House ghost pulls pranks, collects mail

Burt's Eye View

The ghost who lives in our house is about to retire. I know, because his junk mail last week included an offer to supplement his brand new Medicare eligibility.

Donnell is our ghost. His junk mail’s been showing up in our box for about as long as we’ve lived in our house. Or possibly his house. We’re not really sure.

“We need to start charging Donnell rent,” my wife said as she crossed out the address label on yet another envelope.

I studied the words she’d written in red: “Return to sender. No one by that name lives here.”

“Maybe he does live here,” I said. “It would explain the footfalls we hear at night.”

“Those are the squirrels in the attic.” Terry rubbed her chin. “We should charge them rent, also.”

“If we charge the bat rent, too, I can quit work,” I said.

“I evicted the bat, remember? I caught it and released it outside while you were hiding behind the bed.”

“Oh, yeah,” I said. “But I still say I wasn’t the one who was screaming.”

“Then who, o brave warrior?”

“Donnell,” I said. “I was too busy hugging the carpet with a pillow over my head. Donnell was the guy shrieking like a little girl. Ghosts do that sort of thing.”

Terry shook her head. “There is no Donnell, so he didn’t screech. I was catching the bat, so I didn’t wail. The bat sure didn’t howl. So by process of elimination…”

“Are you arguing with the U.S. Postal Service? I think that’s a federal crime or something. If the post office says Donnell hollered, then it was him.”

“The post office didn’t say that. A marketing agency pulled the wrong address.”

This was no time to give up on Donnell. I was developing a certain fondness for the ghost in the house.

“I think he’s here,” I said. “Remember the time you couldn’t find your credit card and you thought I hid it?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Donnell snatched it and stuffed it in my sock drawer.”

Terry quirked an eyebrow.

I soldiered on with my new best friend. “You know when you tripped over my shoes in the middle of the living room floor? Now I know how they got out of the closet. That prankster Donnell put them there.”

Terry crossed her arms. “And when you told me evaporation caused the bag of chocolate chips to shrink?”

I nodded. “Donnell. He swipes a lot of chocolate. That Mounds bar you hid behind the toaster…”

“You ate my Mounds bar?!”

“Not me. Donnell. He found it. He ate it.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Donnell, the non-existent ghost who doesn’t live at this address, told you this?”

“Yes. No. I mean, it’s simple logic. If it wasn’t you and it wasn’t me…”

“Uh huh.”

“… it had to be Donnell.”

Terry stomped toward the kitchen — where I knew she was about to discover a crusted cereal bowl Donnell had left in my Jeep for a few days. I wondered if Donnell was buying a retirement home. Things were feeling kinda tense at our place. I might need to haunt Donnell’s house for a few days.

— Write to Cole at or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook. Send mail for Donnell anyplace else.