The ghost of our old tavern
Nobody told me about the ghost of Hank Sterns until the bartender called me up, blaming me for his haunting the old tavern where we hung out.
And that it was up to me to help rid the place of him.
In truth, I had tried to stop Hank from driving away from the tavern drunk that night long ago, but since I had just stolen his girl, he wouldn’t listen to me.
I agree to see what I could do, though hadn’t a clue as to how to get rid of a ghost.
I suppose I just wanted to see the old tavern again before the owner got so tired of the haunting he turned the place into condos.
I also missed Hank, and hoped we might reconnect as the friends we once were, even if he was only a spirit now.
When I got there, people told me about the whacky stuff that went on there: the clattering bottles, the drinks spilled, toilets flushing by themselves, barrels and other goods moved mysteriously from one part of the building to the other. But people knew it was Hank’s spirits because this spirit emptied every bottle of Coke or rum in the place – Hank’s favorite mixed drink.
Once I walked through the door, the occasional strange events started happening all at once, convincing the owner and patrons that this was indeed my fault.
I knew it was Hank. I could smell his cologne and could hear his laugh, when no one else could. I even felt his closeness, and the longing for the good times we had as kids.
Things calmed down when I called out Hank’s name and asked him to stop.
No hush ever felt so potent as the one that followed, and I got the intense feeling that Hank didn’t want to haunt this place any more than the people here wanted him to.
Hank had always complained about being trapped in the place and kept looking for ways to better his circle of friends. He even envied me when I finally went back to college.
That’s when I made up my mind to help his spirit accomplish what his flesh had been unable.
But when I said I didn’t know how exactly to free him, the place went crazy again.
Bottles shattered and things flew through the air – I imagined aimed at me.
I never felt so helpless, and suffered the wrath of owner and patrons, who pressed me to do something since I’m the one who started the whole thing in the first place.
Then, I remembered Peggy – Hank’s one time love interest who claimed to be a witch.
If anyone knew how to deal with spirits, she would.
While she also hated me for helping to lead Hank astray when they were together, she agreed to help.
It felt strange yet appropriate that the broken people of Hank’s past should come together to save him.
Hank’s spirit went even more berserk when the two of us walked into the tavern – as if we three bore some physic bond none totally understood or controlled.
Guilt dripped in me like blood as if I had ruptured an artery.
Hank’s fury increased, yanking off floor boards and pieces of ceiling to cast them at us.
Peggy alone remained unphased by the attack, talking to Hank the whole time even as she ducked each assault.
She told him we still loved him and that we always will – even if he had done things in the past to piss us both off.
Gradually the fury halted and a sense of darkness that none had seen lifted from the place.
All Hank ever wanted was to know he had died loved.
And deep down, I knew I still did love him, and would miss even this dark aspect of him as he faded away.