What were the odds that Angelié somehow stumbled across an actual ghost?
The whole reason Sam had agreed to be part of this nonsensical adventure was because Angelié had proven herself to be generally obtuse when it came to most of the mundane world, and even more so with regard to the supernatural. And now that the ghost had discovered Sam was aware of her, she was determined to be heard. That was usually the way of it though, which was why Sam had worked so hard to remain impassive and never, under any circumstances, make eye contact.
The ghost, whom Sam presumed had died in the 80s, given how she was dressed, was now jumping on the bed, yelling at Sam. It took everything to stay focused on whatever nonsense Angelié was rambling about. It seemed a lifetime before Shooter said cut! and switched off the lamp, resetting it on the bedside table. Angelié was cooing, giddy with her presumably imminent stardom, while Shooter basked in her joy.
“How was it Sam? Did you get it all? Did I look good? I mean, I know I looked good, but did I look like a real ghost hunter?” She turned to Shooter. “We should film your segment next, where you talk about the history of the hotel and how many people have died here!” Shooter looked confused.
“But we don’t know the history of the place, or even if anyone has died here.”
“Well, I mean, does it have to be exactly accurate to be a good story? Most stories are just made up anyhow.” Now Shooter looked uncomfortable.
“I don’t think we should lie to people, baby. Sam asked Jeff about the museum and we found out that it’s open tomorrow. We could go there and find out some cool stuff about the area. I bet there’s lots of good stories we could use without having to make anything up.” There was a pause, while Sam and Shooter waited to see how this would go over. The ghost looked on, seemingly amused by the potential drama unfolding in front of her.
Apparently she was still riding the high of the film shoot because Angelié suddenly smiled and leaned against Shooter.
“Well that’s a great idea baby. You two can go to the museum and I’ll see if I can’t find some good places we can film in, you know, nice and secluded with a good backdrop. Sound good, Sam?”
Sam nodded and handed the camera to Angelié, knowing she would want to watch the footage of herself as soon as possible.
“Yeah, if you two don’t mind, I’m going to turn in. I really need to check in with my mom, let her know I’m alright.”
Sam ignored the indignant yelling ghost woman and left the room.
Back in the quiet and comparative peace of room eight, Sam was tempted to crawl into bed and forget about everything for a few hours. But mum had already waited a few days for any sort of message, it would be rude to postpone any longer. Sam had been raised better than that and started setting up the candles. Once they were placed and lit, a hagstone was fished from a pocket and Sam climbed onto the bed to sit crosslegged. A few deep breaths was all it took to register a stronger sense of connection so Sam closed one eye and looked through the hagstone.
Sam’s mum sat in the chair to the left of the bed. She smiled and stood, walking toward the bed and sat down next to Sam, smoothing a blue skirt over her legs. The bed did not react in any way. Now that she was fully visible, Sam didn’t need the stone and let it fall onto the bed.
“Hello my darling child, how are you feeling? You look tired.”
“I feel exhausted. I’m on a road trip, having taken this job with a couple I’m not sure I can trust but there’s no real way to get out of it now. I have to see it through.”
“Yes, you mentioned you were considering the job when we last talked. Has something happened? Are you in danger?”
“In danger of losing my patience, maybe. And my shirt. The paycheck seemed too good to pass up, but now I’m not sure it’s as legit as I was led to believe. And the relationship dynamic between these two, it’s difficult to be around them sometimes. He’s a pretty good guy, not too smart, but really kind. And she..I haven’t quite figured her out. It would be really easy to write her off as a vapid attention hound, but there are moments when I feel like there is more to her agenda than she’s letting on.”
“Oh sweetie, I’m so sorry it’s not working out like you’d hoped. Were your thoughts on their abilities accurate? Can they see us?”
“No, not even a little bit. Except…”
“Except what, Sam?”
“Tonight, Ange somehow determined there was a ghost in room 13. The weird thing is, I don’t think she knew it, but there was. And I accidentally alerted the ghost to the fact that I could see her. She wanted me to talk to her so much, I think she’s really lonely. She’s about my age, but I think she must have died in the 80s because she looks like someone who might have been a backup dancer in a Jane Fonda workout video or something. She’s really fit and really beautiful.”
“Oh is she? How very interesting.” Sam’s mum laughed, the wispy light around her growing silvery pink with the extent of her delight.
