A Ghost Story: The Stanley Hotel

So much for all that. I’m sitting up here by the Jesus billboard in downtown Estes Park, trying to keep the Rocky Mountain winds from ripping through my ghostly guts. I just lost my job haunting The Stanley Hotel.


I don’t know what came over me. It’s a plush gig. That’s not to say anyone can do it. Lot of ghosts show up here looking for work, but a lot of ghosts are just regular people. The surfer bro who still thinks knock-knock jokes are funny. The accountant with the braying laugh. The woman who wants to pet every dog that comes around. Those things aren’t scary. They’re just annoying. And no one likes an annoying ghost.

Me, I was grandfathered in with the place. I’m not much to look at, but I know what I’m doing. And I’ve got one of the easier tasks in haunting 428. It’s a corner room, big with angled ceilings and it catches all of the wind. So your typical tourist–and they’re mostly the same–shows up all bravado, joking about ghosts, watching The Shining (don’t even get me started) on the dedicated channel, making his finger say “Redrum.” He might go down to the bar for some liquid courage, feel pretty good about himself.

But, buddy, when the lights go out? I almost don’t have to do anything. The wind rattles the old windows and the heating pipes ping throughout the night. I just wait until he’s gone through the first wave of terror. Until his bladder is pushing him to get out of bed, but he’s still huddled under those blankets sweating like crazy and he’s just identifying all of the perfectly rational sources for the noises that have been scaring him. And just when he pushes that first layer of covers back, that’s when I make my move — open the bathroom door with a creak, knock his wallet off the night stand.

Like I said, easy job. Very little actual ghosting. Mostly just a little light poltergeisting.

But work anywhere for 100 years or so and it starts to grate on you. And last night, I just snapped. The thought of going through the motions. The thought of them all getting their corporeal bodies drunk down in the restaurant. The thought of them getting a cheap thrill then never coming back again. So I decided I’d leave my room. They all wanted to see a ghost, I’d show them a damn ghost.

Thing is, I’m an old ghost — mostly faded away by now and hard to see. Not that I’m much to look at. Besides, the mood I was in I can’t exactly explain. So I grabbed a sheet off the bed and marched right out the hall and down the stairs, waving my hands around and screaming “Wooooooo.” What few guests I passed in the hall laughed, thinking it was just some sort of stunt, so no one stopped me.

I walked right into the restaurant and stopped. “Woooooooooo,” I said. “You want to see a ghost? Well, get your fill. Get out your cameras!” Everyone in the place fell silent, unsure whether to laugh or what. I picked up two forks from the nearest table and clanked them together. “I forgot my chains, but here. Booooooo! Scared yet? You know what’s scary? Dying of the typhoid. I’ll tell you that’s scary. That’s right. I didn’t die a forlorn lover. Wasn’t shot before my time. I crapped myself to death. My brother, he died of mercury poisoning from the mine up the hill. How’s that for scary?”

Then I threw the forks back down on the table. “To hell with it,” I said. “I’m going back to my room.”

I ripped the sheet off then and there. Most of them got a view of nothing. Some, sitting in the right light, might have seen the outlines of my skinny frame and tattered clothes, my little whisps of hair. But before I could get to my room, management — the real management of the place — intercepted me and threw me out into the night.

Oh well. Such is death. Maybe I’ll go back tomorrow and beg for my job back. Or maybe I’ll just drift on down the road.

One thought on “A Ghost Story: The Stanley Hotel

  1. After managing to tame spilling coffee I came to think this something between Woody Allen and Hunter S. Thompson, dunno why. Thanks for great reading.

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