Oliver, dressed in black tails and top hat, flings the door open. It creaks open on rusty hinges. Smiling manically, he extends his arm.
Right this way, mademoiselle.
The Veiled Lady and Oliver enter the parlor. The doors that have parted disappear into the wall. Dark, flowing drapes shroud odd shaped windows, and black tapers in sterling silver holders flicker in the dark paneled room. Oliver seats his guest on the black rose settee. Frozen concoctions swimming with strawberries in crystal flutes await on the coffin table. When tapping hammers out a tune on the wall, Oliver kisses the Veiled Lady with a wink and a smile.
Many years ago my sister and I used to play this game. We would lie in bed late at night and play when we couldn’t sleep. The old, Gothic, Victorian house, my great grandmother lived in creaked and groaned all over and we never knew what was house or what could possibly be ghost. The odd shaped windows and doors that opened into walls added the mystique. You had to be sure both feet were well away from the edge of the bed. Better safe then sorry.
The idea of the game was to guess the tune. We would tap out the music on the bed while hearing it in your head. I don’t know how we did it, but we always guessed right!
I really hated the room we stayed in. It was all dark corners and deep closets. Shadows were so dark; one had to feel your way out of the room. But every time we visited we ended up in the same room.
Dark, thick, heavy curtains lined the windows. Not a speck of light got in when they closed. Wood pineapples were on each of four posts on the old cherry wood furniture.
We stayed on the third floor. I don’t know why because there were four bedrooms on the second floor. And we were the only ones visiting her. The only ones up there. Alone. My cousin used to tease us telling us how great Uncle Snidely had died up there and he watched his heirs all the time. She told us about him and showed us his picture. We were primed!
No night lights allowed, we were big girls.
One very stormy night at Great Gram’s place we lay there tapping out songs. Thunder boomed and lightning knocked out all the street lights. After one particularly loud boom I realized I had to take a pee. My sister ran to the window to look and I jumped outta bed and ran. The tile floor chilled my feet as I walked on little squares. I picked up the seat and quickly did what I had to. Flushing the toilet I ran back down the dark hallway to our room.
My sister was talking. “I still can’t understand what you’re trying to have me guess.” She sounded flustered.
“What are you talking about?” I jumped on my bed closest to the door.
“Very funny, I’ve been trying to guess the song, but you keep tapping out nonsense. I told you I give up and still you keep tapping. What was the song you were trying to have me guess?” She asked.
“I just got back from the bathroom, I haven’t been tapping anything.” I chuckled. “What you been playing our game with a ghost or something?”
Her voice quivered. “Did you just say you just came back from the bathroom?”
“Yes.” Now I was getting scared.
“Well I have been trying to guess what song and you, well I thought it was you, were tapping away like crazy. I had no idea what you wanted me to guess.” She jumped on my bed as a loud peel of thunder ripped the skies.
“Someone was here, something, oh man, something was playing our game with me.” She shivered against my side.
Just then we heard it. In the silence between lightning strikes. Tapping. Tap, tap, tap…
“AAAAAHHHHHH!!” We screamed in unison. Both of us jumped up and ran outta that room so fast our feet flew! Screaming the whole way we yelled. “AAAHHHHH!!”
My great grandmother appeared at the end of the hall. “Girls, what’s wrong?” She hugged us close.
“Ghosts.” We wailed in unison. She calmed us down and urged us into her huge high bed. Between breaths we told Gram what happened.
“Oh that wasn’t Uncle Snidely. We have no one in the family by that name.” She laughed and we laughed.
We got under the covers with her and snuggled. Warm and secure we felt foolish. Until she closed her eyes and sighed.
“The only person it could be is Uncle Frankie, he loved music.”