PPPPPPSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Bang! Bang! ERRRKrack!
Mrs. Isberg jumps and shivers. She laughs and tells us there is a ghost haunting Park Hill. Grover snarfs out loud then turns to see who is looking at him. Like Grover, most students think Mrs. Isberg is just a scaredy cat and they don’t believe in ghosts, but I know those kids are wrong.
Clank, clank, whirrrrr, pshshshsh. Boing! Clank! Bang!
There’s Mr Guy again. He is just trying to get our attention with his whooshing, banging, and creaking. It makes him sad when no one listens. Unfortunately, Mrs. Isberg is super sensitive to ghost which is why she seems to be a scaredy cat. Ghosts can tell she senses them but she just won’t listen. Too bad because some ghosts have really interesting spirits, but of course, many ghosts have terrifying spirits.
I am the lucky one who can hear Mr. Willard Guy, but I should start my story at the beginning, before Mr. Guy and I became friends. I am Maia, and am the only one who can see and hear Willard Guy’s ghost. I am athletic, mom says I’m pretty and smart, and my favorite physical trait is my long blond hair, and I am in 5th grade.
Last year around Halloween, on the Day of the Dead, my mom and I moved to Park Hill from Charlotte, North Carolina. Since I was new at Park Hill, I didn’t have any friends that’s why I started reading ghost stories, to pass the time. Reading ghost stories taught me how to listen to ghosts.
Mr. Willard Guy was the janitor of Park Hill Elementary School from 1920 until 1969. He had just turned eighteen when he started working and living at the school, but he died 49 years later right here at school. No one knows how he died, only that on October 31st, 1969, the same year Park Hill’s Kindergarten wing and Lunchroom were built, Mr. Willard Guy died.
According to school myth, the principal walked down to the boiler room and found Willard Guy laying next to the coal room door shrouded in a translucent white fog. (The Principal did not find Mr. Guy. Mr. Guy was found by his apprentice, J.D. Smith, known by all as Smithy.) Mr. Guy was buried on November 1st at the Fairmont Cemetery. Mr. Guy’s Will stated he was to be buried at the stroke of midnight so the teachers buried him so at the stroke of midnight; and unknown to the Park Hill staff his ghost emerged at the stroke of midnight to haunt the school forever.
Let me tell you a little bit about Mr. Guy so you can understand why he could be a bit scary, obnoxious, and a bit of a jokester. When Mr. Guy was alive he stood above most people; he was 6 foot 5 inches tall. His hair was long and curly and he wore it in a frontiersman ponytail. He had a long beard of reddish brown and big hands, which he said made it easier for him to pick up messy students and throw them out the window although he never really threw anyone out the window, he just made threats when kids left a mess for him to clean up. According to Willard, when he loudly threatened those naughty children, they listened so he never had to throw anyone out the window.
The teachers called Mr. Guy a curmudgeon because he was always complaining about everything but students knew he was really funny. He loved telling jokes and if you were by yourself walking down the hall or sitting on the playground he’d come over and tell you a joke. One of his favorites, “Why did the student eat his homework? Because his teacher told him it was a piece of cake!” It was his favorite because it related to school, and kids have an extremely large amount of homework.
Mr. Guy and I met one day when I was feeling particularly alone and was wishing Mom and I could move back to North Carolina. He came up to me, and told me a joke: “How do you make a lemon drop?” I looked around to see who was talking to me and there he was or should I say there was his spirit. His spirit was just a wispy outline but I knew right away there was a man standing next to me. I was speechless; I tried to talk but the words would not come out of my mouth. But I wasn’t afraid, I just didn’t know what to think.
“You just let it fall!” Mr. Guy cackled. I cracked up, and forgot about North Carolina.
“Oh!” I answered. Then I quickly spun around to see if anyone else could see the man talking to me. No one seemed to notice.
“Don’t worry they can’t hear or see me. My name is Mr. Willard Guy and I live here. Your Maia and you are the first person I’ve talked to in nearly 50 years.”
“Wow! Are you real? Does Mr. Burdette know you are here? How old are you? Why can I see you?”
“Whoa, little lady. One question at a time. I’m a real ghost if that is what you are asking. Your principal doesn’t believe in ghosts. I died when I was 68 years old. And I don’t know why you can see me, you are the first.”
“Aaaahhhh!,” I shrieked in amazement. Quickly I looked around to make sure no one had heard me.
Mr. Guy laughed and shook his head. “I guess we’ll have to be careful where we talk.” Still in shock, I agreed. By then, everyone on the playground was staring at me, wondering why I screamed. I jumped up and started yelling, acting as if there was a wasp after me. I ran back into the classroom, thinking in panic: This is not happening! I did not just see a ghost! NO! That definitely did not happen!
