When Ghosts Speak Of Ghosts

"What is this that stands before me...?"

I’ve always been intrigued by the supernatural. Probably started about the time I was 11, after having received a book prize on haunted houses for being the fifth in class. [Yes, they did reward such back then; and I have been prize worthy at some point in my life, thank you.] My literary diet for awhile since then consisted entirely of ghost stories, the macabre, and of course the unexplained. After that followed the natural progression into horror stories until I was eventually no longer spooked by the unseen but terrified of the hidden. Then came the slasher movies and by the time Freddy Kreuger came back to life for the fourth time, it all became simply mindless entertainment value. By which time I approached the spookies by diagnosing sense before shivers – that means that I would seek for the sensible explanation behind every scary phenomena.

Nevertheless, I still constantly meet someone with a scary story to tell. There’s always a show of reluctance to tell it at first but it wouldn’t take more than just a few nudges on the right nerve and they’d just spew forth with it. They’d tell it like they were there, all wide-eyed and in your face. Some with an amateurish sense of the dramatic such as the drop of the voice, the quaver in the narration, the impregnated pause followed by a shudder at the recollection of the eerie, the nervous twitch or gesticulations as if sculpting the ethereal. Really, it’s as if they were there.

Oh, hi!

The thing is, they weren’t – they were not there. They were nowhere near there. No, they never tell you from their own personal experiences. It didn’t happen to them. It never happen to them – much like it’s never happened to me; or at least happened to me such that I cannot explain it off sensibly. It’s always a retelling of someone else’s experience; someone they know, someone close to them, someone close to them who knows someone, someone who knows someone close to them who knows – so goes the permutations in the chain of narration. If you question the integrity of the narrator, they say its someone emotionally or sentimentally attached to them, so you would be a real callous bastard to even doubt them.

It’s never of first hand direct experience of the teller themselves.

However, in the utmost rare occasion that it is claimed to be their very own experience, my intrigue wanes when they adamantly refuse to discuss earthbound possibilities of what could have happened or been the cause. It’s as if it has to be supernatural or nothing. They refuse to approach it with House diagnostics or Grissom forensics or even Velma’s logic – they would actually prefer to concur with Scooby Doo than wrest through rational explanations. And of course, it so deeply and emotionally shook them such that you would be from another strain of callous bastards to even consider doubting them.

What concerns me of the phenomena though is this – it’s not that they tell it to be believed, but why do they need to tell it to such effect? Despite being savvy in psychoanalysis, I can see someone who needs the spotlight with their eerie tales, even if it is just for that one moment. And of course they’d be a-hoping that the spotlight will still shine on them in absentia when the story is retold further – assuming of course that the next narrator is not a dick and obliterates them from the narration in order to take the spotlight for themselves.

Everyone has a story to tell, but when it’s a ghost story it always seem to come from personas that do not seem to be for real – much like the ghosts in their stories.