About eight or ten years ago, I had a job with a contractor named Mike who specialized in restoring old houses. Although we operated throughout the Northeastern part of the United States, we did most of our work in upstate New York. Most of these jobs were simple, such as renovating kitchens, installing energy efficient windows, repairing dry-rotted wood. One job, however, would prove to be a lot more difficult than we could ever expect.
It all started when we received a call from a man named Greg, who lived and worked in the city with his wife Linda. Both in their early 40s, Greg was an analyst at some big insurance firm and Linda did something that involved accounting, although I never really understood what. Although they were happy with their careers and their place downtown, they had always wanted a nice place in a quiet area to spend their weekends and time off.
After looking at their options and their financial situation, they decided to buy a small two-bedroom “fixer upper” in Ulster County. Shortly after realizing the house needed more repairs than they could handle they called and made an appointment for us to come and look at the place. Because we were already working on a project about an hour away, I stayed behind while Mike my boss drove out to give them an estimate.
Later that day, we met at a diner to discuss what he found and whether or not we wanted to take on the job. Even before we sat down, I could just tell that the meeting did not go so well. Whether the house needed more work than he felt comfortable with, or whether he could already tell the owners were going to be a pain to deal with, Mike did not think much of this prospect.
As I sat there, calmly drinking my diner coffee, Mike begun to list the things that needed mending. “The roof needs some work, the fuse box needs to be replaced with circuit breakers, and they want a new bathtub,” he said simply. “Well, what’s the problem,” I asked, still not sure why he had that perplexed look on his face. “It’s haunted… they say the house is haunted,” he responded, incredulously. “Like that’s my damn job, to play ghost hunter for their amusement.”
The man eating a slice of coconut cream pie at the counter across from our table suddenly put down the newspaper he was reading and abruptly turned to face us. Mike and I both looked up, shocked to discover the man was none other than Bill Murray! “Hey, don’t fuck with that shit if you don’t know what you’re doing,” he said with a straight face. I could not tell if he was joking. “Oh wow, how about that! It’s Bill Murray, the Ghostbuster himself,” Mike chuckled, “I can’t wait until my wife gets a load of this.”
“She isn’t going to believe you. In fact, no one… no one will ever believe you,” he explained as he counted out cash from his wallet, setting it down on the counter with his check. Then he stood up, put on a black fedora, and made his way towards the exit. “And besides, I’m not in that business anymore. There was a time, though,” he added with a sly smile before walking out the door.