The Floorboards


My Aunt’s name is Roanna Giddings and she likes to collect cat figurines and she plays songs like ” Pineapple Princess ” on her Ukulele.

My Aunt she told me that when she was a kid she wanted to be Annette Funicello who was a Mousketeer from the original Micky Mouse Club and I think Pineapple Princess was one of  her songs.

She’s had the same haircut  ( my Aunt, not Annette who died awhile back) for the last 35 years and when it snows she won’t shovel the sidewalk in front of her house because she likes to watch people slide across the walkway to either side of her house where her more rule abiding  neighbors with salted and shoveled sidewalks live.

Those little peculiarities aside, my Aunt likes to take walks with her dog just after dinner, she goes to Vegas twice a year and most of the time she breaks even and sometimes she wins. And she has bowls full of those tiny little lollipops that you get from the bank or from people on Halloween night who buy the biggest cheapest bag of candy they can find.

Funny FYI, you can find those big rolls of economy pack toilet paper packs in the same aisle at most of your supermarkets.

So that’s my Aunt, a little odd, slightly but not so odd she would stand out in a crowd.

Then that thing that happened at her house a few months ago that has left me to re-think my views on my Aunt.

My Aunt invited me, my Dad and a neighbor  over for pizza night and being that we all liked Mushroom an Pepperoni  pizza with thick crust and Key Lime Pie we all accepted her invite.

We ate Pizza and listened to her favorite radio program- its a series about a guy who has a cable tv show that explores the paranormal. You did read that right, its a radio show about a tv show.

Like peanut butter on a bacon cheddar cheeseburger, it just works.

So after dessert and the show ended I watched my Aunt get up from her chair, she walked around the table and as she passed my Dad she reminded him to take Grandma to they eye doctor the next morning, she told her neighbor that there was a Wasps nest in the tree that sat on their property line and that they should probably do something about it because it was as big as a horse’s head. I watched her walk into her bedroom that was across the hall from the dining room.

She turned the light on, I heard the floor boards next to her bed creak as she walked towards the window, I heard the window close and then -nothing.

She never came out of that room and nobody ever saw her again.

Of course the police were involved and there were stories in the news about the lady who wandered off from a family dinner and disapeared.

Most people assumed she had mental health issues and old people did things like that. They foget  who they are and where they are going. Only my Aunt wasn’t old and she never forgot anything.

My Aunt’s disapearence was one of those things in life that put’s the hairs on the back of your neck up  and you try to tell yourself there’s a chill in the air that why those little hairs popped up but it’s a  skin blistering  summer day at high noon. So instead of figuring out what is wrong you just ignore it because it seem to be better just let that creepy feeling creep away.

Most people who dealt with her disaperance felt that way.


Sometimes when the lights are on I play it over in my mind- did my aunt walk out of her room, through the dinning room and out the front door in the living room in a blink of the eye and that’s why we didn’t see her leave?

Was my Aunt  a ghost and me and Dad and her neighbor all blessed ( or cursed ) with the second sight and made it a habit to eat pizza with her on radio night?

Or is the answer much more simple- maybe we never understood who or what my Aunt was.


I live in my Aunt’s house now. I even sleep in her old room,  I painted it yellow and took down the curtains and put up blinds

And sometimes when I go into the bedroom I  hop up and down on the  the floorboards next to the bed and make them creek.

I find that noise reassuring.


The Moth In The Window

Hauntober Prompt #16


She found me at the window in the living room, a dark yellow and red fire roaring and hissing in the fireplace. Sometimes there was a pop and his and after tiny little embers fluttered up the chimney.

” It follows me wherever I go, ” I pointed to the moth fluttering against the window  ” no matter how fast I ran or how many times I tried to hide in doorways and no matter how many times I hide in the attic or the closets upstairs, it keeps right on following me. ”

I was about to reach out and grab her wrist when she turned away from me but I stopped. She really hates it when I’m worked up and touch her. It makes her skin crawl she’s said.

” Why, why is it here? Why is it following me?” I was desperate, but I didn’t raise my voice. I tried to stay calm. I think I was failing.

She turned and looked at me. She licked her lips, she rubbed her eyes , she lifted her chin up and took a deep breath.

” What do you want from me What do you want me to do? ” she asked.

I pointed to the window.

” I want you to make it go away.  It follows me  wherever I go. It won’t leave me alone Please. Can’t you make it go away?”

Her voice was hallow  she was looking right  passed me to the window where the moth was banging itself against the frost bitten pane of glass.  She turned back and said to me:

” You can’t be for real.” she sounded defeated, tired. You can’t be for real.”

