Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"The Considerate Hosts." Thorp McClusky.

Review: A rain-soaked night. Midnight. Marvin can barely see through the rain on the windshield. The bridge is out. He has to take a detour. The road is muddy with water in the tire tracks. Marvin’s car goes dead. He sees a house, goes up to it. A man and woman answer the door. They are very polite. They allow Marvin to try to use an antiquated phone that doesn’t work.

The couple says that they are ghosts. He had been executed for a crime he did not commit and three years later his wife had committed suicide. For tonight, the house has been restored to its condition the day the wife had died. They have been waiting for the lieutenant-governor, the man who, as a prosecutor, had convicted the ghost host. The lieutenant-governor had had to use the detour on this evening, his car had stalled, he had asked to use the phone and had collapsed in the hallway. The ghosts were about to bring him around and frighten him to death—just when Marvin had arrived.

Marvin talks the ghosts out of committing murder as an act of revenge. Marvin and the host ghost carry the collapsed lieutenant –governor to his car. Marvin dries out his carburetor and his key and his car starts up.

The next day Marvin follows the detour, sees the house, sees that it has been vandalized and is empty with none of the furniture that had been there the night before. As for the lieutenant-governor, he had revived, driven toward town, and died of a heart attack before he reached town.

So the considerate host ghosts were not guilty of murder after all. Mother nature had performed an act of justice.

Famous Ghost Stories. Ed. Bennett Cerf. New York: The Modern Library. Random House, inc. 1944.

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