eve could sit while her mother brushed out her hair. It was the middle of the Civil War and their plantation home in South Carolina was in ruins, but Mary Louise just knew Santa Claus would answer the letter she wrote.
“Now, don’t you go wishin’ for the moon, young lady,” her mother lectured her as she began to tie pink ribbons in Mary Louise’s brown hair, making two, perfectly divided pigtails.
“But if Santy got my letter….”
“I didn’t send Santy’s letter,” her mother said abruptly. “He couldn’t run the blockade anyway if I had sent the letter.” She finished tying the second ribbon. “Blame the Yankees if you don’t get no Christmas this year. It’s their fault.”
Mary Louise knew not to argue with her mother when she got into one of those moods, and she seemed to be in one of those moods all the time recently. After her mother left the bedroom, she scrambled to her desk and pulled out a piece of paper and a pencil and proceeded to write the very same letter over to Santa Claus. She had but one wish.
“Please, Santy, let me see my daddy one more time.”
Folding the letter neatly, Mary Louise went to the window, opened it and tossed it out in the cold night air. Her mother always told her Santa Claus was magical so she knew her letter would reach him on the winter wind of Christmas Eve. Content she had done all she could do to ensure a merry Christmas, Mary Louise closed the window and ran to her bed where she buried deep underneath the many layers of down-filled quilts. No time had passed since she closed her eyes, it seemed, when she felt a cold blast, a gentle ho ho ho and the familiar baritone chuckle of her father.
“Daddy! Santy!” Mary Louise whispered excitedly.
Jumping from bed she ran to give her father a big hug. She knew it had to be her father because no one could hug as well as he did. She sniffed. Yes, it was the smell of his sweat and a slight hint of his favorite Cuban tobacco. But Mary Louise detected another scent, unfamiliar, acrid, almost taking her breath away.
“I can’t stay long, darlin’,” her father said. He pulled her away. “Let me look at you. You’ve grown an inch since I last seen you. And still got that purty smile.” He hugged her again. “Always keep that purty smile, darlin’.”
“Oh, Daddy, I just have to give you a Christmas present!” She turned to Santa Claus. “Isn’t that right, Santy?”
“Yes, Mary Louise, that’s right,” Santa replied.
“And I know just what to give!” Mary Louise stuck out her hand. “Give me your tobacco pouch, Daddy.”
Her father pulled a leather pouch from his tattered, soiled gray trousers and handed it to her. Mary Louise ran downstairs to the parlor and opened a drawer in a large old desk. She gently lifted the lid off a humidor and carefully scooped out the last of the fragrant Cuban tobacco into her father’s pouch. She quickly returned and proudly presented it to him.
“It’s the last, Daddy. I knew you would want it.”
“That’s mighty kind of you darlin’. I’ll never forget it.”
“It’s time to leave,” Santa said.
“But I have to give my little darlin’ something.”
“Oh, Daddy,” Mary Louise said in a soft voice, “just you being here is all the Christmas I need.”
She watched her father’s eyes fill with tears as he pushed his long dark hair from his forehead. Her nose crinkled as she noticed his hair had begun to turn just a touch of gray. Mary Louise’s head cocked when he pulled his pocket knife out and opened it.
“I know. This will be from me to you for all the Christmases in your rest of your life.”
The next morning Mary Louise jumped from her bed and flew down the stairs to the kitchen. She felt one side of her neatly parted hair fly free of the pink ribbon, but she did not care. She had to share with her mother the happiness of her visit with her father, all thanks to Santa Claus.
“Oh Mommy, Mommy! It was wonderful last night! He came! He came! Santy came and he brought Daddy with him!”
Her mother looked up from her cup of coffee as she sat at the table. Her hands covered a letter.
“What on earth are you talking about, Mary Louise?”
“After you left me last night, I wrote another letter to Santy and threw it out the window. And he got it. He woke me up with his ho ho ho and when I opened my eyes I saw Daddy!”
“You were dreaming, child.”
“No, I wasn’t dreaming! It was real!”
