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Yesterday is a Ghost I Believe In

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  • A faded and creased photograph of a young boy holding a baby.

  • The back of the photograph with a caption written in feminine handwriting along with a doodle of a heart:

    “Dean and Baby Sam - September, 1983
    Ages 4 and 3 months

          Love at first sight!”


  • A child’s drawing depicting three figures labeled, "Daddy, Dean, Me" on the left of the page. On the right is a scribbled black car. In the center, the disturbing figure of a woman covered in blood and flames. The drawing is framed by a simple, brightly colored sun, sky, and grass.

    There is a letter on school-themed stationery paperclipped behind the drawing.


  • A letter written on faded stationery that features a border of crayons, scissors, apples, and school buses:

    "Mr. Winchester,

    Today in class we drew pictures of our families during scheduled art time. As you can see, Sam’s drawing is quite alarming. Another student cried when he told her the figure in the middle of his picture was the 'ghost of a sad dead lady who his dad sent to heaven.'

    Sam is a wonderful boy, Mr. Winchester. He is extremely smart and very thoughtful, but he has been exhibiting some behaviors that concern me. I know Sam hasn’t been a student at our school for very long, but I would love it if we could set up a meeting to discuss ways to help channel Sam’s imagination in a more positive direction.

    Please call me at your soonest convenience, or just drop by the classroom when you pick Sam up one day next week. I’ve heard from my colleagues in the 4th grade that your other son is having some problems adjusting, too. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like to pursue counseling for either or both of the boys here at school. Our guidance office is well-equipped to provide any assistance your family might need.

    Have a wonderful day,

    Rebecca France"


  • A grainy polaroid showing 2 boys, the older boy has his arm around the younger boy’s shoulder. Written in permanent marker on the bottom border are the words:

    "At Uncle Bobby’s
    Summer ‘92”


  • The front and back of a single sheet of lined notebook paper. It contains an essay titled, “Who I Admire Most,” written by Sam Winchester on March 26th, 1995, for his 7th grade English class. There is a large circled number 93 at the top of the page in red marker. The text of the essay reads:

    "The person I admire most in the whole world is my big brother, Dean. Sometimes bad things happen in families, and you need to stick together even when times are tough. My family has had more tough times than most, but my brother has always been there for me through thick and thin.

    For example, my family moves around a lot, and sometimes it is hard to make new friends in school. Dean always comes to the middle school and waits for me because he just got his license and he can drive me home now. When we are at home, we hang out all the time and do family activities like watching movies or playing card games. When my Dad is away on a business trip, Dean makes me dinner and buys clothes or school supplies if I need them. Dean can make anywhere feel like home.

    Dean helps me with my homework and takes me to do fun things, like go to the natural history museum or the planetarium, even though he thinks science is boring. He teaches me things I could not learn in school or at a museum, too, like how to stand up for what is right, or how to (Here, the sentence abruptly ends. In red ink, the teacher has written: You didn’t finish this thought!)
    Sometimes, he will drive me out to a spot high up somewhere without many houses around and we look at the stars and he lets me tell him about the constellations, so I guess I teach him some things, too.

    Dean has an important job, just like my dad, (In red ink, the teacher has underlined the last section and asks, “What kind of work do they do?" in the margin.) and I always try to tell him that I am thankful for what he does because sometimes people don’t know or realize that he gives up a lot and doesn’t always get to be a normal teenager, but he never complains about it. My brother is the most unselfish and kind person I know. He goes out of his way to help strangers all the time, and I know he would do anything to help me.

    I admire and love my brother Dean very much. I try to make sure he knows how much I admire him by not being too loud or annoying when he is busy. I know my brother loves me too, and it is very nice to know that I will always have someone who will be there for me no matter what. I know not everyone can be as lucky as me and have a brother like Dean, so I always try to keep that in mind when I get sad or upset. My brother Dean makes me a better person and I hope that I can be just like him when I am older."

