“What the hell are you doing up so damn late?!” A raspy woman’s voice said.
Sophia turned suddenly, but there was nobody there. “Hello?” she whispered.
“Shut your trap and get back to bed!” the voice snapped. A magazine rolled itself up and flew from a nearby table, hitting Sophia in her behind. She dropped her water, ran back to her room, and climbed under the blanket with her sister where she shivered for the rest of the night, too scared do anything but whimper and pray.
The Haunting of Freedom Lane
Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow
Raymond Scott sat alone in his recliner in the den. He had dark and graying hair and a short beard to match. He had scolded the younger of his two daughters that morning when he woke up to find water all over the hallway floor, but the look on her face made him stop. He knelt next to her and had to coax the story of what had happened. The story sent a chill up his spine.
This wasn’t the first time something odd had happened in the home on Freedom Lane that he purchased with his wife fifteen years ago. The home had a few owners before them, but they had heard about the two old ladies and their adopted son (they had found newspaper clippings about the oldest woman’s gruesome death at the hands of a jealous, axe-weilding friend named Harold Fuchs). It was in great shape when it came onto the market (even though it went years without being sold between owners). Raymond never quite figured out how he knew, but he had a feeling that one or both of the old woman that had owned this home in the past still lingered long after their deaths.
Raymond would wake up in the morning to find things out of place. He asked his wife if she was doing it, but she swore that she wasn’t. Windows would open in the summer, the thermostat would be turned down to fifty five in the winter, and it looked like someone was constantly rummaging through the drawers. If he happened to wake up in the middle of the night, he could swear he could hear two women bickering in the kitchen, but there would be silence when he went to investigate.
“What are we going to do?” Raymond’s wife, Lucy asked. Her hair was dirty blonde and she had a light skin tone like her daughters. She had been aware of the presence of the spirits that had been mostly dormant for the last fifteen years. “Sophia heard one of them. She was struck with a flying magazine!”
“I know,” Raymond said through his folded hands. The ghosts of his Freedom Lane home was just quirky story he told his work friends and his in-laws. The voices and rummaging didn’t concern him since they didn’t do any real damage, and most times he thought they’d imagined it somehow. Now, some ghost or spirit had assaulted a member of his family. Shit just got real for Raymond Scott.
“She’s lying,” Andrea said, coming into the room. She had the same hair color and skin tone as her little sister. The two would be twins if it wasn’t for the seven-year age difference. “She made the whole thing up. There’s no such things as ghosts.”
“She’s not lying,” Raymond said, not raising his voice. “We kept it from you two, but your mother and I heard these things when we first moved in here. It seemed to quiet down after you were born, so we thought nothing of it.”
“We have a haunted house?” Andrea asked. “Are you friggin’ kidding me, you stunad?!”
“Andrea!” Lucy snapped. “Where did you learn to talk like that?”
Andrea’s hands went to her mouth. “I don’t know where that came from,” she said. “I don’t even know what those words mean. What’s a stunad?”
“Make the call, Raymond,” Lucy said, holding out the phone and a piece of paper with a toll free number on it. She had been bugging him to call the number ever since she saw it flashed at the end of a TV show. “They can help us. It’s what they do.”
“They won’t give us the time of day,” Raymond said, taking the phone and paper.
“Make the call,” Lucy said. Raymond saw that she looked very tired. He wondered if she had been kept up at night. “They can only help.”
“Alright,” Raymond said, turning on the phone. “I’ll call.”
Andrea couldn’t sleep. She kept thinking of the ghosts in her home that worried her parents. She thought she would have Sophia to keep her awake, but she slept like the dead. She decided that there was no such things as ghosts, and she got up to sit in the living room in defiance of her parents’ fears.
She snuck downstairs, letting her socks muffle the sounds of her footsteps. She went into her living room and sat on the couch. She listened, but only silence answered. “I knew it,” she whispered. “There are no such things as ghosts.”
Andea looked at her own reflection in the big screen TV in front of her. She saw herself on the couch, but there were two figures behind her: two old ladies, looking down at her. She jumped and turned around, but there was nobody there. She turned to look at the TV again, but the reflection of the two women was gone. She stared at herself in the TV’s reflection, waiting for the image of the women to appear again, but the didn’t.
“I’m too tired,” she said to the empty room. “My imagination is just playing tricks on me.”
