Julian and I wrote the framework of this story over some Bueno Y Sano nachos while John danced hip-hop next door. Our first story The Scary Derriery focused on potty talk. The second was about a kid who can’t stop picking scabs. The following is a short one warning kids what happens when kids don’t pick up after themselves.
Mary and Edgar Hallahan kept a clean house. One hundred years before Magic Erasers and Tilex, they battled dirt and grime in their own way and loved every second of it. They adored their country manor so much that when they died, they stayed. In 1912, they were laid to rest under six feet of dirt, but they had devoted their lives to keeping it out of their home, becoming its invisible caretakers.
For the next one hundred and six years, they quietly watched other families love and nurture the home. The Hallahans would assist where they could, making sure no resident would ever know they had ghosts for roommates.
That peaceful coexistence ended when the Farbers moved in. There were Mother and Father Farber and their sons Frankie and Freddie Farber. The boys were six and seven, and as the ghosts would learn, they had the unfortunate habit of not having any good habits. They left toys out, smelled a little weird, and broke nearly everything anyone had gifted them.
The Farbers were so sloppy that Mary and Edgar haunted the house entirely accidentally. They didn’t want to scare the living daylights out of the Farber family (at first), but to keep it clean, there was no avoiding it.
It all began when Mary happened upon Frankie Farber picking, flicking, and licking boogers in the living room. She, like anyone living or dead would do, reflexively moaned, “EWWWW.”
Frightened by the ghostly holler, Frankie rolled off the couch in surprise, his finger still lodged in his nasal cavity, while the embarrassed Mary floated away with her invisible hands covering her invisible mouth.
Later that week, Edgar was adjusting a painting on the wall in the upstairs hallway. He didn’t notice Freddie’s skateboard at the top of the stairs because there had never been an object left there, especially one with wheels. So, when he turned to go downstairs, he stepped on the board and tumbled to the landing with a thud. Edgar was, of course, unharmed, but that didn’t stop him from shouting, “Blazes, I’m such a galoot.”
The sloppy joe-eating family put their sandwiches on pause to investigate but found only a skateboard. “What’s a galoot?” Frankie Farber asked. His parents shrugged fearfully.
The following day, the boys were painting in the family room, unsupervised. They left the paint cans open on the floor and table and ran off. Again, Edgar, unaware there would be a can of paint on the floor, accidentally kicked it. The red color exploded over the white carpet and walls.
Edgar’s eyes opened twice as wide as a living person’s could at the ghastly scene. When he tried to clean it up, he left footprints and smeared the paint. Unable to pick up a towel, he tried to wipe it off with his spectral hand but instead left large red handprints. He learned it was not easy to do hardcore cleaning as a ghost. Later, when Mother Farber came into the room, she shrieked a blood-curdling scream, seeing the adult handprints in what looked like blood and adult shoe prints over the rug. It looked as if she had stumbled upon a murder scene.
The Farber family’s first and only week in the home came to an abrupt end when the boys decided to play amateur scientists with 10 gallons of vinegar and several boxes of baking soda. The result was sticky, foamy explosions. One was so large they tried to move it outside mid-explosion to avoid getting in trouble. While exiting with the vats in hand, they ran into Ethan and Mary, who were sipping ghost tea on the patio.
y concoction spilled over the friendly ghosts and they found themselves half-covered and, therefore, suddenly, half-visible. The boys screamed and ran inside. When the parents ran to the kitchen to see what the fuss was about, they came face to half-face with the ghosts, spun around, and ran away.
“How rude,” Mary said, pulling pieces of the oatmeal-like substance from her face. “Do you think they’ll return to clean this mess, dear?”
“I fear not, dear,” Edgar responded.
“I hope the next owners are tidy,” Mary said.
“If they are not,” Edgar took Mary’s hand, “then we’ll scare the dirt out of them.”