The Castaway Hotel: Next Generation Book 3

Ignoring the Broom in the Corner

When we arrived home from work, Dad told us that he’d fill us in later about his time with the medium.  “Elliot was with us, so he already knows what happened, but I’ll tell Jake, Dion, Trey, and you two about it after we eat.” 

“So you don’t plan on telling the boys?”

“No, I don’t see any reason to do that, seeing we never informed them that the problems had been caused by ghosts.  I told Elliot not to mention it to them either, although I gave him permission to tell Noah, since he already knew about Hubbard and Abernathy’s spirits being here.” 

“Ok, that sounds fine,” Brandon and I agreed.

After we finished talking with Dad, we went to say hello to the boys before we headed upstairs to change.  They were busy playing a game on the PlayStation, so we waited until they were done before we spoke. 

“How was school today?” Brandon asked. 

“It was good,” Tristan replied.  “My teacher is reading The Phantom Tollbooth to us and it’s really good.”

“Yeah, she read it to us too,” Benny confirmed. 

“And you’re right, it is really good,” Joshie agreed.

“I’m glad she’s getting you interested in books.  Are you going to read a few more on your own?” I followed. 

“Yeah, and Mrs. Argentine told us the names of some other books she thought we’d like, so I’m going to find one of those the next time my class goes to the li’bary.” 

“That’s great, but the word is pronounced library, with an ‘r’ sound following the ‘b’,” I corrected.  “Do any of you have homework?”

“Nah, we finished it already,” he answered for himself, Benny, and Joshie.” 

“I don’t have any,” Wyatt added, remembering to word his response the way his father had corrected him previously. 

“I do, but I’ll do it later,” Ryan admitted.  Noah wasn’t with the others, so I made a mental note to check with him later. 

“Ok, then go back to playing your games and we’ll talk more at dinner.”   

After we changed, Brandon went to help Trey in the kitchen while I looked for Noah.  I found him with Elliot in the rec room.  “Hi, guys.  What’s up?” 

“I was just telling Noah about what happened earlier with the medium,” Elliot replied. 

“And he was telling me some other stuff too, like things I should know before I leave for college in the fall,” Noah added. 

“That’s great, and I’m sure he is giving you some good pointers too, and I hope it’s mostly about academics and study habits, not just socializing.” 

Elliot rolled his eyes and then switched subjects.  “Did Grandpa Josh tell you about what happened earlier?”   

“No, he said he’d inform Grandpa Jake, Dion, Trey, Brandon, and me about what happened after dinner.” 

“I can tell you now, if you want.” 

“No, I’ll wait and hear about it with the others, but there is something I’d like to know.  Noah, do you have any homework?” 

“Yes, but I’ll do it later.” 

“Ok, but I want to check it over before you get ready for bed.”

“Yeah, I know.  You and Dad B always want to do that.” 

After finishing my discussion with them, I returned to the kitchen and grabbed the dinnerware out of the cupboard and started setting the table.  Dion came in while I was doing that and we began to chat. 

“I thought you might like to know that it seems as if Tristan has made a couple of friends already.  They were waiting with him when I arrived at the elementary school to pick up him and Wyatt.” 

“Yes, he told us that he’d made some friends, but I’m glad you mentioned it too.  Do they look like nice boys?”

“Yes, and they all seemed to be getting along really well.  I was impressed that they were including Wyatt in what they were doing as well.  I haven’t asked him about it yet, but I could tell just from seeing the broad smile on his face that he appeared to be enjoying their attention.  Not all boys that age would be eager to hang out with a first grader, especially where any of their classmates could see what they were doing.” 

“Yes, that is good, but do you know whether those boys decided to do it on their own or possibly if Tristan might have suggested it?”

“No, I’m not aware about that, but I’ll ask Wyatt later and let you know what he says.” 

“Thanks, I appreciate that.”

I had finished arranging the place settings while we were talking, and when I went out to chat with Brandon he informed me that dinner was ready.  I offered to call the boys and let the others know as well, so I quickly made my rounds to tell everyone it was time to eat.

