It’s been years since we bought our island retreat, and when people arrive who have been there before, they will ask in a whisper—by daylight, of course—“Is Charley here?” The answer is always yes. Our resident ghost never goes far. Well, except to the boat landing to wreck distributor caps or flatten tires on our guests’ vehicles. Yep, he wants them to stay for another few days…if he likes them. (The cottage has boat access only and cars are parked at the opposite end of the lake, several kilometers away.)
We’re very respectful of Charley, because while he’s a prankster, he can also be mean. Believe me, there’s nothing like buying a house haunted by a spirit who isn’t in the market for new owners. In fact, he made our lives miserable at first. Romance was out of the question, let alone sleep. I remember the night he held my husband down in our bed. All he said was —“Take care of this place!”—and he let him go, until the next time. And ours isn’t the only romance he put the boots to. One couple visiting us had the gaslights explode in their bedroom at a really inopportune moment. A very strange occurrence, considering the lights weren’t turned on and the globes were ice cold. Thankfully no one was hurt.
Another couple had their room invaded by thousands of ants. Ugh, I remember that night. It took us hours and hours with an industrial shop vac, the generator running, and cans of bug killer to get rid of them. This has only happened once, thank God, and I blame it entirely on Charley.
Did I mention the Big Chill weekend? Couples were swimming in the lake, and a designated few were on the dock that evening on lifeguard duty. It was the pics taken that blew us away. After the films were developed, there were shots of a man standing in our group on the dock. A person no one recognized or remembered seeing at our isolated cabin, out in the middle of nowhere. I believe the stranger was you-know-who, although there’s no proof of that.
Is Charley still with us? He certainly is. How do I know? His silhouette appears behind me when I’m washing the dishes—I see his reflection in the polished pine cabinets. He’s much taller than I, his shadow cast by the gaslight sconce behind me, and always when I’m alone. I’ve also seen his wet footprints suddenly appear on the dock. I feel the pier vibrate as if someone’s coming, but I’m by myself. And he loves to walk through me when I least expect it, usually when I’m vacuuming. It’s like passing through a deep freeze and coming out the other side. I can see my breath. Sometimes I’ll tease him, tell him I don’t believe he’s there anymore. Then I’ll hear something break, a lamp tip over, or he’ll slam me in the butt with the boathouse door, a door that’s bolted open so it can’t bang in the wind.
Friends and family have seen him floating down the hallway at night, or peering at them when they startle awake from a deep sleep.
Have we asked Charley to move along on his spiritual journey? We have, many times, but he doesn’t seem inclined to leave. However he has made peace with us, and we with him. He was a decorated war hero, and I believe our cabin in the woods is where he found solace while he was alive. I’m told he built it as a private hunting lodge, and he has roots here. Perhaps that’s why he is reluctant to go.
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