“That’s foolishness! Now sit down and eat your breakfast.”
“No! I’ll prove it!” Mary Louise ran to the parlor, brought back the humidor to the kitchen table and put it down. “See, all the tobacco is gone.”
“That was the last of your father’s favorite tobacco. Very expensive tobacco from Cuba. What did you do with it?”
“I gave it to Daddy. I put it in his pouch. I wanted him to have it,” Mary Louise said softly.
“You dreadful child! You threw away your father’s tobacco as part of this cruel joke that he was here last night!”
“But it’s not a joke, Mommy. Daddy was really here. Santy brought him.”
“That’s impossible!”
“Why, Mommy?”
She watched her mother sink into the chair, dissolve into tears and hold up the letter on the table.
“Because this letter says the Yankees killed your father at a place in Maryland called Antietam. I got this letter three weeks ago, so there’s no way your father could have been in this house last night! And why would he have come home and not….” Her voice choked. “…and not visited me?”
“Maybe,” Mary Louise whispered, “because you didn’t write a letter to Santy.”
Her mother arose abruptly and shook Mary Louise’s shoulders.
“You terrible child! How can you be so mean to me, especially here at Christmas?” She stopped and reached out to touch the loose strands of hair on the side of Mary Louise’s head. “And you lost one of the ribbons from your hair. Do you know how expensive ribbon is now?”
“I’m sorry, Mommy.”
“I’m so angry I can’t stand the sight of you! Go to your room and stay there all day!” She stepped away, picked up the letter and folded it. “I shall spend the day in prayer, asking God to give me the strength to forgive you. Perhaps all will be better tomorrow.”
Mary Louise turned and without another word went to her room. There she decided she would never write another letter to Santa Claus again. It was not that she no longer believed in Santa; no, it was because she decided there was no use in asking Santa to give her something if no one believed her when it happened. She pulled out a lock of dark hair streaked with gray tied with a pink ribbon. It was her present from her father. Mary Louise was afraid to show it to her mother because she might throw it away, and Mary Louise wanted to keep it forever.
Her mother forgave her the next morning and gave her extra jam to go on her biscuits. Her mother never celebrated Christmas as long as she lived. This is not to say Mary Louise never had a merry Christmas again. She had a life-long love affair with Christmas, starting with her eighteenth year when she relented and wrote another letter to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, folded it and tossed it out in the winter wind.
“Dear Santy, Since Mommy hates Yankees so much, please bring me a nice Yankee boy to marry.”
On Christmas Day, a school friend, who knew Mary Louise’s mother never celebrated the holiday, invited her over for dinner. In the parlor was a tall, willowy young man with long straight dark hair and soulful eyes.
“Mary Louise, I want you to meet my father’s new assistant, Thomas. He’s from Ohio.”
Mary Louise was impressed with Thomas’s strong but gentle handshake. By that evening they were sitting close to each other by the parlor fireplace. Instinctively she leaned into him and he placed his arm around her shoulder. With her head on his chest she sniffed. His sweat smelled like her father’s. She sniffed again.
“Do you smoke a pipe?”
“Yes,” Thomas said. “It’s my only vice. I buy the tobacco from Cuba.”
Mary Louise and Thomas were married by the next Christmas. On Christmas Eve she pulled out the strand of hair tied with the pink ribbon and told him the story of her Civil War visit from her father. She also told him about her letter asking for a nice Yankee boy. He believed her. They had five boys and three girls, each carefully taught to write letters to Santa Claus, fold them neatly and throw them out the window onto the winter wind of Christmas Eve.

Dogs of War

A few years ago, I made the trip of a lifetime and went to England. I rented a car in London and learned how to drive on the wrong side of the road. Which was easier than you’d think because the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car too.
My plan was to drive west to Stonehenge and Wales, then turn north through the Lake Country and up into Scotland. I’d go east and down into the Midlands and back to London. I took a full month so I could see everything on my own schedule and not on a tour bus schedule.
