Tag Archives: Homeless

Homeless Ghosts(?)

135520_10150114519566757_5094801_oCan 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

The Band Acid Lords of the Temple latest release "Ghost Rails Inn"
The band Acid Mother’s Temple latest release “Ghost Rails Inn”

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.

Ghosts of the future hanging out at a haunted house of the past.
Ghosts of the future hanging out at a haunted house of the past.

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.

39060_452005486756_285535_nIt 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

Our haunted town
Our haunted town

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 victim486526_494347723913501_1405849531_n of an old, unsolved crime.

18310_409746012428749_1687388339_nSo 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.

Dirty Bum For President

From a cardboard box to the White House!

I saved this nugget for July 4th, because for our nation’s birthday there’s nothing like dusting off an old prank.   Four years ago today I launched a fictitious presidential campaign tour which sent ‘Robert’ hitchhiking and riding the rails across the country in a seventy-seven day whirlwind.

Judging by the response it received on Myspace  (does anyone remember Myspace?) one wonders what could have happened if there was a campaign staff in place.  For a peek at that ridiculous page click here. But then again, when you’re running mate is Irving Richard Knightly and who went by the moniker I. Dick Knightly,  it’s easy to get attention, especially when you throw in the  slogan: “Vote for Robert and get Dick Knightly.”

What a fun endeavor, especially when e-mails and phone calls requesting to

I will clean America’s house!

interview Robert started coming  in. “I’ve been following him, when is he coming to our town?” numerous reporters asked.  The excuse was given that no one at campaign headquarters knew where he would be next, after all Robert refused to be ‘itinerized.’

If I would have played it smarter, oh what fun we could have had. The problem was, the real Robert, didn’t want to partake in the hi-jinx. He’s a very private person who graciously lent his image and his knowledge of days spent riding rails,  the location of hot and cold yards and more importantly, the location of great bars across the country to the campaign.

So starting on July 4th, 2008 daily updates were posted to the Myspace page and Robert’s wordpress page. (It looks like the blog page isn’t in existence anymore) Here’s  how it worked. Using online railroad maps, I plotted the route of a campaign trial.  When the railroads didn’t cooperate with a required campaign stop the solution was simple, Robert got off the train and hitchhiked. Each day our candidate would stop in numerous actual  bars  across the lower 48 and give his campaign spiel.  When a bar was selected, I would look it up online,  gather information and stories about the establishment, throw in a character or two from our little Montana town, and presto, a campaign stop was born. I learned more about dive bars and local politics across the good ole USA than I care to admit.

I support religious diversity

At the end of any given day Robert would  ‘send’ his summary of days events to HQ via Blackberry who in turn would update the webpages with The Robert Blog.  A thousand words is worth picture, so with that in mind, I’ve included Robert’s ridiculous platform and a random post from the campaign trail.

The next challenge? Converting the blog into a novel. My intention was to get it done in time for this year’s presidential campaign, God knows one of Robert’s lines would have been perfect for this year:  “You know the country is  in trouble when a presidential candidate is named after a baseball glove.”

If  you’re brave,  I’ve dug out Robert’s platform and a random post.  I enjoyed rereading the platform,  especially with four years hindsight. I especially like the idea  of repaving roads white to combat global warming. And yes, each plank is named after a Star Wars Movie.

Dirty Bum Platform

Section 1: Domestic policy: The Phantom Menace
Section 2: Election reform: The Attack of the Clones
Section 3: Economic policy: The Revenge of the Sith
Section 4: Environment and Global Warming: A New Hope
Section 5: Foreign policy: The Empire Strikes Back
Section 6: Personal Liberty and Responsibility: The Return of the Jedi

Section 1: Domestic Policy: The Phantom menace
A) Infrastructure: The Dirty Bum understands that our nation’s infrastructure is in serious need of repair. We will attack this problem by creating the twenty-first century’s version of the CCC – the civilian conservation corps. If a person is newly unemployed, they will have the choice of joining the CCC or not receive unemployment insurance.

B) Health Insurance: The Dirty Bum feels it is a national disgrace that our country is the only industrialized nation not to have health insurance for its citizens. Our first priority is that each and every American will be covered, entitled and receive the best medical care available.

C) Mass Transportation: The Dirty Bum will decriminalize freight hopping and encourage people to ride the rails as a means of travel cross our great nation.

Campaign slogan: I understand cultural diversity

D) Immigration: The Dirty Bum will annex Mexico making it the 51st state thus eliminating the influx of illegal immigration. The annexation would eliminate the impetuous for Mexicans to cross the border and thus stem the tsunami of illegals. This move would also increase the GNP and provide greater vacation locales for the residents of the first fifty states without the need of passports. It will also redefine the deep south.
Section 2: Election Reform: The attack of the clones.
A) Who isn’t sick of stuffed shirts scamping about Iowa and New Hampshire like Amway sales reps. To the Dirty Bum, they appear like prostitutes desperate to sell their charms. It is my opinion that a penny of tax-payers money spent on this dog and pony show is one too many. If elected I will force the issue of campaign reform with the following initiatives: 1) The campaign will be limited to the calendar year of the election! I would like to see a campaign season of three months but realize that most candidates would explode if not given the time to expel the voluminous gas they generate. 2) Not a penny of taxpayers money would be spent under the auspices of matching funds. This money would be better spent funding health care. 3) I would like to see a spending cap so candidates cannot buy an office! To honor this year’s attempt, I will suggest we name this “The Romney Clause.” Mit, you would have been better off donating your money to your favorite charity! Then we could call the provision “The Santa Clause!”