“Stop it mum. First of all, I can notice that someone is beautiful without you deciding to play matchmaker. Second, did you forget the part where she’s a ghost? And third, her light is mottled red.” This last point was raised with a note of sorrow in Sam’s voice.
“Sam, are you saying you could see her colour without the hagstone? Well that is something. She must be so confused, poor thing. Are you sure you wouldn’t like to speak with her? Maybe you can help.”
“Mum, I’m not like you. Helping isn’t something that comes easily to me. You had a real gift of connection. I just have the sight, but I’ve never been able to help them like you could. Remember when I tried with those twins?”
If she had corporeal form, the burst of laughter might have made her fall off the bed. Once she’d gathered herself, dabbing invisible tears from her eyes with the edge of her skirt, Sam’s mum let out a long breath, composing herself.
“Oh my darling, you were so much younger and they were so arrogant. People who won’t accept help or constructive criticism in life are terrible candidates for transitory healing. You’re older now, wiser. My wise little Samgee. And considering you’ve acquired a talent for seeing colour without the hagstone suggests to me that you may be ready to try again. I admit, I am curious about this place you’ve ended up. It’s very discombobulating.”
“What, the motel?”
“The motel has some vibes, certainly, but not bad ones. No, it’s like there are two strong magnets buried near here. One is much deeper but that doesn’t make it any less potent. And if I can feel their pull, I can only imagine that other things do too. I’m a bit worried, dear. Are you sure there is no way for you to get away from this place without the people you came with? I admit I’d feel better if you were away from here.”
“I’m kind of stuck for the moment. There might be a bus or something but my hope is that if we come up short on paranormal activity, they’ll lose interest and try something different to achieve fame and fortune. Though I think you’re right about this place. There’s a woman at this cafe…”
“Another ghost? Is she also fit?”
“Mum, stop. It doesn’t matter that you’re dead, it’s still embarrassing to have your mum ask about your love life. And even if she was a ghost, what am I going to do, have some sort of afterlife love affair? The mechanics of that don’t even compute.”
“Don’t sell yourself short. After he passed, your father used to visit me from time to time and let me tell you..”
“MOM! Please don’t tell me. I really don’t want to think about you and dad doing the horizontal ghost boogie or whatever it is..ugh. No, the woman at the cafe is not a ghost, but there is something about her. I’m not sure she can see, but I have a notion she can feel. I’m not sure. I was trying to stay under her radar, mostly because I didn’t want to alert her to the fact that there’s a ghost in the cafe if she doesn’t already know. A young guy, sitting at the back. He didn’t notice me. Then again, I didn’t talk to him.”
“You talked to her? Oh Sam! Well it would be rude not to continue the conversation. Maybe start small, ask her what hobbies she had while alive. Maybe you’ll find you have more in common than you think.”
Sam let out a deep sigh.
“You’re probably right, I should at very least check in and see if there is anything I can do for her. That’s the problem with being murdered, so much left undone, unsaid.”
“You make me so proud, my dove. You’ve grown into such a strong and capable human. I sincerely hoped my gift would pass you by, I know how difficult it can be, but I am very glad to see you managing it so well.”
“Most of the time. Tomorrow Shooter and I are going to the museum to ask about the history of the place. Ange is hoping we’ll dig up some stories that will boost the appeal of the show. I should get some sleep. I love you mum. I miss you.”
“I miss you too, my child. And I love you so much. Please be careful.”
Sam moved to blow out the candles, suddenly remembering something.
“Oh, mum, outside the cafe earlier today there was a small dog and a strange smell which was really familiar but I couldn’t place it. It was a woody, foresty smell, but also citrusy and on fire. Does that ring a bell?”
“Hmm, maybe frankincense? Do you remember when we used to go to church with your grandmother on feast days? And the priest would swing the censer with the smoke coming from it?”
“Of course! That’s why it was so familiar!” In the excitement, one of the candles was knocked over and Sam’s mum nearly disappeared.
“Careful darling, don’t burn the place down, you’ll never get your deposit back.” She winked at Sam. “If you find out where the frankincense was coming from, let me know, I love a mystery. And don’t forget to go and talk to that pretty ghost next door. We all need friends now and then, even you, darling. Goodnight Sam.”
Sam blew out the last candle and turned back to the now empty room.
Photo by JR Korpa on Unsplash