“Everything will be OK,” a floating voice said. Andrea turned to see the apparition of one of the women sitting on the couch next to her. She was wearing gardening gloves and a large sun hat. “There’s nothing to be scared of, dear.”
Andrea backed away in horror, nearly wetting her pants. The air grew colder, and she could feel the other. She turned around to see her frowning, wrinkled face staring down at her from her father’s recliner. “What the hell are you looking at, you little tart?!” she snapped.
“Helen!” the other said. “Don’t talk like that.”
“What’s she doing in our home?!” Helen said. “I have half a mind to take off my belt and strap her silly!”
“You’re in your nightgown!” the other said. “You’re not wearing a belt.”
“Then get me an extension cord, Rose!” Helen said. “I’ll strap her with a fly swatter if I have to! There’s no way I’m not strapping this damn kid!”
Andrea finally broke free of her paralysis and ran upstairs and into her parents bedroom. She woke her parents up, whom came downstairs to find the living room empty. Raymond looked at his wife as they stood in the darkness, unsure on what they were supposed to do.
“This New Haven Connecticut home was once owned by Rose and Helen Masters,” Zack Gagnon from the TV show “Ghost Taunters” said. He got Raymond’s phone calls, and he came to New Haven right away. He had slicked back black hair and tattoos down both arms. His cameraman and boom mic operator followed him around the Scott’s home as he talked to the family. “We went to town hall and checked the records. They both died in this home. Helen was murdered by a friend. Rose died peacefully years later. Their adopted son moved months after Rose died.”
“Helen and Rose!” Andrea said. “That were the two ladies’ names!”
“How long has this activity been going on?” Zack asked, looking down the basement steps as if he’d come face to face with a ghost.
“Since we moved in,” Raymond replied. “But it seemed to get worse as of late. This is the first time any of us has seen them. We used to just hear them moving around or the floating voices when we’d be on the other side of the house.”
“A ramp up in activity could be significant to the spirits’ life before they died,” Zack said. “I’ll take your case, mister Scott. I’ll spend the night with my crew in your home and get lots of footage. We’ll pick up the tab for a hotel room for you.”
“Thank you,” Raymond said, grasping Zack’s hand with both of his own and shaking it. “Thank you so much.”
“You have no idea how much this means to us,” Lucy added.
“Don’t mention it,” Zack said with a sly smile.
Zack and his crew started walking around in the Freedom Lane House as soon as the sun was completely gone for the night. They had done this dozens of times. Gagnon made a science out of tracking and taunting spirits of the deceased.
“What’s that noise?!” Zack said, turning suddenly. His cameraman pointed the infrared camera towards the kitchen.
“Did you feel that?” Zack’s partner, Troy, asked (he was the teams sensitive). “I think they’re here right now.”
“HEY YOU GHOSTS!” Zack shouted. “GET OUT HERE AND FACE ME!”
“YEAH, YOU DEAD BITCHES!” Troy shouted. “THROW SOMETHING AT ME! COWARDS!”
“You here that?” Zack said, turning around again. “Sounds like they’re in the backyard.
“Let’s go taunt them out there,” Troy said, running to the back door with his recording devices.
“You’re just a bunch of loud-mouthed pansies,” a voice said. “Go choke down each other’s yogurt and leave us alone.”
“WHO SAID THAT?!” Zack said, turning about. “Tell me we got that on tape.”
“It’s really fuzzy,” Troy said, putting his listening device to his ear. “But we got something.”
“Good,” Zack said. “Now let’s go see what’s going on in that yard.”
“Yeah,” Troy said. “Fuck these ghosts.”
“Did you find anything?” Raymond asked Zack the following afternoon when he returned home to find his house trashed.
“We got a lot of good footage,” Zack said. “This place is definitely haunted. Troy got called a faggot. Homophobic lesbian ghosts. It was seriously fuckin awesome, bro. We may just use it for our season six premiere.”
“What can we do to get rid of them?” Lucy asked, clutching her husband’s arm.
“I don’t know,” Zack said, shrugging. “Hire a priest or something.”
“I thought you were supposed to help people,” Raymond said.
“Not us, bro,” Zack said. “We’re just adventurers who like taunting ghosts. We just get off on pissing them off.”
“So you’ve pissed off the ghosts in our house?” Raymond asked.
“Oh yeah,” Zack said, smiling. “One if them is definitely pissed. Bitch threw a potted plant at my boom mic guy. It was just off camera, but it’ll play great on TV. I’ll email you to let you know when it’s on.”