“Well, well, well.” Mr. Guy was standing right in front of me. “I love to haunt Mrs. Isberg. Have you ever noticed how red her cheeks get when I make the blinds flutter or her floor creak.” His laughter and the glint in his eyes was infectious. I just could not help myself; I liked the guy. I knew we were going to be great friends; besides there was nothing I love more than a good prank.
With Halloween coming up, I could see Willard and I having a jolly good time pranking Mrs. Isberg and my class. Mr. Guy and I swapping ideas until the recess bell rang. This was going to be the best Halloween ever.
As Mr. Guy left with a promise of meeting me for lunch. He whispered in my ear, “What monster plays tricks on Halloween?” I shook my head because I did not know. Also I shook my head because obviously he had not brushed his teeth for decades; his breath was monstrous. Willard chortled, “Prank-enstein!”
The room was draped with a sudden chill and Mrs. Isberg shivered causing Grover to retort in a snide tone, “Scaredy Cat.” Mr. Guy and I are definitely going to prank Grover.
The Most Awesome Halloween
I was a big help to Mr. Guy because moving heavy stuff can not be done by a ghost. However, I can place chairs and water buckets and papers and brooms and paint and doors ajar just the way Mr. Guy wants. For Willard’s part, he can blow stuff over or cause fog to circle objects or make doors slam shut or (my favorite), make paint drops splatter through the air. Mr. Guy can make swooshing noises and bang the radiator pipes and cause cold winds to run down your spine. Mr. Guy is a genius at making Park Hill students feel the creeps.
This year I am dressing like the mummy, my costume was fabulous. Mom had sewn strips of cloth onto an old onesie pajama and then added strips to my ski mask; she even glued strips to my old white tennis shoes. I looked like a proper mummy. Of course Willard did not dress up at all.
Halloween morning and Mr. Guy met me at the school door with a joke, “When does a ghost eat breakfast?”
“When?” I shouted out.
“In the moaning.”
Laughing I asked for one more joke. “What has webbed feet, feathers, fangs and goes quack-quack?” I waited for the answer before going to get my breakfast. “Count Duckula. Ha-a-a-a-a Ha.” Mr. Guy had the weirdest laugh ever. In fact his laugh was like a dracula laugh.
“Are you ready to scare the heebie jeebies out of Grover and Mrs. Isberg?” I wanted to make sure Mr. Willard Guy was ready for our Halloween prank-a-thon.
“Is Jame Madison the shortest American president?” Mr. Guy loved stupid facts.
“What? Who?” I never have the answer.
“Yes, I’m ready for Halloween. Miss Maia, I died ready. Ha-a-a-a-a Ha”
“Good let the pranks begin.” I was absolutely joyful at the prospect of Grover shrieking with fear.
We really like Mr. Geck but the lunchroom was the perfect place for our first prank. Mr. Guy set up to make a wrack it at the playground door. BANG the door flew open, SWOOSH leaves blew into the lunchroom, CRASH the Taco Lunch Art painting fell to the ground, and all the kids started laughing at Mrs. Bixby as she tried to pull the door closed before the lunchroom filled with leaves and dirt. Mrs. Isberg cringed in the corner and shook from head to toe. While Mr. Guy kept everyone distracted, I pour 50 small black plastic spiders all over the portable salad bar. Then I took my seat, Mr. Guy came and sat next to me, and we waited.
Beau and Sophie were the first ones to walk over to the salad bar. Beau was in a bigfoot costume and Sophie was dressed as a witch. I was so excited to hear them scream, I almost jumped out of my seat and screamed for them. Nothing, no screams, they were so busy talking they didn’t even notice the spiders. Now I really wanted to scream. “Patience.” Willard was calm but I was not.
JJ, George, and Mr. Ferguson were next in line. I held my breath. JJ reached for a pancake and screamed like there was tomorrow. George and Mr. Ferguson backed away while JJ fell flat on his rear end. The whole Panther Cafe became dead silent except for JJ who was whimpering. Mr. Ferguson walked over to the bar, “Plastic spiders.” He held a few in his hands, at first he was grinning but quickly changed his face to stern. “I don’t know who did this but plastic spiders should not be put on the food.” He slowly turned his head to look us all in the eyes. Suddenly, I remembered to breath and let my breath out with a huff. This broke the silence and we all started to laugh, even Mrs. Bixby looked a bit amused though Mr. Geck did not.
