My family – wife and two daughters – had already re-located to Calgary. My job in the energy sector was taking me to where the action is, Alberta’s oil patch. I was staying behind temporarily to spend time with our real estate agent, trying to sell our townhome. It was mid-fall and we’d been conducting an open house all day.
Miranda was a petite young thing, an ethereal honey blonde, from one of Canada’s best-known realtors. I’d chosen the company based on its on-air advertisements and bus-bench signs. Poor Miranda, though, still had a lot to learn about the business. Her biggest problem was that she was too honest.
Newlyweds, older couples, single people, it didn’t matter. They’d show up at the front door, we’d invite them in and then Miranda would begin to point out all the flaws in the house. The roof leaked. There was no basement. The cupboard doors were falling off their hinges. None of the bathroom faucets was lined up perpendicular. Every tap dripped.
Furthermore, the nearest schools were a bit of a hike. And there were notorious gangs fighting it out over the local teenage drug trade. Nevertheless, I quite liked Miranda. She was fun company with a wicked sense of humour and a sly ability to provoke outrage. She particularly liked telling prospective buyers about the ghosts that haunted the place.
An earlier owner had been a young man with a bipolar psychopathic disorder. He had gone off his meds one night while his girlfriend was staying over. He’d mistaken her for a vampire and driven a stake through her heart. When the realization sank in about what he’d done, the overwhelming remorse caused him to take his own life by way of an overdose. All of this happened in the upstairs master bedroom.
Most visitors were appalled by Miranda’s story. But some liked the sensationalism. Others even saw past the bare bones of the plot and savoured the romantic elements in the mix of shocking ingredients. Me, I quickly became used to it and rather perversely enjoyed watching the reactions it elicited.
As the day wore down and the flow of adult visitors dwindled, I became conscious of what time of year it was. I looked out the front window and saw little goblins and ninja warriors starting to fill up the street. The doorbell rang again, but this time it was a storybook princess and a tiny pooh bear that demanded our attention.
In all the excitement, I had forgotten it was Halloween. Miranda and I grabbed a lawn chair each and positioned ourselves outside the front door. It was an unusually mild night for late October in Toronto. We were quite comfortable as we watched the passing parade. As I’d failed to buy candy, I let Miranda handle our gift to the children as they approached us in our lair. She simply told them her ghost story.
It had been a long day and I was becoming exhausted. But a satisfying sense of ease and composure was overcoming me nonetheless. The world was transforming into a better place. It was a long time since I’d been so contented and happy – 365 days to be exact.
You see, I haven’t been completely up front with you. Miranda and I have been following exactly this same routine for many years. First the charade of trying to sell the house, then regaling and scaring the children on Halloween night. Miranda’s story contains elements of truth but it falls short in the personal and intimate details.
I was planning a career move to Calgary with my family and Miranda was our real estate agent. That much was fact. But my wife was a witch. No, I don’t mean she was a bad person. She was working the neighbourhood dressed as a witch, with our daughters, Dora the explorer and her faithful sidekick, the monkey Boots. The girls ran ahead to catch up with some friends and my wife took the opportunity to return home for a short break.
Suffice it to say she found Miranda and I doing more than talking about property values. Let me put it another way. I had submitted a “rezoning application” and she was considering “minor variances” to a number of the activities we had been engaging in for several months.
First, my wife shot me through the temple. Then she rushed back outside and plucked the “for sale” sign from our front lawn. Returning to confront my hysterical lover, she rammed the pointy end of the support post through Miranda’s chest.
The scene was re-arranged to look like a murder-suicide. The police interpreted it as a real estate deal gone very bad. I was supposed to have a vicious temper and to be upset over how long it was taking to sell the house. In the meantime, my wife returned to “trick or treating” with our daughters and no one was the wiser. Later, she started a new life in a location which I have never been able to determine.
Now, here Miranda and I hover in what I have come to view as permanent escrow. It’s not so bad. We have relative peace. And once a year, I’m able to sit on my front lawn, Miranda by my side telling her spooky and mostly made-up tale. I get a big jack-o-lantern grin on my face. There’s only one really bad side effect. I always develop a supernatural hunger for pumpkin pie that can never be satisfied.