    The essay ends, and written underneath in red ink are the words:

    “Great work, Sam! Your brother sounds like a really great guy! Thank you for sharing!”


  • A page of high school algebra homework containing 10 variable-solving equations. The name Dean Winchester is scrawled across the top. Instead of being filled in with answers to the assigned questions, the page is full of scribbles, notes, and doodles, including a pentacle, the logo of the band The Rolling Stones, a dagger dripping blood, a crude skull, the initials, D.W., and a simple guitar.

    The words on the sheet read:

    "In detention again. What else is new? Coach Robinson doesn’t give a shit but I gotta make it look like I’m doing something. Well, here you go. Here’s some math homework for you, asshole.

    Why the fuck am I in here and not Dylan Whitehead, by the way? Not my fault he thought he could mess with my brother. Learned his lesson now."

    Next, there are several words scribbled over and crossed out, the only legible ones being: “touches Sammy,” and, “my kid.”

    "Misty Chapman is so fucking stuck up. Hot though. Bet she’d drive up the point if I asked."



  • A letter on official letterhead from the Jackson school district in Jackson, New Jersey.

    "Mr. Winchester,

    I am writing this letter regarding an incident that happened during school hours on Tuesday, November 14th that involved your son, Dean, and another boy. The administration has tried to contact you by phone, but since we have yet to hear back, I felt it necessary to reach out and make sure you are aware of the situation.

    Dean was involved in an altercation with another boy in his grade in which your son allegedly hit the boy so hard that he fractured his jaw and lost three teeth. Unfortunately, this incident was not caught by our security cameras as it happened in the park adjacent to the school. There were a number of other students present, including your son Sam, but none of them have given us a reliable picture of how the boy sustained his injuries, including the boy himself. Because there is currently no evidence for us to present against your son and the other student’s family has decided not to press charges, the administration has ruled at this time only to assign Dean a two-week in-school suspension for being absent from his classes.

    As I'm sure you are aware, your son’s behavior is unacceptable, and had it been caught on our cameras, he would have been expelled. Your children have only been at our school for three months, and this is far from the first time Dean has gotten himself into trouble.

    I am advising you to contact us as soon as possible so that we can work together to put academic and disciplinary plans in place to help Dean succeed. As it stands, it’s unlikely he will be able to graduate on time without major intervention.

    I have contacted a social worker who works closely with the school district in behavioral matters such as this. She will be reaching out to you in the next week. Please be prepared to schedule a home visit so that she can assess how your child behaves outside of school time. I think it will benefit us all—Dean most of all—to intervene decisively as soon as possible.

    I have also spoken with Sam, and it is obvious he idolizes his brother. I understand they have not had easy lives, but their dependency on one another concerns me. Sam has a bright future ahead of him. I would hate to see it wasted by following in Dean’s footsteps.

    Please take this matter seriously, Mr. Winchester. The staff at Jackson and the school district certainly are.


    John Lamela, Ed.S., Counseling Office, Jackson High School"


  • A bright pink birthday card depicting a young girl in a cheerleading uniform with pom-poms in her hands. There is a number 9 superimposed behind her, and the top of the card reads:

    “Way To Go, 9 Year Old!”


  • The inside of a bright pink birthday card. Printed on the right are the words:

    “Give me an ‘N,’ give me an ‘I,’
    Give me an ‘N’ and an ‘E.’...
    Someone special is turning 9
    and wished a day
    that’s as happy as can be!

    Happy Birthday”

    On the left-hand side of the card, written in black pen:

    "Happy thirteenth birthday, princess. Like the card? Thought it fit you.

    Don’t go spending the cash all at once unless you wanna buy your extremely cool big brother a slushie when he takes you to see Mission Impossible tomorrow.

    P.S. Dad got you a shotgun. Act surprised."



  • The front of a postcard depicting an ink drawing of a woolly mammoth in front of a city skyline with the words ”LA BREA” drawn in bones at the top. 



