Every time a shooting star is scheduled, Arthur, Carol and Tim choose a house with the best vantage point to haunt, carefully making sure its residents are not home.
But this time Arthur recognises the decor. The furnishings belong to his ex-boyfriend, Alexander, a man he never got over. And judging by the happy snaps in the photo frames, Alexander lives with a new lover.
Just as the ghosts settle in to watch the celestial event, the occupants return home early.
Arthur stepped through the door first. The house spirit stood to the side of the entrance.
“Welcome to the abode,” she greeted. “You know it’s customary to tip me.”
“Of course. If you spill red wine on carpet, soak it in soda water immediately.”
“I know that one, but it is a good tip. Thank you. Now, your name, please.”
“Oh, sorry. My name is Arthur.”
“And I’m Sabrina. You picked a good night to haunt this house. The residents are away.”
“I know. That’s why we’re here. By the way, I like your scarf.”
Sabrina felt the texture of the silk, sliding her hand over her head. “Really? Why, thank you. It’s new.”
“I like the small red roses dotted all over it. Very stylish with old-world simplicity.”
Sabrina grinned. Arthur strode into the living room. “I’ve seen this lamp before.” He stroked the fabric of its shade.READ MORE
Carol and her boyfriend floated through the closed door. “Hello,” she said to Sabrina. “I heard you introduce yourself to Arthur.”
“And you are?”
“Carol. And this is my better half, Tim.”
“And your tips?”
“Stainless steel appliances can be cleaned with baby oil on a paper towel,” Tim replied.
She smiled and ushered him in.
“Fresh mint in every room will keep flies away,” Carol said. “And lavender deters mosquitoes.”
“Oh, two tips. I’ll keep them in mind. You may enter.”
Tonight, Arthur, Carol, and Tim were stargazing again in the mortal realm. Whenever a shooting star was planned, one of the friends would choose an empty home for all three to explore. Its occupants would always be on holiday. These ghosts would lounge around, flick through the music selection, check where the alcohol was stashed, and time their stay so they could enjoy the meteor show from the best vantage point.
Arthur moved on to the bar. “Ah, vodka!” He screwed off the lid and sniffed the bottle. “Not the usual standard I’m accustomed to.” He felt queasy. He massaged his temples and ambled to the stereo. “Yes! They have a record player.”
Tim rubbed the shade of the vintage lamp. “Is this from the seventies? It’s got that rough feel. And notches. But I don’t remember it from any other place we’ve haunted.”
Carol joined him for a closer look. “It’s from an era when texture was in. Do you think it’s a family heirloom? It’s out of place with the rest of the décor.”
“Well, you picked a suburban house instead of a mansion.” Arthur thumbed through the vinyl collection. “Even their music tastes are suburban. What made you choose this house? It’s not our usual luxury stay.”
“This neighbourhood has the best vantage point for tonight’s cosmic star show,” she replied.
“Are you sure?” Arthur asked. “Any mansion on the harbour would be better than…Hey, they have Donna Summer.”
“Which album?” Carol joined Arthur. “I know that cover. Donna on an old radio. It’s a ‘best of’ collection with a few new songs thrown in. Well, they’re old songs now but you know what I mean.”
Arthur pulled out an album with a cartoon image of a man in a pink shirt. “Who are Bright Light Bright Light?”
Tim peered over his shoulder. “You’re gay and you don’t know who Bright Light Bright Light is?”
“I’ve been dead for a while,” Arthur replied.
“Ah, I remember this artist.” Carol pulled the record from its sleeve. It was bright pink. “I saw this cover come up on the computer screen we played music from in that house with the marble entrance. The big mofo marble entrance.” She handed the record to Arthur who placed it on the turntable. “We’re in another gay household.”
“Cool.” Arthur recognised the first track. “Yeah, this was a good album.” He hummed along.
“Hey, you’ve got to see this,” Tim called. He was around the corner in the dining area. “Arthur, you really have to see this.”
“Why are you looking through their photo album?” Carol asked her boyfriend. “You’re not the nosey type.”
“Well, Arthur thought the lamp looked familiar so…” Tim gazed at its open page from the surface of the cabinet he found it in.
“Arthur.” Carol’s tone was urgent. “You really need to see this.”
But as Arthur strode towards them, he recognised something else. On the same dining room cabinet was a collection of framed photos. Most of the people in the pictures he didn’t know, but the grey-haired woman in the teal dress and the man with his arms wrapped around a stranger from behind were instantly familiar. Older, but familiar.
“That’s the love of my life,” Arthur muttered. He pointed to the man he knew.
Carol’s eyes widened as she gazed at Arthur. “That explains why your photo is in this album.”COLLAPSE
Sadonna on Love Bytes Reviews wrote:
In the tradition of Noel Coward’s play, Blithe Spirit, Kevin Klehr’s ghostly short story is both amusing and chilling.
Three ghosts, Arthur, Carol and Tim, meet at a suburban house with a view to enjoy a shooting star—a custom the friends have developed over time. It is an interesting take on ghosts and what they can do—since the lore about ghostly abilities varies widely and is easily adapted to an author’s own wishes.
As the ghosts explore the house—whose owners are absent, which is part of the custom, the house spirit, Sabrina, watches them. I really enjoyed the notion of a “ghostly culture” in which behaviors and customs are established. It is lighthearted, filled with the banter of people who know each other and have done this before.
The story starts to get strange (stranger?) when Tim sees something as the trio explores the house. The attention turns to Arthur—and then the house’s owners return unexpectedly, shifting the tone of the story gradually darker.
There is an intentional feel of a sitcom episode in this story, yet the shock at the center of the narrative keeps the tone dark, even at its slapstick silliest. Ghosts are not just the spirits of the dead: they’re people, too, with feelings and memories (at least while they’re still “here”).
As the plot unspools to its finale, it turns to a quietly poignant tone, which is surprisingly touching and heartfelt. The whole story is a delightful surprise, covering a wide range of emotion in a short time.
Arthur and his friends Carol and Tim visit a house that they have designated as the perfect spot to catch a shooting star. They are making themselves at home and poking about in the belongings of the house’s occupants who are guaranteed to be away. Things take a turn though when Tim and Carol recognize Arthur in a photo album with Alexander, the owner of the house. Arthur is a bit sad because he left Alexander who he thought was the love of his life. He sees that Alexander has moved on with someone new as there are pictures of the two of them. Carol and Tim try to get Arthur to talk about his life with Alexander and why he was the love of his life, but the all bets are off because a car stops at the house. And Alexander and the boyfriend are home.
Carol and Tim and Arthur watch Alexander and the new guy, Edward, in action. Seems like Alexander hasn’t changed too much. Tim and Carol encourage Arthur to reach out and communicate with Alexander. Then things take a 180 degree turn! Oh my!
Whoa! I did NOT see that coming. Seems like a nice little ghost story, revisiting the past. Trying to impart wisdom to the living in order for them to not repeat patterns. Then BAM! Out of left field, this story becomes something else entirely! It was surprising and I really wanted to see what would happen 🙂 This was a spooky story with suspense and some humor and I really enjoyed the plot twists. Let’s just say that in they end, everything works out 😉 Recommended for fans of ghost stories in particular. This short story packs a real punch!