Some people think cemeteries are haunted. They’re not. Graveyards are merely repositories for corpses.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying I don’t believe in wraiths and shades and specters and spooks—I do, but they don’t inhabit desolate places. Spirits, blithe or otherwise, prefer to be among people or places where they’ve lived their entire lives.
Anyway, everything I know about the spirit realm I learned from Gwendolyn McIntyre—she’s my silent partner and mentor for all things paranormal.
Every Wednesday night we hold midnight sessions of our Ghost Club and she deepens my knowledge of things that go bump in the night.
She’s a lovely wraith who swears me to secrecy about our clandestine trysts and is captivating and enchanting for a woman who died at the turn of the century.
And as you’ve probably figured out by now, Gwen’s not just my counselor—she’s a ghost and my secret love.
“Don’t get frisky, Zach—my ectoplasm is fragile, and I have no desire to go back to being transparent for a century.”
“So, what are you saying—you don’t have needs?”
“Let’s put it this way, Dearest. My desires are now more spiritual.”
My desires aren’t.
I’m admiring Gwen standing by the fire in her ankle length diagonally layered white gown with pearl beading. It’s form fitting and flatters her figure—or her aura, or whatever substance comprises her spiritual body—if she has a body.
“You’re staring,” she whispers. Her cheeks burn and her eyes lower. I’m mad with desire for her, but can’t penetrate her mystery. She has all the attributes of flesh, but none of its weaknesses. Poor me.
“How can I resist, Love? You’re breathtaking.”
“You need to sublimate those urges, Zach, or you’ll just end up being tormented.”
“Too late for that now, I’m afraid.” And I mean it. I’m obsessed with the girl.
I recall the wintry night I followed her down Hyde Street, totally enraptured by her beauty.
I caught a glimpse of her at the corner as I left The Slye Fox. I had intended to go home and work on an article for The Toronto Telegram, but did an abrupt turn and followed her down the street.
We walked several blocks through the snowy twilight before I noticed she left no tracks in the snow. I could have turned around right then and headed in the opposite direction, but didn’t.
I was enthralled and determined to pursue her.
When she turned in at the wrought iron gate to The Grange, I was fascinated. The house is on the edge of the old Distillery District and looks straight out of Dickens—which, of course, it is—having been built in the 1830’s.
I’m a firm believer in grand gestures though, and now having committed to a certain course I was bound to follow it through.
She entered the house, leaving the front door ajar, and I, oblivious of consequences, fell straight for her trap.
As I entered, she was standing by the fire pulling off her gloves and didn’t even bother looking up.
“This is an unwarranted intrusion,” she said matter of factly, as she proceeded to remove her bonnet, glancing in the wavy mirror and fluffing her hair.
She was incredibly beautiful. Her blond hair shone like spun gold in the glow of the gaslight sconces.
“If you insist on coming in, could you please close the door—it gets very drafty.”
I grinned at her, but complied. “I doubt you feel the cold, since you’re dead.”
She looked at me askance and began adjusting the lamp flames.
“You’re unaware of the spirit realm, Mr. Newson. It makes me wonder why your newspaper lets you write those articles.”
I was taken aback. Not only did she know my name but she read my articles.
I began defending myself.
“It wasn’t my idea to write about haunted houses—it was Bill Hay’s decision. He’s the editor-in-chief. Hell, even Ben Church, my assignment editor, disagrees. He knows I’ve got no insight.”
“I didn’t say you had no insight. You’re a sensitive, and you don’t even know it. What I’m saying is that you have zeal without knowledge.”
My knees suddenly went weak. I just managed to collapse down onto a rather rigid curved loveseat.
What the hell am I doing? I’m talking to a ghost.
“Oh, dear!” A look of concern furrowed her lovely brow. “I didn’t intend to cause you any dismay. Let me help you—drink some of this.”
She reached for a crystal decanter on a side table, poured some port wine into a glass and handed it to me.
I swallowed some and immediately felt better, and began to relax as the warmth glided down my throat and spread into my chest.
She poured some herself and took a small sip, her huge brown eyes staring at me.
“You’re quite handsome close up. Your picture doesn’t do you justice.”
“That’s a consolation,” I said bitterly. “I’m trespassing on a heritage site and talking to a ghost—the fact that you’re beautiful doesn’t help at all. It just makes me feel more desolate.”
“You find me attractive?” she smiled.
“I do. You’re stunningly beautiful and I can’t take my eyes off you. I suppose this is how people go mad when they experience an apparition. They either see a horrible goblin or an alluring temptress, but either way, they lose their mind.”
“Who said you would lose your mind?” she asked angrily.
“That’s what people say. Shakespeare said it in Hamlet. Besides, I’ve had a few paranormal experiences and they’ve knocked me out of kilter.”
“I see,” she smiled grimly. “I suppose a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I mean, that’s why your articles in the newspaper are so dark. You believe you must fear the spirit realm.”
“Well, duh! C’mon, it’s not natural to be sitting here talking to a ghost—whether she’s a beautiful one or not.”
She came over and sat beside me, so close, I could inhale the powdery scent of her perfume.
“Do I intimidate you, Mr. Newson?”
I nodded. “You do,”
She leaned over and kissed me long on the lips. My heart was thudding and I couldn’t breathe—but I didn’t want her to stop. And when she did, I let out a gasp.
“Are you all right?” she asked, putting a hand on my forehead to check my temperature. “You’re a bit flushed, but not feverish.”
“How—how did you do that?” I stammered.
She gave a slight shrug. “I just kissed you,” she said simply.
“But I thought you were nonphysical,” I insisted.
“If I were, how would you see or hear me?”
I looked at her dumbly. “I don’t know. I suppose I’d see and hear you in a vision.”
“Oh, I see. I’d be real, but in a spiritual way.”
“That’s right!” I shouted. “You’d communicate in a spooky, transparent form. And if I touched you, my hand would go though you and I’d be chilled to the bone.”
“Were you chilled to the bone when I kissed you?” she asked sweetly.
“Uh, no…not exactly.”
“Well then, how did you feel?”
“About the same way as when I kiss any woman—only better.”
Her eyes were shining. “You learn quickly, Mr. Newson.”
“Would you mind calling me Zach?”
“No, of course not. And you may call me Gwen. My full name is Gwendolyn McIntyre, and I own this house—or, at least I used to own it, once upon a time.”
And that’s how we began.
Gwen decided she’d mentor me, teaching me about spiritual things, and I in turn, allowed myself to fall in love with her.
It’s not the usual fleshly relationship shared by people in love—it’s more rarefied and soulish—but it’s not Platonic either. We do kiss and embrace, but can’t go beyond that.
After all, there are laws that govern things, and keep things in their places. I have to respect certain boundaries.
I can’t take latitudes with Gwen.
I’m now learning respect for things—for people and places. Learning to leave the past like unspoilt snow, undisturbed.
And I allow Gwen to dwell in a candle lit glow, and not subject her to an electric glare.
© 2016, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.