We are staying at the Noftsger Hill Inn in Globe, Arizona. It is a former elementary school that was converted into an exceptional bed and breakfast. We’ve stayed here a couple of times before over the years, even after learning that it has a reputation for being haunted. Paranormal researchers have visited the property. Depending on who you ask, the results are, or aren’t, conclusive.
Me? I am confidently ensconced in the “no such thing as ghosts” camp. My feet are kicked up on a metaphysical ice cooler and I am tilted back in my camp chair of righteous knowledge with my hands folded behind my head. “Yep,” I say. “By cracky, there’s no such thing as ghosts. No way. No how.”
As it so happens, we are the only lodgers tonight. The weekend is booked, we were told, but tonight, we are the only lodgers.
It is late -- past midnight. I cannot sleep and as a deadline looms, here I sit at a wooden table beneath a soft light in the lobby of the inn. This lobby would have been the main corridor of the school. The front door is behind me. The backdoor is 60 feet away and down half a flight of stairs. The corridor is at least 20 feet wide. On either side, closed doors indicate where classrooms, now bedrooms are located.
I hear a train whistle far down the hill. It sounds like “that lonesome whistle” ol’ Hank was always singing about. The building is silent except for the clicking of my laptop keys.
There is no such thing as ghosts.
Wait. What do I see in the shadows at the far end of the corridor? Is it a child, a boy, coming toward me? He looks hot and flushed as if he had just stopped running in the bright sun. And there is a girl, with a jump rope, following him. The corridor is filling with children like sunflowers all of a sudden filling a field. They are jostling toward me. I adjust my hearing aids because they seem to be picking up sounds of laughter and chatter.
Did someone just jostle my arm? Did someone just say, “Sorry, mister. Excuse me.” What is this swirl of breezes and the smell of children hot from recess. How could this be happening. I am sober. I am awake; I can feel these keys.
What’s that you say, little boy? My name is Tom. What is yours? Robbie? Hello, Robbie. Yes, yes. Off you go to class.
The corridor is growing calmer. The children are disappearing like smoke through the closed doors. The air is growing still again. And quiet. My ears ring with silence. I adjust my hearing aids to make certain they are working properly, hard to tell in the silence.
Wait, I hear another train whistle. The light above me is unchanged. The furniture in the corridor is unchanged. The shadows at the end room are shadows still.
Yes, Robbie, off to class you go.
There’s no such thing as ghosts.