Here’s the cell phone you left in here the other day. Sorry about that — our resident ghost is something of a kleptomaniac. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to have somebody call my cell phone so that I can find it.
Bob’s not as bad as Polly, however. Oh, have I never told you about Polly the pooka? Yeah, we share our home with a pooka — just like Elwood P. Dowd, although Polly’s not a rabbit. She’s more of a giant spider.
Me neither — spiders make my skin crawl. But you can get used to anything if you have enough time. You got a few minutes? Well then, tonight being All Hallows Eve, this would be a good time to fill you in, in case you ever visit me at home.
At first She Who Must Be Obeyed and I thought we were just forgetful. You know, you mislay stuff and later find the milk jug in the clothes closet. But then came the day of the toilet paper. Let’s see…it would have been about 1968. I was in the Air Force at the time. It was the end of the month, so we’d cashed my check and gone to the base exchange. Arriving home with a month’s worth of groceries, we took awhile to unpack the car, then we sat on the couch to rest a bit. I propped my feet up on the coffee table (remember this — it will become important later).
Later I went to the bathroom to “think” awhile. Coming out, I found Her in the kitchen. “Where did you put the toilet paper?”
“What toilet paper?”
“You know, the giant, economy package we bought. The one that was about three feet tall.”
“I don’t remember seeing it. Maybe you unpacked it…?”
“Maybe I left it in the car.” No, it turned out, I didn’t leave anything in the car. I even looked in the trunk, although we didn’t pack any of the groceries in the trunk. And then we turned the house upside down and inside out. No toilet paper.
“Well, cripes,” I said. “We must have left it at the BX somehow. Give me the car keys and I’ll run back and ask around.”
“I don’t have the car keys — you drove us home.”
“Well, I don’t have them.”
“Search your pockets again.”
“Nope, not there.” So we looked all over for the car keys. Nada. Finally, at Her suggestion, I went out to look in the car ignition. Again, nada. Shaking my head, I came back inside.
The front door of the house we were renting opened directly into the living room. I opened the door and stopped. Sitting in the middle of the coffee table, right where my feet had been, was the giant package of toilet tissue. And on top of the package were the car keys. I started to get mad.
“That’s not funny!”
“What’s not funny?” I could barely hear Her voice coming from the bedroom down the hall.
“Where was it? Where did you hide it?” My face was probably purple by this point.
“What in the world are you…” She was coming out of the hallway when She spotted the paper. She turned to me with such a look of innocence I couldn’t doubt Her. “Where did you find it?”
“Right where it’s sitting.”
“Uhhhhhhh…yeah.” We both sidled up to the package and gingerly poked at it, trying to find out if it was really there. It was.
After that, we started to pay attention. Sure enough, there were times when, like everyone, we’d mislay stuff. But those items were quickly found by simply retracing our steps. But there were those other times when something we’d just had would simply disappear — to be returned to some place in plain sight when Polly was given her due. Due to the prankish nature of the activity, we first thought we had a poltergeist. But after a little research, we found that the symptoms really didn’t fit. There were no fires, few noises, and nothing was ever thrown. Then we thought maybe we were being haunted, but, again, the symptoms didn’t fit (the entity, whatever it was, tended to follow me around, whereas ghosts seem to pretty much stay put in a given location). Eventually, we figured out that Polly was a pooka. Why she chose my life to enliven, I’ll never know. But enliven it, she does.
For example, the other day I was tightening a handle on my dresser drawer. I got it the way I wanted, lay my screwdriver aside, repacked all the stuff I’d removed from the drawer (some shirts and stuff) and put the drawer back in the dresser. Then I turned to pick up the screwdriver, and it was gone. I looked on the dresser. I looked on the bed beside the dresser. I checked my pockets (you never know). I even opened the drawer and rifled through it. Nada. Finally, in frustration, I took the drawer out, set it back on the bed (where I’d been working on it), and, one piece at a time, removed all the clothing from the drawer. I shook out each piece of clothing to see if somehow I’d managed to wrap my screwdriver up inside a shirt. Nope — no screwdriver.
I got down on the floor. I looked under the bed. I looked under the dresser. Finally, I stood up with my back to the bed and said out loud, “That was a good one, Polly. You’re the best. Now can I have my screwdriver back?”
A slight noise behind me made me turn around. Picture this: The drawer is on the bed. Beside the drawer is the stack of clothing I’d removed. On top of the stack of clothes was the screwdriver.
Happy Halloween, my friend…