By Mystic Madam Misty Merkel
I am drenched. I just got back from a swim in Lake Michigan. Swimming around out in Lake Michigan while holding onto a piece of driftwood to stay afloat while several sharks are circling, is no way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I suppose I am lucky because there were so many lightning strikes all around me that it kept the sharks stirred up too much to make me into a meal. I was so afraid of the lightning being attracted to my metal jewelry that I even tossed my rings that were made out of genuine nuclear charged cadmium imported from a power plant in China. My very special rings glowed all the way down to the bottom of Lake Michigan. I was just lucky the coast guard came along and picked me up or I might have ended up dinner for one of those sharks.
I can’t believe I ended up in the drink today. Yesterday I was looking forward to spending my Saturday taking an adult education class on palm reading at the local community college. The government was paying for it since palm reading is considered “one of those skills needed to revitalize America while changing it into a servant economy“. I guess I got that quote right. I’m trying to remember it from the brochure.
Well, I was just sitting there at my kitchen table contemplating on my palm reading class and having my usual early morning Irish coffee when someone started pounding on my door. When I opened the door I was surprised to see about ten of my neighbors standing there. “We need your help Madam Misty,” one of them called out.
“We have a really bad problem” another voice cried.
“What in the world is wrong?” I asked.
Marcie Wrinklebottom sobbed “It’s my dead husband Frank. He’s come back from the grave. He spent all last night a hollering and screaming on his old boat. Everyone in the trailer park heard him. Didn’t you? ”
Marcie Wrinklebottom lived about four trailers down from me. Next to her trailer was parked a big old wood fishing boat that used to belong to her late husband Frank. Now Frank spent most of his marriage on that boat. He seldom took it out on the Great Lakes but, he spent most of his time drinking beer and smoking in the cuddy cabin while the boat sat beside the trailer. Frank always complained that he had never caught any fish out on Lake Michigan. He said his dream was to come back home with a great big salmon that he had caught on the shoals of Big Manitou Island. I guess that is where old Frank liked to fish. Anyway, the last time Frank went out there was a terrible storm and the boat ended up crashed up on the shoreline with a big hole in its bow. The widow Wrinklebottom had the boat parked beside her trailer. She figured that if Frank ever showed up again he would feel at home seeing his old boat parked in the spot it had sat in for the better part of 20 years.
I knew what these people wanted. They obviously wanted me to use my psychic abilities to contact Frank to see what the old fellow wanted. So, I told them that I would go on board the boat that night and talk to old Frank and see what he wanted so his spirit could move on to great beyond and/or rest in peace or something. The main thing was to just get old Frank out of the trailer park so everyone living here could have a little peace and quiet. My agreeing to contact Frank Wrinklebottom seemed to calm everybody down. I of course got my most powerful spiritual items around to use during the séance. My most powerful physic items are of course my Petoskey stones I also had to a lot to do that day to get ready for the séance. I had to make a trip to the dollar store and buy about a hundred candles. Ghosts seem to be big on mood lightning so naturally you have to have candles.
Unfortunately, the only person I could get to help me with this spiritual conundrum was an associate of mine at the Humor News Nuts organization. His name was Gerrard and boy, is he a real strange guy. He lives in his mother’s basement. He also raises rats down there. He inherited the rat business from his old man when he died. His grandparents were famous for raising worms and bloodsuckers (leeches). In short, Gerrard comes from a family of persons who I consider not quite right in the head. At the last minute, Mrs. Wrinklebottom decided not to attend the séance. She said the whole thing would be just too upsetting for her so she would just stay in her trailer and wait for us to tell her what had gone on.
Everything was ready for the séance. I had set the candles out around and inside the boat. It took a while to light them all but, Gerrard and I finally got the candles to burn. They were cheap, probably old candles that I picked up at the dollar store. The widow Wrinklebottom only gave me $50.00 for supplies to be used during the séance to contact her late husband Frank. I bought the 2/$1.00 tapered candles but, I couldn’t get them all the same color. Some spooks are particular about having the candles match but, I figured that since Frank considered himself to be some old salty seadog that he wouldn’t be too fussy.
Gerrard set up a card table and a couple of chairs onboard the boat. Gerrard and I sat down in the chairs with the Petoskey stones on the table and candles burning all around us. The candles were not only of several different colors but, had several different scents. I figured it smelled a bit like a funeral home so I hoped a spook like Frank would feel relaxed. His body was never found so maybe he’d figure we were giving him the send off he never got and would just leave everyone in the trailer park alone.
We waited until just after the sun went down then, lo and behold who should appear but, old man Frank Wrinklebottom in person (but, not in the flesh). He was kind of a faded out apparition. After a couple of moments he started to have a little bit of color. At least I could tell what he was wearing. He had a captain’s hat on along with a plaid short-sleeved shirt and white pants. He wore laced up sneakers and white cotton socks. After 20 years I thought his clothes looked pretty clean. For a spook he was also well shaven. A lot of ghosts that live on boats like to look a bit grizzly with regards to facial hair in order to achieve that “come hither” supernatural effect. At least that’s been true since the show “Miami Vice”. Waterfront spooks all think that they’re some sort of Don Johnson.
I was starting to get a bit perturbed because Frank just stood there not saying a thing. After all the work I did setting up the séance and now Frank was going to pull some sort of mute ghost twenty question guessing game on me. Some dead people want you to guess what is bothering them and then they will answer you with a knock or moan or chill or some other stupid answer. I decided to be direct so I asked, “So Frank, now that you’ve got us here what the heck do you want? You‘d better answer me directly with real words and sentences. If you don’t speak plainly then, I‘m going to blow out your candles and then I’m going home. I‘ve had a long day and I‘ve got a class on palm reading to attend tomorrow. I‘ve already paid for the class and I won‘t get reimbursed by the government for job retraining unless I actually attend the full three hours of it.”
