“Do you believe in ghosts?” my friend asks over espresso and biscotti at our favorite indie coffee shop.
“As a matter of fact,” I say, lowering my voice and fixing my eyes on hers, “right after I graduated from nursing school, I lived in a creepy old house with a sagging porch, and I had an even creepier landlord who always looked at my chest, instead of my face, when he talked to me out in the driveway. Anyway, I came home from work one morning and found blood spattered all over my bedroom: I’m talking walls, curtains, lampshades, everywhere.”
I glance up and notice that the only customer in the coffee shop is a burly man with dirty hands and a Valvoline cap pulled low over his forehead.
“What did you do?” my friend gasps.
“I wasn’t sure what to do,” I say. “I can’t believe now that I did this; I knew I had to get some sleep – I had to work again that evening – so I convinced myself there had to be a logical explanation. I cleaned up the blood, made sure my phone was working, pushed a chair in front of my door, and cuddled-up on the couch with my good old dog Jasper. Poor thing, he was so old by then: he must have had cataracts, at least he had a sort of milky film over his eyes, he was gray around the mouth, and his ear tips were perpetually crusted over from dragging in his dog dish”
“I can’t believe you stayed there and went to sleep,” my friend says. “You must have been crazy!”
A crash in the coffee-shop kitchen causes us both to jump. We look up to see that the register is unattended. A thin woman with severe makeup has replaced the man in the Valvoline cap. It could be the coffee, but I’m beginning to feel a little anxious myself.
“Go on,” my friend says.
“Well,” I say, “the next morning when I got home from work, same thing, a fine spray of blood everywhere.
I take a sip of my, now cold, espresso and glance at my watch.
“You’re not going to believe this”, I say, “but I was standing in the yard with Jasper, waiting for the police to arrive, when I noticed it – a steady dripping of blood from the tip of each of Jasper’s ears. As soon as I spotted the blood, Jasper gave a great shake of his head, and suddenly I looked like I’d wandered through a crime scene. Just guess what kind of dog Jasper is,” I say.
“Oh please, don’t tell me he’s a bloodhound,” my friend nearly hollers.
The coffee shop suddenly seems warm and inviting.
“You guessed it,” I say and we are still laughing as we stand up to leave.
“You know you’re right,” my friend says as we stroll down the sidewalk, “I don’t believe in ghosts either.”
Marilee Aufdenkamp teaches nursing for Creighton University. She and her husband, Elbert, own a Chicago-style hot dog mobile vending business.
You can catch her story “Genevieve and Rudy” in Volume 9 of Kansas City Voices. Order your copy today at http://www.kansascityvoices.com/