Garrett and Kim walked through the streets of Jerome as the sun set. The small hamlet was an artist’s colony that catered to tourists and locals alike. It was a fun town with narrow roads and houses perched at a 30 degree angle, hillside. Some had slipped down the hill when gravity naturally claimed them. Galleries, shops and restaurants lined the main street, as did the ruins of the old jail and some of the original houses. In its heyday, Jerome was a booming mining town with over 15,000 in residence, 100 of them ladies of the night. A New York newspaper dubbed Jerome as the “Wickedest City in the West.” Yee-haw! Since Garrett was a historian he turned out to be the perfect person to visit Jerome with. Although, Miss Ada and Hubert were the best guides she knew of when it came to Hopiland, sacred sites and things of spirit, it was Garrett who could tell her where all the brothels, gunfights and opium dens used to be. It is good to have balance.
They had a romantic dinner at a downtown Inn with a colorful history. Garrett explained the building used to be a popular bordello and the home of one of the richest women in northern Arizona, Madam Jennie Banters. When Jennie was forced to move, by the more respectable citizens of Jerome, she relocated to what came to be called “Husband’s Alley,” just below Main Street. Unfortunately, after she moved she lost her life at the hands of a client. Kim listened to Garrett, fascinated with the range of his historical knowledge. He made history fun. After dinner, Kim excused herself to the powder room. On the way, a cat appeared in the aisle in front of her. It ran up to her and brushed against her leg.
“Hello, kitty,” Kim said as she bent down to pet it.
“Meow,” kitty said as it vanished into thin air. Kim stared for a moment then looked around for the cat as if she didn’t see it disappear in front of her eyes, no cat. Kim looked to see if anybody was staring at her. The bartender was and he had an amused look on his face. She headed directly for the ladies room and washed her face and hands. Of course, she didn’t see a cat disappear. It was an optical illusion or something. Cats do not disappear before your very eyes she told herself in the mirror. The door to the restroom opened and another patron walked in, washed her hands and left. Kim reapplied some lipstick and turned to leave, still puzzled.
“Meow,” said kitty. Kim looked down at her feet. The cat was looking up at her.
“There you are, kitty. You fooled me.” The cat brushed against Kim’s leg and purred. It then jumped up on the sink, leaving a dusty paw print on the porcelain. “You want a drink of water?” The cat looked at Kim then faded away not unlike the Cheshire Cat of Alice in Wonderland fame. The paw print was still on the sink. Kim bolted out of the bathroom like she had just seen a ghost. The bartender saw her panic and called the hostess over who directly approached Kim as she slid into her seat at the dining table. Garrett looked at Kim quizzically.
“Is there anything wrong?” asked the hostess. Kim hesitated before she spoke. She did not want Garrett to think she was nuts.
“There was a cat in the aisle and it brushed against me so I went to pet it and it was just gone and then it came into the bathroom, a friendly cat, it left paw prints on the sink and it meowed and brushed up against me again and then it just kind of disappeared from the aisle and from the sink, like a Houdini cat. It startled me, is all. I will be OK. I know cats do not just disappear into thin air. It must be the altitude playing tricks on my brain. Mile high, you say?” Kim heard herself babbling and immediately shut her mouth. Garrett’s eyes narrowed.
“Oh, goodness,” said the hostess with concern. “You must think you are losing your mind. Well, you aren’t. You saw one of our resident specters. People see them all the time. The cat belongs to Jennie Banters. She haunts the place too, along with a handful of others. The employees have gotten used to all the ghostly antics that happen around here, especially Jennie’s cat but our poor guests get a fright once in a while, especially when that cat walks across people’s beds in the middle of the night. As a matter of fact, that cat is appearing and disappearing more and more these days, sorry if it gave you a start. The bartender figured it out when he heard you talk to the cat and bend down to pet it. The cat likes to hang out in the aisle. Like I said, it happens all the time. That is why the Inn is considered one of the most haunted buildings in Arizona.” The hostess gave a knowing nod. “Apparently, no one told you,” she said to Kim in a soothing voice. “Well, no worries, your sanity is intact.” Kim looked at Garrett. He shrugged his shoulders sheepishly.
“Surprise,” he said.
“The bartender keeps a bottle of the good stuff under the bar just for guests that have had the willies scared out of them. The drink is on the house, of course,” said the hostess.
“How about two stiff coffees, instead?” said Kim, “Something strong so my body can catch up with my heartbeat.”
“Fair enough,” said the hostess. “Two stiff ones, if you’ll pardon the pun, coming right up.” The hostess hustled off to get the coffee. When she came back she filled Garrett and Kim in on some of the other mysteries, ghost sightings and unusual events that regularly happened around the Inn. “The furniture moves around, is rearranged from time to time, locked doors open and close, things fly off the walls and the kitchen is always a hotbed of activity. Faucets turn on and off just like the lights do, cold spots, the smell of roses in one room, a rotating ceiling fan in another, ghost sightings of Jennie, at least two different men and of course, that shady feline is all over the place.”
“I was hoping for a memorable evening but this is not exactly what I had in mind,” quipped Garrett. “I hope you are feeling a little better about all this, now.”
“Never a dull moment, it seems,” said Kim with a sigh, “It is one adrenalin rush after another these days.”
“That is one of the things I like about you,” said Garrett, “Never a dull moment. I should have known if I brought you to a ghost town you’d see a ghost.” Kim giggled. She was feeling better but was still a little spooked. She had never seen a ghost before, let alone a ghost cat. Who knew?
Dinner was over and it was getting late. The drive back to Sedona took a little over a half hour. During the ride, Garrett asked for one last date before Kim left. Kim agreed with the stipulation it did not involve ghosts. He promised it wouldn’t. They said good-bye at Kim’s bungalow door with a tender kiss. Miss Ada had left the inside hall light on and was inside snuggly asleep. Kim tried to be as quiet as possible coming in but she bumped into a chair and shattered the quiet.
“Is that you, Kim?” asked Miss Ada in a sleepy voice.
“Yes, it’s me. Sorry, I woke you, go back to sleep. We will talk in the morning,” answered Kim.
“Did you have a nice day, dear?” Miss Ada asked.
“Yes, a very nice day, thank-you. I saw a ghost.”
“That is nice dear,” replied Miss Ada as she fell back into a deep slumber.