Posted by: David Weimer | January 28, 2010

A New Story

by David W. Weimer

The ghost walked through a wall between the kitchen and living room.  Not walked.  Just moved.  Not moved.  Just was.  The ghost was, and it manifested in vagueness over here, then over there.  It was, as the man sitting in a wooden chair leaning back on two legs liked to think of it, out of phase with this reality, which, to the ghost, was as unreal and vague, dream-like actually, as the ghost normally was to those who sensed it to varying degrees.  It was, of course, possible for one member of one reality to notice the other, vaguely.  It was still possible, yet highly unlikely, for both members of respective realities to view one another at the same time.

But it happened naturally, Dawood knew.  In a certain instance, it happened every time.

“Aaah well,” he said.  The chair clunked down to all-fours.  He reached his arms out wide, stretching thoroughly.  It felt good to stretch.  The goateed man stood and stretched his stiff legs, tensing the muscles and shaking each foot in turn.

The living room was unlit, unlived-in and dusty, but Dawood found it quietly comforting.  In all the days, this ghost eases through the spaces here, and sun comes through front windows some days, and some days not.

Today is cold and rainy.  Inside is muted like a barn filled with hay in the winter.  Not warm, but protected.  Out there, winter is having a mid-life thaw where rains come and melt piles of snow into smaller dirty mounds and fields are once again visible, revealed brown, dull, green.  In here, it is colder.

In the empty house, stillness reigns and it seems that everything has eternally retired from all movement and living.  Being inside of a faded photo of a house that someone grew up in—that’s how it feels here. Dawood takes in his surroundings: scraped floors, cobwebs tracing light fixtures to doors to corners and the dust over all, all, and the silence.

On the second floor, a creeping glacier fans blackly out from a central point in the ceiling.  In a second bedroom, where the chimney goes through the ceiling, there is another swelling stain with flaking ceiling paint.  The flashing on the roof, a stiff collar the chimney wears in all weather, rusting steadily for decades, now allows rushing water in through a hole.  A wide river washes the slanted gable roof, narrows to a stream and pours into layers of the house’s skin.

Everything in a permanent state of constant imperceptible decline.  The house is a clock, never moving, embodying change.

The professional psychic came to this house, this day, and stood and watched the water dripping steadily in front of a window from a burst gutter.  His shoes sunk into the sod in front of a pair of tall curtain-less spectacles staring at him.  A large shape dropped into a neglected cedar.  Dawood’s breath rose lazily in the cold air.  Slush peppered the dark green shrubbery.  On the edge of the roof, a semi-circular gap in the snow and ice: a missing tooth.  Everything drops eventually.

It’s dripping in here, too, he thought.  He looked out through one dull lens of the house.  In here, out there—what about out in space, on asteroids, or on the moon?  Yes.  The water is a constant blast there, streaming dryly from the sun in every direction in a billions-year-old soundless raging torrent without cease.  Down here in the mud, as long as this dissolving planet lasts, water is the permanent stand-in actor.

Being a psychic was Dawood’s destiny.  As an adolescent and young boy, he hadn’t known.  He’d felt.  He’d felt everything.

Like this house, standing, resting, settling a hundred yards from the narrow paved road facing a property-front row of Sycamores, he, too, had inevitably become what he was supposed to be.  This is how the house feels, he thought.  This house is.  Just like he is, and just like its ghost.

Standing with his hands in his pockets behind the straight-backed old painted black chair, reminiscing through the dirty window glass at the falling snow and ice outside, Dawood cleared his throat.

Back to work.

The ghost had already faded, but the living man, a quiet-seeming man, calmly picked up his equipment from the floor beside the chair.  It consisted of a black index card box and a heavy gun-metal object resembling a many-pointed transmission gear.  He almost glided like a ghost himself through the doorway into the dining room.  He stepped on two uneven boards and they commented loudly in the empty eating place just like always.

Dawood Jones, psychic and purveyor of metaphys-oddities, no longer wondered what ghosts felt like when they were captured and bottled in display jars that collectors kept on shelves.  As a boy, he had been very curious.  One day, this wonder fueled more than his uncommon imagination as he stood staring up at the rows of bell jar spirits over a shop door.  Something whispered in his head, Go…

And he spun into circles and swirled into fog.  Visions of his life were strong … Calling…  Come here.., come here...  He moved toward them into days on end of warm sunny happiness.  His children, whole lives behind them, growing and learning and leaving and returning.  His wife and their time, growing closer, fighting, adapting, loving, depending on each other, living and dying with each other.  Countless details—perfect snowflakes—all fell crystal clear into the contours of his dream, blanketing him under layers of feeling.  Oh my… Dawood fell—  God…

…back onto the stone-tiled shop floor cracking his head.  He heard the crack inside his head and felt its bright shock of pain.  His ears rang and fuzzy stars swirled in his eyes.  He blinked hard and the bright spots stayed.  The proprietor pulled him up by the arm, supporting his back.  “You’re one, you know.  Don’t look so intensely next time.”