“Get off my property,” Raymond said, pointing towards that door. “I’m going to call that psychic ghost detective show. Maybe they’ll do more than run around and make the ghosts angrier.”
“Just get out,” Raymond said. Zack shrugged one more time and left through the front door. Raymond walked to his couch and sat down heavily. His wife sat down next to him.
“What are we going to do?” Lucy asked.
“I don’t know,” Raymond replied. “We can’t afford to move, and I don’t know where to turn to. Maybe we should take Zack’s advice and get a priest in here.”
“Goddam boy diddlers,” a tiny voice said. Raymond and Lucy turned to see Sophia standing behind them in old woman’s night gown, holding a cane.
“Where did you get that stuff?” Raymond asked, standing up.
“Don’t you dare try to take my shit, you bearded pussy,” Sophia said in a voice that wasn’t her own. “You’ll get shivved for that. Try me if you think I’m fucking with you.”
“LEAVE MY DAUGHTER ALONE!” Raymond said, shaking Sophia by the shoulders and sobbing. “LEAVE HER ALONE! PLEASE!”
“Daddy?” Sophia asked in her normal voice. “What’s happening?”
“Nothing,” Raymond said, hugging his daughter despite her moldy garments. “Nothing.”
“Rose told me that Helen is harmless,” Sophia said. “But she’s mean. I don’t like Helen, daddy.”
“Me neither, cupcake,” Raymond said. “Me neither.”
The hauntings continued with no end in sight for the Scott family. Zack and his crew were successful in angering Helen’s spirit enough for her to start shutting off the television while they were watching anything she didn’t particularly like, ripping the obituaries out the newspaper if they left it on the counter or kitchen table, and slamming doors in the middle of the night. Andrea even swore that she saw the nice lady (Rose) tending to the garden if you looked into the backyard after midnight. The Scott family thought that they were destined to live with the two spirits forever when there was a knock on their door that could possibly change everything.
“Good evening,” and old, black man said. He was tall and he had gone bald on the top of his head. The gray hair that was left around it was knotted into dreadlocks. He wore yellow-framed glasses and had a black beard and mustache around his mouth. He wore a denim jacket with a black tee-shirt. He held a plastic shopping bag in his left hand with rectangular box inside.
“Can I help you?” Raymond asked, hoping that his wife had already started calling the cops. They already had ghosts, and the last thing they needed was a black guy.
“No,” the man said. “But I’m hopin’ I can help you. My name is Da’Quarius Sherman Masters, an’ I used to live here. I was adopted when I was twelve years old by two women named Rose and Helen.”
“Da’Quarius Sherman Masters?” Raymond asked. “Like the quarterback?”
“Da very same,” Da’Quarius replied. “May I come in?”
“Of course,” Lucy said, rushing past her husband. “I was just about to put on some water for tea.”
Da’Quarius was invited inside, and Lucy made a pot of tea. “Someone forwarded me some spoilers from a Ghost Taunters episode,” he said. “It looked like dey found the ghosts of my mothers still lingerin’ here. I came back as soon as I could. I’m not surprised that Zack Gagnon couldn’t convince Helen to move on. She always said dose ghost huntin’ shows were a combination of bullshit an’ fantasy.”
“What’s in your bag?” Andrea asked, looking at the shopping bag on the kitchen table.
“It’s my Ouija board,” Da’Quarius replied. “Helen gave it to me before she died. She told me to use it to talk to her if her ghost ever came back. I waited up many nights, looking for sign, but I had moved out before I could talk to her ghost.”
“Why did she want you to contact her?” Lucy asked.
“She wanted to make sure that Rose wasn’t dating,” Da’Quarius said.
“She’s the nice one,” Sophia put in.
“Yes she was,” Da’Quarius said, smiling. “I take it they’ve both been here?”
“Yes,” Raymond answered. “My daughters have an easier time hearing and seeing them than my wife and I. They say Rose mostly tends to her garden and tells them that Helen means no harm. Helen mostly throws things or says obscenities. Sometimes she uses my daughters’ voices to speak.”
“Sounds like Helen,” Da’Quarius said. “She always was a crotchety old biddy.”
The teapot suddenly fell from the table with a crash, spilling hot water onto the floor.
“C’mon, Helen!” Da’Quarius said. “You said much worse things ’bout me when you were still alive!”
“Will you use the ouija board to contact Helen?” Raymond asked.
