A Face In The Crowd: A Ghostly Face In The Autumn Leaves
"Don't matter if you believe in them or not. If they're there... they're there, Mrs. Phillips said."
~Joan Lowery Nixon, The Haunting
The Final Chapter Of Donny And Nina(not their real names). Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Ghost.
As you may, or may not remember, I have a neighbor that's a ghost. Well, perhaps not the same kind of ghost you might be thinking about, but rather he has some really strange habits that seem, somewhat, ghostly. Let me explain...
You see, he moved in one day, a little over a year and a half ago. It was a warm, bright Saturday, a day when the property I live on is usually quite active. No one saw him move in. He was just there. Suddenly that Saturday evening, Alan and I were speaking with the neighbors who live toward the front of the property, when all of a sudden, the lights in his apartment went on. I know, I know... that's not particularly ghostly. But what is odd is the fact that no one saw him move in, let alone drive his car onto the property. No one.
He has some other assorted habits that I find odd. Like the fact that he apparently only sleeps a few hours a night, despite his age of about 80 or so. He doesn't seem to cook, no one has seen, or heard any noise coming from his kitchen. He doesn't have garbage. HE NEVER HAS GARBAGE! How, exactly is that possible? He doesn't get mail. He doesn't get deliveries. He doesn't get visitors. I don't understand it. He hasn't spoken to any of us, in the entire time he has been here, although he has had some assorted interactions with a few of us. Let me explain...
Do you remember me telling you about the saga of Donny and Nina (not their real names)? Well, it wasn't just my life Donny made a living hell... he pretty much messed with everyone, including the ghost! The ghost puts all lights out by 10:00 PM every single night, and leaves for... somewhere... each morning at about 4:30 AM. EVERY SINGLE DAY! Winter, spring, summer, autumn, major holidays, every single day of the year! Well, late last winter, Nina decided to start letting her dog out to bark at or about 3:00 AM almost every Sunday morning. It was mostly to screw with me, for complaining about the dogs habit of barking for up to 8 hours at a time. Charming. Alan can sleep through anything, and I invested in a pair of ear plugs, so while it hurt my feelings that I couldn't fall asleep to the sound of Dylan's purring, I found a way to deal with it. No, the person it really messed with the most was the ghost. Poor man!
After a few sessions of the late night/early morning barking, the property management, and I use the term extremely loosely, finally tried to put a stop to it. I hadn't complained, but I am pretty sure Mr. Ghost did. A couple times I saw his light on, just after the barking began. The barking stopped for a few weeks, and then it began again, but only once a month. It was pretty miserable for everyone, but did Donny and Nina (not their real names) care? No. In fact, they only began making more noise! Slamming things around. Fighting. Crushing cans in the middle of the night. Inviting their friends over to party all night! You name it... they found a way to make noise out of it!
But something odder still happened one day late last summer. The ghost, who had never said a word to anyone, or made a bit of noise, suddenly... inexplicably... without reservation... smiled! He pulled into his parking place, which sits about 50 feet behind Alan's car, got out of his vehicle, looked toward us in my car, and smiled the BIGGEST, LOVELIEST, SMILE! He had the kind of smile that made you smile back, almost against your will! He looked like he hit the lottery, he was smiling like he hadn't seen us in YEARS, and he had truly missed us! He smiled like he knew something, we didn't! And he did it directly in front of Donny and Nina's (not their real names) window!
HUH? Had it turned out that we were Mr. Ghost's favorite neighbors?
Did the property managers finally give their word about dealing with Donny and Nina (not their real names)?
The next day, Mr. Ghost went back to his usual routine. No smiling. No waving. No cooking. No garbage. No noise, except the sound of his computer keyboard, and the occasional roar of his red hair dryer. How do I know it is red? Well, he lives on the second floor, and sometimes you can see him drying his white hair. His ghostly, white hair. Everything had gone back to... normal? Yes, normal for him. And normal for us now as well. I have gotten used to my quiet neighbor. As neighbors go, he is quickly becoming my favorite. And since Donny and Nina (not their real names) moved, it's been blissfully quiet. It's like a new place. I swear the sun shines a little brighter! Everyone on the property seems happier. And I am falling asleep to the sound of Alan's snoring, and Dylan's purring once again. All is right with the world. Sometime soon, Donny and Nina's cottage will be rented, And I only hope that when it finally is, it will be to another ghost. Maybe this time, a female ghost.
Can you imagine that love connection?
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Mr. Ghost does take one day off a year... October 25th! He stayed home on that day 2 years in a row now! If I ever get the courage, maybe I will ask him if he enjoys autumn as much as I do. Who knows, maybe it's his birthday or something. For now however, he seems to want to be left alone, and I can respect that. After all, he is my favorite neighbor.