So, I thought I had a ghost. That may sound like a crazy statement, but it’s true. And while I thought the first haunting might have been a fluke, we’ve now had two encounters, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that he is very real and very much involved in my life.
In early 2010, I took a walk over to the old “Transportation Building” (now a food court) to get a coffee. In between the ATM and the Dunkin’ Donuts, a large flat screen TV has been installed in the wall, and it’s almost always playing Headline News. This particular morning, they were doing a story about US soldiers in Iraq playing flag football. I lingered a bit watching the piece, mostly to avoid going back to work, and after a minute or two, a man who I assumed to be homeless joined me. When the news piece ended, he turned to face me, pointed his finger in my face, looked me dead in the eyes and repeated three times: “West Point.”
For those of you who don’t know, West Point, NY is where I’m from. It’s also home to the United States Military Academy. So while at first I assumed that this seemingly homeless man had been stalking me my entire life, was now making his presence known and would one day pounce and finally kill me, after a few days I had calmed myself with the thought that the military story had prompted his outburst and it was all just a coincidence (P.S. – if I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that I don’t really believe in coincidences).
I’d seen the homeless man a few more times over the course of the year, and he never approached me again. Until last week.
On another coffee break, this time with my co-worker Sam (Sidenote: I need to write a post about the field trips I take my co-workers on, because they almost always end in some kind of disaster or a Kelly Carroll apocalyptic life moment, like the time I made everyone walk to the nearest Cosi. Seriously, we needed a map and compass, and two people turned back halfway through. It was very similar to Into the Wild. Or, like the time I made Laney go to a bar with me to watch NCAA basketball and the bar didn’t exist. Fail.), the homeless man passed in front of us and I told Sam the West Point story, and how now I just assumed the man was a ghost. She made fun of me, because none of my co-workers take my stories seriously, and we proceeded to get coffee. Coming out of Dunkin’ Donuts, the homeless man made his approach. Again with his finger in my face he said “he’s right out there,” and pointed to the alleyway. Petrified, I responded “ok, thank you” (good to know?) and tried to engage Sam in conversation. “He’s right out there,” the homeless man continued, “and he’d eliminate you if he could get away with it.” Ok, now this shit’s for real.
Sam may have pulled me away at that moment, or I may have run, it’s all a little foggy, but all I kept saying was “now do you believe me??” To which Sam replied very astutely, “yes, but I saw him, so he can’t be a ghost.” This is true. Because everybody knows that ghosts don’t appear to everyone, and the major plot line in any ghost story is that everyone thinks the person being haunted is crazy because they can’t see what the haunted person does.
So now the only thing I can think is that this guy is some kind of Julius Caesar-like soothsayer. He’s not trying to haunt me. It’s much worse than that. He’s trying to warn me of my demise. So today, on March 15, I tell you, on good authority: “beware the ides of March.”