In Timbuktu they are called djinn. Sometimes its poltergeist, sometimes demons and sometimes ghosts. What are they? Are they spirits of the dead, who cannot find rest? Are they demons cast from the halls of heaven? Are they beings made of smokeless fire, like the Muslims believe, created by Allah at the beginning of time to obey Him – and who rebelled?
The djinn are said to like places like this. Jerome, Arizona is an old mining town. Gold, the constant weakness of man – something twisted in our souls that revels in treasure easily won. Not that it was easy – digging deep into the spine of the mountain looking for metal. Then the metal dried up, and with it the town. There was nothing left in the deep desert dirt except the tears of those who had found nothing; and the blood of those who died. The town passed into history – and as the people went to search for their fortunes elsewhere the djinn moved in.
The djinn are said to enjoy places like this. The Adrar des Ifoghas of the Sahara, caves in the Sinai Peninsula, the old dusty towns abandoned to them. Places of old energy, where they can live their interminable lives away from us – whom they find tiresome.
I can see why they would have chosen Jerome. To glide through the silent halls of the old hospital; reverberating with the energy left behind by countless suffering souls. Perhaps suffering generates a greater energy which attracts them. Perhaps those who hurt expel their life’s blood in waves that somehow infuse the walls and the ceiling. The smell of us – I wonder if it bothers the djinn; or if they like it, because it reminds them that while we lived our lives in short bursts of futility before we died, they still abide. Perhaps it makes them feel powerful; or perhaps they enjoy the feeling that Allah’s chosen creation also suffers – as they are said to suffer too.
Jerome’s old hospital has been revitalized; finding new purpose. It’s a hotel, charming and historic. Remembering the past as it embraces a more comfortable present. Jerome is the same – gone are the miners crawling from their holes to whore and drink. To fight and die – often in the hospital. Jerome has become a hippie hotbed, and tourist attraction. Painters. Poets. Authors. And the weekend visitors who make it all possible; people like me. I wonder if they are upset at this – the djinn – and for that reason appear more frequently, in a futile attempt to try and drive us away.
The old hospital turned hotel is now the most haunted hotel in America.
If that is their intention, it doesn’t work – as I’m sure they know now. In a world that has lost its fear of the otherworldly, of the unexplainable, the djinn are now the attraction. Oh the wretchedness. If the djinn arrived at a ghost town in the Arizona desert to find peace for their tortured souls; they must be looking for another place. Perhaps Timbuktu again – where they will not be bothered for another millennium.