I wrote this for MyKindaBook for Halloween. I thought I’d share it with you all here also.
I grew up with seven elder siblings who used to like to scare the stuffing out me. They told me stories about how the attic was haunted, the garage, the shed out back—pretty much any building with a rusty tool or a cobweb was definitely the site of a gruesome murder. The victim was nearly always a skinny blonde girl with a big mouth who had stolen something from her sister’s make-up bag or closet, so no one really missed her after she was dead anyway.
I fell for it. A lot. It wasn’t until I was about thirteen or fourteen that I realized I’d been had. The attic wasn’t haunted. No one had chopped up a blonde know-it-all in the shed. My years of running up the basement steps, mad with fright that someone was going to grab me from behind, while good for my cardio, had been in vain. Touché, Angelini family. Touché.
I stopped believing in ghost stories, mostly because I had spent my entire childhood as someone’s sucker. Then something strange happened to me, late one night in a bar in Hollywood.
I was a nightclub bartender for years. I’d seen a lot of creepy stuff in my time, but this is the one thing that I can’t explain. My best friend Robyn and I were closing the bar down for the night. We’d kicked out the last stragglers, and locked the front door. Then she and I went out into the back hallway, which is there as a fire escape, to lock the alley door. Then we called up to our manager in the office that we were going to start counting our money. That’s his cue to check all the security cameras to make double sure that no one is lurking around, waiting to jump us before we can get all that cash into the safe. He gave us the go ahead—the coast was clear.
Robyn and I were counting out our stacks when Reg, our manager, yells from the office. “I thought you two said you locked up!”
“We did!” Robyn and I yelled back. (Bartenders yell a lot, but it’s not because we’re angry. We’re mostly deaf from all the loud music.)
“There’s someone in the back hallway,” he said.
Robyn grabbed her keys, told me to stay with the money, and ran to the door that led to the back hallway. She opened the door, and looked left and right down the straight corridor. The only exit in this hallway is out the alley door.
“There’s no one here,” she yelled. She went down the hallway and checked the alley door. It was locked. She unlocked it, looked up and down the alley, and relocked it.
Reg had us come up to the office. He rewound the security camera for the back hallway and the camera that is outside the building, trained on the alley door. Robyn and I saw ourselves going down the back hallway to lock the alley door.
Reg fast-forwarded a bit. A man, you could only see him from the back but he most definitely wasn’t Reg, passed in front of the hallway camera. A few moments later Robyn appeared on the hallway camera and on the outside camera in the alley as she looked up and down for the man.
But the man never appeared on the alley camera. And he never came out of the back hallway. I would have known. I was at the bar, watching that door the whole time.
After that little incident Robyn and I decided that man must have really wanted a drink if he was going to either come back from the dead or walk through walls to get it. So we started leaving a shot of Jack Daniels at the end of the bar every night before we shut the lights off and left.
I still don’t believe in ghosts. But I figured it couldn’t hurt.