  • The back of the postcard. It’s addressed to Sammy Winchester in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. There’s an informational blurb about the La Brea tar pits at the top left-hand corner:

    "The La Brea Pits are the richest source of Pleistocene (Ice Age) fossils in the world. A thin film of water covering this bubbling tar bog formed this great prehistoric trap, in which has been found the skeletons of the Imperial Elephant, largest of all land mammals, sabre tooth tigers, giant ground sloths, early camels and horses, giant wolves, llamas, bison, great American lions, condors and the only skeletal remains of the American peacock ever found. An exhibition of these fossils has been assembled at the Museum in Exposition Park.”

    The body of the postcard itself reads:

    "Haven't had time to see the pits yet (good place to hide a body though. Maybe we'll swing by to get rid of this Rawhead.) But I saw these postcards at a gas station and I thought I bet Sammy would like the art. LA sucks dude. But I think I saw Madonna at the bodega by our motel! She's a lot uglier in person, definitely has a drug problem. Hey, might have just been some homeless chick, now that I’m thinking about it.

    Hope you're having fun with uncle Bobby. You keeping up with school? Stupid question, nerd. Kinda miss my dweeb little brother. Be good, Sammy. I’ll see ya real soon."


  • A birthday card covered in simple geometric shapes and bright bubble letters in various fonts:

    "Happy Birthday
    to the most
    brother in the world!"



  • The inside of the birthday card. The printed words on the right side (also in various fonts) read:

    "From the most
    Intelligent, Nicest,
    Sweetest, prettiest,
    most Beautiful Sister (the word is scribbled over and ‘Brother” is handwritten underneath)
    in the world!

    Happy Birthday"

    In the margin between words, there’s more handwriting:

    “They didn’t have one that said ‘brother’ on it, but it was the only one in the store that described you!

    The handwritten note on the left of the card says:

    “You’re a man now, apparently. I beg to differ. Ha ha! Now at least you can take me to see R rated movies, so that’s cool.

    I was going to get you a lotto ticket and a pack of smokes, but Dad wouldn’t let me because he doesn’t understand the word ‘fun.’

    He doesn’t know I took a bag full of those little alcohol bottles from the minibar at that hotel a couple weeks ago, though. Not until it shows up on Hershel Smith’s credit card bill! So you can have them if you promise to take me driving some time soon. The Centaurid meteor shower starts in a couple days!!”

    The card is signed at the bottom:

    “I love you, Dean.





  • A flyer for the Pioneer Playmaker’s rendition of Thorton Wilder’s Our Town, depicting a hand-drawn city street in simple grayscale marker. There is a note at the top of the flyer in blue pen:

    “You can come if you want.

    Taped to the flyer is a single dried rose. 


  • A piece of paper from a yellow notepad for Singer Auto Salvage, covered in stains and the handwriting of several different people:

    "'Claws? Teeth? Could be a black dog. Werewolf, maybe.'

    'No hearts eaten. And no animal sightings probably a ghoul.'

    'No, stupid. Victims were all alive when they were attacked!'

    'Sorry, Lore Boy. Not all of us have massive heads to lug around brains like yours in.'

    'Get Dad to follow up with the Meyer family. The sister was sketchy when I talked to her about the deaths in school.'

    'Knew you were good for something!'

    'Shut up jerk.'


    'It’s a Rugaru (underlined several times), ya idjits!'"


  • The cover of the book, The Carnivorous Lamb, by Augustin Gomez-Arcos. It depicts two men, one fair, one dark, looking into each other’s eyes. There’s the receipt for a store called Jeff’s Guns -n- More peeking out of the top.



  • The same book, opened to pages 267 and 268. Three passages are highlighted and there are words written in pen at the bottom of the second page, obscured partially by the gun store receipt, which has a purchase date of 12-13-1998.

    The text visible on the pages (highlighted sections in double brackets) reads:

    “You’re the only person I love.”

