Editor's Page: Boo Who?
This month, we look for chills and thrills.
Ghosts don’t believe in me. I can’t think of any other reason everyone seems to have seen a ghost but me.
It’s not like I haven’t been to the right places. In elementary school, I went with the other kids into the bathroom, where, if you killed the lights and chanted “Bloody Mary!” to the mirror, a ghastly female apparition would appear in the glass.
Nothing. Just a bunch of kids screaming in a dark bathroom. In fact, I think I’ve done this in two states, Hawaii and Arizona. Kids all around the nation seem to know this legend—who is this Mary, anyway? I’ve never met her.
In high school, in the dead of night, I went with friends to the Pali Lookout—back when you could go to the Pali Lookout at night—and we all dared each other to walk down the Old Pali Highway, scaring ourselves with stories of night marchers until someone freaked out and we all ran back to the cars, screaming and laughing.
In college, I worked at the Arizona Memorial and twice had the opportunity to snorkel on the wreck of the USS Arizona to help clean it up. All year long, visitors drop things off the memorial onto the ship and it all needs to be picked up. Camera lens caps, hats, sunglasses, spare change in every denomination imaginable.
Here’s a place where more than 1,000 young lives were lost in an instant, certainly the kind of sudden, tragic death that would cause a soul to linger.
Nothing. The only cold chill I felt was harbor water in my dive suit.
Not that it wasn’t eerie. One of the sea creatures you can find living on the wreck are long, invertebrate sea worms, resembling short sections of garden hose—and they are blood red! And once, I found myself swimming over an open hatch in the deck, where a set of stairs led down into the darkness of the wreck. Maybe the water felt a little colder there. But no pale hand reached up from the shadows to pull me in, no ghastly face stared up mournfully from that watery grave.
So ghosts and I share a mutual disbelief. Still, I’m fascinated by ghost stories. I love to hear a tale that gives me chicken skin. I’m especially a sucker for the kind of tear-jerker ghost story that’s popular in modern America. Movies such as Ghost, The Sixth Sense, Dead Again all feature departed loved ones reaching out from the afterlife, or a past life, for one last “I love you,” bound by unfinished business of the heart.
Here’s a real-life example that gets me choked up every time I think about it. It happened to a friend of mine. She didn’t see the ghost herself, but she was talking to someone who claimed to see it in the room at that very moment. The scene: My friend was working as a nurse in a local hospital. One day, they had a patient in, say, bed No. 5. A middle-age guy, balding; has a tracheotomy, so he’s breathing through a tube in his throat. The patient codes suddenly, while his brother is visiting. The crash team does its best to resuscitate him, but he dies. Meanwhile, the patient’s brother is there, crying out, “Don’t leave us, hang in there, stay with us!”
The next day, bed No. 5 has a new patient, a woman. This woman pages my friend, upset. She claims there’s a man loitering in her room, another patient. He won’t go away, he won’t stop talking. My friend sees no one else in the room, so asks, “Can you describe him?”
She does. She sees a middle-age guy in a hospital gown. Balding. He has a hole in his throat. The woman looks at my friend and says:
“He keeps saying, ‘I don’t know what to do. My brother won’t let me go.’”
Welcome to our ghost issue.