Grandpa Comes For A Visit – A Ghostly Tale – Part 6
Another evening flowed by in the village. Wonderful Isaan foods were scarfed, some containing more chillies than others, and beers and other refreshing liquids were drunk to replenish the day's sweat drained mortal husks of native and falang alike. I stuck to my iced teas, knowing full well I had dehydrated myself this afternoon and that alcohol would only further deplete my system and end up giving me a severe headache. I felt good. My skin tingled from the day's sneaky rays of ol' sol, passing right through the cloud cover and irradiating my unprotected flesh. I was warm, but not unduly so.
My muscles ached a bit, and my back throbbed a slow drum beat, but it felt good to have gotten done some things I had wanted to do, and the physical labor hadn't crippled me, as I was afraid might happen after going so long fairly much sedentary since the injuries to my back and neck in work. I felt fit enough, and according to my doctor's orders had been refraining from lifting anything over 20 pounds, well, most times anyway.
After a few hours chattering away with everyone during and after dinner, and an hour or so watching the tv later, the wife and I set off for bed for the evening.
I had a book I had been reading actually as the others watched tv. A book by a black guy who belongs to the Pattayalovers board. He is an English professor from California and writes a good tale. This being an odd one about vampires that took me a while to get into, but once into it I had begun to enjoy the story and had been trying to finish it so I could return it to the guy who had lent it to me on my way back through Pattaya on my return home a few weeks hence.
I lay on the bed reading, waiting for my wife to come back from her shower, intent on some sexual hankie pankie before going off to sleep. Once she returned we played for an hour or so, fell to the mattress satiated and she promptly rolled over and went to sleep. Hmmmm. So much for post-coital bonding. Once I finished my requisite after sex smoke I resumed my book until I began to nod off about a half hour or so later.
I turned off the small reading lamp in the headboard, placed my book in the shelf behind me and lit a goodnight smoke in the darkness. I love a cigarette just before sleeping, and lay there inhaling my fix and reflecting on the day while watching the red glow of the ciggie track through the darkness of the bedroom. I finished the smoke, stubbed out the butt in the ashtray beside me and placed it on the floor next to the bed. Sleep slithered about my consciousness and I closed my eyes in welcome of it.
Suddenly, I felt someone sit on the end of the bed by my feet, which brought me fully awake. What the hell? I felt the bed shift under a weight that I would have guessed, if pressed, to be around the weight of a grown person. We had no cats, the dogs stay outside the house, the bedroom door is closed and locked. It couldn't be Sis or daughter ….. could it? Had the wife gotten up and gone to the hong nam as I started to doze? Without my noticing?
I reached beside me slowly and felt her still lying there beside me. It wasn't my wife. The weight of the presence still could be felt by me, as though someone was sitting on the bed by my feet. I had a good mind to kick out at whoever it was, but something stilled me from doing so for some reason. It felt as though someone was sitting there and watching me in the dark. I was not asleep during all this. I was fully awake and aware. The hairs on my whole body started to rise, and goosebumps tightened my skin to the point of being uncomfortable. What the fuck was this? "Hello?" I said in the dark. "Who's there?" A feeling of terror enveloped me, something I hadn't felt in quite a long time, and my heart, I noticed, was racing. I was holding my breath. I quickly reached behind me and felt for the headboard light switch. As I found it and switched the light on the presence I had felt vanished. I would have sworn once the light was on I would see someone, who, I don't know, but someone, sitting on the end of the bed grinning at me over their practical joke.
This had never happened to me before. I'm not a believer in spooks, I'm not close minded as such, but until that night I'd never had what I knew to be a paranormal experience.
I sat up in the bed and looked at the sheet by my feet where I had felt the weight beside me. Nothing there. No imprint of someone's ass, no dent in the mattress. Nothing there. I rose slowly and went to the door. It was still locked from the inside. A chill ran over my flesh as I stood there. I looked about the floor by the end of the bed, thinking that maybe a pillow or blanket had been sitting on the end by my feet and had shifted off onto the floor, giving an impression to me that something had sat on the bed. There wasn't anything of the sort there or anywhere near the bed that could have done this. I was puzzled, and muttering to myself. "Godammit! I know someone, or something, was there!"