Section 3: Economic Policy: Revenge of the Sith
A) The Dirty Bum party will abolish the IRS and do away with personal and corporate income taxes. The party realizes that this will place the accounting profession in jeopardy. So be it, if accountants followed their own advice, they will have enough money saved to enjoy an early retirement.

B) In lieu of income taxes, we will implement a nation sales tax. This tax will be 3%. This serves as a consumption tax and encourages savings more than IRAs, 401ks and the numerous other vehicles that create and employ redundant levels of bureaucracy

Section 4) Environmental Policy: A New Hope:
The Dirty Bum accepts that global warming is a reality and a threat to humankind. Understanding the seriousness of this issue, the party is proposing the following solutions as first steps in combating climate change. These solutions have a direct impact on the domestic economy by means of creating an estimated 22.5 million jobs while impacting said issues and our nations infrastructure.
1) A basic rule of physics states that dark colors absorb heat and light colors reflect heat. Following this tenant, we will encourage congress to fund legislation to repave all roads in the nation white, thus reflecting energy instead of absorbing, lowering the earth’s core temperature.
2) We will also promote the production an estimated 2.5 million large scale ice machines in which the product will be spread over ecologically sound areas to: 1) Promote the reestablishment of glaciers 2) Refresh watersheds and 3) Lower the earth’s core temperature.

3) Limit the hours of congressional sessions; the purpose being the amount of hot air produced during said sessions raises the atmosphere’s temperature by an estimated .13 degree Fahrenheit.

Life under the nuclear umbrella

Section 5: Foreign policy: The Empire Strikes Back.
The Iraqi Crises: The Dirty Bum will look to our checkered national history to give solution to the Iraqi debacle and bring our soldiers home safely. We admit that the reservation system in the states is a disgrace, but despite its flaws, it may provide the answer for an exist strategy and secure the oil – we all know that’s why Bush invaded, lets admit it, take our lumps and do what we set out, plunder the oil fields – the Dirty Bum will create three reservations in Iraqi Proper: The Sunni, The Shiite and the Kurdish. With the warring parties secure we can go about the job and thus stabilize oil prices and thus our economy.
Afghanistan: The Dirty Bum agrees with being in Afghanistan, we have a job to do in eliminating Osama bin Laden. We will focus our military might on capturing him, reducing Al qida and the Taliban. Once this mission is complete we will withdraw and go about retooling our military for future challenges.

Section 6: Personal Liberty and Responsibility: The Return of the Jedi
Well over forty years ago, JFK uttered the words: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” I feel it is time that we as a people revisit his words. We must end the sense of entitlement that many of our own feel, express and demonstrate; we must again learn that a greater sense of self-fulfillment comes from contributing to a greater cause rather than leeching from such a cause. Under my administration, I will promote self-reliance, community spirit and national pride.

“For my sake, vote for Robert!”

Random Post:    (1st person, in the voice of the candidate)

August 13th

I woke up in a cheap motel room, snuck into the bathroom, took care of business and moved towards my backpack sitting on a chair when I felt an eye on my back and imagined the other upon the door. I exhaled, knowing I was busted trying to slip out onto the campaign trail.

“Where you going?” Shari asked.

“Getting a cup of coffee,” I answered.

I should hire her to create a documentary of my campaign, I thought as the toilet flushed. Sitting on the edge of the bed, I absentmindedly watched Headline News till Shari emerged from the bathroom. Awkward, at least for me, small talk filled the air between us till we hit the C-store.

“Why is your old man in the can?”

“He’s a bit hot tempered. He beat a fellow he thought was sleeping with me.

We were just friends, nothing ever happened. Don’t worry sugar plum,” she said patting my knee. “I won’t utter a word and Moses, he don’t follow politics and anyhow, he can’t read. You’re free and clear.”

“Keep an eye on the road,” I responded. The prospect of driving closer to a man – with his wife – in prison for assault was unsettling. I was a gut check, for if elected, I would be facing crises that would require intestinal fortitude.

I considered not reporting on this fandango, no one would ever be the wiser and I could continue onward without drawing attention away from the issues, but, it would be a missed opportunity. Unlike John Edwards, who made himself look silly, I am standing up and saying that I committed biological indiscretion. I screwed up and I had sex with this married woman.

I hope you enjoyed this foray into political nonsense, somehow I get the feeling if politicians were this honest we’d be better off.