From the Book:
Time has little meaning to a ghost; days and nights are not
reckoned, neither is the changing of seasons or the passing of
years. But ghosts are aware of novelty, and new things were happening
all around them.
The Second World War was over and suddenly there were thousands
of veterans and their families who needed a place to live. It
seemed to the ghosts that the two rows of almost identical little
houses now facing each other across the new road replacing the
overgrown track that for ages had passed by Stonybrook House
had sprung up overnight. Sidewalks in front of these houses bustled
with dozens of children of all ages playing noisily. Mary and
Edwin now had living neighbors, a whole passel of them.
At first Mary couldn't watch the children at their games;
they were too much of a reminder of what she and Edwin wanted
but could never have. However, as time passed, Mary began to
join Edwin at the window and they watched with considerable interest
the children and their parents live their lives
But since the only constants in life are change and death,
change was inevitable. The terrible tangle of titles and deeds
was at last straightened out and Stonybrook House passed into
the hands of the developer who had built the other houses on
At first Stonybrook House fought the backhoe sent to tear
it down; it labored hard and harvested little. There was an eerie
stubbornness about the house that the contractor perceived rather
than experienced in a real sense. But he was also stubborn and
would not be deterred from his plans. With the cooperation of
the township fire department and a windless fall day, Stonybrook
House was saturated with a potent accelerant and torched.
Mary and Edwin fled to the only refuge available to them and
rejoined their now bare bones at the bottom of the old cistern.
Freezing and thawing had loosened, then cascaded stones from
the sidewalls, anchoring layers of decomposed plant matter over
the skeletons, all later covered by mud from the now unrestrained
sides of the cistern. In the light of the dying embers falling
into the basement of the house, the cistern appeared to be only
a depression in the ground beside the foundation.
Subsequently the old foundation was back-filled and replaced
by a concrete slab upon which another ticky-tacky house was built.
The paint had hardly dried when a young veteran and his Japanese
war bride moved in.
They were very much in love and their lusty energy began to
radiate like microwaves in all directions. It took a while to
penetrate to the level of their bones but eventually it did,
and Mary was the first to feel it. Her long quiescent body began
to respond. She reached for Edwin and felt his response. There
was no discussion and therefore no decision arbitrated, they
moved in with the current tenants and occupied a small, unused
room that someday might become a nursery. The energy generated
by the young couples frequent bed boogies enabled Mary and Edwin
and they joined the couple in ecstatic sexual romps.
However, it wasn't long before the glorious glow of bodies
radiating sexual pleasure began to be replaced by a malevolence
that dampened, then extinguished Mary and Edwin's ability. The
bond between husband and wife was being stretched to almost the
breaking point, but from without more so than from within. Her
white Christian neighbors resented having a Japanese woman, rumored
to be a Buddhist, in their neighborhood. At first, foul-worded
signs were staked in the couple's yard. Then eggs began flying
at their new home followed by paint bombs. This hostility fueled
the homesickness his bride had tried hard to dampen, but finally
gave into, and her husband reluctantly returned her to her parents
in Japan. The newlyweds had provided pleasant diversions for
Mary and Edwin but they were willing to trade those for having
the house to themselvesand they intended to keep it that
The first attack on their privacy was by a loan officer from
the bank that carried the mortgage on the abandoned house, accompanied
by a realtor. They had walked through the house making notes
about its condition and were approaching the front door when
Mary appeared between the door and their startled eyes. Well
not of all of Mary, just her head sagging on her twisted neck
and her upper torso with her large, attractive breasts bared,
her nipples glowing crimson. The two men stood transfixed, neither
courageous enough to tell the other what he was seeing. Mary
blessed them with a provocative smile then slowly evaporated
from sight. That energized the two men who hastily made for their
cars and quickly left the neighborhood.
The loan officer did not mention what he had witnessed to
his superiors and suggested that with some touching up Stonybrook
House could again become a desirable property. Within a week
a restoration crew appeared on site and went to work repairing
the damage to the outside of the house. The paint was barely
dry when a realtor accompanied by two middle-aged women toured
the premises. Mary and Edwin had a brief conference and decided
against materializing. Instead they followed the trio around
slamming doors, turning water faucets on, and causing the ceiling
lights to suddenly glow brightly and then fade away. The young
realtor tried to usher the two ladies out of the house as rapidly
as possible, but they politely refused and asked to go through
the house again. On the pretext of having to locate some papers
in her car, the young realtor hurriedly left them alone.
"How many, Maude," one woman said to the other.
"I sense two, Matilda," the other woman replied.
"A man and a woman?" Maude again.
"Yes, and young," Matilda responded.
Maude Reamer and Matilda Henderson were professors at the
community college that had become a university as the town became
a city. Maude was a psychologist whose area of interest was the
Paranormal and Matilda was a cultural anthropologist, also interested
in her partner's field of research. On campus, and to a lesser
extent off, they were known as the Ghostly Gays.
With almost no recognition from the rest of the neighborhood,
Maude and Matilda moved in and began investigating. Mary and
Edwin felt them reaching out, trying different ways to make contact.
At first they wanted nothing to do with the women, but their
constant probing was nagging and made the young couple uneasy.
So they decided to scare Maude and Matilda into leaving.
Edwin tried first enveloping Maude in a miasma while she was
cooking supper. Maude quickly called Matilda to witness this,
but before she got to the kitchen Edwin had withdrawn his presence
and the noxious vapors had dissipated.
