A Christmas Ghost Story Part 3 could only happen in a place like Tecumseh, Indiana. This addition is the final post in a three-part work of short fiction. A college professor realizes there could be a few advantages that come with living in a haunted house.
There were only two options open to Mr. Collins.
He could put the house on the market and take a big financial loss. Beth developed an obsessive love for the house. She’d resist the idea of another move. Plus, he’d put all the family’s savings and the royalties from the book into the money pit of an eyesore.
Professor Collins had to find a way to evict the ghosts. He walked across campus until he arrived at the building where the history department was located. He slipped into his office and closed the door. It would spell disaster if any of his colleagues overheard the phone conversation he was about to have with Kathy. His sister was into all sorts of hocus pocus. Growing up, she had been the exact opposite of him. He took pleasure in the rational real world, but Kathy lived in a different zip code. His sister never outgrew her college New-Age phase, believing in yoga, meditation, and the healing power of crystals. Dream catchers hung from every window in her house, and she refused to eat meat, claiming to be a vegan. Kathy would take up residence in a hippie commune if she could find one that would have her.
At Thanksgiving dinner, she’d brought her food. (A Christmas Ghost Story Part 3)
The kids told her about all the odd stuff that had happened since they moved into the house on Monroe street. It was Kathy who diagnosed the ghost infestation. She offered to do a cleansing ritual that was guaranteed to send unwanted spirits into the light. Richard’s obligation as the new master of the manse was to bring release to the unhappy ghosts. It took six rings for her to answer her phone. Kathy still believed in landlines while everyone else switched to cells. There was something about the electrical currents causing cancer that made her skeptical about cell phone use. Richard decided to get right to the point. “If you’re coming to Christmas dinner, could you bring your crystal ball and prairie sage? I need you to perform an exorcism.”
“So, you believe me now? Can I ask what changed your mind?” (A Christmas Ghost Story Part 3)
“I did a little research. What I found was murder, suicide, and dozens of police calls involving unexplained mysteries when the old Victorian was an apartment building. I figure it couldn’t hurt to have you come over here and do some of your mumbo-jumbo.”
“I don’t know. The exorcism won’t work if there’s a skeptic in the vicinity,” Kathy explained. Richard knew she was giving him a hard time because of all the ribbing he’d given her over the years.
“Trust me, I believe. I need to get rid of these ghosts before they run us out of the house.”
The ghosts got quiet and didn’t interrupt the family’s life after he made the call to his sister.
It was as if they knew there was a plan to get rid of them in the works. The specters had overplayed their hand by revealing so much of themselves to the living. Christmas morning, Beth found the prettiest glass Christmas tree she’d ever seen in her life sitting in the middle of the dining room table. It would make the perfect centerpiece for the holiday meal. Her first thought was Richard bought it for her from a local antique shop. He would have paid an outrageous price for the piece. The door that separated the dining room from the kitchen swung open, and Richard entered with a steaming cup of coffee in his hands. “You shouldn’t have bought this antique tree. The cost is way over our budget,” she said.
“I didn’t buy that. Where did it come from?” Richard said.
“I found it sitting in the middle of the table. I thought you were trying to be nice.”
“Why would I do something like that? It must be the ghosts. They’ve brought us a peace offering. The ghosts sense I’m about to get rid of them. Kathy’s coming over to help them go into the light,” Richard said with a chuckle.
“They gave me a bottle of perfume. It was old and had a funky smell, but I guess it’s the thought that counts,” Margo said as she entered the room, interrupting her parent’s conversation. She yawned before she moved into the kitchen.
“I’m not going to allow them to bribe me. I have Kathy coming over to get rid of them today.” Richard Collins said as he moved out of the dining room.
Mom, you can’t let him do that. Those ghosts are my friends.” Bradley stomped his foot on the floor to add emphasis. He’d overheard the tail-end of his parent’s conversation. Bradley rubbed the sleep out of his eyes before he continued talking. “The only reason they are making so much noise is because of the renovations. Ghosts don’t like change, so they thought they could make you stop.”
