When Things Go Bump In The Night

By Jim Ignasher

For the sake of argument, let’s suppose you’re having a problem with ghosts. Maybe it’s a poltergeist, a misty apparition, or a full-blown, level 3, ecto-plasmic- anomaly.

A what?

Never mind.

The point is, to quote a line from Ray Parker Junior’s 1984 hit song, Ghostbusters; “Who ya gonna call?”

In the Ghostbusters movie, those with spirit infested properties knew who to call because Doctor Venkman and company advertised on television and raced to haunted locations in the highly conspicuous “Ectomobile”. After locating the ghost, they would capture it using proton-pack-particle-beams and force it into a containment trap. Problem solved.

But hey, that’s Hollywood. Where does one go to find help getting rid of ghosts in real life? You can’t just pick up a newspaper and look through the ads for a handyman.

“Call Us! We’ll remove bats from your belfry, poltergeists from your porch, and apparitions from your attic, all for one low price! Act now, before October 31st, and receive a 10% discount!”

Nor can you go to a hardware store and purchase products such as “Ghost-B-Gone”, “Zombie-Zapper”, or “Spectral Spritz”, conveniently located next to the rat poison and hornet spray.

“Humm, should I get the brand name, or is the generic just as good?”

And calling a pest control company won’t work.

“Sorry, we don’t exterminate ghosts – they’re already dead.”

Perhaps you could try asking a friend or neighbor.

“Hey, Bob, who did you call to rid your home of those pesky ghosts?”

Then again, who wants neighbors gossiping about your ghosts? After all, a haunting could hurt property values.

For Sale: Ocean front home, five acres, four-bedrooms, three-baths, two-car garage, and one scary ghost. Make offer – please!

Furthermore, nobody wants their home to become a tourist attraction for late-night revelers who read about it on the Internet. Consider what’s happened in Amityville, Long Island, or closer to home, the “Conjuring” house in Burrillville.

Some maintain that ghosts are merely a figment of one’s imagination, and if you fall into that category then you have nothing to worry about, for you already know there’s a perfectly logical explanation for that transparent specter with glowing red eyes which appears nightly in the hallway at 3 a.m. You may not know what that explanation is, but you’re positive it’s not a ghost.

“It’s a good thing I know you don’t exist, or else I’d be scared.”

On the other hand, you might want to have someone check it out just to be sure.

Fortunately there’s the Internet, where finding someone for the job is just a few keystrokes away, but deciding just who to call isn’t as clear-cut as one might think, for there are literally thousands of choices. And that’s no exaggeration, for it seems there’s a lot of paranormal investigators out there, and most of them have a website. In fact, there’s even a website called ParanormalSocieties.com that lists roughly 4,300 paranormal investigation websites from all across the United States. Of course the numbers may fluctuate as some teams disband and others are formed.

Rhode Island has its share of paranormal investigators, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for locally, there are investigators throughout New England, New York, and New Jersey that advertise their willingness to travel.

Sifting through the numerous websites from different parts of the country can be interesting. While the vast majority appear professional, explaining who they are, and what they can do for you, I found a handful that looked like an overblown Halloween card designed by an adolescent who might not be allowed out on a school night. Yet to be fair, there’s an old saying that goes, “You can’t judge what’s in a coffin by the lid”. OK, it’s not an old saying – I made it up, but you get the idea.

And while most paranormal teams don’t charge for their services, exactly what services they provide can vary, so you need to do your homework.

Historically speaking, tales of ghostly hauntings have been around for thousands of years, and while most people try to avoid encounters with ghosts, there’ve always been those who seek them out to investigate them. By the mid 1800s “ghost hunting” had become mainstream as more and more people began taking an interest in the supernatural. Paranormal investigation societies were established in both Europe and America. The worlds oldest such organization still in existence is aptly named “The Ghost Club”, established in England in 1862. And yes, they have a website.

Victorian Era investigators attempted “spirit communication” through the use of Ouija Boards, candles, mirrors, séances, and something called “automatic writing”. (Methods generally considered dangerous today.)

“So, how’s the weather there?”

“Hot! Really, really, hot!”

In 1913 a multi-millionaire grieving the recent loss of his wife offered a $50,000 reward to anyone who could “capture” a ghost and thus prove they exist. The story ran in some newspapers, but nobody collected the prize.

Modern-day investigators use hi-tec electronic devices in their attempts to prove that a legitimate haunting, and not a hoax, is taking place.

Surveys show that about 45% of the population believes in ghosts, with about 18% claiming to have seen a ghost or experienced some sort of paranormal event. That leaves about 55% in the non-believing or undecided category. Those who believe cite various forms of evidence, while skeptics maintain that despite the efforts of countless investigators throughout history, nobody has ever “scientifically” proven that ghosts are real.

Getting back to the original question, suppose the handymen are over booked, the hardware store is out of Ghost-B-Gone, and you can’t decide on which paranormal investigator(s) to call; what’s next? There’s always the option of contacting a clergyman of your faith. Many religions have people with specialized training in dealing with matters of the supernatural, and are spiritually equipped to combat evil entities, for everything is not always as it seems, and not everything that goes bump in the night is friendly.

Not religious? Then you’re back to square one.

Or maybe it’s best to leave well enough alone.

In any case, may all your hauntings be happy ones. Happy Halloween!