Caspar this isn’t

Ed
Ed Smith
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Every once in a while, someone asks me if I believe in ghosts.

I don’t have to think very hard for the answer: “I don’t know.” I know so little about what’s normal or paranormal or all states in between that I wouldn’t hazard a guess.

If Newton was right and what we now know is only as a few grains of sand on the beach “while the great ocean of truth lies all discovered before us,” there may be one or two things I don’t know — about anything.

It seems to me it would take colossal arrogance to assume that one has already reaped enough of the total knowledge about the existence of ghosts to make a definitive statement about it. I certainly make no such assumption for myself. I don’t know enough about it.

I have the same problem with the question of life on other planets. How the heck do I know? So, they’re looking for water as a criterion for life. Perhaps the creatures of other planets will be silicon-based and won’t need water or oxygen at all. Who knows? No one does, that I’ve heard talk about it. Same thing with Muskrat Falls.

I do get a kick out of those paranormal shows that purport to investigate haunted houses all over the world. They’re worth watching for the humour. You only have to watch one and you know practically everything there is to know about all of them. They do exactly the same thing.

When I was a boy, my family lived in what we have always believed to be a haunted house. I won’t get into it now because I wrote about it in my book, “Some Fine Times.” I have only one copy and you ain’t getting that. There may be others who will lend you theirs, for a price. No amount of cash or promises of anything will get mine from me — it’s a masterpiece of its kind.The first thing these ghostbusters do is find a house that is reported by its occupants to be harbouring strange occupants. Sometimes human owners report seeing unearthly apparitions at the ends of corridors. Doors open and close with no one near them. Ghostly whisperings hang on the air in vacant rooms.Sometimes these “entities” are openly belligerent. Sometimes they’re plaintive and pleading. My personal opinion is that in both cases the entities are saying to their human counterparts, “Will you get the hell out of here and leave us alone. You’re scaring the other ghosts."

Every house has to be old and rickety looking as though it had just come out of “Psycho.” No doubt about there being ghosts in a place like that. You won’t find ghosts in The Rooms, for example. In an edifice of glass and steel, a ghost would have about the same lifespan as a termite.

Their equipment is invariably the same: a recorder (sometimes fairly modern) and some candles with which to peer into misty and dusty corners. Candles seem to throw more shadow than light. Then the intrepid ghost hunters go wandering about the house like Lady Havisham in Great Expectations creeping around the castle looking for her long-gone lover. It’s when they begin exploring those places that the real fun begins.

There is no question but that they expect to find something of a ghost-like nature. Their eyes are wide with terror with the whites forming a three-inch frame around each pupil. Yes, they sense something, you can tell. Their shoulders are hunched over and they are bunched together.

Even we at home begin to tense up. Surely Lord, we’re saying to ourselves, they don’t expect us to swallow this drivel. But listen to what they’re whispering in suitably subdued tones. (I don’t know how one whispers in tones that are not subdued — don’t get picky.) The words in italics are my commentary in line with the action:

“(Said in a suitably awed and frightened tone) I swear that door was open a few moments ago … it was open and now it’s closed … I’m going to put the video (OK, I forgot the video) on that door when it’s open and see what happens. OK, there it is — watch (door suddenly swings shut). Omigod, did you see that? It swung shut by itself! (Right, why would a ghost need help, for Pete’s sake? And why is a ghost playing with a door , like a playful dog chasing a ball? Is it doing it all for your entertainment, moron?) There’s something here … Omigod, I think something just brushed up against me! (That was the moron behind you.) Are you there? We don’t want to hurt you. We just want to talk with you …

 “I sense a presence in the corner over … I think it’s a child. Are you a child? (That’s the moron who sticking closer than a brother to your backside. Do you know him very well?) Did you just say something? I know I heard a voice — did you get it on the recorder? Are you afraid? I don’t like the feel of this at all … I hear someone whispering (that’s the moron behind you). There’s something dangerous here. (That’s the moron again — he almost set your hair on fire with the candles.) I think we should get out!”

After the excursion into the haunted building, they get together for a debriefing of what they’ve just been through. First, they check the door-closer incident. Fortunately for them and their future in similar documentaries, the video does not pick up the cotton thread tied to the doorknob from the other side which enables a colleague to pull the door shut.

These programs are a dime a dozen on television, and are as stupid as only stupid can be.I see them all the time.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale.  His email address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Geographic location: Great Expectations, Springdale

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