She closed her eyes tight and said:

” I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t. ” she said over and over again.

” I don’t believe in ghosts. ”

The moth continued to flutter against the window and I said, as I have been saying for many years, for many evenings to the many people who have lived in my house and have closed their eyes and chanted the same words as she does now , on nights like this when that moth appears at the window –

I lift my chin up  and I say:

” I don’t either. “

It Was A Dark and Snowy Night

RDP Tuesday: DRAMA


When people find out I used to work in a funeral home, they will react in one of two ways.

Some people never ask questions. Ever.

Other people will ask me, ” so what’s the weirdest thing you have ever seen? ”

To bust the ice I will say,  ” well, to be honest once I saw this corpse that looked exactly like you so I’m freaking out a little here. ”

” Really? ” they’ll ask.

” No.  I’m just messing with you. But if you want to know this is the weirdest thing I ever saw-”

And I go from there:

We had this hard and fast rule that if you had to do a night removal you had to wait in your car for the second Funeral Director to show up before you went into the building to get the keys to the removal van and the necessary paperwork.

It was  for security reasons.

At this time some people were lacing weed with embalming fluid because they are idiots and I guess some situations got bad and people got hurt when these thefts took place in Funeral Homes.

You were ok once you got into the building-  but the walk in was where you were the most  vulnerable so you had to wait for a second person to walk in with- and this applied to men and women.

One night I got in a little faster then normal because it had been snowing and there hadn’t been a lot of traffic during the day and less then usual at night. So I made myself comfortable, turned up the radio and waited for my co-worker.

I think I was singing along to Lita Ford when I sort of did that thing where you throw your head backwards and forwards and when I looked up I saw a dog sitting next to the door.

It wasn’t an average sized dog, it was a big dog- Saint Bernard sized and it was looking right at me.

I love dogs, all dogs and my first reaction was to open my door and call it over. It was a cold night and it was dark and I thought it might need help.

But my hands stayed on the steering wheel and when the dog got up and started to walk towards me I kept looking straight ahead. I couldn’t help myself. It was like someone was screaming at me to stay still and not move a muscle.

Not a single muscle.

It walked towards me and then it passed right under my window and I looked down and  I saw the top of it’s massive skull, I could see the muscles rippling down along it’s shoulders and back.

It stopped and turned it’s head and I looked forward and tried to breathe-quietly.

I think it bumped against my jeep and I wondered what I would hear if I turned to the music down, but like I said something told me it would be a very bad idea if I moved.

It kept walking up the little road that leads to the old part of the cemetery where the old Caretaker’s Cottage ( we still called it that, but it was actually used for storage ) is and then it was gone.

When my co-worker showed up I tried to act calm and cool, but I didn’t feel calm and cool. I felt spooked.

Then I looked down and wondered how big the dog’s paw prints were and my eyes screamed to my brain, ” are you getting this? ”

There in the snow – that freshly fallen sparkling snow ,were tracks leading from the door, across the parking lot and passed my Jeep.

But I didn’t see paw prints.

I saw footprints- one after another leading up the little road to the Caretaker’s Cottage.


My friend asked me how it was going .

I struggled for a minute.

I tried to smile, I tried to sneeze in the hopes I would get some air into my lungs,  I wanted to point to the tracks but instead I slammed my car door shut and I made a joke about building snow men.

As we made our way to the door, I walked in the footprints and mashed each one of them under my boots.


Wow, that’s a little weird you might be thinking.

But that’s not the weird part.

The next morning, before we opened for the day a person drove their car up into the old part of the cemetery, behind the Care Taker’s Cottage  and  ended their life.


” That’s a lonely place to end your life ” our receptionist said to me at lunch time on that same day.

I felt a cool breath on the back of my neck and it chilled me to the bone.

” Yea ” I said.  “sure  it is. ”





Prefontaine and Lander

For Fandango’s Flashback Friday: Prefontaine and Lander

Written For The Soul Food Cafe 

Halloween of


Photograph  Shaun O’Boyle

Mia and  Gerty were sitting on a park bench just across the street from the Lander House watching the camera crews and the ghost hunters and the famous Medium, Mr Newport doing whatever it was one does to get ready to tape a tv show.

” I think Mr Newport is so debonair.” Mia sighed. ” I wish I lived in a haunted house. I would love to have him sit across from me and take my hand in his and help me bring light to the dark places that haunt us all”

” The where? Are you serious here Mia?  He’s a ghost hunter. Tell me. What does one do with a ghost they’ve hunted down?”

” How should I know?”