The man led 12-year-old Dawood by the elbow around the checkout counter and sat him down on a padded stool.  He made the boy’s hands clasp themselves on the countertop, leaned over, and marked a dot on the boy’s thumb with a felt-tip marker.  “Stare right there at your thumb for a while.  I’ll get you some water.”

That was Dawood’s initiation.  Until that moment, he had walked through a world flavored and infused with nostalgic undertones and blanketed with drapings of past lives.  A permanent déjà vu was his world.  In Soothsayer Curios, an establishment Dawood had only passed by before, he was finally introduced to an overview; others shared his sensing, others walked through once-lived people and breathed-in their different essences.

The creaking floor left behind him, Dawood edged through a narrow half-open door.  Musty… The stairwell led down to a partial basement beneath this end of the house.  His right elbow slid along the railing as he took each step.  The steps were sound, he knew, but he wanted to protect his tools from a fall.  He followed a thin trail of wood smoke.

Light crept across the basement.  Dawood stepped onto the cracked cement and strode to a ceramic block wall between two rectangular windows.  He rested his back against the crumbling plaster-faced wall.  Powdered plaster, paint flakes, grout sand and spider webs stuck to his dark coat.

The trim brown-haired man placed his star-like item on the floor in a precisely-felt position.  He straightened and inhaled through his nose.  No one will know this.  This place.  This Now.  He breathed out the damp.  He opened the plastic box and stood quietly.

After a moment, he breathed in the ghost like a black hole breathes in an unwitting, unable-to-resist companion star—in wisps, tendrils, matter-that-isn’t-matter, drawing into the in-breath.  Dawood was, consumer, consumed and container.  In the end, even though it always happened, he jerked as two wide-open eyes rushed into his own.  Staring, surprised, they looked into each other and merged.

Every ‘ghost hound’ has a container.  Most feel comfortable with glass jars of one kind or another.  Some prefer envelopes, map tubes or corked wine bottles.  Any container will do.  A year ago, he met a grandmotherly ghost hound who used a museum-quality incandescent bulb whose broken filaments rattled in the clear pear-shaped vacuum.  Everything worked, but only one thing would work for each person.

When none of the ghost’s mahogany-flavored life remained in the basement air, Dawood breathed out into the black box.  When nothing of that essence remained behind, leaving him a hollow shell, the black lid closed automatically with a subdued snap.  The hound’s eyes focused.  They had adjusted to the dimness.  Shelves, ductwork, wiring, a rotting box on the floor.  All empty.  The flesh of the place was gone.  He retrieved the heavy gear shape from the floor, straightened, and dropped it into his left coat pocket.  Particles from his back sifted to the floor behind him when he went up the stairs.

Some places took more time.  Some less.  After this place had settled into him deeply enough—two days—everything that followed was a foregone conclusion.  Up on the ground floor again, Dawood stepped on the two loose boards.  They creaked.

He walked swiftly to the entrance and went outside.  He pulled the protesting front door shut and stepped onto a small landing.  He jumped over the broken porch steps onto to the soft ground, holding his black box tightly.  Rain fell in his hair.  The passenger door of his car creaked.  He set the plastic index box carefully on the seat, shut the door, went around the front of his electric car and stopped to look at the house.  “Goodbye,” he said, to no one, he knew.

He opened the driver’s door and sat on a cold seat.  Dawood turned the ignition ‘on’ and nothing seemed to happen.  A quiet electric motor whispered as he pushed in the warmer tab.  Dual warm-air streams bathed the steering wheel where his hands rested.  He made the single wiper blade sweep once.  The commentless accusing house came into focus.

This property is ready for new inhabitants; they can rebuild now.  A new story, just starting out.  He sat as the house faded into vagueness.  Raindrops merged into small streams running down the windshield.

Dawood backed the silent car into the grass, toggled the gear selector forward and aimed his vehicle down the rutted drive to the Sycamore trees.  Slush hissed beneath rolling tires.  He pulled even with the trees, then nosed the car forward.  The spread-armed sentries stood tall, judging him.  Holding his black box against the passenger seat, the psychic turned left and drove into the rain, accelerating smoothly, leaving the house and trees behind.

© 2010 David W. Weimer



  1. David, I truly enjoyed your ghost story and the sense of vagueness that it opens. Thanks for writing it!

  2. Dave-

    This is really good. Gripping. It can stand alone, of course, but I’d like to think it’s the opening chapter of a novel.

    Nice website, too.

  3. ‘Thought it was good on the mood or nostalgia in descriptions of the old house, but the absorbing the ghost and putting it in the bottle was a bit too much in the strange zone.

  4. […] The busiest day of the year was January 28th with 79 views. The most popular post that day was A New Story. […]

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