Spectral Memories & Sleepless Nights

Ghosts are real. I don’t mean specters that creep into our rooms while we sleep, reaching out to us with bony claws, staring at us from black holes where eyes should be, turning the air icy cold with their presence, and wailing mournfully in the night. That’s horror movie stuff.

My ghosts are from my past. As I get older, so much older than I ever considered, memories creep up on me more often, especially in those wee hours of the morning when sleep is fitful and the mind flits around to places where we just don’t look in the daylight hours. Daylight is a time for work, chores and all the various duties with which we fill our lives, many of them pointless in the long run, but seemingly oh, so important at the time.

My ghosts are missing friends, family, even a few strangers I barely brushed into in my life. My ghosts are moments with these people that have proven unforgettable for various reasons. I can’t remember many of the things I do and say any given day, but there are moments in my past that are fastened to my memory so vividly, I see them as if they happened hours ago instead of years or even decades.

Some of these memories are beautiful, happy, peaceful; some are not.

The memories that are not? They are the haunting ones, the ghosts.

They don’t terrify me. They don’t make me wake up screaming. I rarely have dreams I can remember, which often makes me think I don’t dream at all. But everybody dreams.

The ghosts haunt me just the same. They come to me most nights now. Since I retired, I rarely go to sleep exhausted. Since I stopped drinking a pint of Jamesons every night (after a couple of beers), I don’t drop into bed and immediately pass out. Maybe there is something to the saying about drinking to forget. Maybe it works. But the ghosts are still there. We all have to confront them sooner or later, if we live long enough. It cleans the mental palate or, more appropriately, eases the conscience.

The ghosts are making demands lately. They quietly wait for recognition, for acknowledgement, for… apologies? Maybe? Will that help either them or me? I’m going to tell a few stories over the next few weeks. Stories meant to purge some of these old spirits from my life. ¬†These stories will be true… mostly. And I will tell them to the best of my ability and to the best of my memory. I don’t have total recall anymore.

So I go now to prepare to bare my soul to you. Some of this will be very difficult to talk about. I suppose most of us who have lived a fairly long life have some noisy skeletons banging around. I will be waking a few spirits, living and dead… mostly dead. Many of the dead just reached their times, after living long, rich lives. But a few of them died too soon, too young. I didn’t get closure.

And one of them I may have killed myself.

I’ll be back soon with the first story.




This month has been tough. I guess I’m in a bit of a sales slump here at Warrenton Kia. The weather is ugly. I’m kind of looking for a break. A man comes in with an older Cadillac. It’s in pretty nice shape. He wants to trade it for a truck. He has a Harley Davidson motorcycle he wants to haul back to the east coast and he is looking for a truck. No money, just a straight trade. He goes on to tell me how he hasn’t gotten out of bed in a week. You see, his wife died of cancer and he just brought her body here from Pennsylvania to be buried with her family. In the past year, he lost his wife, his cat, his job, and pretty much everything he valued in life… except his Harley. He has no home and about $20 to his name. He has been told he might qualify for food stamps. They will let him know in a few days. He’s depressed but not suicidal. That’s what he told me.

I’ve been down before, as most of you know. I asked Lori to talk to him with me. She had some great ideas and some encouragement for him. Hopefully, he’s gone to the Astoria Rescue Mission by now for help. We sell cars for a living. We probably could have taken his car and sold him something, whatever, to move his bike. But we didn’t. Because sometimes we, as a species, as human beings, need to look out for each other. As much as I need to make a paycheck, I won’t take advantage of someone to pad my pocket. Neither will Lori. And now we’re sitting here watching the wind blow the rain against the windows. And I hope he’s going to be alright.¬†