11:45pm. I’m sitting next to my son and brother-in-law in the basement movie theater of The Inn at Pocono Manor watching the credits roll on I Am Legend.
“You know this place is haunted,” my offspring utters.
“I have heard rumors,” I say. “What do you know?”
“A three-year-old fell down the stairs to the basement and died.”
“When was this?”
“Well,” I say, “Let’s go find the stairs.”
With my usual tact, I walk up to the night clerk. “Excuse me. Could you point me to the haunted stairs?”
“This hotel isn’t haunted,” she says.
“But if it were haunted,” I say, using the subjunctive tense because it’s never too late at night for proper grammar, “what staircase would the ghost haunt.”
“The one behind you,” she says.
And so we go down the stairs and look around the basement hallways. No ghost.
“Can I help you?” a man in a gray/brown uniform says. He is standing in a doorway I didn’t notice before.
I jump a little.
“Oh, hey,” I explain. “We’re just looking around for a ghost.”
“You set off my security cameras.”
“Sorry about that,” I say. “The clerk said this place isn’t haunted. We just wanted to have a look.”
“Not haunted?” he says. “Of course it’s haunted. I play with that little girl all the time. I even changed offices once—all the way to the other end of the hotel–and she found me. We’re filming a paranormal activity show here next month. It’s haunted.”
He stops talking. He stares at us. He holds the door open.
“You want us to leave now, don’t you?” I say.
“Yes, if you would.”
So we do.