Everything was going well until I reached this one open plain which was the location of a major battle of the War of the Roses. I paid my fee and went on the tour. Now the most interesting part—at least for me—was the guide’s explanation of a phenomena called the Dogs of War.
“This field was covered with dead soldiers,” he explained, gesturing to the broad green field. “When the sun set, surviving soldiers had only recovered a few of the bodies. In the dark the living soldiers retreated to their camp and the shelter of their tents.
“Around midnight, they awoke to the barking, growling and snarling of dogs,” he continued. “Many of the soldiers lit their torches and ran out to the battlefield. They held the torches high as they walked among the corpses, but they saw no dogs. They continued to hear the barking, howling and snarling, but they saw nothing but the bodies of their fallen comrades.
“The next morning when the soldiers resumed recovering the dead for proper burial,” he said in a lower, more ominous voice, “they saw than many of the corpses had their arms and legs ripped from them, and the limbs had been chewed beyond recognition.
“Thus began the legend of the Dogs of War,” the guide concluded. “Anyone foolhardy enough to venture into the battlefield at midnight heard the howling of dogs. Some received mysterious bites on their legs. And a few were never seen again.”
Back at the inn I sat down for supper with a few of the tourists and our tour guide. Everyone was hungry for more gruesome details, even as they ate their beef pies.”
“What would possess anyone to go into the battlefield alone at midnight,” I asked the guide.
“Courage,” he replied quickly, “but it was the courage of fools and not to be admired.”
After I retired to my bedroom, I could not sleep, thinking how I had, foolishly or not, never done a brave thing in my whole life. Why, I’d never been on a rollercoaster. Not even the little slow ones for toddlers. I decided that since I was sixty-five years old, I had better be brave now or else I never would be.
So at eleven o’clock I dressed and went downstairs. I saw that a few of the tourists and the guide were still in the bar, downing large mugs of ale.
“And where would you be going this time of night, sir?” the desk clerk asked.
I smiled and said, “I just want to go for a walk.”
“And where might you go on your walk?” the clerk inquired. He didn’t sound like he disapproved but there seemed a tinge of concern in his voice.
“I don’t know,” I replied with a shrug. “The battlefield, maybe.”
“Suit yourself.” The clerk averted his eyes and resumed his bookkeeping chores.
The battlefield was only a fifteen-minute walk away from the inn. The night air was a bit nippy but not uncomfortable. Clouds partly covered the moon, so I had to watch my step. Once I reached the historic site, I discovered the sky was now totally covered in thick, low-hanging clouds. I pulled out my little flashlight and looked at my watch.
And no howling Dogs of War.
Hmph. Just as I thought. I turned to return to the roadway leading back to the inn when I heard some rustling in the distance. I stopped to listen. The rustling developed into a rumbling which evolved into the distinct pounding of dogs’ feet. Soon after that, a howl broke through the dark silence.
My mouth flew open. I began turning in circles, trying to determine which direction the dogs’ barking was coming from. It came from every direction. There was no escape. As the howling became louder and louder, I fell to my knees and covered my head with my trembling arms. In no time at all, I felt the hot breath of dogs at my neck. I cringed, waiting for the sharp teeth to tear into my flesh.
But instead, I felt wet puppy licks. The scary growling became puppy yipping. Then it was over. I opened my eyes and stood. Looking around, I saw nothing and heard nothing but cricket song. I was in deep thought, pondering what had just happened when I heard a human voice.
“Hey, you!” It was the tour guide running toward me. “I came after you when the clerk told me what you were up to.” He held up his flashlight to my face, searching for bloody teeth marks. “You all right?”
“Yeah, sure.”
He leaned in for a closer look at my neck. “Do you know you got dog slobber all over your neck?”
“After I heard the barking, I dropped to the ground and tried to cover my head. Then the howling turned into puppy dog sounds. And I felt licks all over me.”
The guide took a step back and stared at me, as though he had never seen me before.
“Well, I’ll be. I thought I’d never see the likes of your kind,” he said in awe.
“And what kind is that?” I didn’t know how to take his comment.
