I saw a ghost in my room
Or so I assume.
My vision wasn't very clear,
Only silence did I hear.
It could have been from my head
Here in the hospital bed.
Strange thoughts pop in my brain
And just as quickly drain.
I look over at John,
But his consciousness is gone.
He doesn't know the sudden chill,
Not since the nurse gave him a pill.
It's early morning of All Hallows Eve.
My job is to make Johnny grieve.
But how can I tease him
When all his wits are dim?
I decide to go to sleep
And hope my dreams are deep
When I saw the ghost again.
He floats there with a silly grin.
He waves as he turns his back
And fades into mist through a crack.
I'm now fully awake
As my pulse I take.
My heart is jumping from my chest.
Controlling my fear, I try my best.
The monitor is shrilling loud
And into my blankets I cowered.
The nurse insists I take a pill
And soon enough my body's still.
Two hours later I wake again
And find his face two inches from my chin.
I have no choice but to scream
And wake John up from his dream.
“Chet, what is wrong with you, my man?
Do you need me to give you a hand?”
He looks so pale and scared,
Like he's found something he once feared.
This is not the Chet I know,
The one who bums me for dough,
And plays tricks on me every day
Until his laugh sounds like a dog's bay.
I can't let him know how much I care,
I'm slow to not let the IV tear.
I stretch and reach for the call button,
And soon we are visited by Nurse Sutton.
“What's wrong in here, someone say boo?
Don't you know it's after two?
I'm going to check your vitals
And be quiet or I'll give you titles.”
Chet kept looking down searching corners
And looking up at the wall borders.
I don't know what was in his brain,
But his paleness suggested blood drain.
He became distracted when the station came
And talked to each, asking the same.
“Do you see him floating over there,
With his wild and waving hair?
He's stretched out like a rubber band.
Now he's an hourglass with flowing sand.
Watch out Mike! He's right behind you.
Oh Marco, he's going after you too.”
From the looks on their faces, I had failed
And I wished that I had bailed.
Not one believed there was a ghost
And they were all a potential host.
He's the one I can see so clearly
I wish I could convince them dearly.
Even Cap has raised eyebrows
And I feel I've lost my station pals.
He creeps up behind steady Roy
And threatens to annoy.
I cry out loud “Leave him alone!”
And the ghost breaks out in a rowdy song.
“This is just the beginning of me fun.
I haunt these halls and this room my son.
I choose to let only one of you see
And you have paid the fee.
I'll have me say my hearty lad.
Before the Eve is gone I'll tease you a tad.”
And tease he did.
Hank stared at the almost frantic Chet, wondering if his injuries, though not life-threatening, were more serious than the doctors realized. He looked at Johnny lying in the next bed. “Are you playing at some new joke, Chet? Hmm? Something to keep Gage out of the doldrums while he heals?”
“Aw, Chet, I’m touched,” Johnny said, winking at Roy who rolled his eyes. “But you really don’t have to go to so much trouble, my friend. I’d actually like to get a bit of quiet shut-eye if you don’t mind.” His eyes danced as his crooked grin appeared.
Chet looked from his captain to the paramedic and fought an urge to scream in frustration. They were making fun of him when he was trying to be serious! He just couldn’t believe his luck. It was payback, he decided. Payback for all the pranks he’d played on his shift mates through the years. Suddenly a thought occurred to him: would they conjure this up as an elaborate hoax because it was Halloween?
His eyes darted off to Mike’s side where the ghost hovered, scanning for wires or anything else that might prove the entity wasn’t a ghost. He watched, amazed, as the ghost shimmered into the solid form of a man. Chet blinked. Yes, there was a man standing between Mike and Marco, just slightly behind them. A tall man, around 6 foot 2 inches with wide shoulders, a big handlebar mustache with long bushy sideburns, merry grey eyes, and thick wildly wavy red hair. He was dressed in tweed slacks with a tartan vest over a crisp white shirt and he was glowing. Chet blinked again and swallowed. The man was definitely glowing.
Forgetting it might be a joke, Chet yelled, “Mike! Marco! Just behind you!”
Mike and Marco turned where Chet pointed, but nothing was there.
“I don’t know what they’re giving you, Chet, but it sure is trippin’ you out.” Mike waved his hand around, passing it right through the ghost’s upper chest.
The ghost laughed heartily. “They can’t see me, laddie. Only you.”
Chet groaned, closed his eyes and fell back against the pillow, then moaned in pain as his battered body protested the jarring movement. “Leave me alone.”
