I was leaning against the outside wall of the Knowlton Y, observing Ghoul as he struggled to remove his duffel bags from the trunk.
“You gotta lift with your legs,” I said.
“Not like they use to make them. Can you help me?”
“You can do this, Hasselhoff. I believe in you.”
Apparently they will let anyone become a lifeguard; don’t even need a background check if you have the right connections. Who does Ghoul know and what kind of power does he hold over mankind? He procured the application forms on the YMCA’s website and just went for it. I admired his bravado, but the looming fear for the inevitable calamity was enough to extinguish my swagger for good.
“Well,” he failed to shroud his unnecessary sadness. “I’ll be a changed man when I get back, Sam. I don’t even know if you’ll recognize me. Home… I miss it already. You better go before I change my mind.”
“Whatever you say,” I shoved Ghoul away as he dipped low a hug. “What time do you want me to pick you up tonight, like four?”
“That is if they let me go back to my family. Do you think little Billy and sweet Georgina will remember me? They grow up so fast.”
I wish I knew of whom he spoke of that day. Their faces—so sweet and young and void of life—haunt me to this very day. Know that I am sorry for whatever happened to you and if there is anything I can do to help you part from this world… I… all you need is to give me a sign or anything. Point me to your graves, children. Your memories will not be forgotten.
Just show me the way.
“I’ll come closer to four-thirty then,” I said.
He yelled, “I promise to write every day!” as I peeled out of the parking lot.
I wasn’t home long before I received a call from the YMCA. The administrator, Heather Jewell, requested that I returned to the club at once.
“Miss, I will say that I only know this drifter from this morning. He was hitchhiking and I, being the caring gentleman that I am, felt a certain duty to look after those whom are destitute vagrants.”
That sounded pretty good, if I was talking about the person whom she didn’t think I was referring to. Ghoul, in her eyes, was the best damned swimmer she had ever seen.
“The guy must be part dolphin, I swear,” she chuckled on the other end of the phone like an overly assumptive telemarketer from the south.
“That’s a laugh, he can’t swim.”
I was pacing in the living room, stripped down to nothing but my stained white underwear. Splatter Painting sure had its perks.
“That’s what he said before suddenly diving in. This guy’s a natural. He sure has a weird technique, though. Come on down and let’s talk, that is, if your really his manager and all.”
Heather was waiting for me by the front doors.
“Nice to meet ya, son. Ghoul—kind of an odd name if you ask me—has said nothing but good things.”
There was a sort of grandmotherly kindness in Heather that everyone needed in their life. She was tall and rugged with remarkable beauty of someone her age. Heather tipped her cowboy hat and held the door, talking as we made our way to the pool.
“Never seen someone hold their breathe that long,” she said.
“How long are we talking about?”
“Close to ten minutes. He mentioned that he was special forces before his accident. Such a brave hero to go on like he has.”
I sighed, then lazily responded with, “Yeah, something like that.”
The sounds of splashing water spewed from around the corner and to my ears. There was something else there, too, like mild joy mixed with the overpowering stench of chlorine. I looked up to Heather, and noticed her crocodile grin.
“You hear that? Its people excited about the Y again. Been years since I heard anyone laugh around here. See what I mean?”
There was no accurate method to count the mass of onlookers poolside. It was just a wall of flesh glistening in from the indoor lights high above. My eyes caught a dark figure hunched on the tallest diving board. Hushed whispers of anticipation rippled from the crowd. Heather nudged my shoulder, then pointed up to the platform.
“Watch this,” she said.
Ghoul, the showoff, folded at the waist like an Olympic diver. His legs came up and shot-out horizontally. Then they spun, round and round until his limbs became a blur. Wind gusts blew down upon us. I slipped, barely recovered. The bystanders were reduced to a pulsating collective of undecided emotions. Their cries were formidable, and at times, as one.
“HE IS FLYING!”
More like hovering. I knew his tricks, and why he wore a blue-striped full-body bathing suit straight from 1901. Ghoul could dislocate his joints completely. they’d flop around like soggy fettuccine. Then he would gyrate… I mean… I don’t know how to describe it, but he gained enough momentum to lift off with the force of a Blackhawk. Never lasted long, though. Ghoul petered-out then twisted around into a swan dive. Judges scored it seven-out-of-ten. Not bad.
“The swimming coach, Francois, came to me and told me that as of this afternoon we are turning people away for swimming classes. Everyone wants to learn how to swim like our good friend Ghoul. He’s a hit, Sam. The YMCA is finally a hit, again. The money is going to pour in with him as assistant coach. What do you say?”
Ghoul, interacting with strangers in a honorable pillar of our global society?
“Sure, what could go wrong. I’ll take my cut up-front, cash only,” I offered my hand.
Heather crushed my fingers with her iron grip.
“It’s a deal.”
© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017. All rights reserved.
Thanks for coming by and tolerating my stories. I am sending you all positive vibes and sincere gratitude (especially to you faithful fans across the pond. You guys and gals are the best! Yeah, I am choosing favorites, so what?).
Ghoul Tells a Ghost Story parts seven and eight will return Thursday for a double feature. Part Six was a last minute idea that I am glad to have acted upon. Corine is going to be a fun addition to the gang, plus Ghoul’s side adventure allows further insight to his human side.
This has been an awesome experience and I thank you for sharing this with me. Really, I do.
Have a posting schedule for the rest of Summer:
8/3 – Ghost Story parts seven and eight.
8/6 – Not Ghost Story.
8/10 – Ghost Story part nine.
8/13 – Not Ghost Story.
8/17 – Ghost Story parts ten and eleven.
8/20 – Not Ghost Story.
8/24 – Ghost Story part twelve.
8/27 – Not Ghost Story.
8/31 – Ghost Story parts thirteen and fourteen.
I am digging the posting cycle I have right now with a mini-series staggered with random issues. Look for another mini-series starting in September that will take us to winter.
I’ve gone back and revised quite a number of past issues. During this process, I noticed that I was failing with the level of supernatural encounters that Ghoul and Sam should’ve experienced along the way. The abundance of redundant gore attempting to steal a laugh from the readers was too much, too often. I scaled back and incorporated more interactions with the community and random scenarios. And! I edited. Go back and give some of the older issues another read. You may be surprised….
We’re close to launching a Patreon site for Ghoul and my writing. I am tying together a few loose ends before I launch. Basically, I am ensuring I have plenty of content and rewards in line before I start this next stage of my career as an independent writer.
You all have made me so rich in spirit and happiness. I am writing what I want and I have readers who enjoy my stories (I think?). I want to make this a full-time gig. More importantly, I want Ghoul to come to print. Graphic novels are costly and I can’t draw for shit so there is that, but I know that this horrid collection of nonsensical paragraphs will get there someday. And it is all because of you.
Thank you thank you thank youuuuuuuuuuuu!
John Potts Jr.