Can ghosts be homeless? Never mind the daunting question that they exist. For the sake of this blog, let’s assume they’re as real as huckleberry pie. If you’re an unbeliever and have made it this far, I have a feeling you’ll bear with me. I have never given the question of homeless ghosts any thought, until now. By a homeless ghost, I’m not talking about the ghost of a homeless person that may haunt any given street corner - I’m talking about one that haunts a house, or a bar, or a hotel, and suddenly the building goes away. The building I’m talking about didn’t vanish in any otherworldly sense, it burned down. During the wee hours of Christmas Eve morning a fire ripped through the Ghost Rails Inn, a ‘spirited’ bed and breakfast in our little Montana town.
With each passing day, the reality of the loss hits home. The building is… was a landmark; it’s lore a beacon. Some would say its tales were tall, others who’ve experienced them may argue that
they’re definitely non-fiction. Whatever ones opinion, all agree the place was as quirky as our town, so much so that a Japanese Acid Rock Band released an album entitled Ghost Rails Inn. And yes, it’s our Ghost Rails Inn… the pictures prove it. The saloon girls hanging out on the balcony in the picture to the left will have to find another place to hang their petticoats.
Onto the subject of homeless ghosts, and I am going to tread lightly, because someday dear reader, you may be enjoying a ghost story written by Thom, one of the owners. Extra care has been taken not to steal his thunder. So, enough of my babbling, lets explore what happens to a ghost when its haunt burns down.
My wife and I had the conversation as soon as we heard the news. Thom and his wife, Grace, admitted to having a like conversation as they watched the fire consume their dreams. Amazingly, or maybe not, the separate conversations arrived at similar conclusions.
Our conversation takes for granted that ghosts exist in the traditional sense and went something like this:
“What do you think happened to Bertha?” I asked. Bertha is Thom and Grace’s name for one of the ghosts.
“She’s going to go on doing her thing, like the fire never happened… ’cause where she’s at, the fire never happened,” my wife assured me in her confident tone.
“I don’t know, maybe, but, maybe the building held her prisoner. Maybe she wanted to be set free and somehow couldn’t escape. Maybe the fire set her free,” I added. What I was thinking is that maybe the now homeless ghost would stroll down the street and take residence in the bar with our resident tricksters. Which really meant that I was thinking of a reason to hold a theme party – like a ghost welcoming party. I know, it’s sick, twisted… How could I think like that when friends lives are thrown into flux? My answer, I’m being honest.
I really don’t believe in the latter explanation. I’m more inclined to believe the first. But, of course, it’s never that easy. Because of Thom and Grace’s experiences, I have given thought to the very essence of what is a ghost. With the advent of String Theory and the possibility of extra dimensions and parallel universes and such, I’m of mind that a ghost isn’t really a ghost as much as a product of a dimension slip. What do I mean? The best way to describe it is to share one of Grace’s experiences.
It was a warm afternoon, the sun was shinning, the sky was a deep cobalt blue. Music was playing in the Ghost Rail’s kitchen. Grace had stepped out for a moment and when she returned, there was a woman standing behind the butcher’s block dicing vegetables. Grace claimed she was real, flesh and blood – corporeal – not the ‘apparition’ that everybody associates with ghosts. The woman looked up in horror, as if she herself had seen a ghost. And in a snap of a finger, she faded away. Creepy, I got gooseflesh writing it. I get gooseflesh every time I tell the story.
“B.F.D,” I can hear you say. “Maybe Grace didn’t take her meds or something like that. I mean, really… John you’re basing a theory on one person’s experience? Get a life, okay.”
I would agree, if that was the only story. Or if Grace was the only person to experience the woo-woo stuff that happens in our town. Many of us have experienced things that go bump in the
night. For more of these stories, check out my post Haunted Town.
I can’t list everybody’s experiences, but I can tell you that sightings and encounters in the old Hotel became the norm, so much so that Thom and Grace stopped telling people about the ghosts and when a guest reported something spooky, a log book was handed to the guest and they were ask to detail the experiences. A pattern soon developed.
According to the logs, the room in which a person stayed foretold of their experience. Room 5, Bertha’s primary haunt. People lying in bed would report someone sitting on the bed, or even the feel of someone touching them. Nothing ever sinister, to the contrary, it was often reported as soothing. (I am being vague because Thom’s story delves into Room 5.) Room 8, personal belongings such as clothes and linens were being tossed around. This especially happened when guests were in the shower. Towels and clothes often ended up scattered across the floor. In the last couple of years, there was the man yelling: “Washington! Washington did it!” The speculation is that its the voice is the victim of an old, unsolved crime.
So what does all this mean? Can ghosts be left homeless? I haven’t a clue. But I’m certain of one thing. The lady who looked up and saw Grace walk into her reality, will never, ever have that haunting again. It was the last time she’ll ever see the ghost we know as Grace. I wonder if she’ll long for Grace’s apparition to appear like those who have experienced Bertha’s? Who knows? But, it’s fun to think about. I do know, when the building is razed and an empty lot remains, the apparition of the old Hotel will loom on foggy mornings or shimmer on moonlit nights, haunting all of us who left part of our souls inside its walls.