His shift mates regarded the fireman intently then looked questioningly at the captain.
Hank ran a hand through his hair. “Perhaps we’d better go so you can rest, Chet.” To Johnny he mouthed, “Keep an eye on him” and received a nod in reply. “Come on, men.” Motioning to the door, Hank watched his men make their goodbyes and exit the room. “We’ll be back this evening,” he said as he opened the door then stepped into the hospital hallway.
“Do you really see someone, Chet?” Johnny asked softly.
Chet lowered his hand and opened his eyes. Empty space. Becoming hopeful, he sat up straighter as his eyes scanned the room. Nothing. He started to breathe a sigh of relief and choked, as first a head appeared through the closed bathroom door then the rest of the ghost’s body. Coughing, Chet pointed toward the bathroom. He grabbed the decanter off the little bedside table positioned between the two hospital beds, poured some water into a glass, then gulped it down.
Johnny moved his finger away from the call button. “You okay? I’d come over, but I’m kinda tied up.” Grinning, he waved a hand toward the foot of his bed where a chain held a broken leg elevated.
Chet looked at his friend and nodded. “I can see that. Do I look as banged up as you do?”
Johnny stared at his friend’s elevated leg, the cuts and bruises on his face, and started to laugh only to grimace in pain. “Yep. We’re perfect evidence that something fell on us.”
Chet grunted, but even that hurt. “Yeah. Like a wall.” He grew thoughtful. “Or was it part of the roof? There was so much smoke, I couldn’t tell.”
“Ach, so ye’re firemen then,” the ghost said softly from the bathroom door. “And a prankster too, like me.”
Chet started. “You’re – were a fireman?” He turned his head toward where the ghost stood.
“What? Who was a fireman?” Johnny nodded. “Oh. Him. Where is he?”
Chet pointed. “He’s leaning against the wall beside the bathroom door.”
Johnny shifted in bed to get a better view then grunted. “I forgot I couldn’t see him.” His eyes held an interested glint as they fastened onto Chet. “A fireman, huh? What’s his name, Chet? What does he look like? Where’s he from? Where was he stationed? How long has he been a ghost?” He grimaced. “Sorry. He might not want to answer that question.” He looked in the direction Chet had pointed. “Can he even hear me?”
Chet groaned inwardly. An ‘interested’ Gage would mean ferrying answers back and forth between ghost and human for hours. Not something he wanted to do. Then he remembered Cap’s words about helping Johnny heal and reconsidered. After all, he was also interested in the ghost and the time they were stuck in the hospital would certainly go faster with some good conversation, even if it would require him relaying one side of it. Besides, knowing the ghost had been a fireman in another life helped dissipate his fear somewhat.
The ghost came closer, stopping at the foot of their beds. It had been a long time; years in fact, since he’d had a real conversation with any of the people he’d pick to haunt for the few hours allotted him each year. He found himself looking forward to talking with a human as much as he did playing pranks on them.
“Aye, laddie. I was a fireman with Station 10 about 60 odd years ago. Name’s Quinn McTavish.” He bowed slightly. “I can hear ye just fine, but ‘tis a shame ye canna see me.”
“What’s wrong with Chet, Cap?” Marco asked as they stood outside Room 326.
Hank’s voice held concern. “I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure he wasn’t joking around.”
“I wonder if Dix would know if there’s a ghost running around,” Roy mused.
Mike grinned. “You mean ‘floating’, right?”
“I bet she would,” Hank said. “Let’s go see if she’s around. If not, maybe we can find Kel.”
The men headed for the elevator and Mike pushed the button for the first floor after it was decided to try Emergency first. As soon as the elevator doors opened, they saw Kel at the nurse’s station talking with Dixie. The A-shift hurried to reach them, desperate for answers to help their shift mate.
“Hey, Dixie, Kel,” Hank called, raising a hand in greeting.
Dixie and Dr. Kel Brackett looked toward the group of men coming their way and smiled. “Hi,” they said together as the A-shift halted a few paces from them. They exchanged glances, noticing the men seemed agitated.
“I take it you’ve been visiting Johnny and Chet,” Dixie said.
“Is something wrong with them?” Dr. Brackett asked.
“Well, that’s what we want to talk to you and Dixie about, Kel,” Hank said. “Could we go someplace private?”
“Sure. How about my office?” Dr. Brackett suggested.