“Nah,” Da’Quarius replied. “Dat biddy don’t listen to reason. We’re gonna get in touch with Rose. She was da only one that could talk sense into her. I’m hopin’ dat we can get Rose to take Helen to da other side.”
Da’Quarius set up candles and his ouija board in the middle of the Scott’s cocktail table on Halloween night. The priest from the East Rock Church, Father Sanchez, watched over Da’Quarius, clutching his bible. Other than being a priest, he was sensitive to ghosts and spirits. He was perfect for holding catholic exorcisms for stubborn spirits. If the journal entries of his mentor, Father McKraken, were accurate, then Helen Masters was going to be one stubborn ghost to get rid of. He had come at the behest of the Scotts, and he he most interested in what Da’Quarius was attempting (even if he felt that contacting the spirits that were to be exorcised was a bad idea).
All of the Scotts were in the den as well. Da’Quarius thought it would be easier to persuade Rose to get Helen to move on if she could see what their haunting was doing to this family. He took a deep breath and put his hand on the slider. “Spirits of the beyond,” he said. “I wish to commune with you. Is there one among you named Rose Masters? Her son, Da’Quarius, wishes to speak with her.”
“Daq?!” a voice said. “Is that you?! You got old as fuck!”
“Holy shit!” another voice said. “That old guy is Da’Quarius! It’s been too long, man!”
“Manny an’ Antonio?” Da’Quarius said. “For real, guys?”
The spirits of Manny and Antonio Garcia materialized above the ouija board. “For real, yo,” Manny said. “What are you doing? A seance?”
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said. “Ouija boards ain’t s’posed to work like dis! What are you guys doing here?”
“We’re haunting our house,” Antonio said. “Tell those dick-bags that redecorated our shit that we want them to get the fuck out.”
“You’re not even in your own house,” Da’Quarius said. “Dis is my house.”
“Our bad,” Manny said. “We thought this was our place. We’re so fucking high right now.”
“Fuckin’ right we are,” Antonio added. “Hey. How did we die anyway?”
“You guys tried to make Puerto Rican moonshine in your basement, an’ you exploded,” Da’Quarius said.
Manny laughed. “Oh yeah!” he said. “That was awesome! Too bad we never got to taste it.”
“Have you guys seen Rose around?” Da’Quarius asked. “We’re looking for her spirit.”
“Oh yeah,” Antonio said. “We always see her ghost gardening outside. It’s fucking creepy as shit.”
“Can you not swear in front of my daughter?” Raymond asked.
“Who’s that douchebag?” Antonio asked, motioning towards Raymond, who was holding both of his terrified daughters.
“That’s Raymond,” Da’Quarius said. “He owns this house now.”
“Shit,” Manny said. “No wonder Helen is so pissed. I’d be pissed too if that dick-nose was dick-nosing around my house after I died. I’m going to get her.”
“No!” Da’Quarius said. “Get me Rose first. I need to speak with Rose before Helen.”
“Fine,” Manny said, rolling his ghostly eyes. “I’ll go see if she’s digging in the dirt outside. Man, she creeps me out.” Manny’s spirit floated through the door and left.
“Hey,” Antonio said, nodding towards Da’Quarius. “You wanna buy some ghost weed? I’ll give you a good deal since we’re friends, yo.”
“Can humans smoke ghost weed?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Sure,” Antonio said. “I can hook you up real good.”
“How much you want?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Not much,” Antonio said. “Only your SSSSSOOOOOOUUULLLLL! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA! GIVE ME YOUR SOUL, DA’QUARIUS. GIVE ME ALL OF YOUR SOULS! I’M HIGH AS FUCK AND HAVE THE MUNCHIES FOR THE SOULS OF THE LIVING. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
“Dude!” Manny exclaimed, floating back through the door. “You said you would wait to do the evil soul eater thing with me.”
“Sorry, dude,” Antonio said. “I couldn’t resist.”
“We gotta go anyway,” Manny said. “Rose can’t talk if we’re tying up the line. Come by our place with that board. We’ll spark some ghost bud with you. There’s some good shit on the other side, Daq. Can’t wait for you to join us over here.”
“Later,” Anotonio said. The Garcia brothers floated through the door and off into the night.
The apparition of Rose floated in from the ceiling and settled across from old man Da’Quarius. She smiled widely. “Looks like you’ve been well,” she said.
