Jimmy and I stared at each other in the shadows in historic Georgetown. Light from the almost-full moon filtered through the giant live oaks lining the sidewalks. Enormous colonial-era houses, clad in white clapboard and black shutters, loomed above us. Massive green ferns seemed to drip from their porch overhangs.
"You go," I urged him."No way," he said. "Ladies first. You should go first."
I stood there, not moving. The moonlight shone off the watery glass of the houses' tall windows. Who knows who was standing behind them, watching us? My heart was beating a little too fast.
"You're supposed to be braver than me," he said after a moment. "You are my mother, after all."
So, with maternal pride and respectability on the line, I quickly ducked my hand into the crevice between pre-Revolutionary era buildings. I survived. Jimmy's hand, no longer the pudgy mitt of early childhood, but not yet the firm grip of a teenager, entwined in mine and we walked down the dark sidewalk together to catch up to our tour guide, William of Williams Ghost Walks of Georgetown.
Williams' ghost tour has a way of spooking you. There are no special effects, no actors in make-up, no goriness. Just enough good, old-fashioned storytelling to make a grown woman scared of dark corners.
William, affable and friendly, met us in front of a pub on Front Street as darkness fell. From there, we walked through the quiet streets of the historic neighborhood, stopping in front of different houses, shops, municipal buildings, churches, graveyards and a synagogue.
Sounds like a lot of stops, right? Well, it turns out that Georgetown is one of the most haunted places in America. It's such a lovely and welcoming little seaside town, I suppose it makes sense that people don't ever want to leave.
At each stop, William told us stories of people who once lived in and visited Georgetown, from the famous to the obscure, from the colonial to mid-century. He told us about their lives and deaths, their worlds and cultures, and speculated about why their ghosts might still be waiting (or perhaps trapped?) in Georgetown.
And most eerily, he told us about how their presences are still felt in Georgetown today, and how the people who inhabit those old majestic buildings today know when their ghosts are with them.
William explained that sometimes, when people take photos of the haunted houses and cemeteries, glowing orbs will appear in the photos. He explained that ghost-hunters believe that the orbs are ghostly presences.
That was all Jimmy needed to hear, and the camera was his. He snapped picture after picture, but no ghosts appeared. We did, however, spook the heck out of ourselves, just imagining the ghosts who might be hiding just outside the viewfinder.
Even better than that, we got to spend the night wandering around this beautiful and fascinating town together. And the best part for me? My nine-year-old son even held my hand in public. Yes, it was in the dark. But still.
Williams Ghost Walks of Georgetown offers walking ghost tours of historic downtown Georgetown every night at dusk. Adults are $15, children are $10, and kids under 5 are free. Reservations are required; call (843) 359-6349 and ask for William.