A Real Ghost Story

It was Halloween night, the makeup had been washed off, the Jack-O-lanterns extinguished, and my wife and I were sound asleep in our bed. My bedroom has no windows, only a sliding glass door that, as we live in a one-floor ranch house, leads directly out into the backyard. It has never pleased me that one wall of my bedroom is made entirely of glass, and that any trespasser could peer in on my wife and I as we slept. Still, we’ve lived in this house for over ten years, and eventually you get used to things. The knocking woke me up. I had been dead asleep, but the three rapid reports pulled me from my dreams, and even before I could open my eyes, I heard my wife say,

“There’s someone knocking on the glass door.”

I turned my head. Floor-to-ceiling, vertical venetian blinds serve as our only curtains, but I could see through the wide gaps. Was that shadow a man? I was still half asleep. The idea that a stranger was knocking on our glass door at 2:00 AM felt like a dream. Had I even heard something?

Then, three more rapid knocks, these from the wall, as if the murderer had begun to move down along our house, and was now outside my youngest son’s window. I jumped from my bed, awake now, moving with no idea what I would do but knowing that I must do something. My wife cried out behind me, “Should I call 9-1-1?”

My son’s bedroom is adjacent to ours. Light shown from beneath his door. I pushed it open, took an inventory: Sawyer was sitting up in bed. The overhead light was on. His flashlight was on his desk, still lit.

“Oh, dad!” he cried. “I’m so sorry. Please don’t punish me.”

I staggered to his bed and assured him I would not punish him but he needed to please tell me what the hell was going on. Now my wife arrived. He begged her not to punish him either. After five minutes of assuring – sometimes soothingly, sometimes less so – that we would not punish him, Sawyer agreed to tell what happened. He closed his eyes, reached under his pillow . . .

And pulled out two computer printed images of the video game character Tanooki Mario.

He began his confession: “I woke up and didn’t know what time it was and so I grabbed the flashlight so I could read the clock, and that was when I noticed these on the floor. I don’t remember them ever being there. I don’t remember ever printing them. So I assumed a ghost had left them there and I didn’t want to go out into the dark hall and so I knocked on the wall.”

I told him how I had put them there on Sunday while cleaning the living room. A kiss good night and I was back in bed, eyes closing, when my wife returned and said. “I’m so sorry! I thought the knocking was on the glass door. I was sure it was on the glass door.”

The ghosts and goblins were sleeping in their little beds all over Seattle, but now I wasn’t sleeping in mine. Tomorrow was coming, and sometimes that is threat enough. Where better than my Halloween bed to see with closed eyes what a darkened imagination believes is certain?

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You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com

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