Last week, Sam Sykes, of the Tome of the Undergates series, suggested on Twitter that we exchange ghost stories, to be posted on one another’s blogs.
Over the weekend, we exchanged ghost stories. And we reflected that this may well be the end of our careers.
You can read mine here, and learn about my ignorance of toilet factories, as well as the Jewish culture. But now, without further ado, I give you Sam Sykes’s melancholy tale of haunted genitalia, and weirdly displaced rage, which I have chosen to entitle:
“Mr. Bosch,” she said very calmly, “your penis is haunted.”
It’s funny. I had spent my entire life bracing myself for the day when I would have to hear those words.
I mean, not those words, specifically. But you know, something along those lines. My penis was definitely going to be involved, I can tell you that much. Funnily enough, though, I didn’t feel all that prescient at that point.
“I see,” I said very calmly right back—calm enough to make her calm look like a ranting, raving pile of poop.
“I’ll admit, I had my doubts as a scientist.” She took off her glasses, at that point, to remind me that she was, in fact, a scientist. She was always doing things like that.
Pissed me right the fuck off.
“But the facts are irrefutable,” she said, tapping the clipboard with one thumb. “Your readings are off the charts and I’m more than a little concerned about your scan results.”
She didn’t have to point. We all knew which scan results she was talking about. Still, I couldn’t help but look—whenever someone references my junk, I find that the advice I was given on my wedding day still held true.
In tastefully sterile black and white, my genitalia were painted across the electric glow of a lit backdrop. As usual, I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed with the turnout. My penis was angled slightly to the left, coyly looking away from the camera as though it just wouldn’t be polite to stare.
I had lost my virginity to a photography major. Bashful genitals ever since. Damnedest thing.
“As you can see, I believe the haunting to be located primarily around here…” She waved her hand in a noncommittal gesture around the picture. She wouldn’t touch it; she had too much class for that. “Around this whole…yucky part.”
In fact, I could see that, and there was nothing she could do to stop me.
Admittedly, I hadn’t seen many movies on the subject but I was well-informed enough to know that one shouldn’t feel disappointment upon being told that they are in possession of a haunted penis.
And yet, I couldn’t really help but echo the sentiments of the face looking back at me from the photograph of my business. You might have missed it, had you not been looking as I had.
That was my first moment of despair.
It was a bland face: a pair of blank, featureless eyes, a perfectly straight line for a mouth. No withered old man peering out at me, no wide-eyed Japanese ghost with streaming black hair. No. I got a face that looked like it belonged to a mid-level lawyer used to getting people out of DUI charges who had been to a fair share of penises in his day and this wasn’t even one of the nicest ones he had ever haunted.
“So, what, exactly, do we do about this?” I asked. I didn’t really bother with the calmness, at this point. It would have seemed rude not to be at least a little panicked.
“Well, you’ve got a number of options here,” she replied, donning her glasses again like they made her so goddamn smart. “We could try some more science-y shit. I don’t know. Or get an exorcist to take a look.”
That came with its own set of problems.
You only ever got the two kinds of exorcists. The first kind was always a staunch, hard-set fellow struggling with his faith. I don’t want to seem like I disapprove of the religious, mind; I’m perfectly happy to listen to sermons and give to charities that people in nice suits assure me are definitely not out to beat people with books.
But having my haunted penis looked at by a person of religion seemed like it would have been uncomfortable. Like, it wouldn’t just be the ghost in my genitals, you know? I’d get all kinds of lectures about grooming and maintenance and the dangers of briefs and I just wasn’t ready for that kind of lecture right now.
The alternative, of course, was the “renegade” exorcist. The type that was too extreme for the church, all clad in leather and wearing spikes and probably with a name like “St. Xavier Delacroix Doombarrel.” Probably would get a book deal out of exorcising my junk. All getting book signings and people coming up and shaking his hand and saying “thank you, sir, for all the tireless work you did on that man’s penis.”
“Isn’t there anything, like,” I said, “a little more natural?”
“Oh. Oh, yeah. Heck yeah.” Her eyes lit up. She had been waiting for this. “See, sometimes, ghosts don’t pass on because they have unfinished business. You just…you know…same concept, except with your penis.”
“Yeah, just…you know, maybe ask it what it wants or something.”
“Right. Right, of course. So, do I…I mean, right here or…?”
“Yeah, man. Sure.” She blinked before her eyes went all nerd-in-a-girl’s-room wide. “Oh. OH! Uh…yeah.”
She turned around. My trousers hit the floor. I looked at my penis.
It looked bored.
“Ghost,” I said. “Ghost, get out of my junk.”
My penis did not provide an answer to my summons. I didn’t like that.
“Ghost. What the hell do you want, ghost?”
“DO YOU MEAN IN A SPIRITUAL SENSE,” the ghost replied in exactly the way you’re thinking he did.
“You are a spirit, so yeah, probably.”
“Ghosts might like material things,” she said, ponytail bobbing with each word. “I think I read that somewhere.”
“I LIKE TO THINK THAT WE ALL WANT THE SAME THINGS. YOU KNOW FULFILLMENT AND SHIT LIKE THAT.”
“You are not fulfilling anything in my penis,” I said sternly to the ghost. “Please remove yourself.”
“I DON’T THINK I CAN DO THAT JUST YET. I GOT LOST ON MY WAY TO THE OTHER SIDE AND I AM NOW TRAPPED BETWEEN WORLDS. IN YOUR PENIS.”
“That’s been known to happen,” she said. “It’s definitely happened, I’d say.”
“How do we move you on, then?” I asked.
“I NEED YOU TO FORGIVE ME.”
“FOR ALL THE TERRIBLE THINGS I HAVE DONE.”
“OH HECK THERE ARE BASICALLY A LOT OF THEM IT IS PROBABLY EASIER TO JUST ASSUME THAT I HAVE DONE WHATEVER YOU ARE THINKING OF RIGHT NOW.”
She put a hand to her mouth and stifled a gasp.
“I…I forgive you,” I said to my penis. “I know you’ve done bad stuff.”
“IT IS BASICALLY MY NATURE TO DO SO. I AM SORRY.”
“That’s fine. We all do bad things, sometimes. I can’t make you feel bad for that.”
“I DO THAT ENOUGH ON MY OWN I THINK.”
“You don’t have to, anymore,” I said, nodding at my penis. “You don’t have to prove anything to anyone, least of all yourself.”
“THANK YOU FOR BEING MY FRIEND.”
There are literally all kinds of nasty ways that could have ended, what with the ghost leaving my body and all. But the truth is that it was all a little rushed, like he just left without really figuring out why.
I was okay with it. But part of me really wanted this to be more of an ordeal.
“So…can I turn around now?” she asked me.
“I don’t think that’s wise,” I said. “It’s not at all exciting.”
She nodded, like she had been expecting that the whole time.
God damn it.
“Where will you go now?” she asked.
I had seen enough movies to know I was supposed to say something pithy here, something to summarize exactly what we had all gone through and what it had meant to me.
“Probably the grocery store. I haven’t picked up anything for dinner yet.”