On December 1st I was invited to entertain guests at The Ghosts of Christmas Past ghost walk put on by the Sweetwater County Library. The librarians (all dressed to the finest in dark, Regency style dresses) did a wonderful job decorating and cooking up delectable deserts. Two walls of the room we gathered in were lined with long tables full of sweet morsels and their accompanying recipe cards. We had two groups of guests arriving between 6pm and 11pm, waiting to be entertained by librarians and spooks alike. As they dined by candlelight, I read a part of my ghost story, Cinder, from Specter Spectacular: 13 Ghostly Tales. Cinder is not only the first short story I’ve had published, but this was also my first time reading my work aloud. Despite my galloping heart I was surprised, and greatly encouraged, by the rapt look on so many faces every time I glanced up from the page. And when I stopped (at a climatic point in the story, of course) I was caught up in the expectant silence that filled the room as they waited for more. It was even better than the applause that came next.
At that point, Micki, devoted librarian and seasoned ghost hunter, enlightened us in the proper use of their equipment, including a brand new Ovilus which turns environmental stimuli into words, providing both digital and spoken readouts. No matter what you believe, it’s pretty creepy when a prolonged silence in a dark library is broken by the robotic voice of the Ovilus spitting out strange words. Twice, during the two different tours, it said, “records” and “country.” This wouldn’t be so eerie but for the fact that Micki was just telling us how there was Veteran housing on this site before they built the library. Later, glancing over the list of words the Ovilus had produced that evening, I saw some comical entries as well, such as “fart” and “thong”. Well, who knows what the ghosts were giggling over as they watched our diverse little cluster parade through the darkened stacks? (And no, I wasn’t wearing a thong under my 1820’s styled dress, though I can’t speak for anyone else!)
At the night’s end, the phantoms of so many compliments followed me home. One woman had come up to me immediately after the reading and said, “I have to know what happens next!” and promptly purchased a signed copy. Another, older woman, who seemed very quiet all evening, surprised me at the night’s end by telling me she loved how I wrote. I was honored, thrilled, amazed even! Complete strangers off the street, not even expecting to be read to that evening, becoming interested in my work! I sold all but one of my 14 copies before midnight (how appropriate, to sell 13 copies of Specter!), then slipped into my Malibu and whispered home before it could turn into a pumpkin and the magic of the evening wear off.
I hope the spirits that gathered around us that night were entertained by my story as well. I do distinctly remember the Ovilus saying “story” more than once that evening. A spectral sign of appreciation? Another butt to one of their jokes? Or just a random word zapped onto the screen by a bolt of sudden static electricity? Who knows! Whatever the case, it was an enchanting evening indeed.