“Nurse Sutton, could you take over here?” Dixie said to a nurse that just stepped behind the counter. “I shouldn’t be gone too long.”
Kel led the way to his office and closed the door after everyone had entered. While Dixie and the A-shift seated themselves on the couch and chairs in the room, Kel sat down on the chair behind his desk.
Hank grinned sheepishly. “There’s just no easy way to say this. Chet says that there’s a ghost in his room. We thought he was joking, but he’s so adamant…” He saw Dixie and Kel glance at each other. “So there ‘ is’ a ghost.” He exhaled slowly. “Well that’s a relief.”
“It will be to Chet too,” Marco said.
“We thought he was losing it,” Mike added.
“I didn’t know there was a ghost at Rampart,” Roy said.
Dixie smiled. “It’s not something we want getting out. People have a hard enough time coming to a hospital as it is.” The men nodded, smiling.
“What room are they in?” Dr. Brackett asked.
“Room 326,” Hank said. “Why? Is that significant?”
“That’s the room he prefers to haunt. Everyone who works here knows about the ghost. My guess is Room 326 was the only room left last night when Johnny and Chet were admitted. We did have that freeway pile-up, remember.” The men nodded. “We try to keep that room vacant on October 31st, but it has happened before,” Dr. Brackett explained.
Hank and his men regarded each other. “So, what do we do? Chet’s frantic.”
“The ghost only appears on All Hallows Eve, October 31st, from midnight to midnight,” Dixie said. “He isn’t a bad sort, from what I’ve heard.”
The A-shift stared at her as if she’d lost her mind.
“What Dix is trying to say, gentlemen, is that the ghost plays pranks on whoever occupies that room during that 24-hour period each year. But only on those individuals who aren’t seriously hurt.”
“And if a child occupies the room, he goes out of his way to make the child more comfortable, by adding a touch of warmth and music,” Dixie finished.
“So he’ll be gone at midnight?” Roy asked. Kel and Dixie nodded.
“Do you know anything more about him?” Hank asked. “I know you both believe he’s harmless, but I’m concerned for Chet and Johnny’s safety.”
“That’s about it, I’m afraid.” Dixie looked at Kel. “Sorry. We’ve always wanted to know more about him, but…” She shrugged then stood. “I’ll go up and reassure Chet.”
Dixie pushed open the door of Room 326 and entered, surprised to hear Johnny and Chet complaining about how much it hurt to laugh.
She looked at both as they held their bellies,
First at Gage and then at Kelly.
“The simple solution to your problem, gents,
Is to stop the laughter, if you catch my hint.”
That statement was met with gales of laugh,
Making her think they'd gone daft.
She went to Johnny to take his vitals.
What happened next gave her several startles.
Chet watched as McTavish followed her around
And boomed with “Tis glad I'm not homeward bound.
Where have ye been hiding such a bonny lass?
From her looks, she'd give me a proper dash.”
Dix glanced at Chet with his fist in his mouth
And his big eyes looking down south.
She felt the warmth on her backside bottom
And the whoosh of air across her bosom.
With a staring look, she exited the room
And left the two men to their doom.
She failed to take vitals from Chet,
Knowing it was a ghost she had just met.
The rest of the day was spent in talk
Of the three, only McTavish could walk.
He kept popping in and out
Watching for Nurse Dixie, no doubt.
That night, the station crew arrived again.
McTavish left, hell bent on ghostly sin.
With the crew gone, he returned with head low
Dixie had went home and he had such woe.
“Father! Father! Mum's in a terrible fright
And ye have to be home by midnight.”
She had floated in through the open door
In a lavender dress down to the floor.
Johnny's eyes got big as he saw this lovely dish
And he heard the lilt of daughter McTavish.
His grin was returned when she caught his eye.
“Father, he's so handsome!” and gave a big sigh.
They all heard the high whining screech,
“McTavish! Ye cheat!” and he made a quick speech.
“Must be on me way, me firefightin' men.
As you see, Mum's comin’ with her rollin’ pin.
Take care and come again next year,
When on this same day, I'll appear.”
He dashed through the wall, followed by his wife
Waving her pin and giving him strife.
Daughter followed slowly to give John a wink.
Mum reached and pulled her through in a blink.
“Next year, John, let's take vacation and go catch fish.”
“Nah, Chet, I'm gonna find someone that's Scottish.”
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LaJuan Jamie Simmons
Guest Dispatchers Stories by LaJuan Stories by Jamie Simmons Halloween Stories