The ghost must have been moved by my speech because he said in a very plain voice, “I’ve come back from the grave because I want to go fishing. I need to go fishing on this boat and off the Coast of Big Manitou Island. In short, I need to catch a fish. I also need to do something else but, I forget what it is right now. I just know I’ve got to go fishing and I won’t stop haunting your trailer park until you take me.”
The old ghost of Frank Wrinklebottom seemed to be begging like a little kid. I had no choice but to agree to take him on a fishing trip the next morning. “One more thing,” the ghost said as I was blowing out the candles and getting ready to leave, “make sure my wife Marcie is on the boat with us. I really want her along to watch me catch my first fish.”
The next day Marcie Wrinklebottom, Gerrard and, I drove up to Northport Harbor. Some guys in the trailer park put boats in and out of the water for a living. They patched the boat and had hauled it up to Northport ahead of us so they could ready it and get it launched. One big problem we had was that the engine on the boat had set up and would not turnover. The boat launch guys said they had a small aluminum boat that they could use to pull the boat out to the Manitou Islands as long as the seas didn’t get too rough.
When we arrived at the harbor we found that our boat was ready and waiting for us. We climbed aboard and the little tin boat started to pull us out of the harbor. We were on our way to Manitou Island. The water was calm that morning so it didn’t take too long before we were far enough out that I decided to wake up our ghost to see if he was ready to go fishing. I and Gerrard went down into the cuddy cabin to summon Frank. Marcie did not want to go down below to see her departed husband. It took the whole neighborhood to persuade her to go on this trip. I wasn’t sure if Marcie was afraid of water or if she really did not want to see her husband Frank. I thought she would like to talk to him after all; she kept his old boat right beside her trailer for twenty years. She wanted to keep an eye on his old tub but, she insisted on staying topside when she finally had a chance to reunite with her old love.
Once down below deck, I lit a candle and Frank immediately appeared. I had Gerrard go up on deck with him. There was a fishing line all set for Frank to use. I only hoped Frank would catch a fish. While Frank and Gerrard were up on deck I decided to nose around in the cuddy cabin. There was something really wrong with this whole operation. Frank and Marcie were both holding back about something and I wondered what it was. I figured the sooner I found out the sooner I could get back to shore and to may class. I still had a few hours before my palm reading class started and I was hopeful that I could still make it.
As I was looking around, Gerrard bounded down the steps into the cabin. When he reached the bottom of the steps he said, “It’s starting to get a bit rough out. It was nice out when we left but I think a storm is starting to form right over head. You know there is something I should tell you about this area.”
“And what is that Gerrard?” I asked.
“Well Madam Misty, we’re in what is known as ‘The Devils Trapezoid‘. This is an area that is outlined by connecting on a map the Little Manitou Island, the Big Manitou Island, the town of Northport and, the town of Benzonia. Thousands of boats, ships and planes have mysteriously sunk to the bottom of Lake Michigan in these waters. There have been a couple of nasty train wrecks on the shoreline as well. A hot air balloon sprung a leak here last summer. I think you get the picture. Now, we are out here on a ghost ship with a ghost and a storm is forming right overhead. I believe we are in trouble.”
I had to agree with Gerrard. Gerrard was a Ghost Scene Investigator so I did have to respect his opinions when it comes to wayward spirits. Gerrard agreed to help me look around the cuddy cabin for some clues. Unfortunately, Gerrard stumbled across a really bad thing. In what looked to be a closet Gerrard came across a full human skeleton dressed just like Frank Wrinklebottom. This particular skeleton was hanging up with a fish fillet knife through the rib cage. It was obvious that Frank hadn’t gone overboard and drowned but, had instead been murdered. The prime suspect for the murder was up on the deck right now. I was wondering how Frank and his wife might be getting along when suddenly, the patch in the hull broke open and the cuddy cabin began to flood.
Gerrard and I ran up to the deck. Lightning was flashing all around us and the boat was being thrown about on waves that seemed to be going in every direction at once. We were in the perfect storm. I looked around but, Frank and Marcie were both gone. Evidently, Frank must have taken Marcie overboard. Now his boat was sinking and the two guys in the dingy were no where to be seen. The next thing I knew I was in the drink. A Piece of a branch floated by so I grabbed it. The boat and Gerrard were now gone. I was all alone in the storm hanging onto a small piece of wood. I was having a really bad day. I knew that I would never make it to my palm reading class. I was so disappointed that I would never get reimbursed from the government for the money I spent on the class.
Finally, a fishing boat pulled me out of the water and took me back to port. Gerrard and the two guys with the dingy were there. They guys said that they didn’t see me out there. They also said that Gerrard was so heavy that after they pulled on board their small boat it was almost under water. They then hurried in before lightning turned their aluminum boat into an aluminum fry pan. It seems the only person that didn’t make it back was Mrs. Wrinklebottom. Her husband had set this whole fishing trip up as just a way to get her out on the water so he could get his revenge.
Unfortunately for me I missed my palm reading class and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to get a refund for it. I know one thing for sure and that is that I am never going back out on Lake Michigan again. I’m not even going to eat fish anymore. All my cans of tuna are going to go to the neighbor’s cats.
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