What the hell had I just experienced?
I swear that I was certain someone had sat on the bed. I had felt it. I had HEARD it. The sound of the mattress straw, or cushioning, or whatever the hell is inside our mattress. We have it turned to the firm side, and it does make a distinct rustling or crackling sound when you plop your butt down on the end of the bed.
I wasn't dreaming, I am sure of it. Whatever had happened had been physical, and I am not crazy, or prone to hallucinations or hysterics. I wasn't drunk, nor even drinking that night, and I hadn't had any pain meds that evening either.
Whatever had happened, had happened, and was real. I would swear to it on my life. But, exactly what had happened, I had no fucking idea.
I laid back on the bed and pondered the phenomenon until I finally fell asleep. With the reading light still lit I might add. Creepy!
I slept until morning without waking.
"Superstition is the religion of feeble minds."
Reflections on the Revolution in France
Upon awakening in the morning I noticed the wife was already up and about. I placed my hand on the sheet on her side of the bed, it was cool to the touch. She had been up for a while it seemed. I grabbed my watch and checked the time. Almost nine. I thought again about what I had experienced that last night, but shrugged it off as being too silly to even entertain in the bright light of day. A spooky moment in the dark of night, only that, nothing more. A night terror as I was passing from wakefulness to sleep. Frightening and mysterious, but nothing more. I climbed from the bed and wrapped a tribal silk man-skirt around myself, a gift from Mama, and trod toward the hong nam for a needed shower. Careful not to stub my toe on the damned, and dangerous, threshold.
The wife was puttering about the kitchen area out back I noticed as I shuffled by the rear screen door on my way to the bathroom. I spied her sweet tush bending over the table doing some domestic chore and I changed direction, going outside to say good morning, and possibly snatch a pre-shave morning kiss for myself. Always a nice start to any day as far as I'm concerned. She noticed my coming out the door and turned and greeted me with a big smile.
We exchanged morning greetings and I did manage to sneak a rather big kiss for myself, and even a quick squeeze of her rounded buns as I grabbed her in a bit of a hug too. She asked me if I was hungry, to which I agreed I was in fact famished and could even eat her whole right about that moment. To which she giggled knowingly of my allusions and replied, "Yeah? Sure?" Hmmm. A morning romp seemed to be a distinct possibility. "Where are Sis and look sow (daughter)?" I asked her slyly. "Sister still not come from bring look sow school." she smiled back. "Well? What are you doing out here then? Shouldn't you be in the bedroom?" I sternly suggested. She smiled and said, "Okay!" And off we went back inside to have a pleasant morning interlude, locking the back door behind us so we wouldn't be interrupted in our early play. I love this woman, have I said that yet?
Afterwards, as we sat in bed, we could hear Sis arrive in the truck out front. My wife tried to get up out of bed, but I asked her to stay a bit longer and lie there with me as I smoked a cigarette. I hate to fuck and fly, preferring to luxuriate in the afterglow of a good love-making session. I began to tell her about what I had experienced the night before. As I told my story her eyes became wider and wider, and she became very excited and animated, and kept interrupting my tale with "Yeah?! Sure?! Yuh!?" As though she knew exactly what I was speaking about, and it excited her very much. She shrieked, and giggled, and clapped her hands like a child as I explained my search for some cause to this phenomenon. I found this a bit odd and disconcerting, but finished the story.
When I was done she said simply, yet happily and excitedly, "Grandpa come visit you. Come see my Sammee (husband)." To which I replied, "Huh?"
She jumped up from the bed and said, "Wait, wait!!" and ran from the room. (Why does she never stub her fucking toe on that damned threshold?) "What the hell is she up to?" I thought, as I finished my smoke and stubbed it out. I could hear her talking excitedly and loudly to someone outside in Lao. She soon rushed back in with her sister in tow, and proceeded to instruct me to tell my story once again to Sis. Which I did. They seemed very excited, overtly so.
I told Sis what had happened, she listened to my tale much more calmly than my wife had, and nodded sagely now and then as I explained what I had thought I had experienced. When I was finished she said solemnly, "Mama will be happy to hear this. Her Papa come to see you and wife last night. Big good luck for you and Wife. Good luck for family!"
