Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boomer the Drunken Ghost

So, it's Halloween again.

What of it?

Stop looking at me like that.

I don't have to entertain you.

Fine, here, a terrible short story of sorts to get you in the Halloween mood. One might even say, it'd leave you feeling rather Halloweenie. See what I did there? Doesn't feel so good, does it?

Boomer the Drunken Ghost

It was a dark and spooky night. Not the "Oh god, please don't let anybody rape me" kind of spooky, but the "I sure hope nobody puts arsenic or razor blades in my candy!" sort of spooky. Both are pretty spooky in their own regard, though. Granted, this story takes place in Tallahasee, Florida in the late '90s, so it's in a locale with its own grade of spookiness. And that grade? C+. On a good day.

The Johnson family had just fled from a small town in Wisconsin a week prior - not to escape any deranged cannibals or even insurance agents, but to flee the encroaching population of the elderly. It wasn't that they particularly disliked old people, or that they didn't value the wisdom they brought to the town with their age, but when you had enough of them gathered together in small spaces like such little Wisconsin towns, a musty smell took to the air that nothing could dispel. As such, the Johnson family had no particular prejudices they were acting upon, simply an olfactory objection. The Johnsons had very sensitive noses, after all. They wouldn't realize until later what a mistake they'd made in moving to Florida. But this has nothing to do with the story at hand.

The Johnsons felt that their children's education was important, and so they moved into the Harper building on Voltaire Avenue. Previously Castro Blvd., the good citizens of Tallahasee voted to change its name in 1983, in order to show the world what a bastion of civilization and intellectualism a city in Florida could be. Some credit this particular decision for the city's continued successful growth. Others - mostly visitors from Ireland - look back on their visits and simply say, "That was no Sligo!" But this too is unimportant, like most things Tallahasee-related in life.

Having trusted their children - perhaps altogether far too much - to look out for themselves on Halloween, for the past two years, the Johnson parents had allowed their children to trick-or-treat alone. Most of the old people in their previous hometown had lacked both the twisted wit and physical dexterity required to properly poison and reseal the generic Werther's candy they passed out every year, so the health of the few children in that town had never been particularly threatened. Except by old Ned Levine - they say he wanted to organize a local marathon to support cancer research charities. They put a stop to that.

Not having lived in the Harper building long, and having been largely ignored by their new neighbors - they smelled like Wisconsin old people, so you can't blame them entirely - no one had warned the Johnsons about which apartment to avoid. Upon reaching it, the Johnson children balefully knocked on the door of apartment 12-C. It was kind of annoying, their balefulness. The door swung open and there stood the most terrifying sight they'd ever beheld - Boomer the Drunken Ghost.

"Whaddaya you kids want!?" Boomer demanded in drunken discord. He was about five foot six and balding, what hair he had on his head standing up garishly, like a lightning bolt extending to the ceiling from either hemisphere of his cranium. Tired and gaunt, he seemed to be leaning against the door frame in order to keep standing at all. Never before had the Johnson children seen a man so pale - and these were Wisconsin kids.

"Um, can-... can we have some candy?" Jimmy, the middle of the Johnson siblings asked. At eight, like most children bearing his first name, Jimmy wasn't all that bright. He even still believed in Santa Claus. Seriously, what's up with that?

"Candy? Do I look like the Easter Bunny to you?" Boomer glowered down at the kids, having just had to reference yet another holiday popular with children. That would irritate anybody.

Unfortunately, again, Jimmy wasn't that smart. "Sure you do, maybe, I suppose. Your hair, it kind of looks like rabbit ears, if you look at it at the right angle." But Boomer hated being compared to rabbits. He'd dealt with enough of it over the course of his life, having buck teeth and an unhealthy fondness for carrots. He'd always been told that if he ate his carrots, his vision would improve. But even now, he still had to wear prescription bifocals. Everybody hates a blind rabbit.

There was only one course of action. "Out you go!" Boomer shouted, hefting the middle Johnson sibling over his shoulder and out the nearest window. Jimmy would survive the fall, both fortunately and unfortunately, landing in a dumpster at the bottom of the building. He would repress this memory and twist it, recanting upon it as having been taught to fly by the Easter Bunny later in his life. He would go on to spend many years in therapy reckoning with that such an event never transpired. Unable to cope with life in a world that would not believe him, he would later take his life through a voluntary coronary - experiencing one whenever he wished would become a popular parlor trick of his after achieving a certain level of gross obesity in the midst of his lifelong depression. But that's okay, like most people named Jimmy, no one would ever love him anyway.

As Boomer did this, the other two Johnson siblings - Peter, the eldest, and Jeannie, the youngest - followed him into the apartment uninvited. "Gee, mister, was that really necessary?" Peter asked. Peter was slightly smarter than his younger brother, more of a B- student, if you will.

"Din'tchoo kids learn?!" Boomer groaned, collapsing onto his couch. "You don't bother Boomer the ghost on Halloween! All that doorbell ringin', gives a man the headache from hell!" Boomer was actually hung over. The Harper building apartments had no doorbells.

"You're a ghost?" Peter's eyes widened in amazement. He would go on to experience vision problems himself later in life, never quite learning to control the whole eye-widening issue as a child. His future therapist would go on to diagnose it as an unhealthy mental tick, but Peter would still have his own nostalgia about it.

"No, I'm fuckin' Louis Farrakhan, what do you think!? Why don't you get out of here, kid? Or do you want to go out the window, too?" Boomer growled irately.

"Yeah, I think I'm going to do that. This is getting way too stupid," Jeannie said, and immediately left. Jeannie was the smart one. Even at the mere age of six, she had a bullshit detector envied by even the most grizzled of adults. Unfortunately, her adolescence would stink, due to the pressures placed on young women to adhere to ridiculous standards of beauty in America, and onward into adulthood, she would learn to genuinely loathe herself, despite not being a bad person at all.

"Anything I can do to help you pass on, mister ghost?" Peter stuck around and asked. It has to be reiterated - Peter was not that much smarter than his brother.

"Get me a bottle of gin!" Boomer muttered into a pillow.

"Anything for a ghost! I won't let you down!" Peter said cheerily. The sort of cheer he would only experience as an adult through prescription medication.

After catching up with Jeannie - and later Jimmy - and finishing their trick-or-treating, Peter returned to Boomer the Drunken Ghost's apartment the next evening. "I found this in my parents' liquor cabinet!" Peter said proudly, thrusting a bottle he held towards the door as it opened. The man who stood at the door did not seem to be the one from the previous night. Instead, this new man had a bad comb-over, and wore the clothes of an accountant. "Boomer?" Peter's eyes widened in confusion.

"It's Stan. Stan Dworkin. What are you doing, kid?" the man sighed.

"Is Boomer the ghost here? He asked me to bring him a bottle of gin," Peter was confused and frightened. Where had his ghost disappeared to!?

"I don't know what you're talking about. There's no ghosts here. Go home," the man shut the door.


And that's where the story ends. Pretty spooky, huh? Aren't you feeling more in the Halloween mood now? Also, if you're looking for a moral to this story, it's thus: Don't listen to or try to help anybody. They're probably just drunk. Drunk on Halloween. Or whatever day it is when they're drunk.


priceless_seraph said...

Florida's wonderful, no? :-p

Benjamin Fennell said...

What better place for a stupid Halloween comedy than Florida? Nice state, too hot for my tastes, but a good state for comedy.

Josh K. Singh said...

I can safely say this is the scariest thing I've read in minutes. Or most pointless, either or. Kudos are due, for sure.

I will refrain from commenting on Florida, never having been there.