In the days leading up to the March 1st release of my collection In Search Of and Others, I’ll be sharing some of my idiosyncratic questions on the so-called “paranormal”…and their idiosyncratic answers.
Disappeared on Investigation Discovery is probably my favorite show on television, but I have to admit that it doesn’t always scratch my itch for the truly mysterious.
Here’s my Disappeared drinking game.
- Oh, the guy got lost in the woods and died. Take a drink.
- Oh, the woman was killed and buried in a shallow grave. Take a drink.
- Huh. A dissociative fugue. Awesome! Take two drinks.
- Someone says, “She was so vivacious and full of life!” Take a drink.
- Someone says, “She would NEVER leave her children willingly like that.” Take a drink.
- Someone says, “Sometimes he just did that, went off for a few days to think things over. In the wilderness. All alone. Without telling anybody. That’s why it took us a few days to call the police.” Take a drink.
- An attractive but troubled teenager takes a Spring Break roadtrip with a vanload of meth-addicted serial killers and somehow ends up missing. Take a drink.
- An elderly man or woman with fifty-dollar bills spilling out of his/her pockets and enormous diamond-encrusted jewelry gets conned. Take a drink.
- Someone says, “Until I see a body, I’ll never believe she’s dead. It’s been fifteen years and they found her bloody shoes floating in the resevoir, but I hope she’s happy somewhere.” Take a drink.
- The police ping a cell phone. Take a drink.
Is it too much to ask people to go missing with a little more panache?
You’re driving with your significant other. It’s late at night and you’re a little drowsy, struggling to stay awake as mile after mile of yellow line slithers past your wheels. You’re having those time-dilating moments when you snap your head upright and wonder where the last ten minutes went. After one of those, you reach to put your hand on your lover’s leg but he or she is gone.
Come on, admit it: THAT is what we’re hoping to see on these TV shows.
Or you’re hiking with your family and Dad, eager as always to make the summit of the trail, lopes on ahead, waving everybody else on. You trade a sullen glance with Mom or your siblings, take a big pull from your water bottle, and finally stagger up the ridge where you last saw your old man. He’s not there. He’s not on the other side. You can see in all directions, but there’s no sign of him.
That’s what I always wanted from my books of missing people, but let’s face it: Jimmy Hoffa is embedded in concrete somewhere, Glenn Miller crashed in the Atlantic, and Amelia Earhart was gobbled up by those enormous scary spider crabs on Nikumaroro. The sad fact is that most missing people end up in the stomachs of bears or the basements of their angry lovers.
They DON’T end up shuffling through the secret hallways of reality, alas, at least not often enough.
When they do, we call them ghosts.