A Ghost (and a Kick-Ass Book) For Christmas
These are the opening lines of Bridge of Tarnished Angels, now for sale for $3.99 as a paperback and for $2.99 on Kindle. The extract below is written in the first person POV of Scott Carson, my protagonist in Tatterdemalion and his half of the book is called "A Ghost For Christmas." Please consider getting a copy for the holidays while there's still time.
(December 25th, 1888)
Not that I expect anyone to give a rat’s ass since I’m just an average mug from the Upper West Side whose sole claim to fame is in killing Jack the Ripper. And I’ve yet to even put pen to paper about how that came about with Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull and me last month. But I’m an engineer, partially educated at an overpriced joint named Columbia University. I work with numbers and depend on the laws of physics to get one contraption or another in good working order and I don’t truck in stories about ghosts or hogwash like that.
Yet, in our incessantly pragmatic day and age, self-important men inflated with hot air better than you and I breathe, those ranging from my fellow engineers to robber barons to the politicos who infest every level of government would publicly scoff at such tripe. They’d airily dismiss ghosts as figments of a febrile imagination or the hokum of confidence men and who knows, maybe they’re onto something.
Privately, though, like a hidden vice or buried crime, they’ll admit to experiencing something they’re at a loss to explain- Maybe a shadow in the corner of their eye, a glimpse of a face at the top of the stairs, a bump in the night what’s reprised on request, an object moving by itself or a voice coming out of nowhere when they knew for a fact they were alone.
We tend to shrug off such anomalous moments and continue whistling by the graveyard whether or not it whistles back at us. Or maybe it’s just the wind scratching through the dead limbs of a tree. Again, who knows?
Easy explanations and denunciations are always easier to swallow, I suppose, than a fact what eludes reason like a greased pig out of the hands of a slaughterman. Twain once wrote that it’s easier to fool the people than it is to convince people they’ve been fooled. That applies to seeing those shadows, faces and hearing those bodiless voices and bumps in the night. We’ll willingly play the fool and keep believing that the dead always continue their journey to who knows where or what and that they’re done with us like jilted lovers.
But once, just once in my young life, I saw something, and briefly held the proof of it in my hands. In fact, my mentor Jake Riis and I both saw it and, as with the murders of five women in London’s East End at the hands of a maniac, there are some things in this world we cannot unsee.
And sometimes the dead grab us by the lapels and won’t let us go because, contrary to popular belief, sometimes they ain’t done with us and have to speak their minds.