    Silence. Caresses. The moon smiles, paler than ever. I don’t like that smile of the moon’s. I hate nocturnal collusions.

    “Pretend I’m a judge. What would you answer if I asked you: ‘Why do you love me?’”

    [[“I love you because you’re mine. I love you because I possess you. I love you because you need love. I love you because you’re disorder, and I don’t like order. I love you because when you look at me I feel like a hero, and always have. I especially love you because I’ve finally understood that I can’t talk about my love to anyone else but you, and that’s what real love is. Two beings who make up one solitude, one silence. And I love you because touching you makes me feel I’m more of a man than anyone.”]]

    You look at me as if you were in me. And you are in me. And outside me. Everywhere.

    “What about you? Why do you love me?”

    [[“I love you because…I like destruction,]] and because you and I aren’t the painful consequences of eternal love. I mean of what they call creative love. And I especially love you because no one will ever be able to accuse us of love. Ever, do you understand? [[And, too, because nothing that people say about life applies to us. I love you because I feel you could love someone else, and yet you love only me. Me alone. We’ve inherited a streak of anarchy, you know.”]]

    “A streak? You mean a ton of it.”

    You chuckle. Your teeth are like two knives cutting the air where what I am saying takes shape.
    Now I know what I have to do. I get undressed, and stretch out on the sand. You do the same. And you cover me. You penetrate me. You look me right in the eyes, showing me what conscious love means.

    The moon disappears. The sun comes up. The butterflies awaken.

    “I’ve been dreaming about you for seven years.”

    Which of us said that?

    You fall asleep.

    I count millions of butterflies above your sleep. I am smiling, I know.

    [[“Tell me, if you could make the world into anything you wanted, what would it be?”

    “Just one thing.”


    “A funeral pyre.”]]

    In the distance, the house is awakening to beauty. The morning sun lends it an aura of immortality that erases its sores and its ruins. The pair of eagles solemnly wander the sky above the wild fig trees that crown the butterfly well. The two crows, our neighbors, chase each other from rock to rock on the snake-hill. A ghost is walking between the stone walls, heading for the graves of the chronic-dead and the born-dead. It is carrying a bouquet of red flowers in its hands. Behind it, the foreigner’s contagious nylons still flower in the garden.

    “What about you, what would you make of it?”

    “A closed paradise, forbidden to everybody. With you and me inside.


    You laugh.

    “That closed paradise would be the only place your funeral pyre would spare.

    “I wouldn’t count on it. Nobody said I wanted to spare you, or me."

    It’s my turn to laugh. You aren’t laughing anymore.


    The notes in pen underneath read:

    “Why am I like this??”
    “What’s wrong--”

    “Why does this feel like--”



  • A flyer for the Ozzfest ‘99 concert on Sunday, June 6th, 1999 in Camden, New Jersey, featuring the final performance EVER in the USA of Black Sabbath.

    The header at the top of the flyer reads:

    “16 bands, 1 ticket and the final performance of Black Sabbath. God can’t help you it’s … OZZFEST ‘99."

    The lineup of other bands is scattered around the page, including Rob Zombie, Deftones, Slipknot, and Satic X. There is also an advertisement for The Never Never Land:

    "exotic nipple piercing, tattoo parlor, and the House of Horror."

    At the bottom of the page is the footer:


    Secured to the flyer by a metal roach clip are two concert ticket stubs and the butt of a smoked joint. 



  • An open journal, the tail end of one entry on the left page, and a second entry on the right.

    The page on the left says:

    “[...]gone on another hunt. I can't stand it. So fucking tired of being worried and lonely all the time. Dad doesnt care, though. Sometimes it's just too dangerous for me, according to him.

    But not for Dean?

    I'm gonna tell him. When he gets back.

    I cant deal with waiting for my stupid brother to die without knowing how I feel. It’s probably a mistake. Maybe a big one. But it’ll be worth it to know. Is it just me? Was I just born fucked up?

    I guess we’ll see.”

