The Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat had to stop talking sometime. He could not have talked forever. The night was getting on and it was time to close the Epiphany Cafe. Epiphanies can’t come constantly, twenty-four hours a day, you know. The Therapist Emeritus had to stop listening sometime, also. She couldn’t be a therapeutic instrument twenty-four hours a day, either. In fact, she had already stopped listening and it was time to make her not listening official.
Perhaps you noticed that, just as soon as the Therapist Emeritus told him the ghosts he saw were his own ghosts, not those of others, the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat stopped talking about ghosts and started talking about more corporal experiences, like aspiring to be a town drunk and almost getting crucified by New Mexican Penetantes. This was an indication to the Therapist Emeritus that she had struck truth, for the truth is shy and vanishes when found. The Therapist Emeritus would not be a therapist emeritus if she did not notice what the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat was not saying, as well as the things he was. The Therapist Emeritus would not be a therapist emeritus if she did not return the conversation back to where the truth last showed, speak to it directly, and address it as if she knew it well.
“If you want to get rid of ghosts, you’ve got to go looking for them.”
This didn’t seem to make sense to the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat. He screwed up his mouth and shook his head; but paradoxes are not easily forgotten. He let the conversation rest with that, followed her out the door, and turned the closed sign behind her. I lingered over my coffee until the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat locked up. Then we went out together and I lingered in the shadows to see where he would go.
He pensively walked all over Kenilworth for hours. He seemed to think, as he walked: To get rid of ghosts, you have to look for them. You have to look for ghosts to get rid of them. He may have been ready to dismiss the idea when he came upon a barking dog. The dog followed him as long as he walked away, but the moment the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat turned and approached the dog, it backed off. Perhaps ghosts were like that, too. Ghosts don’t like to be confronted, they prefer to take you by surprise.
The Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat stopped for a few slices of pizza to think it over. I thought he was going to call it a night, but he went straight to the old town center. In the spirit of looking for spirits that he didn’t want to find, the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat entered Kenilworth’s ancient burial ground, over by the Collegiate Museum, behind the whitewashed Congregational Church.
The bells of the church chimed twelve times. It was midnight.