I rarely remembered I was talking with a ghost, not a corporal being. At 8:43 each evening, he would materialize in the “comfy” room. We’d lean back in the richly upholstered chairs, feet up on the table. We would both sigh.
I often fell asleep at this point. He reminded me that he had been having conversations with himself for a long time. He liked the challenge of being almost corporal. He favored educated, well-spoken, intelligent women; I had a funny feeling of being honored. He was the only one who suggested I was one of those women.
Our discussions were wide ranging. I was better at current affairs; he was better at history. I trusted his opinion, and after I put my dilemma into a historical context, he would offer serious, viable, and insightful ways to deal with it.
But now I had a serious problem, and telling him was part of the dilemma. Waiting outside the board of trustee’s meeting room, I over heard something that froze me to the core. A developer had been wining and dining members of the board. Some wanted the matter of selling the property to go before the entire board and trust members.
As the eldest female, I inherited the house, and very little money for it’s and my upkeep. My brother, Gerrald, a globe-trotter based in California, as the eldest male, got the money. He received more a month from the trust, than I get for a full year. Selling the place would allow for more global travel. And we never agreed on anything.
If I told my ghostly friend now, he would have more time to absorb the consequences. We would be homeless. I wondered if there were shelters for homeless ghosts. With all the re-gentrification going on, there must be almost as many displaced ghost as people in the new “trendy” areas of the city.
An image popped into my mind of his arrival sharply at 8:43 pm in one of the two 5 million dollar penthouses. I giggled. But this was no time for levity; a serious problem and a serious decision had to be made. All based on an overheard conversation.
As I waited for 8:43, I went back over the endless pages of board meetings, trust meetings, wills, bequeaths, shuttered at some of the early stipulations for inheritance. I knew these documents better than the members of the board and the trust. When I moved in, I wanted to know what was gossip, rumor, family lore/history and the legal aspects.
And the plans we had. He brought it up first, saying the house was far too big for the two of us. He wondered about a home for unwed mothers so they could keep their babies, or an orphanage or housing for the children of the street. He like to pretend he was purely 18th century, but I had caught him several times reading my copy of the newspaper.
I told him of how the house could be used today. A soup kitchen. A shelter. Language classes. Access to computers. Lectures, conferences and classes. Safe daycare and afterschool programs. Art therapy. Counseling. Resources. No more empty rooms and echoing hallways. Children’s laughter, teachers’ encouraging comments would take away the silent emptiness. The smell of age and dust would be replaced by exotic cooking aromas.
The over growth garden could be reclaimed allowing us to grow food for the soup kitchen, and a community garden. A play area. Tennis courts restored. Basket ball half courts installed. Ice hockey rink in the winter. So many possibilities at doing good.
There was no stipulation that the board/trust had to provide funds for renovations, but there was nothing that said other organizations couldn’t.
At 7:30, tears in my eyes, I still wasn’t sure. I had relied on him to help me decide important things. Now, I had to decide on my own. It was only an overheard conversation, not a definite deal done. Would I worry him needlessly? Or, would I be forewarning him of the onslaught to come so he could make what ever arrangements ghosts made when their base, their home disappeared into office buildings, luxury condos and mile high apartment complexes with 2 million as the starting price.
7:45 still wavering and wondering if I could keep my face neutral through all this. What excuse would I have for why I looked worried or tried. Why was I always looking at those documents? Hadn’t I memorized them all yet?
8:00, I had another glass of wine, moved from the huge mahogany desk in the library after carefully putting the documents in the locked drawers and replacing the chain with keys around my neck. I took the bottle and my glass, and with a slight tipsy meandering settled down in my comfy room.
I would mention nothing now. I’d do some sleuthing, recheck the records, write a viable proposal, see if the board/trust had to approve of a new use for the house/property as I was the sole owner of the house at this time. Then, when it would be us against the big guns, I would tell him. Hopefully he would listen and understand why I waited. I had never seen him angry. I had a feeling that was something I wanted to avoid.
8:40, one more sip, arrange my face to look neutral. Pretend to be asleep. 8:43, the room grew cool. 8:44, an ahem from the other chair. I slowly opened my eyes, and was staring into his. I realized this was our house, and we both had the right to know.
I leaned towards him, trying to think of how to start. “I was at the board and trust office this morning . . . . .