The Walk-In

“Please, come in. There’s a chair right here,” Simons said to the middle-aged woman standing in his doorway. He couldn’t remember the last walk-in customer he had. This stand was probably the last pure door to door sales concern around. But walk-ins were nice, didn’t have to drive, working on familiar territory, what wasn’t to like?

“Thank you, Mr. Simons,” she said in a mouse whisper voice. She sat deliberately, as if not wanting to bother her body too much on the second rate chair he waved her into. 

“So you are interested in our services here at Spirits Connections, Ms…” he paused, waiting for her to fill in the blank.

“ Appleton.”

“Yes, Ms Appleton. So happy to have you come to our office.” Simons rarely shook the hands of his customers. He just couldn’t trust the people who wanted what he sold. Yes, he knew that a firm handshake was the prime tool of a superior salesman, but he just couldn’t see himself touching them. He didn’t know where those hands had been.

“Yes, Mr. Simons. I only just arrived in town and got a new place and I am interested in a haunting.”

These people. Always with the outdated terms, but that’s the public for you. “Actually, Ms Appleton, the more accurate descriptive term is now Paraspirtual Cohabitation. I like to call it cohabbing. These spirits are placed in your abode for a flat fee and will be your companion as much as you like.”

“It’s such a unique service. I am surprised so many people would want a ghost to haunt their house. I mean cohab.”

There she goes, Simons thought, trying to act as if she was only the person in the world wanting what he sold. “Ms Appleton, you might be shocked to realize how in demand our placement agency is. We mostly do commercial property: hotels, bed and breakfasts, refurbished old inns. They love what we do. It’s been proven that haunted hotels book more rooms than regular hotels. Many establishments have lied about ghosts for years to get business. They create fake histories, have their employees tell tales of how they saw apparitions. With Spirit Connections working for them, now they really have paranormal activity on the premises. We guarantee it.”

“I don’t know Mr. Simons. It seems astounding that a business would expose their customers to such risk. Aren’t these spirits dangerous?”

“Safety is an integral part of the Spirit Connections experience. There might be some unsavory spirits floating about, but we screen our cohabbers as carefully as you would check a new employee at a bank. Yes, there are ornery spirits, but with our vetting process, when we place a spiritual individual in a hotel or residence, they are of the finest caliber.”

“That’s reassuring,” Ms Appleton said. “From what you said, do you not do many regular homes?”

“It is a growing part of our business. Still not the biggest, but growing everyday,” Simons said. “We’ve found many people wanting this way of life. It could be a gothic life style. Or it can be a person looking for some adventure, though in a safe controlled way. We supply thrills that cannot lead to distress. We also have customers looking for companions; people of a certain age who need to know they are not isolated.” Lonely old bats, Simons thought. He would never tell a customer what kind he thought they were, but the second she came into his office, he pegged her for an old solitary cat lady with a cat allergy, so needed another friendly house mate to spend her useless time with. Best not to tell her that, Simons reasoned. A sale was a sale.

The woman adjusted herself on the chair. “Mr. Simons, how is that these ghosts allow themselves to stay at the houses you designate for them?”

“Please, cohabbers.”

“I am too set in my ways and my terminology. Let me call them ghosts. How do they stay where you put them?”

“First, let me assure you they are happy to be placed. They have been given purpose. We use accredited psychics to gently bind them to the residence. It is almost always better for these, uh, ghosts. We find them haunting unpleasant locations. Now they are in upscale Inns or in a fine beautiful home.

“I am sure they must love where they are, but they were not asked.”

“Ms Appleton, communication with these ghosts is difficult.”

“So how do you know they are happy?”

Simons felt his internal kook detector going off. He said, “What is it that you are saying?”

“What I am saying, Mr. Simons, is that you have enslaved these poor souls and you must release all of these prisoners.”

“That’s just a matter of opinion.”

“No,” she said quietly. “It is a statement of fact. They are bound against their will. There is no other term for what you are doing to them. Free them now.”

“Okay,” Simons said with a laugh and a wave. “It was a pleasure meeting you, but I must get ready for my next appointment. Good luck to you with moving into your new place. Have a good day.”

She stood up, tall and sturdy. “Fine. I am almost fully in place in my new location. My new address, in case you are interested, is 235 Elmwood Place. It is quite lovely.”

Simons shot up. “Wait. What. That’s my address. That’s my house.”

The woman smiled showing two tiers of pointed teeth. “Yes, I know. See you soon, I am sure, roommie.” She turned and walked through the office wall.

Simons sat with his head landing in his hands. He wondered if he should cancel the day’s appointment or just keep going on. He decided to keep going on. It seemed best to find reasons to not go home. Besides, this is what salesmen do, they keep going, they keep making sales. No matter what.


Dave Macpherson lives in Central Massachusetts with his wife Heather and son George. He has been published in several publications, including: Every Day Fiction, Mudluscious, Haggard and Halloo, Worcester Review, among others.

Other works by Dave Macpherson