“There’s another part of the legend which I rarely tell on the tour because its occurrence is too rare, well, I’d never seen it before in my lifetime. My grandfather said he had seen one of you when he was a lad, but I didn’t really believe you existed.”
“So, what am I exactly?” To be frank, I was beginning to feel a bit like a freak.
“You are that rare breed called a good, caring, gentle person.” He took the light out of my face. “Legend has it that if a good, caring, gentle person wandered into this field at midnight, as you did tonight, the phantom dogs would attack. But once they sensed that person was good, caring, and gentle, they would turn into puppies and lick the person as though he were a long lost friend.”
“But I thought dogs could sense fear, and I admit I was not brave when I fell down. I was afraid.”
“You just thought you were afraid. The dogs knew. They have that way about them. There’s an old saying around here. Never trust a man who doesn’t love dogs. And never trust a man a dog doesn’t love.”

The Christmas Trunk

One morning a steamer trunk appeared on the loading dock of the Brooksville depot. This was particularly odd because a train has not pulled into that station for almost fifty years. In fact, the loading dock was now an enclosed room of the Train Depot Museum.
Upon closer examination, the train museum staff found a tag on the truck that simply read:
For Jessie May.
Do not open until Christmas Eve.

This added mystery upon mystery because Jessie May had been dead for more than a century. Rumors around town had it that she still roamed the halls of her plantation home, which also had been turned into a museum.
Not knowing what else could be done, the depot staff loaded the trunk onto a pickup and took it a couple of miles down the road to the May-Stringer House Museum. The curator did not know what to with it, so he put it in the corner of a spare room. One of the docents wanted to open it right then.
“No,” the curator replied firmly. “The tag said wait until Christmas Eve.”
In the meantime, the museum’s docents found themselves under attack from some new spirit inhabiting the old plantation house. A push, shove or smack usually came after a docent make some unflattering comment about how the little girl ghost Jessie May always moved things. She took her play tea set out of a locked closet and set it up on a small table in the parlor. Jessie rearranged the order of her dolls displayed on the fireplace. Any mention of how mischievous she was brought on mild but decisive retribution.
The curator and his staff tried to figure the problem out logically.
“What had changed right before the spectral harassment began?” he asked.
“The arrival of the Christmas trunk,” a docent replied.
“I say ignore the note on the trunk,” another docent blurted out. “Why obey directions from someone who obviously died years ago?”
“When you’ve been working in museums as long as I have,” the curator informed them, “you learn to respect the dead.”
That fateful day finally arrived, Christmas Eve. The staff gathered around the trunk as the curator carefully broke the lock and opened the lid. They saw all kinds of makeup, powder puffs, brushes, charcoal pencils and even a fake mustache and beard.
“You mean all this trouble is being made by an actor?” a docent asked with insolence. “Figures.”
Just then she was slapped across the back of her head.
The curator shook his head. “I told you. Never speak ill of the dead.”
Recovering quickly, the docent said, “Lift the top tray. Let’s see what’s under it.”
Lifting the tray, they saw an antique Santa Claus costume. Other than the red velvet having faded, the old white fur trim turning yellow and the black leather boots crackling, it appeared to be in good shape. Its fashion even matched the Thomas Nast drawings of a long coat in the European tradition of Sinter Klaus.
“That’s great!” another staff member exclaimed. “We’ve got an old mannequin in the attic. We can hang the suit on it.”
Frowning, the curator replied, “No, I think we ought to leave it in the trunk for a while, until we figure out what all this means.”
The museum closed its doors, and the staff members went home to begin their family festivities. Hardly anyone drove by the museum right on the stroke of midnight. But if they had, and if they looked up on the balcony, they would not have believed what they saw. Little Jessie May danced a proper waltz with a spectral Santa Claus in the antique suit from the Christmas trunk.
This is so much fun! How did you know I wanted to dance with Santa on Christmas Eve?
You do realize you realize you’re dead, don’t you?
Of course, silly.
Well, ho ho ho, after you die, anything is possible.