I’m kind of worried about Keith. Ever since he started working at the graveyard, he’s been pretty obsessed with ghosts and weird stuff. It was bad enough when he thought he was seeing spirits float around the tombstones late at night. But now, he’s convinced that our house is haunted, too.
“I swear guys, something strange is going on,” he said one day, his eyes wild and red with lack of sleep. “I keep hearing things.”
“What are you hearing? Voices?” D.J. rolled his eyes. “I hear there’s a special hospital for people like you.”
“You’ve gotta believe me!” Keith sounded desperate. “Look, when I went up to the attic yesterday, the electric train started running all by itself. Then the radio turned on, too.”
D.J. snorted. “What song was playing? Oh wait, I know. Ghostbusters!”
“Well what about the ice cream?” asked Keith. Several days before, he had taken a brand-new quart of mint chip ice cream out of the freezer, then slipped out of the kitchen to answer the telephone. “When I came back two minutes later, the carton was empty!” he said. “Empty! Nothing left. Like the carton had been licked clean.”
“Maybe you had already eaten it all and forgot,” said D.J., shrugging. “Or you ate it in your sleep.”
“I wouldn’t forget something like that!” said Keith.
I couldn’t take Keith’s claims seriously, either. I mean, ghosts? Come on! I figured that he was either having sleep-deprived hallucinations, or he was on something. It was much more believable. There were a couple of strange occurrences, though, that even D.J. couldn’t explain away. While home alone one night, I found a book lying on the living room floor, and stooped down to pick it up. To my surprise, it wasn’t a book I had ever seen before. It was an old children’s book, its faded cover caked with gray dust. How it had ended up in the middle of the living room rug, I had no idea, as the nearest bookshelf was more than ten feet away.
To tell you the truth, even though it was just an ordinary kids’ book, I felt a little weirded out. But I wasn’t ready to blame it on ghosts. I didn’t bother to mention the book to Keith or D.J. Things had been a little tense between the two of them lately, thanks to the teddy bear incident.
You see, one morning, Keith came running upstairs, shouting, “Wake up! Emergency! Emergency!” I leapt out of bed, heart pounding in my chest. I was envisioning a fire, my mind flashing back to my family’s hut, thick with smoke, and the pop pop pop of soldiers’ gunfire. I yanked on some jeans and raced downstairs after Keith, fearing the worst. And then he stopped still and pointed…at a teddy bear.
So help me God, a teddy bear.
It was shabby, missing one button eye, stuffing poking out on one side. Some well-worn child’s playtoy from long-ago.
D.J. appeared beside me, his face growing darker by the second. “Keith,” he said, his voice eerily calm, “Tell me. Is this teddy bear actually a bomb that is rigged to blow up my Aunt Mabel’s house?”
“Is it some amazing new electronic invention that’s going to make us all rich?”
D.J. exploded. “THEN WHY THE BLEEP DID YOU JUST WAKE ME UP AT SIX O’CLOCK IN THE BLEEPITY-BLEEP BLEEPING MORNING ON A SATURDAY, YOU BLEEPITY-BLEEPER…”
Okay, you get the point. D.J. was not a happy camper. He pretty much warned Keith then and there to either knock it off with the stupid ghost stuff, or he could pack his bags and hitchhike back to Michigan.
As for me, I put the unexplained children’s book on the shelf, figuratively and literally. I had much more important things on my mind than whether or not ghosts existed. You see, while driving around in my truck, I met this amazing girl. Her name was Caroline, and she had a smile that could melt…well, ice cream. I gave her a grape popsicle in exchange for her phone number. We’ve been dating ever since.
I think I may be in love, Tadi.
I may not believe in ghosts, but Caroline haunts my every waking thought.
Your lovesick friend,