14-Last Call

Begin with no fewer than ten lengths of stout cord, each at least twelve feet long. To each of these, along varying intervals, tie between sixteen and twenty large metal washers. Now, gripping the one end of all ten of your cords together, drag them rapidly through the space between the walls, between the floor and ceiling, and generally all about the attic just to the other side of the drywall for about a half-minute, so as to cause an alarming clatter as the washers catch, rattle, and bang about inside the confined space. This would approximate what has been going on in my house at 12:24 A.M. each night for the past three nights. Roxanne, the psychic dog, ignores it. Guinness, the hunting dog, creeps out of his room (a dog-cage that has almost never even been closed) to poke his nose around the corner into the hall, and then invariably slinks back to sleep in our bed with my wife and me.

I’m not going to attribute an actual cause to this noise here. Our house will be one hundred years old in just five years and has it’s share of creaks, groans, and other?smaller and furrier?inhabitants. But if the rats are having a party you usually hear some “squee-ing,” which I have not, and I admit that the time element is of interest, although suspect generally.

There are scads of stories about ghosts who come tromping up the stairs at precicely 11:00 each night, or spectral dogs who leap through the wall at 1:15 in the morning on the second Tuesday of every month, or other such punctual spirits. But why should a ghost need to keep such a schedule? Are the demands on his time such that he can only fit in a minute or so of haunting between 12:05 and 12:07 each night? What about Daylight Savings Time? Do ghosts adjust, or are they off for 6 months out of the year?

I have heard the theory advanced that ghosts are not our spiritual natures made manifest after death and caught here to suffer and wait for release to the great beyond, but are rather an echo left by an event of profound emotional impact, playing over and over like a broken record. Frankly, this makes even less sense to me, since an “emotional echo” would no longer be guided by an active participant, and would have even less need of adhering to such an arbitrary means of dividing up the day as a human clock. Our view of time is imposed, remember, and not a natural part of the universe at all.

Of course I suppose I know of no rule forbidding an echo from being programmed with enough of the personality of the deceased to want to reenact their demise at the same time each Friday night, but then what about the ghostly animals? The hounds, wolves, and other spectral?and timely?quadrupeds? Unless they were highly trained with alarm-wristwatches at the time they died, it’s unlikely they would be willing?or able?to adhere to any type of timetable. That knocks out the “guiding personality” possibility, and the fact that a human clock is simply an unnatural device we use for making our days more manageable kind of skews the rest of the echo theory. The “same time of night” actually wanders almost two hours around the clock throughout the year. And none of this answers the earlier question about Daylight Savings Time. Really?I’m curious.

So I will continue to keep track and listen, and will let you know. In the meantime, I am enjoying having the dog sleep in the bed. It’s cold out there!

3 Responses to 14-Last Call

  1. “Y’know”, the single best thing about these comics are… not the comics. I mean, they’re great, but your column at the bottom is what constantly cracks me up.

    You, milord, rock.