“I have been,” Da’Quarius said, smiling back. “I had no idea dat you guys were still around. It’s been around forty years since we’ve seen each other.”
“Has it really been that long?” Rose asked. “Wow. Time flows different on this side. We both miss you, Da’Quarius. Helen talks about you often. She really did care for you.”
“I know,” Da’Quarius said. “Which is why it pains me to bring dis up. Rose, we need to get Helen to move on. There’s nothing left in this world for either of you. Move on, and I’ll join you eventually.”
Rose looked away. “We don’t mind staying here,” she said. “Helen isn’t that bad.”
“Rose,” Da’Quarius said. “She’s hauntin’ da fuck outta dese good people. She needs to move on. Helen needs to go to Heaven.”
“About that,” Rose said, rubbing the back of her neck. “Helen and I did go to Heaven, but we left and came home.”
“Why?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Helen got into an argument with an angel name Larielle,” Rose replied. “She called him a fruity seagull, and she stormed out. I followed her out so she wouldn’t be alone, and we returned here.”
“What are you telling him?!” Helen shouted, coming into view across from Da’Quarius. “You telling him about how that fruity gull kicked me out of Heaven?!”
“You weren’t kicked out,” Rose said. “They told me they’d let you back in if you apologize.”
“Fuck that winged tranny!” Helen said, waving a hand. “I’m not apologizing. I’m back home now.”
“Did those brats rat me out?” Helen asked, giving Da’Quarius the stink eye. “I taught you better than that, kid. You know what snitches get, don’t you?”
“Stitches,” Da’Quarius finished. “This ain’t prison, Helen. They want me to ask you nicely to move on. Go back to Heaven and apologize to Larielle. You and Rose will be happier there.”
“And what if I don’t?” Helen asked, crossing her arms.
“Then dey’ll be foreced to exorcise you from dis home,” Da’Quarius said. “Da priest is ready. Please don’t make dem do it.”
“You think some boy diddler is going to get me to leave my home?!” Helen exclaimed, rising into the air. “I’ll smash every picture. I’ll keep them up all night. I’ll torment those little girls until they get their moon blood. I came up on the bad streets of New Haven. I did eight years in Havenville Penn. I’m Helen mother-fucking Masters, and I’m not going anywhere!”
“I’m sorry, Helen,” Da’Quarius said, lowering his head. “I really am. You too, Rose. Father Sanchez, exorcise da fuck outta dis house.”
“Pull the Civic around, Pedro!” Helen’s voice shouted. They could no longer see her, but she had been throwing stuff around for the last ten minutes as she floated around invisibly. “Maybe you can give me a lift to your mother’s house.”
“I don’t think this is working,” Raymond said.
“It will,” Father Sanchez said. “I’m just getting started.”
“How about you blow me a kiss!” Helen shouted, throwing the TV remote. It barely missed Father Sanchez’s head and hit the wall behind him.
“I command to leave this place in the name of The Lord!” Father Sanchez shouted, brandishing a cross in his right hand and splashing holy water with his right. “Go into the light of the Kingdom of Heaven! There is nothing left for you here!”
“You said that already!” Helen shouted. “I’m happy here, you bastard of the cloth!”
“LEAVE THIS PLACE!” Father Sanchez shouted. “I COMMAND THEE, HELEN MASTERS. LEAVE THIS PLACE AND NEVER COME BACK!”
There was a crack of lightning outside, and all went silent. Father Sanchez looked around himself in a circle. “I think she’s gone,” he said.
“Are you sure?” Lucy asked, coming up from where she was hiding behind the couch.
“It couldn’t have been dat easy,” Da’Quarius said. “Helen is a stubborn-ass biddy.”
“I no longer feel her presence,” Father Sanchez said. “I’m going to look around to see if she’s hiding anywhere.”
Father Sanchez began to look around, holding out his hand to see if he could feel the presence of Helen’s ghost. He followed his senses across the den and towards the closet near the front door. He reached out and turned the doorknob.
“DON’T OPEN DAT DOOR, MO’ FUCKER!” Da’Quarius shouted. “SHE GONNA GET’CHU!”
Father Sanchez and the Scotts all turned to stare at Da’Quarius.
“Sorry,” Da’Quarius said. “Force of habit.”
Father Sanchez turned back to the closet and opened the door. He held his crucifix in front of him as he looked around. “She’s not in here,” he said, speaking to himself. He looked towards the ceiling, and he could hear something upstairs. It sounded like multiple footsteps. “She’s hiding up there.”
