TTU Library possible appearance of Brian the Chemistry building ghost in the library
|Napping through much of the flight, Jael perked up when she heard Lubbock, TX on the loud speaker. She opened her eyes and began to rub them while she crossed her legs, when the pack of nuts that was sitting on her lap fell. “Oh! I dropped something…”
The guy in the seat next to her reached past her with a long arm and picked up the nuts. “Here you go, Sleeping Beauty,”
He dropped the packet back onto Jael’s lap. “Heh, thanks…”
She picked up the packet and ripped past the printed airline logo. “Want one?”
Smiling, he nodded. She dropped a couple of peanuts into his waiting palm. He was wearing a cap that had a logo emblazed with LCU on it. “LCU?”
“Hmmn? Oh,” He tipped his cap. Then he lifted his chin and looked over Jael’s shoulder out the window. “Yeah, headed back up to school. Will you look at that? Notice anything missing?”
It was a standard scene of a city from on high, but, yeah, something was not right and increasingly odd the closer they came to Lubbock. “I-I don’t…”
The announcements about bringing the seats upright and tray tables back up in preparation for landing interrupted. A flight attendant holding a trash bag was walking around for empty cups and peanut bags. Jael looked at LCU cap guy. “Want the rest?”
He grabbed up the peanut bag from her hand like any starving college student would. Jael unbuckled and re-buckled her seatbelt as the flight attendant came by holding a trash bag. He smiled and looked from at the dude gobbling peanuts to glance at the empty seat past him before moving on. Everyone was getting up and getting luggage out of the overhead storage. LCU cap said, “Be careful out there. This region isn’t too friendly to people with naturally brown skin.”
Jael couldn’t respond as he was already striding away in the line. Naturally brown. What does that mean? But she knew. Of course she knew. Memories of white girls and older white women came to mind all bragging about how they had tanned so dark they were almost “your color!” Then they’d giggle.
Tanning was something Jael could never understand. Considering black people are almost vilified in the U.S., white people do allot of things to make themselves more like black people, it seems. Teenagers injuring themselves puffing their lips up on glass bottles and women having fat moved from their stomachs and inserted in their butts to make them bigger. All these thoughts started to make her feel inconspicuous as she exited the plane. It also made her notice all the people were white. She perked up when she saw a family from …India? Pakistan? Saudi Arabia? Jael didn’t know. She knew she looked like all of them since people who saw her often guessed out loud that she was from one of those regions. She was. As a baby, Jael was adopted by a mixed race couple in the United States. Her mother was Hispanic with family from central Mexico and her father was Irish.
They both were light skinned with dark hair. Neither of them frequented tanning beds. When they went to the beach those two times, Jael was with them she got to see how her mother tanned to almost Jael’s shade and her dad tanned a bit before turning lobster red. He was miserable and.. when he started to peel was irritated at the mess his skin would make all over. Twice and never again. Jael was fine with that. People stared at them. Mostly at little Jael whose tiny hands they held. She heard the whispered comments.
Stretching after entering the airport in Lubbock, Jael looked around for a phone. She smiled when the first phone booth she saw was covered in Texas Tech’s logo. Actually, the logo was everywhere! She reached for her backpack in the seat beside her and grasped at only air. She looked at the seat she thought she had rested it on, and saw it was gone. Now a little worried, she looked around. Many people had their suitcases in hand with a backpack on their shoulders. Standing up Jael noticed the backpack in the seat she had been sitting on. “Whew.”
The double black T’s against a red backdrop was even on the taxi she ordered. Smiling at the driver holding open the logo emblazoned door she commented, “This place is super proud of its university, huh?”
“Well, we’ve got two but only one will spring to put their logo on everything. Where to?”
Jael said that she needed to go to the TTU library. The campus was beautiful which was quite frankly surprising. Even from the window of her airplane seat, Jael, prompted by the student seated near her saw the oddity of Lubbock from on high. She was clear now about what was weird that the passenger asked her if she noticed. It was the distinct lack of trees the closer the plane got to Lubbock. Indeed there were next to no trees except in front of homes and here on campus.
Interesting how one doesn’t know to appreciate what one has until comparison becomes available. Jael reflected on how she should be grateful for all the trees in the Rio Grande Valley where she lived. Smirking, she thought how do these people breathe? The humorous thought trail did not cease there, of course. It started with the chlorophyll filled leaves lacing trees releasing most of the oxygen we breathe, and ended with the cultural tid-bit that Lubbock was in the midst of, if not the belt buckle of the southern United States’ Bible belt. Maybe the trees don’t grow in protest of all the trees killed to print all the Bibles. That last thought almost had her laugh aloud.
