Haunted
October 11, 2007

To get everyone in the mood for Halloween, I'm reposting the four ghost stories I have experience with over the next couple of weeks. These are all true stories, so far as I know. Several of them I have personal experience with; one happened to a guy I worked with as he and I discussed whether or not there was really, truly, a ghost where we worked.

Enjoy!

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My cousin used to tell me terrifying ghost tales. I loved watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In second or third grade, I checked out every book in the public library on ghost stories and hauntings.

I'm not some wishy-washy, new-age, granola-eating hippy who thinks ghosts are real.

But I do think ghosts are real even though I've never seen one.

I have been around a few ... as the meme the other day reminded me.

In college I worked for a sub shop in Texas -- Gino's Subs, a properly New York-Italian sub shop. The shop out at the mall was in an outlying building rather than the mall proper, right next door to the movie theatre. I don't know a whole lot about the building's history, but I know it was haunted.

The first few run-ins with the ghost were just odd little things. I couldn't quite explain the things that happened, but I was prepared to think it could have just been a fluke. During a really busy lunch one day, I saw the soda fountain do something bizarre. There's a sticker where you can label what pop should come out of that spigot and over the sticker is a piece of clear plastic to help keep that sticker legible longer. The clear plastic piece over the Sprite suddenly shot off the machine and landed about ten feet away. Not too odd, there's got to be some pressure on the plastic to get it to pop into place. But that pressure should have made it pop forward more than it did. It was more like it moved out about an inch forward and then moved ten feet sideways, not diagonal. Weird, but these things happen.

Another lunch rush the lid to the toothpick dispenser shoots straight up in the air, nearly hits the ceiling and then lands on the counter. Lined up perfectly with the toothpick dispenser. And somehow, tucked neatly under the little "arms" that hold the dispensed toothpick.

Okay that was really freaky, but still, could have just been a fluke.

What sealed it was the night that John and I were working the shop alone. We'd closed the store at 11 p.m. as usual and were working on cleaning up. I went over to the old Wurlitzer juke box and perused the 45s (yeah, this was the late 80s). I popped in a quarter and picked "Mandolin Rain" and "Our House." John calls from behind the counter, "What'd you pick?"

I tell him and he likes "Our House," but violently hates "Mandolin Rain."

"Our House" plays first. Cool. John has me call out the name of every song on the machine so he can pick some out. "Ooooh, I love 'West End Boys.'"

The next song to play? "West End Boys."

Hmmm. Maybe the jukebox shares John's taste in music. Maybe it's not wired right. Whatever.

A third song plays. Huh? Two songs for a quarter ... and a bonus song. Okay, the jukebox is a bit eccentric. Must be the wiring.

But the third song is some old fifties tune. I think it's Elvis, but I can't read the label on the spinning 45. John pops his head out "What song is that?"

"I have no idea."

"But you picked it."

"I didn't pick it. I think it's Elvis." Whatever it is, it's a sappy 50s love song and we're both glad when it's over.

The radio still doesn't come back on as we're treated to an encore performance of "West End Boys."

Very odd, but we figure the wiring on this juke is just old and goofy. I leave a note for the manager to tell her the jukebox guy ought to take a look at the thing.

Over the course of the next few weeks, any time John and I are working alone together, we're treated to "West End Boys" a couple of times a night. After the store has closed. Never when there's customers and we can safely assume that someone is messing with us. And when we close at night, I usually do the front -- near the juke -- and John does behind the counter. There's no way he can be doing it or I'd see him near the juke.

When the jukebox man finally comes in, I happen to be there. "Hey, make sure to take that Elvis record out of there, okay?"

"I don't think there's one in here." He runs through his list. "No, there's no Elvis in here."

"Yeah there is, I saw the thing." And I run through the whole story for him. He literally takes every single 45 out of the juke box. I watch him.

No Elvis 45 is in there. No funky 50s 45 is in there.

In fact, there's no 45 in there with the funky color of blue that I saw that night. You know, that old funky blue with the silver writing that used to be on a lot of records from the 50s and 60s. Nothing like that is in the machine.

WEIRD.

But the really weird thing doesn't happen until John quits. I mean, come on, it's a sub shop and college kids can do better, even in 1989, than $3.85 an hour.

So, I'm closing the store one night with a new kid. She's cleaning out front and I'm cleaning behind the counter. She's barely started sweeping the floor and hasn't made it anywhere near the juke box yet. John's been gone for about a week.

"West End Boys" starts up.

The new kid's head pops up. "When'd you put money in the juke box?"

"I didn't." I don't bother to explain at first. I mean, it sounds crazy to say that a ghost just likes that song. Actually, John and I had a running joke that the ghost had a crush on John and that's why it played the Elvis love song and John's favorite song.

"West End Boys" plays again. And now, I get this weird feeling of query and sadness. I don't know how else to explain it other than I could feel the question in the air. Umm, I'm kinda thinking that the ghost really did have a crush on John.

The song begins a third time. A fourth time.

Finally, the new kid is kinda freaking out. Especially when I explain the whole ghost thing.

When the song starts for the fifth time, and that sense of question and sadness has just gotten more and more intense with every iteration of the song, I finally say out loud, "I'm sorry. John doesn't work here anymore. He quit. I'm sorry."

This time the radio comes on after the 45 finishes.

I never saw the ghost, but me, John and the new kid knew it was there. The manager of the store knew about it, too.

I always felt sorry for that ghost. It was so obvious that it liked John and it was terribly sad when he left.

But that was a nice ghost. Later I'll tell you about the one I lived with who was definitely NOT a nice ghost.

Posted by Red Monkey at October 11, 2007 10:52 PM | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

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