Years ago, we road-tripped to Colorado to check out an old VW Bus for sale. After two nights sleeping at rest areas in our Jeep, we were dying to tuck into a real bed, but even the dicey-looking mom-and-pop motels on the outskirts of town cost a hundred dollars a night. A local told us to try the older casino hotels in Cripple Creek; they offered low rates in the hope that their guests would spend the difference, and then some, at their convenient slot machines, roulette wheels, and card tables.
We settled on the Imperial Hotel. The décor was outdated, it lacked elevators, and the bathrooms were shared, but it offered two things the other hotels did not: rooms for $39 a night and a resident ghost named George who lived in room 64. When we expressed an interest in the haunted room, the clerk insisted we meet George first, because “some people get along with him and others don’t.” I sort of believed in the supernatural, for instance, I believed that God answered prayers and I believed my old Volkswagen was possessed by a FahrverGremlin, but
I admit, I was dubious about George. Until I made his acquaintance:
We checked into an old hotel,
drawn in by its intriguing lore
A ghost named George was said to dwell
within its walls: room sixty-four
Enchanted by the legend’s spell,
we followed to the second floor
a clerk, who warned of what befell
unwelcome guests in sixty-four
Blood-red carpet deftly quelled
our footfalls through the corridor
She turned the key and all was well,
dead silence in room sixty-four
The hinges creaked; a fusty smell
escaped as she threw wide the door
I felt his headstrong aura swell
and hold its ground, room sixty-four
As I pushed past it, George rebelled
and unleashed from his psychic store
a migraine like a live bombshell,
screaming from room sixty-four
It struck and ricocheted pell-mell
inside my skull; it raged and roared.
I stood there, dumbstruck and unwell,
on the threshold of room sixty-four.
Then, aching, shaking, and dispelled
of every doubt I’d had before,
I found my legs and ran like hell;
Old George could have room sixty-four
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