“Can you exorcise her out of here?” Raymond asked.
“I’m not sure,” Father Sanchez said. “Helen isn’t inherently evil, so I can’t force her out. She’s just the spirit of a mean old bitch.”
“Hey!” Da’Quarius exclaimed. “Dat’s my moms you talkin’ ’bout!”
“Do you deny it?” Father Sanchez asked.
“No,” Da’Quaruis said, sitting with his arms crossed.
“We have to reason with her,” Father Sanchez said. “Da’Quarius, can you talk her into leaving this plane and going back to Heaven?”
“I don’t know,” Da’Quarius replied. “She never listened to me much when she was alive. I doubt she’ll listen to me now.”
“Is there anyone else we can ask to assist us?” Father Sanchez asked. “Is there anyone who can talk her into going back?”
Da’Quarius thought for a moment. “Rose ain’t goin’ to help us,” he said. “Dere’s only one other person who would be able to talk some sense into her.”
“Can you contact them?” Father Sanchez asked.
“I can try,” Da’Quarius said. He sat in front of his ouija board once more, closed his eyes, and put his hands onto the slider.
“Oh!” Paulie’s ghost shouted as he materialized in front of Da’Quarius’ ouija board. “I was having a great time on the beach, ya mook. The women there are topless. They’re all topless in Heaven! What the hell do you want?!”
“Unca Paulie,” Da’Quarius said. “It’s me. Da’Quarius.”
“Holy shit,” Paulie said, looking over his nephew. “You sure got old.”
“I’m sixty-two,” Da’Quarius said. “You been dead a long time, mo’ fucker.”
“Time flies when you’re having fun,” Paulie said.
“How’s Tony?” Da’Quarius asked.
“I don’t know,” Pauile said, shrugging. “He’s probably begging for a glass of ice water from whatever demon is poking him in his stupid friggin’ ass with his pitchfork.”
“Tony went to Hell?!” Da’Quarius said. “Damn!”
“Hey,” Paulie said. “These things happen, ya dig. He should be out in a century or two with good behavior.”
Raymond cleared his throat.
“Oh yeah,” Da’Quarius said. “Unca Paulie, I need you to talk Helen into going back to Heaven. She’s been hauntin’ da old house an’ won’t stop.”
“What?!” Paulie exclaimed. “Putana de’ Eva! What is she doing back there?!”
“It’s a long story,” Da’Quarius said. “But Rose followed her, an’ she won’t talk Helen into goin’ back. I couldn’t talk sense into her, and the priest can’t exorcise her. You’re our only hope.”
“Paulie the friggin’ parrot!” Paulie shouted in return. “It’s your baby brother. Madon!”
“Paulie?” Helen said, floating through the ceiling and coming back into the living room. “What are you doing here?”
“I was about to ask you that, sis,” Paulie said.
“I was trying to crap on that bearded jerk-off’s bed, but my ghosts poops float right through it,” Helen replied.
“Oh God,” Raymond said, shaking his head and looking at the floor. “Not my bed.”
“Shaddup, ya mook,” Paulie said, holding his transparent hand up. “Can’t you see I’m talking to my sister over here? Now I see why you’ve been haunting these people.”
“What do you want?” Helen asked. “I suppose Da’Quarius asked you to come talk me out of being a ghost in my own home.”
“This isn’t your home any more, Helen,” Paulie said. “You passed away. You went to the other side, and you need to go back. Rose followed you, and she won’t go back without you.”
“Rose is happy here with me,” Helen said. “She always has been.”
“But there’s nothing left for you here,” Paulie said.
“Speak for yourself,” Helen said. She turned towards the two little girls and pulled her wrinkly cheeks and stuck her long tongue out of her mouth. “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
Andrea and Sophia screamed in unison and ran from the room, through the kitchen, and out of the back door. Helen laughed hysterically. “See!” she exclaimed. “Tell me that’s not hilarious.”
“This ain’t right and you know it,” Paulie said. “Those little girls will be lucky ever they ever sleep again.”
“They’ll get over it,” Helen said. “I’m not leaving my home, and that’s final.”
“Come on, Helen,” Paulie said. “I just left the greatest topless beach Heaven had to offer to come down here and get you. I’ll drag you back by your hair if I have to.”
“Fine,” Helen said, turning around. “But only because these people are boring. Not because you made me do it.”