Jael thanked the cab driver, who looked down at her skirt then up at her with a big smile. She thought that was a creepy thing for him to have done until she turned around and saw the library. It looked like the building had pleats with its tall columns of white cement that domed over and back down separated by a foot where the next one was. Inside the ‘pleats’ was cage-like copper colored wire. Jael may have actually liked the building design, except that it matched her pleated beige skirt and copper colored blouse. She did feel better about the cab driver’s goofy smile after eyeing her skirt, though.
She walked into the pleated library building and up to the front desk. Jael asked if there was a standard card catalog or if she could search a library site on a computer. The kind lady with brown skin like Jael’s own skin, escorted her to a table with a computer and handed her a fat bookmark with instructions on how to search the library content. “What part of India are you from?”
Jael heard the accent in her speech. “I do not know. I think I was born in Kerala, India.”
The lady waggled her head which Jael has come to understand means ‘yes’ or sure’ since allot of people who are Indian or Pakistani assume Jael is, too, and approach her. Jael was glad when someone asked the lady a question because she did not want to try and pronounce the part of Kerala she was born in and then explain she was left at an orphanage there. She typed in the books she needed and jotted down the ISBN and went to retrieve the book on the second floor. Jael, happy to have found the book, spotted a table with only one person close to a copy machine, and took her book over there.
The young guy clad in a t-shirt and denim jeans, looked up from his book when Jael placed her book on the table. She smiled and moved her eyes to indicate the other tables nearby were full. He offered a thin lipped smile before returning to his notes.
Jael buried herself in the book she had found on scientific explanations of the supernatural. Suddenly book guy and Jael were yanked out of their reverie by the sound of librarian aides marching like troops to the battlefield. Curt declarations of, “This is a library not the student union, KEEP YOUR VOICES down,” came, it seemed, from all over.
It was only then that Jael noticed the buzz of loud whispered conversations about Brian the graduate student who haunted the library. Although Jael was prone to argue belief in such nonsense herself, her ears perked up to hear the conversations since the students sounded awed and a bit scared. Jael grinned when she heard a sensible female student comment. “He just sits with his books or notes studying. That doesn’t mean he’s a ghost; he may be just some guy studying for a big test.”
“I hear he’ll talk to you. Has no clue he’s dead.” A guy said in a low voice instead of a whisper.
“Does he age ever? Or is he like ever the young dude hoping to get his next degree?” The table these questions originated got immediately silent when a library aide walked toward them, then erupted in hushed giggles when the aide walked away.
“Has anyone called ghosthunters or anything? I heard they went to San Antonio…”
That comment got a hand slammed against the table across from Jael. He looked up at her. “Sorry, sorry. It’s just this ghost crap is so…”
“I know. Believe me, I know.” Jael let out a relieved sigh to have heard frustration from someone else about this nonsense.
“Actually,” she said aloud very audibly as she stood up. Jael paused only to nod at a library aide headed her way. “This is a university. An institution of HIGHER learning and you make noise speaking about ghosts?!”
The whispers hushed, but many glared at her. “If there was any such thing as ghosts and this Brian guy is haunting the place, he’d be as ticked off as I am that you’re chatting is disturbing his study.”
Jael sat back down with a derisive chuckle. She looked at the guy who had inspired her to stand up. He stood and motioned her to follow. She gathered the copies she’d made of key pages from the copy machine, and tucking them in her bag, followed. He had gone to a lounge area that was past the aisles of books.
“Thanks. This ghost stuff really upsets me because, well, he has the same name as me,” Brian guffawed as plopped down in a seat.
“Oh! Oh, no, sorry, Brian? My name is Jael.” She smiled and sat in the seat across from him.
“So that’s how you pronounce it, okay J-a-e-l, Jael.” His finger pointed to her notebook that had her name in large letters on it.
“Heh, yeah. It’s Hebrew, I think or Sanskrit or Tamil or some language that isn’t English.”
She stretched. “I thought you were upset because—”
“The noise? Yeah, well, a little.” Brian yawned.
“I just think all of that is crap. Ghosts, spirits, anything extraterrestrial. I think educated people are above such superstitious fiction.”
“Oh. I guess. It is just kind of sad that a guy ended his life and is still stuck doing the same old studying for an out of reach degree. It makes me feel like this will never end for me,” he lifted his notes and plopped them onto his lap.
“Right? Also, what does the guy wear the same set of clothes forever like some cartoon?” Jael was laughing.
“That would be a dead give-away since I think style has changed since 1983.”
“Nah, style rotates...um, 1983. That date seems awfully specific,” Jael meant the last part as a question since the specific year through her off.
“Style rotates.” Brian repeated.
“Everything comes back in style like the mohawk hair that have reappeared lately…” Jael offered.
“Were mohawks an 8o’s thing?” Brian sounded genuinely curious as well as despondent.
“Uh…yeah, actually.” Jael noticed the sad overtone.
“Um, 1983 is when Brian killed himself in the campus mechanist shop or didn’t you hear all the incredibly detailed
whispers?” This time Brian sounded exasperated.
Nodding, Jael tried not to act surprised, but she had to ask, “He didn’t die in the library? Isn’t that how this ghost stuff works? Like they haunt the place where they died?”
Brian laughed. “I’m still dealing with the ghosts wearing the same clothes as the day of death.”
Jael smiled, amused at herself having had a semi-serious conversation about a work of ghost fiction. She began relaying to Brian her views on all things spiritual, extraterrestrial, or supernatural.
“So you’re a no belief person?” Brian asked while he stood and began to head towards some books lining the wall of the lounge Jael hadn’t noticed before.
“I think it’s called atheist though that just really is a word about the nonexistent gods other people believe in. So, yeah. Okay, I’m a nonbelief person. I am a here and now logical and scientific person. If you can’t see it, it is not real.”
“To you.” Brian said simply as he turned in the book he had grabbed. He found the page he was looking for. “I once had an argument with someone about sensing when someone is staring at you and feeling when someone has come in to the place you’re at even if they haven’t spoken and aren’t making noises. Do you believe that?”
“Well, yeah. I guess. We are energy filled beings and can feel energy. Like when a conversation gets awkward, you can feel it. I feel when my boyfriend comes into a room even though he doesn’t have loud footsteps. So, uh, yeah, I guess I’m a believer of a couple of things I can’t see but can feel.”
“Then you would’ve been on my side in that argument. Here, look this is Brian in a yearbook from 1983.”
She leaned over and looked where Brian was pointing. It was a picture of himself in the same shirt he had on. “Not funny.”
Jael stomped off to find one of the librarians to report the guy calling himself Brian and dressing like the guy everyone thinks is a ghost. She was embarrassed she had been sitting at the table with him while everyone was talking about the ghost myth. They must have thought she was in on his hoax. She was so ashamed she had stood up and made that comment joking about the ghost not being able to study with all the noise while sitting at a table with a perpetrator of such nonsense.
She took the elevator down to the first floor and walked up to the welcome counter. Jael told the librarian she had met someone dressing up as the ghost and how he is in the second floor lounge with the yearbooks. The librarian’s eyebrows knitted. “Yearbooks?”
“Yeah, he is all dressed up exactly like that poor Brian guy that everyone says is a ghost. Everyone started whispering all loud about the ghost probably because of him. I’m not actually a student so I didn’t realize I was talking to an instigator until he showed me the picture that looked just like himself.”
The librarian listened. “Are you thinking of coming to Texas Tech?”
Jael smiled. “No, I am a student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. One of my professors Dr. Jones teaches here also. He told me about a book TTU has here and I came for it while on vacation.”
“Well, I am sorry you went through all that with that guy and all the ghost whispering. Did you find the book you were looking for?”
“Yes, I made copies of the pages that will help my thesis. I just wanted to make someone aware of the trouble maker stirring up ridiculous ghost myth talk before I left.”
“Sure, sure. Again sorry about that.”
Jael walked toward an exit as she called for a cab on her cell phone. She noticed the library aide that she had nodded at before loudly chastising the whispering students walking toward the librarian she had just spoken to. Her pace quickened in embarrassment, and she waited outside clear of the glass doors so the aide wouldn’t see her loitering outside.
Meanwhile the aide had reached the librarian. “Hey, Jerry. Everything okay?”
“Hi, Layla. Uh, yeah. Just had a weird encounter with a visitor. She reported that a student was dressing up like the student ghost Brian and got everyone whispering about ghostly stuff.” Jerry started typing on the desktop.
“I don’t know about a student dressing up or whatever but there was allot of ghost talk and I was one of the aide’s sent to shush people. That lady that was talking to you actually stood up and told everyone that ghost chatter was uneducated and the noise quieted down.”
“So there wasn’t a student walking around like Brian-the-ghost?”
“Not that I saw. What are you looking up with that serious look on your face? ” Layla leaned forward to peek. She saw he was searching yearbooks in the library. She looked up at Jerry. “You know where the yearbooks are.”
“Yeah. I thought I did. But that lady said the student that caused the ghost chatter by dressing up had taken her to the yearbooks on the wall of the lounge on the second floor and showed her a picture of Brian the ghost. She said that was when she realized he had pulled one over on her and made her want to report the matter.”
“But, there aren’t any yearbooks on the lounge wall of the second floor.” Layla looked dumbfounded.
“I know. Also that Brian guy never graduated. He committed suicide before he could have finished. There is no way he is in a yearbook. I thought his ghost haunts the Chemistry building where that old mechanist shop had been not the library. This could’ve been an elaborate hoax, did you see the guy that lady was sitting next to?”
Layla backed up a step, wide-eyed, “She was at a table on the second floor, alone.”