I love art and Mrs. Pravecek but Mr. Guy can make paint drops fly through the sky. Well, you can guess all I needed to do was make sure I had white paint in my cups. Mr. Guy did the rest. We were finishing a shadow project which was perfect because we all had to add a black shadow behind our body portraits. As Mrs. Pravecek said we could start a chilly wind blew her door open and suddenly the paint was sucked up into the air, swirling like a tornado, and there was a terrible KaBang and the drops of paint dropped from the sky onto the shadow portraits making each shadow look like a skeleton. Mr. Guy’s work was beautiful but it caused a panic and everyone ran out of the room screaming “Ghost.”
By the time Mr. Burdette got down to the art room to investigate the supposed ghost sighting, Willard had cleaned the room and the paintings — everything looked normal. Mr. Burdette was bewildered, first spiders and now flying paint that disappears.
Mr. Burdette gave us the okay to go back to art. Jody whispering to Charlotte how Mrs. Pravecek had a ghost. Mrs. Pravecek hearing the whisper squeaked out, “Absolutely not. There are no such thing as ghosts.” Mr. Guy started banging real hard on the pipes. Mrs. Pravecek just ignored the sound and what she had seen with her very own eyes.
With only a few minutes left in class Mrs. Pravecek rang the clean up bell. Mrs. Isberg came to take us back to class but she really did not want to come into the art room. I almost felt bad for her as she took a reticent step into the room.
As usual Grover laughing loudly, I knew he was scared, made fun of Mrs. Isberg. “Mrs. Isberg believes in ghosts. She’s a scaredy cat.”
As the afternoon Halloween party began and the day of pranking was nearly over I quietly prepared for our final prank, one bag at a time. Inside each bag went a rubber snake or a bloody fake finger tip. Grover’s bag sat at the end of the table. I slid a snake, a bloody finger tip, and to be on the safe side, this slimy feeling vomit. The finger and the snake were filled with fake blood.
Suddenly and unexpectedly the room went dark and quiet, there was not one sound being made. The hair on the back of my neck prickled up; this was not part of the plan. Where was Mr. Guy? I could not see him. As if in a stop motion movie, Mrs. Isberg seemed to be moving to the light switch. Just before her hand reached the switch, the lights flickered on and everyone started talking at once. Still no Mr. Guy?
“Everyone grab your bag, let’s join the parade.” BANG! The door slammed shut. OuOuOuOuOu! Holding our bags, we moved to the door. In fact we all bunched together. OuOuOuOuOuOu!
Grover called out, “Mrs. Isberg, what is that sound?” The lights went out.
Muttering Mrs. Isberg was pushing at the door with her whole body. The door swung open and we all fell out into the hall. “No way I’m going back in there.” Grover looked at us to confirm his feelings. Wide-eyed we all shook our heads yes.
Still no Willard. Due to the kids falling on their bags and to make matters worse, the fake blood was oozing out of the bags. When Grover saw the half pound of blood running down his leg, he lost his cool and started to cry. My classmates were jumping away from their candy bags. Right when I was going to confess, red-faced Mrs. Isberg went charging into the classroom, “Listen here ghost of Park Hill. I’ve had enough of your practical jokes. You need to make this right, RIGHT NOW.
Mr. Guy touched my shoulder. “Why did the policeman ticket the ghost on Halloween?”
“It didn’t have a haunting license.” Mr. Guy looked sad, “I’m sorry. I got carried away.”
“You should be sorry. You made Grover cry and because you made Mrs. Isberg so mad she isn’t afraid of ghosts. And you scared me too.”
“Maia, I promise I’ll never scare anyone again.”
I started to laugh. “It’s okay. What a mess! There was blood everywhere. I started to lick the blood from my hands. “Oh this is yummy.” Mrs. Isberg gave me a quizzical look. “It’s chocolate.”
Well, that was what needed to be said for kids like chocolate and we were dripping in chocolate blood, the perfect Halloween treat.
By the time Mr. Burdette, came to our room we were all sitting in the classroom laughing and eating blood. Mrs. Isberg was serving hot chocolate with marshmallow ghost. And it turns out Grover really likes chocolate blood, so I showed him the Steve Spangler website with this recipe:
In the days of black and white TV shows and movies, chocolate syrup was the perfect solution to the problem of making fake blood. On a black and white screen, chocolate syrup looked and behaved just like real blood. Even though times have changed, chocolate syrup can still be an important ingredient in making great edible fake blood.
Mr. Willard Guy told me one more joke before going back to the boiler room,
What do you call a little monster’s parents?
Mummy and Deady. Ha-a-a-a-a Ha.