“Alright,” Paulie said. “Now let’s get Rose and head back towards the light.”
“I’M NOT LEAVING!” Rose said, floating around everyone’s head in a great circle. “I’M GOING TO STAY HERE AND TEND TO MY GARDEN FOREVER!”
“No you’re not, Rose,” Helen said. “We’re not haunting anyone any more.”
“My garden is pure!” Rose sang out. “MY GARDEN IS PURE!”
“Well shit,” Helen said, sitting down in her favorite seat. “If Rose is staying, then I am.”
“Will you look upon my garden?” Rose asked, floating over Lucy and Raymond. They shrunk back against the wall. “Will you smell my flowers?”
Helen laughed. “That’s awesome,” she said, looking at the fear on Raymond and Lucy’s faces. “She’s better at this haunting shit than I am.”
“I tried, kid,” Paulie said, turning to Da’Quarius. “I gotta go. I got a hot date with a heavenly piece of porcelain.”
“Wait,” Da’Quarius said. “You can shit on da other side?”
“Of course,” Paulie said. “It’s Heaven after all.”
“So that’s it?” Raymond said, approaching Da’Quarius as Paulie’s ghost turned to vapor and began his journey back to Heaven. “You’re just going to leave these two here?”
“I don’t know what to tell you,” Da’Quarius said. “Dey ghosts. If dey won’t leave, den I cain’t make them.”
“You know what will make me go?” Helen asked.
“What?” Raymond said, turning around. “For the love of God. Tell me what to do, and I will do it.”
“Kill your family,” Helen said, smirking. “Kill them all. Chop them up. Grind their bones. Drink sour milk.”
“That’s it,” Raymond said, throwing his hands up. “I’m leaving this house! Let the bank foreclose on it. I don’t care. Ruin my fuckin’ credit. Why the fuck not!”
“Dat was really messed up,” Da’Quarius said.
“I agree with Da’Quarius,” Rose said, coming next to Helen. “You shouldn’t have done that to that poor man.”
“Don’t you have some gardening to do?” Helen asked, putting her hands behind her head.
“Oh yes,” Rose said, floating into the backyard. “Do you girls think my roses are pretty?”
The two little girls screamed before running into the neighbor’s yard. Raymond had his car packed up within an hour, and drove off to his mother’s house in Cheshire.
“So the ghosts of Helen and Rose lived for all eternity in the house on Freedom Lane that the bank couldn’t sell for shit,” Da’Quarius said, finishing up his story. “The end.”
“What a lovely ending,” Rose said, putting her hand on Helen’s knee. “We get to spend all of eternity together, Helen. Isn’t that just… lovely?”
“If that story creeped you out, just let the kid know,” Helen said. “Don’t sugar-coat it on him.”
“Hey,” Da’Quarius said. “You biddies said you wanted a Halloween story from me, an’ I gave you one. That story took me almost an entire week to write too!”
“Well I love it, kid,” Paulie said. “It had everything. Comedy. Drama. Romance.”
“It wasn’t supposed to be a comedy,” Da’Quarius said. “It was a horror story.”
“Then why did the Garcia boys turn into ghosts and smoke ghost pot?” Rose asked.
“They were tempting the living,” Da’Quarius said. “You should never be tempted by the dead. They’ll take your souls. It’s dark humor, Rose. Dark!”
“Wait,” Helen said. “It sounded like old man Da’Quarius wanted to smoke the ghost pot, didn’t it? You’re not on dope, are you kid?”
“You gonna be smokin’ the ghost pot soon if don’t stop insinuatin’ stuff, biddy,” Da’Quarius said under his breath.
“What was that? Helen asked.
“Nuttin’,” Da’Quaruis said. “I just thought you’d like my story.”
“I loved it!” Paulie raved. “That is so what Helen would do if she died.”
“It was… lovely,” Rose said.
“Kid,” Helen said, leaning forward to look in Da’Quarius’ eyes. “If you ever tell a story like that again, I will haunt the shit out of you until the day those dreadlocks turn white out of fear and you curl up in the fetal position in the corner and die from a combination of starvation and fright.”
“Dear God,” Rose said, turning towards Helen with her hand on her chest.
“You cold, biddy,” Da’Quarius said.
Helen sat back in her chair. “That’s how you scare someone with a story,” Helen said smiling. “You only need once sentence. Happy Halloween, you little shit.”