Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Haunted Janitor

Of all the hauntings that occupied the school when I was in 2nd grade, the Haunted Janitor is the one I remember best. The Haunted Janitor was a ghost janitor that occupied the janitor's closet across from Ta's class. Many children were afraid to go inside, solely because they were afraid that the Haunted Janitor would do something to them.
However, my two friends Lucas Binion and Alex Auyeung, and I, were above that. We weren't afraid of that ghost. In fact, we had relations with him. We had been granted with the special power to see the haunted janitor, to talk to him, and in one case, to be possessed by him.
We saw the Haunted Janitor many times. Once was at recess, when I thought I saw him on the roof, looking down at us. I promptly pretended to get hit on the head with something and fall down.
“What happened?” asked Lucas.
“'I've been hit!” I replied theatrically.
“What hit you?”
For effect, I paused a second before saying, “The Haunted Janitor” and pointed up ominously. Lucas and Alex freaked out and started looking up to the roof... but there was nothing there. It was all an act, of course, but it made us feel important, and consoled us to the fact that we weren't, and never would be, Harry Potter. We all desperately wanted to be Harry Potter, of course, but we needed something different, lest someone accuse us of wanting to be Harry Potter. Sometimes at night before I went to bed I would practice spells in a bad British accent, but it always eventually made me more embarrassed and depressed. It seems that anything I did to make up for my own mystical inadequacy only made me feel more inadequate and unmagical.
Another time I saw him I was in the Janitor's Closet after lunch. From what I remember of it, it was dimly lit and usually smelled like aged ramen noodles. There was also a toilet, and on many occasions I found someone actually sitting down and taking a poo, which is really unacceptable, even if you're in first grade. Anyway, at the end of this hallway-like closet was a door that was always closed. It was of course the actual janitor's closet, but none of us wanted to admit it. I secretly believed that behind the door was an abandoned elevator shaft, which, if you went straight down, would eventually lead to the Haunted Janitor's secret lair. This was one of the few things I actually believed about the Haunted Janitor, in line with the Haunted Janitor himself, The Polar Express, and a Teddy Bear that came down to my house during the night in a parachute and left me a note in my favorite book, which was about the same teddy bear.
I was cleaning out my bowl of ramen noodles in the janitor's closet when a thought struck me. I was alone in the Haunted Janitor's closet. This was the perfect opportunity to see the Haunted Janitor. I abandoned what I was doing and hesitantly walked towards the door at the end of the closet. I was still 7 feet away when I got too scared, but hey, it was still pretty close. At that point I blanked on what to do. In previous encounters I had just pretended to see him, and the thought saddened me greatly. Now that it was the real deal, I had no idea what I what to do. So I just kinda stood there staring stupidly at the door, waiting for something to happen. I feel like I must have waited for ten minutes, but still nothing happened. Minute after minute, each uneventful second ticked uneventfully away. Finally I heard a door open behind me and I turned around to see Alex standing in the doorway.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I saw the janitor,” I gasped.
“What? Where is he?”
“He's gone now.”
“Did he say anything? What did he do?” It was then that I had an idea, although at the time I disguised it as a terrible epiphany: I was possessed by the Haunted Janitor.
Alex asked again, but I was already in possessed mode. I assumed a glassy-eyed stare and a slow, stumbling shuffle. He continued trying to get my attention, but I kept ignoring him. It went on like this until recess, until the full effects of my "possession" started kicking in. I started yelling incoherently and having short battles with Lucas and Alex. By this I mean they would get near me and, both yelling, we would kick each other until one of us backed away to regain our strength. Between these skirmishes Alex and Lucas would say cheesy action movie clichés, along the lines of "Henry, snap out of it, come on, don't give up!" and "Noooooooooooooo!" This went on for the entire half hour recess period. When the whistle blew I entered the next and final stage of my possession- the part where it kills me slowly. As we were walking in, I leaned against Lucas and started wheezing as best I could. They both kept up the clichés, but this time they were more dramatic and heavy with remorse.
During read aloud, I lay on the floor and wheezed, but quietly so Ta would not notice. I chimed in with dramatic clichés: "It hurts...", "Help me...," and the classic, "I feel... so cold..." I kept repeating these lines over and over again, mainly because I couldn't think of anything else. Eventually Alex got bored and listened to Ta's story, and Lucas wizened up. "Henry, cut it out. This is stupid."
"No..." I wheezed, "I don't have much time..."
"It's getting old." he replied moodily.
"Please... help me..."
"So... cold..." Eventually I had to get up, of course, and we all went on with our lives. After that point, I don't remember any significant encounters with the Haunted Janitor, and after some time I stopped believing in him all together. It was probably because of my friends' negative attitude towards it: they weren't working with my fantasies anymore, no longer feeding the flame of my passion. I would try to bring it up and they would either play with it for two seconds just to humor me or flat out ignore me. If The Haunted Janitor changed me in any way, he probably helped me realize the delicacy of a good friendship. A friendship can only really survive if there is excitement, something to spice it up. After the Haunted Janitor, we really didn't have much to talk about; it got boring. I was never good friends with Lucas again until mid-7th grade, and never really talked to Alex again. Maybe age made us go our separate ways, but I am pretty darn sure that our 2nd grader attention spans couldn't hold up to the test of time.
Funny how the same rules apply later in life the same way they did in 2nd grade. If you think about it, older people are not so different from 3-6ers. We still want just about everything and get upset at the drop of the hat. We are willing to love anyone who comes are way, but just as willing to purposely trip someone we don't like. We are never really self-sufficient. We still need some spice in our lives, and in some cases, we still believe in ghosts.


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