The conversations during dinner were fairly mundane and no one mentioned anything about the visit from the medium.  When we finished our meals, the boys headed off to either the rec or family room, while the rest of us stayed in the dining room so Dad could explain what had happened while we were at work. 

“I was actually shocked when I answered the door, because the guy on the other side wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.  Even though I’d been told we’d probably need a physically intimidating medium to handle Hubbard, this guy was more intimidating than I was prepared for.  He had to be at least six feet five inches tall (1.95 m) and must have weighed over 300 pounds (136 kg), so it was like inviting Hagrid of Harry Potter fame into the house.”

“Damn, then there’s a good chance he actually scared our uninvited guests out of the house, even if Hubbard is still as dumb as before,” Pop offered. 

“Yes, I’ll admit the guy even scared me a little when I opened the door and saw him standing there,” Dad confessed.  “I prayed it was the medium and not just someone here to rob us, but as it turned out he was a really nice guy.” 

“So comparing the guy to Hagrid was actually pretty accurate,” Brandon mused.  “I’d be willing to bet that many in the wizarding world were scared of Hagrid when they first saw him, because Harry was initially frightened of Hagrid too.  However, once he got to know Hagrid he realized he was a gentle giant who possessed a very caring soul.”  

“And fortunately it was the same with the medium.  Once I got over my initial shock, I invited him inside and offered to take his coat so I could hang it in the closet.  He had to set down the satchel he was carrying first, and as I discovered later it contained the items he would need to take care of our problem.  Before we got started, though, I excused myself briefly so I could let Elliot know the medium had arrived.  He was up in his bedroom and obviously hadn’t heard the doorbell, so I quickly went up to his room and asked if he wanted to join us.”

“So how did Elliot react when he saw the guy?” Brandon wondered. 

“I followed him downstairs, and when he reached the foyer he came to an abrupt stop and his body stiffened slightly, so apparently he was intimidated by the man’s size as well.  Luckily, he regained his composure fairly quickly and asked the medium a question.” 

“Will the things you’re going to do get rid of all of the spirits in the house?”

“It depends.  Is that what you want?” 

“No, some of the spirits are family members who have been watching over us and helping out.” 

“Then I’ll only expel the spirits of non-relatives.”

“Or close friends,” Dad hastily added. 

“Or close friends,” the medium agreed.

“The medium then took a smudge stick out of the satchel, which was basically just a bundle of pre-selected dried herbs, and lit one end,” Dad explained.  “After hastily extinguishing the flames, he allowed the smudge stick to smolder and used the smoke to cleanse every room as we went around the house.” 

“I’ve seen people doing this in some movies and on different TV shows, but I didn’t think it really worked,” Elliot stated when he saw what the guy was up to.  “I thought it was just something someone thought up to make what they were doing appear more dramatic.”

“No, it really works,” the medium told him.  “The main ingredient in the smudge stick is dried sage, and it cleanses any unwanted or negative energy out of the areas where it is used.  The process is similar to various religious groups using incense during a ceremony.” 

Dad then explained that as the medium was cleansing the various rooms on the first floor that he would pay special attention to each outward facing corner, meaning those connected to the exterior of the house.  At the same time he would also repeat the following message.  “I am asking any spirit in the house that is not related to the people living here or one of their close friends to please leave now and never return.  Just move toward the light and be at peace.” 

This seemed to confuse Elliot, so he asked the following question.  “Why are you asking so nicely for them to leave?”   

“When I start this process it’s important that I’m polite and respectful to the spirits, and that’s usually sufficient to get them to leave on their own.  However, if this doesn’t work then I’ll start demanding that they comply with my request.  You’ll understand better as you watch me go through the various steps involved in this process.”  

