Goodwood Duxford lived alone in the caretaker’s cabin that was tucked into the eastern corner of Gramberly Cemetery, the oldest graveyard in Pepperidge township. A blanket of ivy covered the face of the house, making it look like it was made entirely of green leaves.
During the day, Goody crisscrossed the rows of stones and statues picking up stray pine cones and pulling the occasional dandelion. It was his job to keep the grounds neat and tidy. If asked, he could point out the location of each of the 257 Gramberly residents.
At night, he herded errant spirits back to their final rest. Gramberly ghosts had the bad habit of wandering off and getting into trouble in town. Most of the graveyard denizens cooperated with Goody when he asked them to come home, but a few required spell binding. Goody liked to be well-prepared on those rare occasions.
When on the hunt, Goody wore his carpenter’s apron, his pockets filled with all the tools he needed to tame the spirits – bulbs of garlic, pouches of coarse white salt from the Dead Sea and black lava salt from the Himalayas, and scripture verses written in his board hand on scraps of paper. A vial of holy water hung from his neck, and a bracelet of Herkimer crystals from the Mohawk River Valley jingled around his right wrist. He clipped his collection of charms and amulets to his belt like a ring of house keys.
A flask of 35-year-old Irish whiskey bulged in his back pocket. Gramberly ghosts enjoyed their spirits as much in death as they did in life. The local bars and pubs were favorite haunts when the ghosts went walking. Goody also enjoyed a nip now and then on cold evenings.
A sixth-generation ghost wrangler, Goody was a natural at coaxing ghosts to follow him. If he ever went bad, like his great-granddad Egbert, another cataclysm could arise. Egbert Duxford led an army of ghosts into Pepperidge, like a demented pied piper, with the sole intent of eliminating his rival for the affections of the widow Leighton.
Egbert’s own son, Goody’s granddad, Marcel, stopped the horde at the edge of town, killing the insane ghost wrangler out of necessity. The legacy of Duxford ghost wranglers almost died that night too. It took another two generations of Duxfords to regain their reputation.
It was a blue moon night and Goody expected to be busy. The Judson brothers, in plots 115 and 116, would want to celebrate the South’s surrender at Appomattox with their fellow soldiers, and the widow Leighton would be out of her plot under the magnolia searching for Egbert who was sealed tightly in the family crypt. The five Chamber siblings, all taken from their parents during a measles outbreak back in 1896, would head straight for the carnival carousel. They were an unruly swarm, and the reason Goody swore he would never have children.
The movies and television glamorized ghost hunters, but Goody knew it was hard, thankless, and often dirty work. Ghosts were filthy creatures.
Before heading out to bring his stragglers back, Goody made one last lap of the graveyard grounds then locked and sealed his front door.