114 West Briargrove, Flower Mound.
2:40 pm . . .
As we begin to unload our fancy equipment into Travis’s beautiful living room, I unzip one of the three large duffel bags to find smaller yellow nylon bags with black stenciled words on each side. This is like those Russian dolls that you pull the head off and there’s another, smaller doll. Then another, and another, until you’re pulling hydrogen apart at the atomic level.
I don’t know what any of this stuff is, nor how to use it, but I feel like a professional. I feel like we might accidentally find something spooky here with all of this high-tech equipment. Although, my money is still on the kitty.
To play the part, with Travis in the living room watching the three of us unpack, I say, “Hey, Rick, where do you want me to set up the Thermal Imaging Camera?”
“Let’s set her to face the upstairs, looking perpendicular to the hallway,” Ricky answers as he seems to be measuring the living room with a light meter. Each time he takes a reading he notes it in his Palm Pilot.
What about the Standard IR Camera and strobe?
“Downstairs, looking upward at the banister and staircase.”
The EVP hub and portable work station?
“We’ll base and monitor from down here in the back corner of the living room.”
Travis is seeing all of this equipment and, ghost or not, he’s getting his money’s worth. He’ll have stories to tell at every party for the next 10 years. His eyes are wide and animated like a small child at a carnival.
What about the Full Spectrum Camera? I ask, pointing to another yellow bag. These are the kinds of bags they probably use to transport nuclear devices, or crashed alien remains.
Ricky makes a little inward suckling sound as he considers, “And . . . go downstairs with that too, covering the same area as the Standard Camera. That way we’ll have visible, Ultra-violet, and Infra-Red. Triple redundancy.”
“What does that do?” Travis asked, pointing towards the bag with the EVP and laptop.
Ricky saves my ass, “Oh, that’s EVP. What’s going to happen is, we’re going to set-up a series of wireless audio microphones in different locations throughout the house. We’ll record everything you can hear, and all the things we humans aren’t sensitive enough to pick up. If there are voices beyond our ability to perceive them, the EVP will hear them.”
He pulled out the laptop and opened it up. “ . . . using a series of Digital Audio and Video Filters we will put it all together here, looking and listening for sounds and sights far beyond our own.” Ricky then turns to Travis, nodding, “And trust me, all sorts of interesting things happen beyond our sight and hearing.”
“Cool,” Travis says, all gloss-eyed.
“Let’s set the cameras and get the wireless mics in place,” Ricky instructs, looking around for something.
What is it?
“Where’s Ms. Josephine?”
Oh, I say, she’s outside giving the premises a thorough inspection.
I look at Travis and tell him, Ms. Josephine has another kind of sight. She hears voices from other places. Places people would rather not talk about.
“So, that’s like . . . ” Travis says, counting on his fingers, “ . . . quadruple redundancy.”
I nod all self-importantly.
“You guys are good,” he says.
Ricky, still taking measurements of the ambient light in the living room—as if it makes a difference—tells him, “It’s just a job to us, Travis. What matters is you and your serenity.” Humble and modest, that’s Ricky to a ‘T’.
1 hour, 23 minutes later . . .
I’m walking around with a small bag of wireless audio microphones. They have these little amber lights right next to the power switch and frequency adjustment buttons. I’m not turning them on yet. That will happen closer to dusk. Right there in that time between dogs and wolves and demanding angels.
So right now, all I’m doing is opening up each room, laying a microphone on the floor, and marking it in my small notepad. I’m having trouble using the Palm Pilot that Ricky gave me, so the trusty old pen and paper will have to suffice.
So far, I’ve dropped mics in the kid’s bedroom, a small bathroom, a guest bedroom and adjacent bathroom, two walk-in closets, and the master bedroom. I didn’t want to freak-out Travis’s wife and kid, so I just knocked lightly on the door, opened it slightly, and dropped the mic to the carpet saying, “I’m just leaving a microphone for later.” They didn’t seem to mind, so neither did I.
Now I’m left with the daunting task of placing two mics in the attic where strange noises are purported to emanate from. I look up at the attic access panel, wondering how difficult it’s going to be to jimmy the thing open, and all of the sudden Travis is on my heals, startling me a bit.
“Hold on, Jack,” he says, reaching up, “ . . . I’ll get that.”
He tugs a couple of times at a nearly invisible bit of string and then pulls the panel down until he can unfold the stairs. I’m half watching him, half staring at the painted image of God touching man on the living room’s vaulted ceiling. It’s like we’re kind of breaking into heaven, through a side entrance.
Moments later he’s got the stairs unfolded. I give him that, I do this all the time wink, and then I head up into the darkness.
“There’s a light switch on your right when you get up there,” he yells to me.
I half expect to find cat hair and dried-up fur balls up here, but it’s disconcertingly clean. As in, no dust, no cob webs, no nothing. It’s immaculate, in fact. And I find that level of care and fastidiousness rather alarming. Who cleans their attic like this?
I lay down the two mics and grab my Motorola radio, giving it a double-click like Ricky taught us to when we need to reach him. I wait a moment.
“Go for Ricky, over.”
“Yes, Ricky, this is Jack, I’m in the attic . . . ” And then I remember my radio etiquette, “Over . . . ”
“You’re in the attic? Over . . . ”
Yes . . . over.
“Okay, two wireless microphones, at the far ends of the attic and we should be fine. Over . . . ”
Right. Thing is, this place is really clean, over . . .
“Clean? Tide with Bleach clean, or Norman Bates clean? Over . . . ”
I glance around, “The second one. Over . . . ”
Then I hear Ms. Josephine’s voice, “The yard is clean, too. No bad vibes.”
Ricky gets back on the radio, “You need to say, Over. Over . . . ”
“Alright,” Ms. Josephine replies. “My inspection of da premises is over-over. I’m coming back inside. Over-over . . . ”
I can just picture her laughing, Ricky’s eyes rolling.
“Let’s all meet back at the base camp and we’ll wait until sunset to switch on the gear. Over . . . ”
“Okay, over,” I say. I think I’ll just call him on my cell phone next time so that I don’t have to keep saying, over, all the time. It’s really irritating.
I have a feeling things are going to be odd.