“When he finished doing that in every room on the first floor, we followed him upstairs.  He’d already cleansed a couple of those rooms when he entered your bedroom,” Dad said as he looked at Brandon and me.  “As soon as he walked through the doorway a book flew in his direction, nearly hitting him in the head.  I was surprised at how quickly he was able to react for a guy his size, but he managed to knock it aside and it fell on the floor.  However, this is when his attitude suddenly changed.” 

“I’ll bet it was the book that I keep on my nightstand,” Brandon stated as he mentally pictured what had happened.  “I usually read a chapter or two when I can’t fall asleep right away.” 

“Yes, I’m sure that was it, but the medium merely picked it up and tossed it on your bed.  However, before we started again he asked me the names of the specific spirits we wanted to get rid of, and from that point on he COMMANDED Hubbard and Abernathy to leave.” 

“I wonder if it was Hubbard or Abernathy who threw the book at him,” Trey wondered aloud.

“Whichever one did it really pissed off the medium, because he was much more forceful as he finished the process in every room on the second and third floors.  After we left the last room, Elliot and I followed him down to the foyer again and he selected another set of items out of his satchel.  As soon as he had what he needed to carry out the next phase, we followed him from room to room on the first floor again.” 

“Was he planning on going through the house multiple times from the beginning, or did he do it because of what had happened?” Pop wanted to know. 

“I believe it was part of his normal routine, but this time he seemed to be more determined and more focused.  Instead of using the smudge stick, he sprinkled a small quantity of salt in the corners of every room and placed some salt across every entranceway.  While he was doing this he would also bark out the following admonishment.” 

“David Hubbard and Sam Abernathy, you weren’t invited into this house and your presence is unwelcome.   I BANISH you from this property and order you to leave IMMEDIATELY.  Move toward the light and you are never to return or bother this family again.” 

“Damn, I’ll bet that got Hubbard and Abernathy’s attention,” Dion stated.

“I thought that as well as he performed the same ritual in every room on the second floor,” Dad continued.  “I was curious about what might happen when we got to your bedroom this time, but nothing occurred, so I felt he’d succeeded and Hubbard and Abernathy were too afraid to attack him again.  When he finished carrying out this process in every room on that floor, we started up the stairs to the third floor.  The medium hadn’t yet reached the landing when his body suddenly lurched backward and he began to fall.  Somehow he managed to grab the handrail so he didn’t land on Elliot and me, and then we did our best to prop up his immense weight until he was able to regain his balance.   As soon as he was standing on his own two feet again, he turned to me and spoke.” 

“These spirits are proving to be more stubborn and aggressive than I’d anticipated, so I’m going to call in the cavalry.  I’ll summon my protective spirits to intervene and help keep us safe, but I’ll also ask them to assist me in totally removing these unwanted spirits from the property.” 

“Wait!  What are you talking about when you say you’re going to call your protective spirits?” Elliot demanded.

“Whenever I go on a job I am accompanied by four protective spirits.  They generally stay out of the way and don’t get involved unless I request their assistance.”

“And who are these spirits?” Elliot followed. 

“They are two of my uncles and two friends, all of whom died violent deaths prematurely.  One uncle was a deputy sheriff who was shot and killed when responding to a domestic disturbance call and the other one died on 9/11 when his plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania.” 

“You mean he was on United Airlines flight 93?” Dad asked. 

“Yes, he was.” 

“And who are the other two?” Elliot pressed.

“The first is a high school friend who played on the football team with me, and he was killed by an I.E.D. while serving in Iraq.  The other one is a guy I met when I joined the army and we went through basic training together.  He was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.”

“Damn, I’m sorry to hear that,” Elliot offered.    

“Thank you and the four of them accompany me whenever I go on a job.  They are there to help when I get involved in situations that I can’t handle on my own, and they’ve also helped to protect me when I’ve encountered demons and other malevolent entities.  They’ve definitely proven themselves in the past, so I’m sure they can help me with this case as well.” 

“Yes, it’s always good to have backup,” Elliot agreed. 

