I don’t know about ghost busting, but I learned that the best way to get rid of a ghost haunting your house is to haunt it back. Trust me. There’s something about Waynsboro, Pennsylvania that attracts them, so I’ve had to handle a few.
The idea first struck me when I rented the place on Ringgold Street. This ghost was apparently a failed opera tenor because he wandered the apartments singing, mostly Wagner, his favorite being “Mit Gewitter und Sturm aus fernem Meer.” I’m being very generous with the word ‘singing.’
The house was subdivided into four apartments, old Mrs. Kaiser and a college student named Winnie on the first floor, a mechanic named Jules in the basement, and me upstairs. That ghost loved the upstairs, but he really freaked out Mrs. Kaiser a lot, too. Especially when he did his staircase serenade.
“Mrs. Kaiser. How would you feel about staying with your son for a few weeks?”
“Ach. I will spend the first week cleaning up after him, and the second week finding him a wife. I’m sure he won’t mind.”
After discussing things with Winnie and Jules, Winnie decided to stick around, but Jules opted to take a vacation in Cancun.
What’s the greatest of horrors for an opera singing ghost? How about a two week long, all-out heavy metal dance party. Yes. I did.
First I borrowed my friend Freddie Stein’s massive sound system, then set up a makeshift stage in my living room with every guitar and amplifier I owned. I called some buddies to pitch in drum sets and anything else I could get. Then I sent fliers out. I used to gig with the Bedwetting Ninjas, so I had lots of connections.
The party never stopped. Believe me—it’s not much harder sleeping to twenty guests screaming to Dead Kennedys than to one ghost moaning ‘Oh, Eisenstein, you mastermind’ from Fledermaus.
The ghost ran around in a tizzy. He made the mistake of singing in Tim Kaufman’s face in some attempt at a spectral duel, but Tim just stared him down and turned up the scream. Think Caleb Shomo through a bullhorn. I think the last straw might have been when he buried his head in the couch pillows, and Larry Porter ralphed right through him. Yeah—I’d already ordered carpet cleaners, upholstery cleaners, and spacklers for the aftermath.
Sometime during the five hour Iron Maiden set he was gone. I handed off the lead guitar to Stewart Carter for a break and headed to the freezer to ice my fingers. It took me a few minutes to realize I didn’t see him anywhere. I checked the other apartments and made the call—this house was clean. So to speak. It was actually trashed, but that’s the price you pay.
I let the party play itself out. No need to be a buzzkill just because it had served its purpose. The final day was Led Zeppelin day. Awesome.
I ran into another ghost when I moved to Meadowbrook Drive. I had this one to myself, and I was going for a den of personal comfort. The ghost was a squat, pig-faced thing with a raspy voice that made my teeth buzz. He really creeped me out, especially when he kept repeating, “I can shove it in the coal box, and they’ll never know.”
I experimented a while with different kinds of music and annoying sounds, but it wasn’t until I started using visuals that he was noticeably irritated. The first reaction was to a disco ball in a movie on TV. He’d been trying to intimidate me by snorting in my ear, but that ball came on the screen and he yelped, diving behind the couch. The final answer was strobe lights. I put one in every room, and he was out before morning.
My most recent encounter with a ghost is in the house I’m in now off of Cleveland Ave. First one I’ve ever owned, nice yellow brick and well kept. When they disclosed the problem with the ghost I didn’t even bat an eye. I probably should have ground them down for it, but it was really no big deal, so we closed.
My real estate agent, Carla, came by on my move in date. Sure enough there was a pretty gruesome wraith zipping all over the place making a horrible screech.
“So what’s this one’s deal?” I asked.
“The best we can tell, she died in the house that was torn down to build this one,” said Carla.
“It’s kind of odd,” I said. “She hasn’t approached me directly even once yet.”
“She’s deaf and blind,” said Carla. “She might not even know you’re here.”
In my best imitation of Antonio Banderas as Zorro I said, “This will be more difficult.”