How Do You Fight a Ghost?

I believe in words

I believe in words

Mr. B shivered. “Did you feel that?”

Tom checked Buster. The cat didn’t look scared. In fact, he looked pretty mellow. “What was it?”

“I just felt cold around my shoulders. Like the temperature in the room dropped ten degrees.”

“I think Amy just gave you a hug.”

Mr. B looked around the room. He rubbed his sides. “Hello there, girl. It’s been a long time.” He started to laugh, then he said, “I don’t know why I did that.”

“Yeah, I know. It happens sometimes when she’s around. You can feel her feelings. It’s kind of how she talks to you, if you’re not dreaming.” Tom looked around the room, too. It was weird talking to someone and not knowing where they were. Kind of like having the CIA bugging your room, he thought. “Amy, we’re talking about how to fight the other ghost.”

Tom closed the blinds on the window, then lit candles and set out the mirror like he did last night. Mr. B looked at him like he was a nut. Tom handed him a copy of Tobin’s Guide to the Supernatural, from the library. “It’s supposed to help communicate with a ghost.”

“Does it work?”

“It did last night.”

Mr. B put it down quickly. He didn’t seem to comfortable with the idea, even if he knew who the ghost was. He said, “That’s too spooky for me. I’ll stick with one knock for yes, two knocks for no.”

Amy didn’t knock on anything, so Tom sat down in front of the mirror and tried to clear his head. In broad daylight, it didn’t work nearly as well. The light from outside sliced through the shadows behind him like blades.

“Salt helped, even if it didn’t ward it off,” Mr. B began. “I can go to Target and buy a bunch of vaporizers. We can saturate the air with salt water vapor and see how it likes that.”

Tom’s skin crawled. In the shadows of the mirror, he had an image of ants chewing on his skin. “It might hurt Amy, too. Let’s go ahead with it, but Amy won’t be able to help us as much.”

Tom flipped through where he had flagged one of the books. “There’s no way to kill a ghost. All the stories talk about driving them away, or protecting yourself against them. The main thing is religion. A cross, sign of the cross, a cross made of iron, prayers, hymns, holy water, and mold from a church yard.”

“My mother used to carry a little bottle of holy water with her. When I was a policeman I always called a little Bible blessed by Father Murray from my parish.”

“Those would probably work for you. Probably not for me. I’m an agnostic.”

“Do you have a copy of the Origin of Species?”

Tom smirked. Amy was laughing. “It’s not my Bible. I could try a copy of Fahrenheit 451, but I wouldn’t bet my breath on it.”

“What else?”

Tom flipped pages. “Bells. Church bells, bells worn by cattle, and bells worn by Morris dancers.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s folk dance. Unless either of us can do it right, I wouldn’t count on it.”

A brightening inside his head, like lighting up a room. Amy had an idea. He got embarrassed. The words that jumped into his head were a sexy, interesting idea. The shadows in the mirror swirled in circles. “Amy’s going to use… dancing. Somehow.”

“What else?”

“Bread and salt; they’re sacred. Whistling…”

Mr. B smiled. He did a quick verse of Andy Griffith show theme. Tom was about to roll his eyes and ask if he was serious when Mr. B took a breath and did a shrill version of the 1812 overture. Tom felt his bones vibrate. Amy was blown away, too. “Where the hell did you learn to do that?”

“Mens chorus on the USS Pennsylvania. I could outdo a bosun’s whistle.”

Tom felt an urge to clap his hands. Amy liked that one. “You’re our secret weapon, Wally,” he said. Tom saw how pleased the man was, and hoped this didn’t get him killed.

Tom flipped pages. “The four-leafed clover breaks fairy glamour… which this thing doesn’t seem to use anyway…”

“I don’t know about that. You never saw it. It wasn’t until you were passing out that you even knew it was there. Let’s see if we can get our hands on some.”

“Aren’t they, like, rarer than winning the lottery?”

“I know a lot of retirees who take walks off the path in Central Park. I’ll bet they can find some for us.”

Tom thought it was nuts, but wouldn’t that be the pot calling the kettle black. “Okay. Chains of daisy flowers… that’s really more for children… red verbena, red-berried trees… rowan wood, ash wood… running water.” He looked up. “I hope to God we’re looking up the right mythology. If it’s a Chinese spirit, I’m reading from the wrong damned book.”

“Stick to the basics, then. I’ll get a Bible and some odds and ends for me. Maybe I’ll get lucky with the whistling. What do you believe in?”

“Uh… words.” Mr. B stared at him. “I studied English. I love language. I don’t know how that helps me any.”

Mr B pat him on the shoulder. “We’ll think of something.”

Tom shuddered. He remembered how it felt to get the breath sucked out of his body. “I hope we think of something fast.”

<< You’re the Bridge, Tommy^ Dream Girl ^Nightmare >>


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