“When we finished up on the third floor, we returned to the foyer,” Dad continued, “and that’s when the medium handed me a few other items.  The first were two quart bags containing some unusual items, so I asked what they were.”   

”They’re tourmaline crystals and I want you to glue one to the top of every window casing, as well as the top of each door casing that leads outside.  They will establish a protective barrier that will prevent Hubbard and Abernathy from returning once they’re dispelled and after I leave.” 

“After he told me that, he took a bundle of wooden stakes out of his satchel and handed those to me as well.  Before he had a chance to explain what they were for, Elliot asked a question.” 

“So what are we supposed to do with those?  Do we have to drive one through Hubbard and Abernathy’s ghostly hearts like they were vampires?” 

“No, you will drive the stakes into the four corners of the property and various locations in between.  After you’ve secured them in place, I want you to glue a crystal to the top of each stake as well.  You will use the extra stakes wherever the distance between the corner stakes is greater than fifty yards (45.7 m).  If you do this it will form another protective boundary around your property, and this one will keep out the spirits I just banished, as well as any other unwanted or evil spirits that might be in the area.” 

“So how long do we have to complete all of this?” Dad asked next.  

“Forty-eight hours.  I’ll have my protective spirits remain here during that time to make sure Hubbard and Abernathy leave and don’t return.  Once you’ve done as I’ve instructed my protectors will no longer stay here, because you will have all of the protection you’ll need.”

When Dad finished telling us about this, Dion asked a question.  “Are you sure it won’t keep out Brent, Cody, and the others as well?”

“Yes, the medium assured me that Brent and Cody will be able to remain here with us on a permanent basis, and the others will be able to join us whenever they want.” 

We all began glancing around the table to see how everyone else was reacting to this news, and I got the sense that they were all relieved.  However, no one spoke again until Pop broke the silence.  

“As you were explaining how the medium put salt in the corners of the various rooms, it reminded me of something my grandfather told me about when I was a kid.  He’d been stationed in Japan after World War II and said the Japanese had a unique custom to get rid of visitors who’d stayed too long.  He said the Japanese were very polite and extremely formal in social settings, so instead of asking or demanding that the person leave, the homeowner would discretely place a broom in the corner of the room.  When the person noticed the broom it would let him know it was time to go and he would graciously offer an excuse about why he had to leave.  In this case, the medium used salt instead of a broom, and he placed it in the corners of every room to get rid of our unwelcome guests, but just as I thought, Hubbard was too stupid to take the hint.”

“But what happened if the visitor didn’t notice the broom?” Brandon wondered. 

“In that case, the homeowner would find an excuse to do something near the broom to draw the visitor’s attention to it.” 

“And even with the medium telling Hubbard and Abernathy that they had to leave, they still didn’t get the message and the medium was forced to have his protective spirits show Hubbard the way out,” I joked.

“So Hubbard and Abernathy are no longer here,” Dad added. 

“And the medium went a step further by giving you the crystals too,” Pop continued.  “From what you told us, they will serve the same purpose as locking the doors once the visitor has gone home.” 

“Your story about the broom in the corner and locking the doors are pretty good analogies for what the medium did,” Dad agreed.  “I just hope it works as well as he said it would.” 

“Yeah, me too,” Brandon concurred. 

“So is Graham coming this weekend?” Trey followed. 

“Yes, he said he would arrive on Saturday and spend the night.  He felt that would give him enough time to make certain Hubbard and Abernathy were no longer here.” 

“Good, because I’ll feel a lot better when he confirms that the medium got rid of those two for good,” I added. 

“We should know for certain before the end of the weekend,” Dad confirmed. 

When our little meeting ended, Brandon and I went to check on the boys and discovered that Elliot and Noah had been keeping the younger boys occupied.  They told me later that they’d done this so the boys wouldn’t interrupt our conversation or overhear what was being said.  I was very grateful that they’d thought of doing this, because it never dawned on me to take this precaution. 

