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Friday, October 31, 2003

Me and Zuul

Paging Dr. Venkman.

I’ve told this story probably a thousand times. If you’re one of the ones to have heard it before, feel free to just skip it now.

I lived alone. Or, so I thought. By all appearances, my apartment was just a normal old apartment on the first floor of an old brick two-flat. It was right across the street from the even older Saint Josaphat's Church School Convent and RECTORY.

There were so many things I loved about that apartment. The high ceilings. The hardwood floors. That my landlords let me use their washer and dryer for free. And then there was Zuul.

The first time Zuul made himself known to me was the only time I ever "saw" him. I was about to fall asleep when I turned from one side to the other. My eyes flitted open, and there, embedded on the surface of the old plaster wall, were the white hot eyes of someone or something staring me right in the face. Needless to say, I was quite startled. I blinked, and whatever I thought was there, was immediately gone. At the time, I chalked it up to my own eyes just playing tricks on me in a presleep fog.

The next time Zuul made himself known, he was a little gentler in his approach. One evening, a couple weeks later, I was reading a book while sitting in a chair in the living room. Except for the turning of the pages, the place was quiet. Engrossed in the book, I heard my name whispered from across the room, "M_a_r_i_e." Even before I jerked my head up from the book, I knew no one was there. I bolted across the room to the windows, but no one was on the street. I sat back down to resume reading, but concentration was gone. I figured it was just my imagination playing tricks on my ears.

Zuul wasn't always quite so subtle. One particular morning I awoke to the most foul smelling odor I have ever smelled in my entire life. Before or since. It was reminiscent of the smell of sulfur. But not on a small scale like with matches. More like industrial sulfur. And, this was much much much stronger – like being entombed in a sulfur mine. Holding my breath, I jumped out of bed and ran outside to the front porch. Thinking a nearby factory had a mishap, I fully expected the smell to be just as strong there, too. But, the smell wasn’t outside at all. After gulping several breaths of fresh air, I went back inside, through the apartment, out the backdoor and into the basement. By now, I was certain the smell had to be coming from the basement. But the basement smelled just fine. Upon returning to my apartment a few minutes later, the smell had fully dissipated – like it was never there at all. Where the smell came from, I never knew. But for that short time, it was real.

And then there was Zuul the lover. I was asleep in bed, laying on my side as I often do, when I was awakened in the middle of the night by what felt like a hand softly caressing my thigh through the blankets. I was afraid, but I remained calm. I just kept my eyes closed.

Is anyone detecting a pattern here? I didn't get it either. Until one day I was standing in front of my open refrigerator, lifting a carton of orange juice to my lips, when suddenly the realization of what was going on hit me hard. The senses. Sight. Sound. Smell. Touch. What's left? Taste. Yep. I set the orange juice back on the shelf without drinking a drop. As I recalled the foul smell of the sulfur that one morning, I just didn't think I could handle – physically or emotionally or spiritually – the taste of whatever might be in that container.

A few days after that, I acquired a kitten.

Zuul never returned again. At least not that I knew of.

Everything in this story really happened. It wasn’t until much later that I put the name of Zuul to it.

Sometimes I tell this story in the third person to small children as a bedtime story. No, not really. Okay, maybe sometimes.

Post script: Zuul was discovered a few years later in Sigourney Weaver’s refrigerator in the original Ghostbusters.

Side note: "Ghostbusters" is in the Word Perfect spell checker. Wow! That is big time noteworthy.

Posted by Marie at October 31, 2003 5:42 PM


While I've only been blogging a few months this is the best thing I have ever read in a blog. Did you have question your sanity?

Posted by: Kem White at October 31, 2003 7:51 PM

Thank you! That is a really nice thing to say. Never for a minute have I questioned my sanity. Not yet, anyway. When I wrote and posted this, I considereed others might question my sanity, though. I should confess, I don't really believe in ghosts. There's a logical explanation for everything. Right?

Posted by: Marie at October 31, 2003 11:50 PM

Who ya gonna call? At least whoever/whatever it was left when the kitten came.

Posted by: Doc at November 1, 2003 7:17 AM

Extremely well written Marie! It sounds like he was searching for a kindred spirit. But since he made you uncomfortable, it's good to hear that he didn't want to share you with the cat and left. ;)

Posted by: denise at November 2, 2003 12:20 PM

Well written and very entertaining. I enjoyed it.

Posted by: Don at November 2, 2003 10:38 PM