Alison McCarthy smiled politely to the host of the talk show CRYSTAL, Crystal Heming, and replied to the question, do you really believe in ghosts? Having heard the question dozens of times before, Alison’s lips went to the automatic answer stored in her brain of “Well, because of the type of work I do, I have to keep an open mind.”
Alison was referring to her company, McCarthy’s Paranormal Agency. Her business involved exorcising spirits from private homes, and for a very reasonable price, she thought, of $200 a job.
“What kind of things do you see,” Crystal pressed, “that might validate the claim of supernatural activity and the existence of real ghosts?”
Three dead men walked by just then on the stage, passing right through Crystal’s body and disappearing through the wall. Their skin was weathered, their short hair messy and their clothes looking as if they were from the twenties. Would a camera pick up one of their images? Probably not. “Oh, what do I see?” she repeated, trying to ignore the dead men and turning her attention back to Crystal. Alison answered with, “They really just look like normal people most of the time. If you could see them, you may not be able to tell that they’re dead. Once you’ve been around it for a while though you really start to get a feel for the dead and where you can find them just by being in the same building as them.”
“So how do you know for sure? Is it possible for someone to be mistaken as a ghost.” She moved her hands in front of her as she said jokingly, “I’d hate for someone to think I was a ghost.”
“Oh no, it’s not like that,” Alison laughed. “Fortunately, I haven’t made that kind of mistake just yet.”
“Me then, for example,” Crystal began, “if I was in the situation you were in, what would I be looking for to tell if they’re dead or not.”
“You mean obvious hints? It’s really not an issue. It’s almost impossible for a spirit to look alive to the point that you didn’t know the spirit was dead.”
“I see. Give some characteristics then. I’m Alison now. What am I looking for? What am doing?”
“Characteristics?” Alison repeated, almost letting out a loud breath of air before she answered. “They’re not capable of touching objects or anything at all really except for each other, and me sometimes. Their hands fall right through everything. Most of them barely know what’s going on and at times it looks like a parade of zombies, all walking together and muttering to themselves. They pass by and you get a whiff of a real, real musty dirt smell, she explained, rubbing her index finger and thumb together after the word musty. It’s so strong it’s almost blinding if you’re not used to it. Their aura is completely different from the living’s also. You can see a pale yellow aura around every spirit. It’s an aura only spirits have, while the living each carries a pale blue aura around their bodies. As for what I’m doing, I’m sending them home.”
Alison shifted on the show’s ivy green sofa and made eye contact with Crystal, a pretty blond with teal eyes and bright red lipstick. The host wore a black jacket over a black and white striped blouse and a short black skirt. “How long have you been doing this type of work?”
“Three years.” Alison straightened out her own blue and white skirt and pushed long auburn hair from her face. Going on national television and bragging about the fact that she was a freak wasn’t normally the most appealing idea in the world to her. However, the show’s producer had called offering her a thousand dollars and an all expenses paid trip to New York City for two days and nights, a city she had always wanted to visit. Her friend, Marissa Jones had called them and pretty much sold her out. The jerk. “Four years,” she continued, “if you count the year I spent getting my company together, and seven if you count the years of side jobs I pulled off while I was in college. I got a lot of practice back then and it really made a difference I think with how I work today.”
“So, tell us, what do you do when you’re not working?” Crystal asked, looking perfectly interested in the conversation.
“I stay at home mostly, watch TV, clean.” Feeling loser-ish from her own reply, she added. “My boyfriend Greg and I watch a lot of movies.” This was not only a monstrous lie from a single woman but an impossible one at that. The reason? Because Greg was actually one of the dead. He was a spirit that had never crossed over, and he tended to follow Alison around as if he were her shadow. He also wasn’t her boyfriend but it was fun to blame him when she needed to. Glancing out at the large audience before the stage, she caught a glance of Greg standing in the back, his back against the wall. He blew her an exaggerated kiss and she tried to keep from smiling from it.
She knew he was probably aggravated, as he usually was, by the false boyfriend claim and waved at him without thinking.
Acknowledging the wave, Crystal asked, “Oh, is he here out in the audience?”
Taken aback by the question, Alison realized she had just waved to an invisible person and fought off the embarrassment that followed. No, he wasn’t able to make it,” she replied.
“Well, you should let him know you did a very nice job working with us today. I’m sure he’s watching you at home.”
“I hope so,” Alison agreed.
“Thank you for letting us have you on the show today.”
“Thanks for having me.”
Crystal turned to the camera. “When we come back, our next guest, Phillipine Ball, will tell us how she turned a hobby of collecting dead insects into a multi-million dollar business by turning her collection into lucrative movie props.
Multi-million? Alison thought. If only her own business had been so lucky. She was clearly in the wrong profession. So it looked like dead insects were the new “what’s in” in Hollywood.