Meeting Madam Twilge
There’s something about driving a Rolls-Royce 90 miles an hour through a residential neighborhood that makes you just want to lose the urge to look back whenever you hit a mysterious bump.
I drove on and felt the autumn wind rushing through my hair, an odd sensation considering the car wasn’t a convertible and it was spring.
I’d never been wealthy in the way that truly matters (monetarily), and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy waving around my newfound cash and ordering anything I wanted at the Popeye’s drive thru.
My parents had always been conservative with their money, and kept their earnings tightly sealed in a small safe they stored under my father’s hat. Keeping it there gave him no shortage of neck problems, but he never misplaced a dime, and everyone was always complimenting that big hat of his (except at the movie theater, where he was vilified).
My brother Chuck was a bit more generous with his money, which is just a nicer way of saying he was a sucker. It seemed like anytime there was a new charity opening up, Chuck was sending a direct line of cash to it to save the children.
Anyway, I arrived at Madam Twilge’s house 15 minutes early and used the side mirror to fix my wind-blown hair (again, not sure how it got wind-blown). The house looked like a normal, average, typical everyday two-story suburban house. But something about it gave me the feeling me it held the lost keys to my destiny. Maybe it was the “Git-R-Done” welcome mat. Reassured, I walked right through a flowerbed and knocked on the door.
“Stop right there!”
That raspy voice again. But where was it coming from? Oh yeah, the house.
“Madam Twilge, it’s me,” I said. “We spoke on the phone about ghosts?”
“I remember. Strip off your jacket and pants. I need to make sure you’re not wearing a wire before I let you in.”
I grimaced. She was going to find out that I wore long, one-piece underwear like an 1870s train conductor.
“What if I just dance around? If I was wearing a wire it would fall out from all the jiggling.”
“Strip or scram!”
Some say our choices define who we are. But to them I always say the same thing: “You’re a very judgmental Popeye’s cashier.”
When Madam Twilge was satisfied I wasn’t working for the feds, I zipped back up and shuffled through the big walnut door and was greeted by a smell so musty it singed my eyebrows. It was as if ten thousand copies of Webster’s Dictionary that had been trapped in a mildewed basement for 40 years suddenly closed shut simultaneously, wafting their essence into my nostrils.
Madam Twilge stood skeptically among the clutter, a soldier ready to defend her castle against poop throwers. She was no more than 4 feet tall, and her head wielded an ancient beehive of hair that, if it was a real beehive —
“Are you having a seizure?”
“No, I’m trying to come up with a description of you in my head,” I said.
She rolled her chestnut eyes and led the way to her office. I peeled myself off the floor and followed.
Her office was even more cluttered than her hallway. A giant moose head was mounted above her desk, right next to a framed picture of Clark Gable.
“He was a client of mine for many years,” she said when she caught me staring at the strange decoration. “And yes, we were also in love.”
“Wow, Clark Gable.”
“What? No. I just keep his picture there to remind me that he’s banned for life. Never paid his bill.”
“Well then who — ”
“Let’s get down to business, sir, my time is limited.”
“Oh, no. What is it, dementia? Why is this world so damn cruel?”
“No you idiot, I just happen to have dinner plans later,” she said.
“Oh…Can I come?”
“OK.” (I didn’t even really want to, I was just being polite.)
We sat down. I explained my history, how my childhood home had become haunted, how I wanted to take it back and avenge my parents, how I’d been unable to digest dairy and always felt inadequate about it.
Madam Twilge nodded her head. She’d heard it all before.
“Your infestation sounds serious, that is clear. However, it is not a hopeless,” she said, taking out a long, thin cigarette and lighting up. “In fact, I’ve seen worse. Your house can be reclaimed.”
“I want to do this the right way,” I said. “Through the law.”
She laughed and nearly spit out her ash.
“Do you have any idea how expensive experienced ghost lawyers are?”
I held up my crumpled wad of cash. She wasn’t impressed.
“You’re not the first hotshot snot to waltz in here with a fistful of dollars. The thing is, it’s never enough. Sure, maybe you’ll bag a lawyer, but ghosts love to countersue — and usually it’s for your soul. Any idea how expensive a soul is?”
“A million dollars?”
“Two million dollars?”
“Bingo. And chances are, they’ll get it. It’s very hard to prove intent to haunt in a courtroom.”
“How many times has it been done?”
“Tell me about it,” I said, sliding a few of those knuckle bills over the coffee table and in her general direction, knocking over the giant glass of Hawaiian Punch I’d brought. She glared at me, but continued…
…And Ghost Law: The Journey To Reclaim My Haunted Childhood Home Through Due Process will continue…after these messages: