Rafe’s empty teacup rose unsteadily from the table, unsupported by any hand, and hurled itself against the refrigerator door with a loud crash. Marie whimpered, but appeared to be too shell-shocked to actually scream.
Rafe looked across the table at their lawyer, who seemed to be taking things in stride. “Can we sue to force the sellers to buy it back?” he said.
“There isn’t a whole lot of case history for that,” said the lawyer. He was less composed than his equanimous exterior might suggest, but was relieved that the problem at hand seemed to restrict itself solely to harming crockery.
“I told you there was something wrong with that castle,” said Marie. “You had to get enamored with that silly title.” The owners of the castle and its estate automatically assumed the archaic, unrecognized, and also utterly unpronounceable, title of Laird of something or other.
“There’s always something wrong with castles,” said Rafe. “I was assuming from the start that it would be a money pit. Plumbing, insulation…” He paused and placed his hand over Marie’s on the table to reassure her. “How could anyone rationally consider this outcome though?”
“The interesting part,” said the lawyer. “Is that it has followed you back to New York. Not that I’ve ever heard of something like this before…”
“Outside of lurid fiction,” said Rafe.
“Perhaps,” said the lawyer. “But I always thought previously these sort of things were supposed to be attached to a particular place.”
“Previously?” said Rafe.
“Well, I found something in the contract,” said the lawyer. “In referencing the purchase, it says that it includes the castle, its surrounding lands, and all of its chattels thereof.”
“Well what is that supposed to mean?” said Marie.
“Congratulations,” said the lawyer. “You now own a poltergeist.”
“Own?” said Rafe. “Setting aside for a second the notion of how somebody could possibly own an incorporeal spirit, can’t we just manumit it, or something?”
“I’m honestly not sure how you would do that,” said the lawyer. “That’s a bit outside of my usual area of practice.”
“You’re free to go,” said Rafe, addressing thin air. “We don’t own you any more.” As if in response, his saucer levitated and embraced his teacup’s noisy and destructive fate against a cupboard door.
“Can’t we just sell the castle?” said Marie.
“You could try,” said the lawyer. “I suspect you were the final suckers in a long chain of them. Everyone locally appears to know about the problem. You’re going to have difficulty selling.”
“I have an idea,” said Rafe. “It’s going to cost us our entire investment, but there’s not much we can do about it at this point.”
“What do you have in mind?” said the lawyer.
“We donate the castle to the country. There must be a heritage board or something of that nature,” said Rafe. “We just give it away.”
“How does that help?” asked Marie.
“If the castle is owned by everyone,” said Rafe. “Then how will the wee ghostie know who it is supposed to haunt?”