Mary then tried a different approach, hiding things. This
proved to be more aggravating to the owners, but did not prove
intolerable. Edwin joined in Mary's mischief by turning on all
of the burners on the stove each night; Mary loosened fuses frequently,
leaving the women in darkness. Since none of their pranks induced
the Ghostly Gays to move, Mary and Edwin grudgingly accepted
their presence but stubbornly resisted the professors' attempts
to become acquainted.
A decade later Maude and Matilda retired, both honored by
the university by being invested as Professors Emeritus. Tired
of the New England winters they took adjunct positions at a community
college near Tomque, a small town in northwestern Arizona and
settled in. But they did not forget about the ghostly residents
they left behind.
Stonybrook House again untenanted by living residents, remained
During the decade following the departure of the Ghostly Gays,
the neighborhood began changing as many of the young families
outgrew their little houses and moved out and up in the world.
The new gaggle of residents did not maintain their cheap houses,
and marked by blighted yards, ignored gardens, and junked cars,
the neighborhood slid into decay. At the same time the city continued
to expand its boundaries and what had once been a pleasant suburb
became an urban slum.
Urban renewal began to erase its blighted presence. The woods
that for so many decades had furnished Mary and Edwin occasional
company, fell victim to the chainsaws of the DOT as it was sacrificed
to make room for an interstate bypass. The neighborhood was leveled
and construction begun on a large mall to be anchored by a Wal-Mart.
In the process Stonybrook House was demolished and once again
evicted Mary and Edwin who returned to their bones.
Shortly after digging began to accommodate the basement of
the super store, the bucket of a backhoe broke into the ancient
cistern and as the operator dumped his burden of moldering, muddy
matter into an awaiting dump truck, a skull smiled at him from
the top of the pile.
All digging stopped.
The professor that had replaced Matilda was called in and
he and a select team of his students began to explore the site.
Within a month they had uncovered Mary's and Edwin's skeletal
remains, enough fabric to gain an understanding of the approximate
era that the two were deposited in the cistern, and had concluded
correctly that Mary had been throttled and Edwin's skull cleaved
in twain; conclusive evidence of foul play.
Local, county, and state police puzzled over the find, and
finally declared that since the perpetrator or perpetrators were
probably also long since deceased, no further action was indicated.
The couple's bones were cleaned, boxed, labeled and placed on
a shelf in the biology lab's storage closet where they were soon
Disrupted and disturbed Mary and Edwin did not rest easy near
their remains. They began roaming around, first in the biology
building, and then moved out into other venues. From time to
time they did a little mischief to keep themselves amused and
the administration confused.
One evening they decided to explore the university library,
a large six-story structure gifted by Andrew Carnegie. They glided
from floor to floor until they reached the sixth, the repository
for the library's older newspapers and periodicals. A layer of
dust on the shelves attested to the morgue's neglect.
Mary first became aware that they were not the only entities
up there. She called Edwin's attention to the sounds of sex in
progress. They glided around a row of shelves to the left of
where they were and saw a coed bent over slightly, her hands
on a pile of magazines, legs apart as far as her panties down
around her ankles would allow, her partner behind holding her
skirt up and as deep inside her receptive body as he could get.
She was moaning with pleasure.
In response to the rampant sexual energy radiating from the
couple, Mary and Edward's incorporeal selves began to gain substance.
Mary looked at Edwin and he nodded; she assumed the coed's position
and Edwin sheathed his staff in her willing cleft of Venus. The
two couples climaxed at almost the same moment.
The ghostly duo soon discovered that this venue was a very
popular place for carnal activities. Blankets came out from where
they had been stashed behind piles of antique journals in preparation
for coupling and now and then even a sleeping bag. Couples of
both persuasions appeared almost every day and evening, sometimes
only one, sometimes more. Mary and Edwin 'feasted' often on the
sexual energy so readily available to them.
The university's newsletter was sent to all retired faculty and
a copy containing a short article about what had come to be called
The Wal-Mart Dig' came into Matilda's hands. She hurried
to Maude, almost overwhelmed with excitement.
"Our ghosts, Maude," she blurted out as she handed
her partner the article. That evening they drafted a letter to
Matilda's successor citing several of the paranormal experiences
they had while living in Stonybrook House and explaining their
interest in the bones. Might they be of some assistance in discovering
the identity of the dead? Their offer was immediately accepted.
The university gave the Ghostly Gays an office and access to
the university's archives where they discovered the papers written
decades before by the students in the course on local lore. These
anecdotes narrowed their focus considerably and they began a
thorough search of all available community records from before
It took Maude and Matilda the better part of six months but
they finally claimed success. They were almost one hundred percent
certain that the skeletal remains belonged to Mary Holmes, who
had married a Hugh Morgan, and Edwin Oswalt, her stepbrother.
The whereabouts of Hugh Morgan after the disappearance of the
two young kinfolk was never ascertained.
Intuition and conjecture followed and a picture of two grisly
murders fueled by jealousy and hate emerged. Hugh apparently
had caught Mary and Edwin in flagrante, and after killing them,
shrouded their bodies, weighted them with stones, and sent them
to the bottom of the cistern. This scenario was rather easily
constructed from the archeological evidence.
The slab for the super store was finally poured, walls put
up, a roof laid upon them, doors and windows installed. Then
came the shelves and the stock and the grand opening. The city's
first discount store was open for business and ghostly