The Ghost at the Pontchartrain Hotel

18 Nov

No. The real one on St. Charles Avenue, not the one in Detroit that Eugenides made famous in “Middlesex.” And while I don’t place much in the supernatural, you take out of this whatever you need. I was on the ninth floor getting ice for an expensive bottle of single malt waiting on the table in my suite. The ice machine on my floor, the fifth, was busted. The sixth through the eighth were for residential apartments, and so the lift took me to the top. I opened the door to the chamber in which the large Frigidaire was tucked and started scooping. While slightly bent, I felt a hand down my back. It moved a little. It startled me. It moved up the spine and rested at the base of my neck. It was a warm hand. I stopped and turned. For some odd reason I expected my deceased grandfather. There was nothing but the boring hum of air conditioners. The hand was still there, on my neck. It squeezed a little. And then it went away. I finished scooping ice into the bucket and left the floor. Later I found out from a porter that there was a fire on the ninth in 1929. Two residents perished. They were housed in the room next to where the ice machine stood. One woman and her husband. The great-granddaughter of the woman wrote to me and said it’s a common encounter. She wrote that her great-grandmother loved the hotel so much, she probably did not wish to leave. She also wrote that Tuts Washington and Phillip Melancon haunt the bar downstairs, and if they’re in a proper mood, they even play the piano late at night. I don’t put much into the supernatural, so you take what you want out of this. Me? I took my ice and gathered it around the single malt bottle into the bucket, and chilled the thick, malted grain until it was right to drink.


7 Responses to “The Ghost at the Pontchartrain Hotel”

  1. Janet 19/11/2008 at 1:51 AM #

    To listen to later: Vienna Teng’s Pontchartrain.

    And do I have a ghost story to tell you!

  2. (S)wine 19/11/2008 at 6:29 AM #

    Have heard of her, never heard her music. Must give it a try, from what I’ve read about her style. Thanks for reading, as always.

  3. Slyboots 19/11/2008 at 11:48 AM #

    I am having the strongest impulse to watch The Shining. This story is like a very civilized and happy version. Without Jack. And Shelley. And more than anything, I hope that it is true.

  4. Geoff & Eleanor 19/11/2008 at 2:12 PM #

    Hello Alex,

    Good timing with this piece. I’m headed to New Orleans this weekend (Friday – Sunday) for the annual Faulkner Conference, and to meet with a couple of editors about Eleanor (one from Random House, the other from Penguin/Viking).

    I’m staying at my favorite NOLA hotel, The Dauphine, which once housed a brothel. Local flavor, yes, everywhere one looks … as long as the eyes are open.

    To the words — Geoff (and Eleanor)

    P.S. Your stats went over the 20,000 hit mark (and I know you’ve had many more readers than that). Still: CONGRATS!

  5. (S)wine 19/11/2008 at 8:55 PM #

    Sly, how weird you mention that. I’ve been itching to see it again (for the millionth time) lately.

  6. Geoff & Eleanor 20/11/2008 at 12:56 PM #

    Alex, Now that the Ponchartrain is being converted into use for individual residences, perhaps the ghosts will also feel more at home. I hear Tuts Washington is getting set for his next gig there (by invitation only, of course — from a resident ghost/alien/whatever). See-through attire optional.

  7. Geoff & Eleanor 20/11/2008 at 1:07 PM #

    That’s “Pontchartrain.” Tuts borrowed my “t.”

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