I was thunderstruck. They actually believed a ghost had visited me last night. Their Grandfather's ghost! And this was good news, and supposedly good luck too?
"Uh, Wife, …… Sis, ….. just how is this supposed to be good luck? And why the hell is he visiting me?" I asked, somewhat mystified, as a chill tickled my spine. Cripes. Fucking spooks wandering about the bedroom at night! Don't know if I like this much or not.
They proceeded to tell me all about Grandpa, the older members of the family, Grandpa's brother, (Sister Ming's Papa) and some family history in the way of explanation to this creeped out falang.
"Death lays his icy hand on kings;
Scepter and crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor, crooked scythe and spade."
Contention of Ajax and Ulysses
So there I was, the center of attention for the family, the "star" of the day. I had "seen" for lack of a better word, maybe "felt the presence of" would do better, Grandpa's pii. (Ghost in Thai is same as pea.) Needless to say I was a bit flabbergasted that everyone seemed to fully believe this was what had happened. No one said anything like, "Yeah, sure! No way. No such thing as ghosts! How much were you drinking last night?" These people believe, fully.
Mama and Auntie were sent a couple of sisters/cousins to report this wonderful, for them at least, news. The ladies of my family were all achatter, and excited no end. It was strange, it was eerie, it was like I was in the friggin' Twilight Zone, and I guess I really was. In my mind I could hear a Thai accented Rod Sterling telling the TV audience, "Here is Mr. Cent. A strange man, in an even stranger land. A farang. He thought he was just visiting his wife's Isaan village. Little did he know that he would experience something odd, something different, something not of this world. Little did he know that today he was about to enter ……………….
ta da dee dah ………… the Isaan Twilight Zone."
Cue weird music. Cut to the first commercial ad.
I was sat down at the kitchen table by wife and Sis. Tea was made and brought for me. I was further questioned, interrogated actually, in depth as to what I had thought I'd experienced exactly. They were all stirred up these superstitious ladies were. I was beginning to make a bit of a joke about it all really. I was curious as to what exactly THEY believed had happened, and began to fire back my own questions at them. I wanted to know a few things myself.
We went over again what I had experienced, and they kept giving each other these knowing glances and talking between themselves. I got the feeling that this had happened before, and that they knew exactly what I was describing to them. This bore out to be true during my own questioning of them. Seems Grandpa and Great Uncle (his brother) have been fairly frequent visitors over the years, decades, since their individual demise. Grandpa the more so though it was explained. The story I got was this.
Grandpa and his brother were the two original founders of our little village. This was many years ago when they were young men looking for some property to grow rice and settle down on. (I still have no idea as to the whole story, such as where were they from originally, why didn't their family have rice land elsewhere already, etc. I have many unanswered questions yet, and intend to delve further into the family history in the future. Might even use it to do a lengthy village life history story one day once I have enough background.) It also came to my attention, ('cause I was asking mostly about Grandpa and why the hell he was sitting on the end of MY bed, and not Mama's, or Sis' or someone else's bed), that my bedroom is almost exactly in the same spot as his old thatch roofed home had originally stood, and our bed is damned near exactly on the spot where he slept himself. This house was torn down a while back once the family built Mama a new house on the property behind my house, long before our house was built. The property was given to my wife to build her own home on one day. Which we did a few years ago. So now Mama's house sits behind ours, we are on the street, and we have a wall and roof connecting both the houses for a common gathering area and open kitchen area. We also have a kitchen inside our house. So our house sits on old Grandpa "George Washington" L***n's, founding father of the village, original home site.
I had not known anything of this family history and story before this. I wonder if Grandpa's Father/Grandfather used to come visit him in the middle of the night sometimes.
After I finally got most of this info from them, and began to understand where they were coming from, and what they believed, I just had to ask Sis, "But why is he coming to sit at the end of MY bed?" Sis had no problem answering this question. "Him want see you. Him take care for you, say hello! Say Sawasdee." This said with a broad grin as though this were an everyday normal thing around here, which maybe it is, and as if the old guy wasn't dead fer chrissakes and was just popping in for a fucking chat.
