After Hurricane Harvey demolished our old digs in Running Rats Acres, we bought a townhouse in Golden Years Ghetto and outfitted it with the newest cutting-edge products.

It’s really amazing. The TV now has color, and washboards are so 2000. Take, for instance, my new garbage disposal — no more tossing the leftovers to the pigs and goats.

You just ... that’s odd. It’s not working.

OK, this is my new 245-channel cable TV which gives me 240 channels I never watch. (I’ve got to learn Tibetan.)

Hmmm ... The screen is blank.

Speaking of things that don’t work, never buy a pre-owned electric toothbrush. Here’s my new knife sharpener. The problem is knowing which side of the blade to sharpen. They both look the same, don’t they? It doesn’t work either.

There is only one answer. Lawrence of Suburbia is back. He’s my house ghost. You don’t have to live in a Scottish castle or an antebellum mansion on the banks of the Mississippi to have a house ghost. And it can be either be a nice ghost or one like Lawrence, who leaves a trail of stopped-up sinks, broken doorbells and things that go bump in the night, like my foot when it jams into a chair that wasn’t there when I went to sleep.

“OK, Lawrence,” I announce firmly. “Come out from wherever you are destroying.”

A translucent apparition appears in the den. “Hi, guy,” he says. “Glad to see me? I thought not.”

“No, I’m not. How did you find me?”

“I Googled ‘loser’ and got most of Donald Trump’s former cabinet, the Houston Rockets and Hillary Clinton, but you stood out from the rest, mostly because of the house fire.”

“What house fire?”

“It’s early in the day. But since you didn’t ask, I’ve been busy. I set up that deal with North Korea so that Kim Jong-un destroyed all his nuclear weapons. Of course, Kim only accelerated his nuclear program, but those are alternative facts. I got Mexico to pay for the border wall, more or less. Sort of. Recently I worked as a fire marshal at Notre Dame. I thought it was the football stadium. Do you know that vaccinations can cause broken legs? So how are things going with you?”

“Fine, till you got here. Now nothing works. Why don’t you pester someone else?”

“Oh, I have been. Went to the Sahara Forest.”

“You mean the Sahara Desert.”

“Well, now it is. Speaking of forests, I spent some time in California. But anybody who builds a house surrounded by dry wood has it coming. Incidentally, why did you move?”

“In a word: Harvey.”

“One of my better works. The Army Corps of Engineers got my memo. But FEMA helped, or at least they will when they get here. Besides, all those billions from Congress are on the way. However, the funds are stuck in the Senate Committee to Delay & Ignore. Ah, yes, Washington. It’s a mess as long as they have Mitch McConnell. That guy would block an artery, as I was telling Puerto Rico. And then there was the Mueller Report. It found Trump had nothing to do with the Russians, and he didn’t obstruct the investigation.”

“Wrong, Lawrence. The report simply said the investigation couldn’t prove anything.”

“Millions of Americans believe him. Trump never lies. But I was responsible for getting him elected.”

“I thought it was the Russians.”

‘Well, where do you think the Russians got all that email on Hillary? Julian Assange? The Ruskies got them from me. But wait till the 2020 presidential elections.”

“Are you planning to fix the outcome?”

“Me and Putin, an able ally. Now we are working together on 5G. It will connect cell phones and other gadgets with everything else. A breakthrough in communications technology. However, 5G signals can cause brain cancer, infertility, autism, heart tumors and Alzheimer’s disease. It could kill you.”

“Every study shows that to be untrue.”

“That’s fake news. People are starting to believe it, like that global warming is a hoax. Putin’s propaganda machine is spreading the 5G rumor, and it’s catching on like measles, another success.”

I look at my watch, which has stopped working. “Sorry to make you go, Lawrence, but just go.”

“Right. Manafort and Cohen need my advice on getting a good lawyer since they took my earlier advice on all the benefits of dealing with Trump.”

Just as he leaves, I smell smoke.

Lynn Ashby is a Houston-based columnist. Contact him at

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