I always think adults are weird in that way. I have a few friends whose parents are divorced and they won’t even sit in the same room together. In a way I think that seems childish. Like, how many times growing up are we forced to be in class every day with other kids we can’t stand? Kids that try to act like bullies or little miss perfects. We’re able to get through it. What’s up with old people?
Dad and Uncle Randy are standing at a podium on the auditorium stage organizing their presentation while Cherie, Ted and I set everything up. Well, it’s more like Cherie and Ted set everything up. I usually just do the little jobs they tell me to like hold this box or flip a switch when they say. Even standing at the soundboard all the way in the back of the room, I can still here my Uncle Randy’s voice booming.
‘No Carl! First we’re doing the old prison and then we’ll do the church. It builds up suspense that way, and that’s what we want, y’know? Right? We want people to really get excited, y’know? We want them to be hanging on our every word.’
My Dad’s voice is too quiet for me to make out what he’s saying. A lot of the time at these talks he just lets Uncle Randy take over, he seems to enjoy the spotlight more.
‘My Dad says your house might be haunted, did you know that?’ asks Ted.
‘Shut up Ted!’ says Cherie before turning to me. ‘Don’t listen to him Matthew, he’s an asshole.’
Ted brings up my mother’s death a lot. Dad says it’s because when Aunt Lola walked out on Uncle Randy, he couldn’t face up to what was happening. So instead he always harps on the fact that my mom’s dead. That’s why Dad says he does it anyways.
‘No, I’m serious,’ says Ted. ‘I even think my Dad wants to take the equipment out at your place but your Dad won’t let him. Why don’t you think he’d let him? I mean, your Mom’s dead. Wouldn’t it make sense to test this stuff out looking for her?’
‘I don’t think my Dad really wants to do that,’ I say to Ted. His insensitivity and disrespect toward my mother’s untimely death used to upset me. Now I just kind of think he really is an asshole like Cherie says. But, he’s family. Dad explained to me that if someone’s family, and an asshole, you still have to be nice to them. Since it was always just me, him and Mom, I never had much experience with putting up with people just because you have to. I’ve always liked my parents. For parents, they’re pretty normal I guess.
‘I just think it would be sick man,’ says Ted. ‘She’d totally come out. Something would happen. I think it’s kind of stupid your Dad doesn’t at least try.’
‘Maybe he will one day Ted,’ says Cherie. ‘Will you please just shut up now?’
Cherie’s always been cool like that, sticking up for me when Ted starts getting carried away about my mother being dead. Maybe it’s because she’s a girl. Dad says females have better intuition than guys.
Cherie and Ted star talking about the homecoming football game at Cherie’s school. Ted wants her to get him free tickets so he can go hit on girls. ‘College girls,’ he told me. ‘I could totally pass for eighteen if I tried.’ I’m watching my Dad get told by Uncle Randy how everything is going to be.
The stage is about fifteen feet square. The floorboards are dull and there’s a big maroon velvet curtain forming a backdrop. In a few hours all the lights will be out. The spotlight will up, and I’ll listen to Dad and Uncle Randy talk about hunting for dead things.
Hunting for death seems so strange to me. It always seems to find everyone at some stage, even when they might not be looking for it.