In second grade, I joined the Ghost Club started by two cooler girls from my class. We all watched Ghostwriter and read Goosebumps, so we were confident that we were the kind of savvy kids with whom all ghosts would prefer to work.
The three of us met at lunch and recess to compare paranormal encounters and think up ways to contact the spirit world.
The club disbanded in about two weeks. Sherry broke her leg and Jennifer broke her arm, which clearly indicated that we were getting too close to the ghosts and making them angry. The girls told me that we would have to stop meeting for my safety, and obviously the club could not go on without my wise input.
The next year, my friend Natasha and I formed the Chasing Those Floating Things You See In The Corner Of Your Eye Sometimes Club. Both of us kept all our limbs intact, but for some reason we were not invited to join any more recess clubs.
Sadly, Sherry and Jennifer both moved away before the student body’s most impressive brush with the unexplained.
My elementary school sat between two residential streets and a city park, so about twenty backyards housed small collections of escaped kickballs. We all avoided the dark green house at the very back of the school, though, because that’s where Captain Hook lived. Apparently his midlife crisis included a career change from chasing Peter Pan to terrorizing suburban school children.
No one ever saw Captain Hook, which was good because he hated kids and would kill you with his hook if you even looked at him. Once Natasha and I got really brave and snuck up to touch Captain Hook’s fence before shrieking in terror and running for our lives, but it was a very close call and for the rest of the day we just knew that he had seen us and would come hook our guts out during art.
Even though the Captain never showed himself, we had proof that he was really there because of the messages he sent. The school’s gigantic riding lawnmower spat up clods of grass with perfectly round holes in them, and these were clearly a secret code that our sinister neighbor had punched in with his hook.
My classmate Jan was the only person who could decode Hook’s messages. After she revealed this talent, the rest of us would bring her grass clods and she would examine them solemnly. Finally, she would whisper the horrible warnings she had read:
Now that I think of it, Jan would have been an asset to the Ghost Club.