Greenwich Village has long been a center of art, music and literature in New York City. In The Ghost of Greenwich Village, Lorna Graham builds upon this storied neighborhood's mystique by making it one of the central characters in her girl moves to the big city tale to find herself and make it big. Protagonist Eve Weldon moves into the neighborhood hoping to work on her writing, only to discover that her pad comes with a pesky ghost named Donald. Here's an excerpt from the first chapter:
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Eve pressed hard against her temples and he responded by shifting a little. The pain abated for a moment, then parked itself behind her left eye. She squinted, sipped the last of the tea that had failed to calm her nerves, and set the chipped china bowl in the sink. Today of all days, she wished Donald would just get out.
“I heard that,” he said, with a little buzz behind one ear. “I’m not going anyplace. And don’t try to change the subject. We were talking about this ‘interview’ of yours and why you won’t tell me whom it’s with.”
“Not now. I’m going to be late,” said Eve. Retying her kimono around her waist, she hurried down the narrow hallway of her apartment and into her bedroom, where she pulled open the French doors of her closet and reached for the dangling chain of the overhead light. She surveyed the racks, determined to find something elegant, professional, and, most of all, lucky.
“You wouldn’t need a lucky dress if you didn’t pursue these nonsensical jobs,” said Donald. “What was the last one? Party planner? Never heard of such a thing. Who plans a party? A guitar and a couple of blotters—there’s your party. And before that?” He considered. “Selling videogames to teenagers, was it? What exactly are videogames?”
“Quiet,” said Eve, running her palms over the rows of vintage tweed, tulle, silk, and suede that she’d inherited from her mother, Penelope. Once she’d grown into them, she hadn’t had to have even one thing altered. The bounty included structured skirt suits and dainty blouses, pert kitten heels and flowing silk scarves. Her eyes fell on a peacock blue sheath by Pauline Trige?re, a favorite of her mother’s, and she held it up with a critical eye.
“Why on earth can’t you do what I used to do?” asked Donald. “Sweep floors, wash dishes, wait tables. Sweat of your brow! Good, honest work. The kind the creative class has been doing for centuries. And think of all the time it would allow you for taking down my stories.”
“For the hundredth time, Donald, this isn’t the fifties,” said Eve impatiently. “No one can wash dishes and afford to live in Greenwich Village anymore.” She dabbed at a spot on the sheath’s tulip skirt with a wet washcloth. “It’s one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city, full of bankers and lawyers. Remember? You’ve had them as tenants, you told me.”
“What kind of job is it, then?” Donald pressed.
Eve knew that telling the truth would set him off completely, so she busied herself with the choice between skimmers and spectator pumps—a sure way to throw him off the scent.
“The cream ones with the black trim, definitely,” said Donald dryly. “Fine. Don’t tell me. I don’t care. What we need to talk about is our next story, the one about the rubber glove that eats Manhattan. I believe I’ve found the beginning. The secret is to start in the middle.”
Eve threw back her head and looked at the ceiling. “First of all, it’s not ‘our’ story, it’s yours. And second, I couldn’t possibly take dictation now, if that’s what you’re hinting at. I need to focus.” Usually, Eve didn’t mind listening to Donald. In fact, she liked to think she was a good listener in general. But she would have preferred having the choice of when to listen and to whom.
The pain took real root now, spreading wide and deep. She needed aspirin. Not that it would help. There were so many pills on the market for so many different afflictions: muscle aches, allergies, depression. What they really needed to make was one for hauntings. “For the painful symptoms caused by the spirit of a dead man playing hopscotch across your brain synapses while complaining you won’t take down his ‘Pulitzer Prize–worthy’ short stories,” the label could say. She’d snap up a truckload.
“My, there seems no way around your peevishness today,” said Donald. “But grant me a minute. This is the story I was in the middle of when I, you know, left.” Donald never liked to admit outright that he had died, usually preferring to employ any of a half-dozen euphemisms. “And recently I realized how to get past my stumbling block. It’s about this mitten that wants to be a glove. . . .” He began to prattle in earnest now, like sandpaper on the cerebellum.
Eve groaned and flung herself on her bed. The worst thing by far about being haunted was that you couldn’t tell anyone about it. Well, you could if you came from one of those dramatic Southern families. Or if you were a child. But there were no ghosts among the upwardly mobile in Manhattan. Really, what would one say? “I’ve got six hundred square feet in an 1845 townhouse, complete with crown moldings, a fireplace—and a dead writer demanding I help him finish his life’s work”?
“Are you paying any attention whatsoever?” asked Donald.
“Soon I’ll have my own writing to worry about,” she said. It slipped out before she could stop it, but Eve couldn’t help but enjoy how the whirring in her head came to an abrupt halt as he took this in.
“What are you talking about?”
“My interview. It’s for a writing job. I’m going to be a writer, too.” Saying this proved immensely satisfying for some reason. “What do you think about that?”