Brandon and I chatted with the boys for a while, and then we checked their homework assignments before sending them upstairs to get ready for bed.  After they’d showered and put on their PJs, we tucked them in and said goodnight, and then Brandon and I went through our normal bedtime routine.  Before climbing into bed, however, we went around our room to see if we noticed any signs of what the medium had done earlier.  Other than the book in the middle of the bed, we didn’t find any other traces of the earlier activities.  The fragrance of the burning spices had totally dissipated by this point and we weren’t able to detect the salt he’d sprinkled in the corners of the room since it blended in with the carpet fibers.  We just hoped it was enough to elicit the desired result. 

When we arrived home after work on Friday, Elliot told us that he and Dad had a very busy day.  The first thing they did was to glue the tourmaline crystals to the top of every window casing to prevent the spirits from re-entering the house when the windows were open.  He said Dad had done the same thing to the casings around the front and back doors to seal them from unwanted spirits as well, but this was only the first step. 

Elliot said it had taken Dad and him most of the morning to complete that process, seeing the house is very large and has many windows, so they put off the second activity until after lunch.  When they finally headed outside, Elliot explained that he carried the wooden stakes the medium had provided and Dad had the bags with the tourmaline crystals, as well as a sledge hammer.  After they pounded the stakes into the ground beside the four survey markers that formed the property boundaries, they glued a crystal to the top of each stake.  When they finished doing that, Dad informed Elliot that he had to run an errand. 

“I need to pick up some more stakes to complete this task, so do you want to go with me?”

“Sure, but didn’t the medium give you enough stakes to do this?” 

“Maybe if I followed his directions precisely, but I want to make a few changes to what he told us.  He said to make sure the states were no more than fifty yards (45.7 m) apart, but I want to reduce the gap between stakes to no more than twenty yards (18.3 m).  That’s why I need to pick up some more stakes.”

“Ok, then I’ll drive.”

After purchasing the required number of stakes, they returned and finished hammering the stakes into place and gluing a crystal to each one.  When they finished, Elliot made another comment. 

“I feel better now that we’ve done everything the medium told us to do, but I’ll feel even better after Graham confirms that Hubbard and Abernathy are actually gone.” 

“I’m sure they are, but it will be reassuring to have independent verification that they’re no longer around.” 

After dinner, Dad pulled Brandon and me aside.  “I guess I should have been more careful and a little less paranoid when Elliot and I were positioning the stakes, because the boys spotted them along the edge of the lawn when they got home.  Maybe the stakes wouldn’t have been as obvious if I hadn’t put up more than the medium suggested, but I wanted to make sure that Hubbard and Abernathy couldn’t return.”

“So what did you tell the boys?” Brandon wondered. 

“I told them the truth without sharing any of the details.  I explained that because we’d never figured out what had caused the problems before Christmas that the stakes were merely a precautionary measure to prevent them from happening again.” 

“And they were ok with that?” I followed. 

“They asked a few more questions, but nothing I couldn’t handle, so I think they’re fine now.  I told Dion and Trey this already and I’ll tell Jake later so we’re all on the same page if the boys mention it again.”

“Ok, that sounds good to us,” I agreed. 

We were actually glad that Dad told us this, because we got our first test about it while eating dinner.  The boys had been busy when Brandon and I first arrived home, so I waited until we were seated around the dining room table before asking them about their day.  They all basically replied that they’d had a good day and were happy to have the weekend off, when suddenly Benny thought of something else. 

“I almost forgot.  Did you guys see the posts that Grandpa Josh put in the yard?” 

“Yes, we did,” Brandon answered. 

“He told us he was going to do it, so we already knew they’d be there when we got home,” I added.  “And they’re stakes, not posts.  Posts are much larger.” 

“Oh, ok.” 

I’d added that last part to give Benny something else to think about to keep him from asking more questions about the stakes.  Thankfully it worked, because he didn’t say anything else regarding them.  In fact, none of the boys said anything more about it, and the rest of us breathed a sigh of relief just as soon as we’d tucked them in for the night.