[in 2 parts, because I overran the site word filter] Let’s set the wayback to 1988. I was 17, thin, good-looking, and driving a 1984 Pontiac Sunbird – 4 door, so of course it was a chick magnet. I lived out in the country on a small farm, about a 30 minute drive from school and even more to my nearest friends. So when there was a gathering, party, or outing, it was a long way to go to get there. On this fine September day, just before the start of my senior year, I had been invited to a birthday party on the far side of town in what passed for an upscale neighborhood in a small community. It’s important to note that I was invited not because I was friends with the birthday girl, but because I was part of a larger circle of people she wanted invited and I just came with the package. As I worked Saturdays, I’d be joining things late in the day, but it was planned to go until midnight, mainly because the girl’s parents were out of town for the weekend. Now, anyone with sense knows that last bit of information is just trouble waiting to happen, and even at 17, so did I. However, most of the main group that would be there were serious Baptists. As in, serious enough that their Baptist church held book burnings to get rid of the “Devil’s work”, so I knew there wasn’t going to be drinking, drugs, or any of that dirty rock and roll everyone is going on about. In any event, I was mainly going to meet up with my best friend [we shall call him ‘Dag’], so I was going to drop in, say hi, deliver a thoughtful present (so thoughtful that I can’t even remember what it was), and then head back out to Dag’s place for a few hours and do something entertaining. So I get home from work, shower off the ink (I worked the press lines at a newspaper), and head that way. As the framing suggests, I got there with events in progress. I navigated to the house, parked, and went in. I saw some people, said hi, and asked where I could find the birthday girl. I was directed into a large den, where all the furniture had been moved to the walls. Balloons and streamers were all over, and it certainly looked festive enough. But it didn’t sound festive. In fact, it didn’t sound at all. When I walked in, the heads of about half a dozen teenagers turned toward me, all of them sitting on the floor, 4 of them with their hands on the planchette of a Ouija board. At the time, I was used to not being the most popular guy in the room, but I was still pretty surprised when one of the guys told me to get out. Now, this was still a couple of years before I started training in martial arts, but I was a pretty big farm boy, and I’d already taught a couple of bullies a lesson in picking their targets. So, politely (yes, politely, thank you), I responded that Gale (the birthday girl) had invited me, and he’d be better off deferring such statements to her (it’s possible that last part was said a hair less than politely). This was quickly followed by one of the girls stating that “He said he wouldn’t talk to us if you were here.” So I looked at Mr. Get Out and said some variant of “good, he’s best seen, not heard,” to which she responded “no, not him, the ghost.” Here she pointed to the board. This pretty well stopped me in my tracks. At this point Gale gave an actual explanation, which was to the effect of that they had contacted this ghost, who was being really talkative, but before I showed up he’d said something to the effect of not wanting me around. Now at this point the more astute of you should have some alarm bells going off. Please keep in mind that I was 17, and I’m not empathic nor did I have any special sensitivity (again, training for that kind of thing was still in the future). So since I really wasn’t there for those people, I didn’t give it much of a thought and left the room. Dag still hadn’t arrived, so I just hung out with people who didn’t want anything to do with the Ouija and waited for him to show up. About 30 minutes later, Dag did indeed show up, and I caught him before he went into the house. One of the first things he said was “something’s off here.” I gave him a quick summary of the events in the den and he – being a more in the game than I – went straight into the room. As an aside, I don’t recall that he brought a present. Cheap bastard. Regardless, he came out of the room less than a minute later with some papers in his hand and began putting them in my face. I don’t know which had been written on when (before or after my arrival), but now MY alarm bells were going off. These papers had diagrams and descriptions of a ritual where the kids present would draw a circle, place Gale in the center, and sit around her chanting something a in a language I didn’t recognize. Dag would later tell me it was Latin, but languages are not my strong suit. He could have told me it was Sandskrit and I would have no way of knowing better. Let me be clear. These were a collection of 16 to 18 year old southern Baptists kids. They knew as much about ritual magic as the Kardashian clan knows about subtlety. They were so green they needed mowing. Part of the reason I was greeted with less than enthusiasm was because I was a D&D playing agnostic heathen. The odds of ANY of these people knowing what a summoning circle was, much less coming up with a ritual for the same, are less than the odds of me passing up biscuits. As I mentioned before, I don’t have any particular spiritual gifts. But I did have the great gift bequeathed to all teenagers: stupid. In fact, I daresay I had enough for any three teenagers. Added to that, I also had no sense of mortality – I had tried suicide twice before, once by drinking enough arsenic to put down a stable. So I did what anyone in my position would do: I went right back in and announced that it was time for Mr. Ghost to say goodbye.