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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 10.31.10
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

It's perfectly paranormal: a Halloween tale

"Did you hear that?" Beth sat up in bed. The clock read 3:14 a.m. The night was dark, which was pretty standard for 3:14, come to think of it.

"Wha-a...?" Jake groaned beside her. "What's wrong?"

"I heard something. This shuffling sound and then a clicking and a whir."

"Sorry, I have a cold."

"No, not you," Beth said. "It was coming from over by your desk, where you keep all the books and documents having to do with your promising law career."

Jake squeezed his eyes tight and tried to figure out why his wife was providing so much dramatic exposition, as if his law practice might become a relevant detail in the very near future. "It was probably just the house settling," he grumbled.

"No, I heard something. And it's not the first time. I think it's... paranormal activity."

Jake sighed. "I'm sure it's nothing. Tell you what: let's look at the video I've been shooting while we were sleeping to see if there's anything on it."

"Why are you shooting a video of our bedroom?" Beth asked.

"Huh? What? I mean... er... hey, there's no time to lose! There might be ghosts!" Jake sputtered.

Retrieving the camera from behind the life-size cardboard cutout of Anthony Perkins, Beth and Jake sat on the bed, rewound the videotape and pressed play. They fast-fowarded past ordinary images of them sleeping, until...

"There!" Beth said. "Go back."

Sure enough, on the tape they could see papers and files moving around on the desk, as if someone or something was conducting research and preparing documents relating to litigation.

"See?" Beth cried out. "Paranormal activity!"

"No," Jake said soothingly. "Paralegal activity. Completely harmless. And helpful. See? It's collating. Go back to bed."

"Fine. But get rid of that camera. It's totally creeping me out."

The next night was also dark; it was becoming a trend.

Suddenly, Beth shot out of bed, gasping and choking, her hands to her throat.

Jake jumped across the bed to her side. "What is it?" he asked.

Through her gasps, Beth uttered, "My mouth... there was something in my mouth! It was poking around my gums and snaking between my teeth, like... like..."

"Like floss?" Jake ventured.

"Yes! Like someone was flossing my teeth!" Beth cried. "Paranormal activity!"

"No, darling," Jake chuckled. "Periodontal activity. You should consider yourself lucky - no deductible. Now doesn't your mouth feel clean and fresh?"

"Come to think of it," said Beth calmly, "it is kind of minty."

The pattern continued through the next several nights. One night, Beth and Jake awoke to find a rock at the foot of their bed covered with edible marine snails. "Periwinkle activity," Jake assured Beth. The next night, the television turned on by itself, displaying a History Channel documentary on economic restructuring of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. "Perestroika activity," said Jake, calmly turning off the TV.

Several nights later, Beth heard more noises. This time, though, they weren't coming from their room. They came from downstairs. It sounded like the refrigerator door opening and closing, dishes clattering, and there was foul stench in the air. Beth crept out of bed and tiptoed down the stairs.

In the kitchen she found potato chips strewn about. There were ashtrays overflowing with cigarettes. Dirty clothes were piled in the corner. Empty tins of beer littered the counter. From the living room, she heard a creek. Slowly, she turned the corner, where she saw a dark figure sitting on the sofa.

Beth screamed.

The figure screamed back.

Just then, Jake turned on the light.

"Dude," said the figure, "your lady, like, totally just freaked me out!"

The figure was a man, pale and unshaven, wearing sweatpants and covered in chip crumbs.

"Who's this?" Beth shouted, shaking.

"Oh, didn't I tell you?" said Jake. "This is my old college roommate. He's come to stay with us for a week."

"Sorry if I woke you with, like, all my activity," said the man.

"Beth, I'd like you to meet..."

"Let me guess," said Beth.

"Perry Nourmall."

"I want a divorce."

Moral of the story: Halloween stories and marriages can be ruined by bad puns and lawyers.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through www.townships.ca. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca.

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