Matthew Costello: The Ghost in My House

Matthew Costello posted this on Facebook on April 7, 2013.

Hiya peeps! You can’t blog on FB, but well…here we go:

The Ghost in My House
In Memoriam: Rick Hautala

There’s a ghost in my house.

Let me explain. Nearly every day, I would get a call or make a call to Rick Hautala. Sometimes, in the middle of that call I’d be chopping onions or something for dinner, and I’d cradle the phone in my neck as we talked. Other time, when the weather was good I’d walk on my front lawn, maybe joining Rick is having a stogie.

When I walked over our local reservoir, overflowing water crashing down the side of stone walls, I’d hold the phone up so he could hear the roar.

I know. Silly.

Or on a chilly day, I’d be in my living room or my office as we talked about books, projects, hopes, fears, things that made us laugh, things that worried us, the whole—

Deal. Our lives.

When my wife Ann came home from teaching school, she’d often (always?) see me with the phone to my head and she’d didn’t have to ask who.

It was Rick.

Part of our life. In every room.

And though the boy was given to some fearsome worries….he being the type of person who’d give you the shirt off his back even when he didn’t have one….we’d laugh.

In fact, it occurred to me not to long ago, that amidst my own time clock ticking away, my own sometimes amazing assortment of ‘things to worry about’, we’d laugh. I could crack him up. And that cracked me up, whether we talked about idiotic possible projects (cf: Zombie Cruise – controlled, they make pretty good stewards) or just somehow, almost magically we’d slip into some too-funny reverie that we could simply not explain to any one else.


Then, of course there was Star Road. A massive SF Space opera novel we sold to St. Martin’s. What made more sense than two horror guys writing a popcorn SF epic?


We talked about that too, that whole process easy. The book somehow writing itself. Done,edited, before—

Before I got another call.

Funny. Just about the time Rick would call. But it wasn’t Rick.

And learned from his good friend Chris Golden that there would be no more calls.

That was it. Somehow, he was gone.

But it wasn’t. Because, as I said, I have a ghost in my house, Every time the phone rings it feels like it just has to be Rick. Every day, around 3:30 or so, it now seems like something that should happen, must happen, doesn’t.

It may sound like I’m complaining, Stages of grief and all that. But, no. I’m not. I’ll take the ghost. I’ll take those feelings. You see, cause I won’t forget those decades of talks. The ghost won’t let me.

And I don’t want to anyway…