So, I was trying to be respectful and concerned for their feelings and beliefs, and really tried to understand, and asked many questions about this. But the language barrier is still a bit much for in depth discussions on ghosts and goblins and such. I did manage to convey my not particularly wanting Grandpa to visit me any more when I am trying to go to sleep. Once is quite enough thank you. "Why you say?" says Sis. "Well ……. I don't really want ghosts, pii, even your venerable Grand dad, sitting on the end of my bed at night and scaring the living shit out of me. Nothing against the old guy, but he's dead ya know, and I'm not partial to dead folks. They kinda creep me out." She looked puzzled and said, "Why you say?" I could see where this was going, and tried a different tact.
"Well Sis, how would you like him to come tonight and sit at the end of your bed? Hmmmmm?" She laughed and clapped her hands saying, "No problem! Good luck for me!" I never know if she's being a wise-ass or serious.
I laughed and countered, "Well I'll tell ya what. Why don't you go to the temple and make prayers for him and his brother. Tell him I say hello back at him, nice to see ya Gramps, now go visit Sis and sit on her goddamned bed, and let me sleep." Sis laughed and thought this a grand idea. I offered to give her a hundred baht so she could buy some incense and lotus bulbs and such for an offering at the temple, and told her, "Listen. Ask Grandpa if there is anything we can do for him to make his stay in the other world more pleasant, anything he needs, uh, within reason, dahgling. (Dahgling means "monkey's ass", a pet name I have for Sis.) I ain't paying for a big party! Not now at least. I have enough to do taking care for the living souls in our family. (Time to nip that thought in the bud right away, yessireebob!) But maybe we can do something small for the moment. What do you think?" "Think me not dahgling. Think you same dahgling. Think you give 200 baht!" she exclaimed with a grin. Well, excuse me there, Sapphire.
Anything to keep the old dead bastard from sitting on my bed whenever he felt like it, but for big baht dead man party costs/expenses I'll let him stay there every night if need be. I'm not springing for a dead man party so all the relatives and family friends and hanger on's can stuff themselves and get drunk at my expense. Fuck that shit! Maybe in a few years time. Not now.
Sis and Mama and family talked about this for a day and came up with a modest feast for us immediate family the next evening in honor of Grandpa and Grand Uncle, and everyone chipped in some food and booze and such, and we had a grand time.
I had to take a fresh, un-opened, bottle of my newly purchased Filipino Rum, that I've found in Makro for small baht a bottle, 130 to be exact, (good stuff I might add) and pour the first two drinks after first opening the bottle in shot glasses, then pour them on the ground in a specific spot near our spirit house outside the house. I tried to protest this waste of good liquor by stating, "What? Pii cannot drink whiskey! And why don't we use Lao Khao? Isn't that what Grandpa and his brother would drink?" Everyone laughed, and Sis explained that it was what "I" was drinking, and only polite to offer Grandpa and brother the first drinks from "my" flask. To which I muttered, grinning mischievously, "Maybe tonight "I" drink Lao Khao, huh?" The wife nixed that idea quickly. That woman just don't cotton to the Lao Khao, for sure! And yes, ghosts do drink, and eat, and sit on beds sometimes. So I'm assured by the clan anyway.
Actually sounds more fun then the falang concept of the afterlife I think.
I caused a bit of a stir with the wife one night a week or so later. After a nice round of love making one evening I asked her, jokingly, "So darling, if Grandpa can come and sit on the bed and watch me as I sleep, well, do you think he can watch and see us when we make boom boom?" Her eyes bugged out, she grabbed the bed-covers off the bed and covered her nakedness, and chattered away at me. "Why you say this? Why you think Grandpa do?" And yakkity yakkity yak! Sheesh. Struck a nerve there I believe. "Well if he can't do then why are you covering yerself with the sheets dear?" I chuckled at her as I grabbed the sheets away and started another session. Seems we had to cover ourselves with the sheets though.
Grandpa might be watching ya know.
Hehehe. The old pervert.
I think this may be why the Thai lasses are always trying to make love under the covers, with the lights off.
The damned pii are watching!
(The Central Scrutinizer)
"The dead they sleep, a long, long sleep;
The dead they rest, and their rest is deep;
The dead have peace, but the living weep."
Year In, You're Out
"'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out."
More magic from Cent.