The white milk glass Christmas tree sat in the middle of the dining room table, waiting for the holiday meal. The sound of a football game echoed from the living room, the smell of ham, apple pie, and dinner rolls filled the air. The table was set, waiting for the only missing person to arrive. Kathy was running late as usual. The smell of the food was so enticing; they started to eat without her. The milk glass Christmas tree glowed with pride as the food was passed around the table. Richard noticed his kids didn’t seem happy, even though everything they asked for was under the tree. Kathy breezed through the door as they finished eating. She sat her supplies down in the living room and yelled, “I’m here to get rid of the ghosts. Who’s up for a séance?”
The milk glass tree’s lights flickered on and off with rage seconds before it exploded.
A moaning sound echoed from deep within the house. “Jeez, I didn’t mean to make anyone upset. I’m only here to help you go into the light,” Cathy yelled.
“They don’t want to go into the light, Aunt Kathy. Please don’t make them. They like living here with us,” Margo said.
“She’s right, dad. They don’t want to leave. The only reason they caused problems was that you were changing the house around. Now that we’ve got to know them, we sort of like the ghosts. Plus, we’re the coolest kids at our new school because we live in a haunted house. Once word got out we moved into the Vanderburgh house; kids want to spend the night. They say it all has to do with the Vanderburgh curse. We promise to take care of the ghosts if you let them stay,” Bradly said.
Kathy picked her bags up from the floor. (A Christmas Ghost Story Part 3)
You didn’t say this had anything to do with the Vanderburgh curse. I can’t believe you got me involved in this nightmare. You should know I don’t want any part of running off Vanderburgh ghosts. Richard could stop Kathy from marching out the door.
“Now see what you’ve done. I’ll never get your Aunt Kathy to come back again. She’d say it was bad Karma. The two of you can’t even take care of a dog. How do you plan on handling an entire household of ghosts? I’m going to have to hire one of those professional ghost hunters, and they cost a fortune.” “Come on, Dad, let us keep them. We’ll teach them how to behave,” Margo said.
“I guess it will be cheaper to leave them alone. I do have a few stipulations. If I have a fancy dinner with my colleagues, they can’t move stuff around to get attention. It would be embarrassing. And no more burning candles in the middle of the night. The gunshots have to stop. They’re too unnerving.”
“We promise we’ll convince them to be good,” Bradley said.
“You can keep them if your mother doesn’t have a problem with them being here. What about it, Beth?”
“I have to admit this has been an interesting Christmas. They did manage to run your sister out of here. I’ve been trying to do that for years with no result. They can stay if they promise they won’t make a nuisance of themselves.
“Thanks, mom and dad,” Margo said before she headed for the stairs. The Collins children spent the afternoon communing with the spirits about the new living arrangements.
“Do you think that was wise?” Beth asked
“If you mean allowing them to keep the ghosts, I don’t know if we have any other choice. The way I see it, the path of least resistance is what is required here. There is no reason why the living can’t get along with the dead. You heard Bradley. They are the coolest kids in the school. Plus, I can see a few benefits for a history professor to live in a haunted house.”
Collins allowed the children to keep their ghosts. (A Christmas Ghost Story Part 3)
The spirits remained silent when outsiders were around. Except for the occasional séance, they never showed their faces. Mrs. Collins took up drinking. It helped her dull her senses and made it possible to live in a haunted environment. There was something about being watched every moment of every day she could never quite reconcile. Richard finished a second book about the decline of glass manufacturing during the Great Depression. His third book ventured away from the academic world and toward the historical romance genre. The book was a runaway best seller with all the firsthand knowledge Richard got from his new muses. The Collins family and the Vanderburgh ghosts lived happily ever after in the renovated house on Monroe Street.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures, click here.
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