” Well. You’re such a fan. So take a stab at it. Do they cut their heads off and nail them to a wall? Turn them into rugs or belts or umbrella stands? All hunters take trophies Mia. It’s the nature of the beast.”

” You have no Soul Gerty . None. You could travel around the world and end up sitting on this park bench across the street from that awful building and still wonder if Becks still makes strawberry milkshakes with fresh strawberries and not frozen.”

” Becks makes the best strawberry milkshakes Mia.”

” Well. I don’t care what you say. Mr Newport is my favorite TV star. I think he really believes in what he’s doing and he helps people Gerty . What’s wrong with that? Look. It’s not like he’s actually hurting anyone. I mean. Seriously. He can’t, can he now?”

” He certainly cannot.”

” I’m glad you agree with me.”

” I’m not agreeing with you, I’m stating a fact. ” Gerty   told Mia.

” I just don’t understand why you hate him so.”

” I hate him, ” Gerty said for the hundredth time that month, ” because he’s vain and stupid and that accent of his has got to be fake. That’s the worst. That stupid accent. I mean, he doesn’t even try to be convincing. He has got to be the worst actor on the face of the earth and he must have a million fans. How does something like that happen?”

Mia shrugged and looked away from Gerty .

” Mia. This guy is so bad. Look over there. The Lander House. The Infamous Hospital where the story says  the staff disappeared and the patients were all found murdered in their beds and instead of taking all those dead people to a cemetery they buried them on the grounds behind the hospital because there was so little left of the bodies to bury. Why Mia did he chose the Lander House to look for ghosts?”

” Because it was the scene of a terrible tragedy and sometimes tragic events imprint themselves onto things in the physical world and they get replayed over and over again.”

” You got that from the tv show, didn’t you?”

” So?”

” So the Lander House wasn’t the hospital, The Prefontaine Hotel-” Akela pointed to a large brick building behind them ” was the hospital where the staff did disappear and twenty patients died and they were buried on the grounds because the Prefontaine was a charity hospital and in the old days that’s what they did to people who died there. The only weird thing was them turning it into a Hotel. Still.  Do you know who gets that history wrong? Historians and Ghost Hunters- and do you know who duped them into looking at the wrong building? The Developers that turned the Hospital into a hotel.”

”  Well.  I’m sure there are ghosts at the Lander”

” Mia, there isn’t a single one. It’s just a building with a bunch of junk in the halls and paint peeling off of the walls. That’s it.”

” Well. I think Mr. Newport’s heart is in the right place. I think he really does want to understand the next world. I can see it in his eyes.”

” Oh Geeze.”

” Mia, I don’t care that he’s never actually seen a real ghost or been to a real haunted house or that he’s got a silly accent. He wants to find those things. He’s a true romantic.”

“Well. He’s not going to find them over there. That’s for sure. And if you and me went over there right now and told them that boring brick building across the street was the…”

” Hotbed of paranormal activity.”

Gerty  took a deep breath and ignored that last comment from her friend. ” real scene a terrible tragedy and mystery they wouldn’t care because that…” she pointed to the Lander House ” looks better on film than that…” she said waving her hand at the Prefontaine.

” He could be sensing something at the Lander.”

” No, he isn’t and you can bet he won’t be sensing anything at the Prefontaine either.”

” Poor Mr. Newport.” Mia said.

” I wonder what his real name is.”  Gerty asked.

Before Mia could answer they saw a woman from the Ghost Hunter crew pointing towards them and then she waved at them and crossed the street to where they were.

” Hi, nice afternoon isn’t it?” the young woman held her hand out and said ” my name is Adelle Peterman, I’m with the crew. I love your outfits. Especially your little hats. I didn’t think anyone wore those anymore. They’re very cool. Retro. Really. They’re awesome. “

Gerty  kept her arms folded across her chest and Mia said:

” I love your show.” Mia making sure to smile and look not directly into  ‘s eyes, but a little to the right. She reached out and rested her hand, softy  on Adelle’s forearm and then she lifted her hand gently away.

“Wow.  Thank you. We appreciate that.  I was wondering if you ladies would like to be in one of our interview segments.”

Gerty  told  Adelle  Peterman, ” there aren’t any ghosts over there  you know.”

“I think there are. ” Mia added.

” Well, if you know any background about the Lander- we’d love to hear your stories.”

Gerty looked at Mia.

” Okay. Sure. Why not ” Gerty said. ” We’ve got the time.”

Mia stood up first and smoothed her white Nurses Uniform with her pale hands and as Gerty did the same  Mia whispered into Gerty’s ear ” take it back. You know I’m right.”

” Cool it Mia.There aren’t any ghosts at the Lander….yet.”