harlie Cook was an early bloomer, I think he failed out a couple of times too, and his father was a drug dealer, a big hairy biker drug dealer, and he had two brothers and no sisters and because they were pretty wealthy from their dad dealing drugs they had one of the oldest, most expensive houses in the neighborhood. This was in back in Ohio.
      Their house was there before all the other houses were, the street it was on was named after the original owners of the house, and everyone knew the house was haunted. It was guaranteed you would see something.
      The first time I was there, I can’t remember what we were there for, but his mom called and they were all over and his mom was a badass too ‘cause they fought all the time, fist fought, all the brothers, and instead of dealing with it in the middle of it she just bought a stun gun and when they were getting out of control she would just fucking zap them and they would wake up later, laying in the middle of it. So no one fucked with his mom.
      Anyway, we were there at his house and she had all these dolls, his mom did, but the dolls would always be moved by the ghosts, they’d always be turned upside down on the mantle, and this time two were missing and she accused everyone, so Charlie and I couldn’t go anywhere until the dolls were found. Charlie and his brothers are searching the house and I’m just sitting there talking to his mom about something and she has one of those old strollers and there was a little doll in there, the kind where the eyes open and close, and I was thinking don’t do it. I was looking in there and the eyes were open and I thought don’t look back in there don’t look back in there and I glance in and the eyes are still open, and I glance again and the eyes are still open and I kinda forget about it and I look over again and the eyes are now closed and son of a bitch it gave me the chills.
      The second time I saw something we were in his kitchen and there was Jiffy Pop sitting on the stove so we were eating some of it and Charlie was kinda crazy so he was putting his face in the Jiffy Pop and going “Arrr arrr arrr” and it was all sticking to his face and I’m laughing and he leans out through the doorway to ask his parents if it’s alright if I stay the night—no one was really allowed to stay the night because his parents were paranoid about the whole drug operation—and I’m watching the Jiffy Pop spin on the stove and it’s spinning all by itself and I’m patting him on the back, going “Charlie! Charlie!” and he’s waving me off of him and he finally looks and shrugs because he’s so desensitized to it. That was a bad night. His parents left and I’m scared shitless but I’m like alright so we’re sitting on our elbows, lying on the floor watching T.V. and the whole time we were watching T.V. there were people running up and down the stairs and of course his house was empty but doors were slamming and I’m white as a ghost, freaked out, and Charlie says “Fuck man, don’t even worry about it. It happens all the time.”
      They had geese—this is probably one of the more violent things that the ghosts did—they had a cellar that opened up, with double doors, and they built a wading pool down there for the geese. In the daytime they’d open the doors and the geese would go in there and swim around and then come back up, there were six of them, and then one day when we went to open the cellar up—I swear it had been locked all night—we open it up and down in the wading pool there’s a goose with its neck twisted and twisted and twisted around, floating in the pool. Do you know how hard it is to twist a goose’s neck like that?
      And there were cats all over the house, at least forty cats, none of them they’d ever tried to keep, but his mom would come out and they would swarm all over the side porch. And they bought this sheep dog and named Harley, he’d always run out into the same spot in the road and get hit by a car. The first time was really bad but the second time killed him, so they got another sheep dog and named it Harley and it ran out into the road and got hit and died and they got a third sheep dog and named it Harley and it ran out into the same spot in the road and also got hit. We watched it happen. I didn’t know. I said “What’s the dog doing in the road?” and BAM the dog got hit. The car didn’t even fucking stop. Harley #3 had been hit several times and still he’d run right out into the road.
      It never stopped. Charlie’s room was really hot in the winter and so cold in the summer that he had to put a kerosene heater in there. And when they were digging the new septic tank they found a grave. The shovel hit the casket and Charlie’s mom was like “No no no, we’ve got enough trouble already. Put it back and cover it. We’ll build it somewhere else.”
      Things like this probably put ideas in out heads. I’m not saying it made us vandals, but we would brake into this woman’s house and rearrange her furniture. That was fun. We would stake out and wait for her to come home—she was a nurse and we knew her schedule—and we would look through the windows and see her reaction when all her furniture was moved. We’d really take some time. We stole hotdogs once and had a cookout. We stole a bottle of quarters and bought pot. We’d throw mudballs.
      This one time there was a pear tree right on the corner of my friend Tim’s lawn and there’s this family, the Welton family, we fucked with so bad. They got a brand new Monte Carlo and we got paint and wrote “fuck you” on the window and put a potato in the exhaust pipe, sugar in the gas tank, and cut the fan belt, and the next day at school we’re waiting for the bus—the bus stop was right by his house, the corner where we waited—and were were like “Aw man, what the hell happened?” And it was so obvious, there were footprints in the snow. And we accidentally killed his dog once.
      Tim and I got into a pear fight with Chris and Joey Welton once, not a real one but it got out of hand and we started beaming them with pears and they were crying and freaking out and then his father came out and he started reading the bible to us and we started throwing pears at him and the police came—and this is the only time I’ve been in a police report, and it goes along and it says, trying to be dramatic or something “There were pears on the premises.” Of course there were pears on the premises, we were throwing them at each other.
      We used to set smoke bombs in the road and the cars would stop because they didn’t know what it was and we would make toilet paper walls across the road and they’d stop and get out and go “Argh!” and we mooned cars and we got chased once, mooning cars, chased all over the neighborhood by this great big big-legged woman. It was winter and she was running after us and I looked behind and she was like a mad bull, I could see her breath in the air, and she was like “Uhhh uhhhh uhhhh” and when she ran, the girth of the woman, the volume of the woman, you could see her hips shaking with each stride and she was yelling “I’m gonna pound your head into a rock!” It was me and Tim and Rick, this great big great giant big kid, and we’re running from this lady and it’s complete dark and we flip over a fence ‘cause we didn’t see it and we get up and run again in this fenced-in enclosure with this dog chasing us and the woman going “I’m gonna beat your head into a rock” and we’re so scared running blind through this yard and boom we hit the fence on the other side.
      I don’t even know what happened to Rick, but Tim and I hid out under this porch and we’re looking through the slats and the woman’s right by this house, going “Uhhh uhhhh uhhhh” breathing hard, and we finally make it back to the house but Rick had lost his cap and we’re saying “Don’t go back and get it don’t go back” but he did and the cops were waiting for him. She had already called the cops. So the cops followed Rick back to Tim’s house and we got busted. The cop looked at us and said “Just as the description said: two skinny boys and one fat boy.”
      Charlie was really big and this one time I thought I could kick his ass. I tried to hit him and he picked me up over his head and dropped me on the concrete. I crawled back home and I was crying and like an hour later he came over with a pan of cupcakes, still warm cupcakes that he made for me, to apologize, “Aw, I’m sorry Wyatt,” he said.
      Aw Charlie. Poor guy. Once, when we were going to play tag football we were walking through a field and just as we were walking up to his house Charlie comes crashing though the window, the front window, in a fight with his dad I think, and he had a cut down his from his bicep to his wrist, a deep one and blood everywhere, and he just stumbles out and picks himself up and there’s glass everywhere and he says “What’s up guys?” and he looks at his arm and says “Aw, I don’t think I can play football, I gotta go to the hospital.” That’s all he had to say.