Some people swore that the house was haunted. These were the same people who said that the local veterinarian had been kidnapped by aliens, because hadn't he just disappeared without a trace from his office where he was working late removing a cyst from Mrs. Crowdy's Persian? Six people in the bar across the street had agreed that there had been a flash of light over the animal hospital on that fateful night that was far too bright to have been normal lightning and that there were strange and alien sounds that were heard by many people exactly at the same time. The vet's poor wife believed it. Every night she sat on her porch hoping for signs of another bright light that would mean that her husband was being brought back by the aliens and returned to her loving arms.
“Everyone in town knows that the Doc was taken by aliens and that the Dolen house on the other side of town is haunted,” Ed Shorey told the young reporter who had been sent by the newspaper in the city to write about the mysteries in the town. The legend of the abduction of the vet and the haunting of the old Dolen house had grown over the years until it was told in other towns by other people with varying degrees of passion and conviction and the city editor had decided that the stories would make a good human interest piece for the Saturday paper. The people of the town in question sat and drank coffee in the diner and a Greek chorus of locals murmured agreement at his words. “There are strange goings on in this town. Someone or something pushed old Carl Dolen down the stairs, and everyone's heard the ghostly moans in the middle of the night.”
The reporter took a sip of his coffee from the heavy mug and longed for a caramel latte with extra whipped cream. “He was pretty old. How do you know he didn't just trip and fall?”
Melissa Brewer, the home care nurse sitting on the other side of the reporter snorted as she dabbed with her paper napkin at the coffee that had dribbled onto her scrub top covered with dancing lollipops. “No way he tripped. I took care of him and I can tell you he was as spry as a teenager.”
She gave up on the coffee stain that had altered the flavor or racial background of one of the lollipops falling overboard on her prodigious bosom and wagged her finger at the reporter. “I found him that morning. He was laying at the bottom of the stairs and before he passed he told me that the spirits finally got him.”
The reporter glanced without interest at the coffee stain on the straining scrub top and wondered briefly if Ms. Brewer's chest arrived in a room a full minute before the rest of her did.
“Strange goings on,” echoed Ed Shorey, peering into his coffee mug as if it might suddenly sprout demonic arms and drag him to Hell. The reporter marked this with sympathy since it definitely tasted as if it had been brewed there.
He stood up and paid his check, leaving a generous tip for the waitress who had told him she was a single mother of two boys and looked it.
“Actually,” he said, heading for the door. “The autopsy found that Mr. Dolen had cataracts in both eyes and was an alcoholic. When he told you that the 'spirits' finally got him I suspect he was talking about the kind that are sold in bottles. The moans you heard were probably the old drunk experiencing the disintegration of his liver and kidneys in the dead of night.”
He opened the door and turned toward the room. “ As for the good doctor, I did some research. Aliens didn't get him, but he did run off with one, a much younger itinerant farm worker from Jamaica. He is now happily removing cysts from kitties in Kingston.” He closed the door quietly behind him as he left.
Nothing was ever the same after that. Some of the citizens of the town dropped their subscriptions to the paper the very next day. The vet may not have been abducted, but some of the joy in the town was gone forever because when it comes right down to it, who wants to be haunted by the truth?