“Sam! Can you see me? Am I in the shot? Are you getting this?”
Angelie pressed pause on the video and held it across the space between the seats for her boyfriend to see.
“Look baby, I look real good.”
Shooter glanced at the phone, at Angelie’s face frozen in a bright smile as she gestured to something off screen.
“Damn, woman, you look good enough to eat. You’re so hot, I’d subscribe to your onlycams in a heartbeat!”
“Oh baby, you say the sweetest things.”
Not for the first time, Sam, sitting in the back of the disco coloured van, had misgivings about having called the number on the university bulletin board advertisement.
“Seeking experienced videographer to assist in historical documentary project involving the supernatural. Salary and expenses covered, plus bonus upon completion. Must be available to travel, social media savvy, with a sense of adventure and the ability to pack light. Safety not guaranteed. No weirdos.”
Perhaps the amount of emojis and variety of colours used might have been a red flag. At very least, they should have included the suggestion of earplugs. Sam would have loved to have slept through this. Unfortunately, the cooing coming from Angelie watching herself was of such constant duration and particular pitch, it filled the space to bursting. The woman never stopped talking. Sam had no idea how Shooter put up with it, much less stayed focused on the road. To be fair, he mostly didn’t.
“Oh my god, baby. Do you think we’ll be as famous as the Twins?”
“Whoa, hun, that’s next level. Of course we will!”
Angelie squealed in that way she had and then turned toward Sam sitting at the back of the van, surrounded by matching pink tiger striped luggage.
“Sam! Can you imagine? Us as famous as the Twins?”
“Who are the twins?”
Shooter and Angelie, beg pardon, Angelié as she insisted was an integral part of her brand, looked at each other, aghast for a moment. Shooter looked at Sam in the rearview mirror. Sam wished he wouldn’t. Shooter’s driving style was already on the nerve-racking side of distracted at the best of times. At least he turned back to the road while he talked. This time.
“You seriously don’t know who the Twins are? Simon and Nicholas Dante? Their tubeyube channel has millions of followers and their podcast is in syndication on pretty much every platform that exists. Not only that but they were the first exorcists to be listed in the yellow pages. The category didn’t exist before them! They’re like, the most famous haunted house flippers ever.”
Angelié nodded, smacking her gum before chiming in.
“And they’re like, so sexy. I can never decide which one is hotter.”
“Didn’t you say they were twins?”
“Well yeah but that doesn’t mean they look alike. I mean, they do, but they dress different so it’s easy to tell them apart. It’s called personal style, Sam, look it up. Anyway, their thing is that they find a haunted house and buy it for super cheap because it’s haunted and no one wants to live there, right? And then they not only give the house a makeover, they give the ghost a makeover. It’s really amazing.”
“How do you give a ghost a makeover? That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Well think about it Sam, when the ghost died, it was sometime before now. So their fashion style is likely totally out of date. Can you imagine being not only dead, but stylistically unrelevant? Talk about tragedy.”
“And to think I could be misspelling someone’s name on a coffee cup right now…” Sam muttered. “Ok, so these twins have made a career out of buying, refurbishing and flipping haunted houses, while refurbishing the ghosts as well? I’m not even going to delve into the how of that. So where are they now?”
“Oh, they’re dead. It was super tragic. They came up against a ‘tic-alarly male violent spirit who didn’t appreciate the hard work they had put into bringing it into the 21st century and it collapsed its house on them.”
“You mean malevolent?”
“No, it was a mean dead guy. A male violent spirit, obviously.”
Sam could not refute the logic of her statement.
“Ok, but have you considered that it sounds like they just went into a house which was unstable and had an accident?”
“That’s what the mainstream media would have you believe, Sam. But there are things in this world which are beyond the understanding of most people.”
“I totally agree.”
Angelié turned to face the road again, focusing on the phone in her hand.
“Speaking of… Babe, I can’t find us on the gps. Are you sure we’re going the right way?”
“Totally hun, it’s not far now. There is a small town up ahead which is supposed to have really good pulled pork at a cafe with a weird name. Meatball? Meatbus? Something like that. It’s pretty out of the way, but that just means it’s a perfect place for ghosts to hide. I bet there are tons there. I have it on good authority that there is an old resort somewhere in the woods where like literally thousands of people have been murdered.”
“I’m not sure that’s accurate. Literally thousands?” Angelié huffed and turned toward the back of the van once more, smacking her gum menacingly. Shooter met Sam’s eyes in the rearview mirror, quick to intercede in an attempt to keep the peace.
“Oh come on Sam, it’s just a figure of speech.”
“Yes, a figure of speech that means literally what you say it means. That’s the point.” Angelié turned to face Sam, looking like she’d just bit into an apple and found half a worm.
“Sam, don’t be like that. Everyone knows that literally used to mean for sure, but now it means pretty much. Also, if you’re going to be a super downer this whole trip, I’m going to be really sorry we invited you along.”
“Invited me? I was under the impression that I was one of the only people who answered the ad..”
“We’re here!” Shooter’s sudden exclamation dissolved some of the tension, and distracted Angelié from whatever retort she was about to spit at Sam.
“Oooh, I wonder if they have wifi!”
“I wonder if they have ghosts!”
“I wonder if they have a bus depot.”
“What was that Sam?” Sam looked up and gave Shooter a half smile when their eyes met in the rearview mirror.
“I said I wonder if they have food to go. I’m eager to get ghost hunting.”
“That’s the spirit!”
Angelié swatted Shooter’s thick bicep.
“Haha babe! That was funny!” She turned to face Sam. “It’s funny because spirits are ghosts! And we’re ghost hunters!”
Sam nodded, mentally doing the math to work out if a job flipping burgers would cover the cost of living expenses while in school and came up far too short. It looked like putting up with Angelié and Shooter was the only viable option for the foreseeable future.
They piled out of the van, Sam taking a moment longer to climb over and around Angelié’s extensive set of matching luggage. Shooter stretched as though he was standing in front of a line of mirrors in a gym, muscles rarely found in nature bulging with each movement. Angelié preened in the van’s side mirror, smoothing her platinum sheened hair, then refreshing her bubble gum lipstick, colours which seemed to be as integral to her brand as the accented E at the end of her name she consistently mispronounced.
Sam stretched like a normal person would and called out to the duo, “I’ll meet you inside, I have to check in with my mum real quick.”
Shooter gave a wave and grabbed Angelié around her waist, eliciting a squeal.
The sound trailed off as Sam wandered toward the woods near the cafe.
Though the sun shone, it suddenly felt darker, colder, the air creating goosebumps on suddenly clammy skin.
Maybe I’ll check in later, Sam thought, turning back toward the light and the welcoming open sign of the unusually named Busmeat Cafe.
Photo by Rosie Sun on Unsplash