“Dad, it’s out there again!” I sobbed.

Emboldened by martinis on the night of their pinochle game, Brenda E. Smith’s dad and one of his friends took on the apparition that had been frightening her. Photo courtesy Brenda E. Smith

I had scurried from my bedroom to the kitchen, where my parents were engaged in a boisterous, cocktail-fueled game of pinochle with a couple of their closest friends.

“Please, Dad, please. Make it go away.”

Tears streamed down my cheeks. As a 6-year-old, I had no idea how to make the ghost go away, but I figured my dad surely could do something. I’d first become aware of this apparition a few months earlier. It always appeared in the V formed by the split trunk of a tree that I could see clearly through my bedroom window as I lay in my bed.

It was never there when I fell asleep, but if I awoke at night, it was waiting for me. Its indistinct body undulated in a spooky dance while its fuzzy arm beckoned to me. This was not the first time I had told my parents about the ghost that lived in the crook of the tree. Even when it was there in plain sight, they could never see it.

“But it’s right there,” I insisted, pointing directly at the wavering form. “Can’t you see it?”


“I think you have a vivid imagination.” Mom was convinced it was all in my head.

Dad was less blunt. “I know you think something is out there, but I don’t see anything. Maybe it’s a reflection from car headlights passing by.”

“It’s not!” I protested. “It’s there all the time.”

Clearly, my parents weren’t going to be helpful in discouraging my night visitor. Over time, I tried pulling the sheets up over my head, putting a pillow over my face to block the view out my window. Finally, my mom started pulling down the window shade when she put me to bed.

Shortly after we began the shade-drawing ritual, the ghoul started tapping on my window to wake me up. When I screamed out in fright, Mom hurried in and opened the shade. There was nothing outside my window, but the ghost smugly hovered beyond, in its place by the tree, invisible to anyone but me.

On the night of the card game, the ghost tapped over and over again, relentlessly trying to get my attention. Finally, I couldn’t endure the tapping any longer.


“What’s out there?” My dad’s friend Don asked, touched by my tears and sobbing.

“A real ghost,” I blubbered, at which my dad dismissively shrugged his shoulders.

“Well, we’re not afraid of ghosts, are we?” Don declared, speaking for Dad.

Bravely armed with flashlights, they went outside to dispel of the meddlesome ghost. Uninhibited by the martinis they’d drunk, they threatened the ghost and hollered at it to be gone.

Their efforts proved fruitless, as the ghost continued its regular appearances, until one day it dawned on me that this nuisance was really quite harmless. Only then was I able to fully concentrate on ways to avoid the bogeyman I was convinced lived under my bed.

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