    The entry on the right page, dated August 16th, 1999, says:

    “It wasn't just me.”





  • The B Side of an old Maxell UR 90 cassette tape. “Sam’s side (actual good music)” is written on the label.



  • The paper label insert for a Maxell UR cassette tape. The title, “Roadtrip Tracks” is written at the top. There is a list of 20 songs, 10 per side, on the provided blank space.

    Side A:

    Paranoid - Black Sabbath
    Bad Company - Bad Company
    Renegade - Styx
    Lonely is the Night - Billy Squier
    Burnin for You - Blue Oyster Cult
    Night Moves - Bob Seger
    The Weight - The Band
    Harvest Moon - Neil Young
    He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother - Neil Diamond
    Ramble On - Led Zeppelin”

    Side B:

    Fast Car, Tracy Chapman
    The Passenger, Siouxsie and the Banshees
    Criminal, Fiona Apple
    Creep, Radiohead
    Where is my Mind, Pixies
    Oh Bondage! Up Yours! XRay Spex
    Only Happy When it Rains, Garbage
    What Difference does it Make, The Smiths
    Ever Fallen in Love, Buzzcocks
    Love will Tear us Apart, Joy Division”



  • A letter written in blue pen on a slip of paper with a header from the City Center Motel in Flagstaff, AZ:

    “I'm only writing this because I'm worried and I can't sleep and

    Well fuck.

    You better just not be dead, kid. I'll kill you myself.

    Anyway. I'm sorry. And I'll tell you as much when you get back

    We never fought like that before. I don’t ever want to fight like that again. You know I'm bad at this words stuff, so this letter is like some kinda punishment I guess. Is it a letter? Hell I guess not. Nowhere to send it to

    Maybe I’ll give it to you when you get back. But you’re the words guy. You'll probably just laugh and call me emotionally constipated or something.

    I'm just really fucking scared about you going away. I always knew deep down you would. You were always gonna go on and escape the shit that dad and me can’t. But I thought about this. You know

    This thing

    That maybe you wouldn't want to anymore. I was an idiot. I overreacted. Guess now you're giving me a preview of what's to come

    Okay now I'm just being dramatic. No more whiskey.

    I hope you know I want you to go. I really really do. Even if it's hard. You deserve to get out Sammy. If any of us does, it's you. And I guess I'll tell you that when you get back, too. 

    I love you because you’re mine."


  • A wallet-sized picture of Sam and Dean as young adults. They are both smiling, and Sam’s arm is around his brother’s shoulders. The picture is faded and worn. The bottom right corner has been ripped.

  • The back of the same picture, dirty like it’s been touched often. The words, “Sammy Winchester high school grad” are written in permanent marker.



  • A manilla envelope addressed to Dean Winchester at a P.O. box in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Return address is for Sam Winchester, Stern Hall, Rm 307, Stanford, CA. 



  • A letter written in pen on a journal-sized piece of paper torn from a notebook, the front and back are entirely filled.

    The words on the front say:

    I've never been on a bus before. Isn't that weird? I mean, a city bus. Or a bus like this. School buses don't count. But I guess technically this is a school bus. Since it's taking me to school.

    I'm writing this already because you were right about me not lasting one day without missing you. I didn't even make it an hour.

    I didn't have a whole lot to take with me, but I've got the shoebox. I'm gonna send this letter to you, but you’d better bring it when you come to visit, because I think it belongs there, too. It's weird that you’re not next to me. It's weird that you won't be next to me for the foreseeable future.

    The guy in the seat next to me is snoring. You'd probably do something really rude like cough too loud to wake him up. Too bad I'm not you because [...]”

    The back says:

    “[...]it's giving me a headache.

    Don’t forget that fall break is the eighth through the eleventh in October. I know you won't be able to stay the whole time, but try and get at least two or three days away.

    Heading back to California is making me think of that road trip we took a few years ago. Hope you don't mind but I stole the mixtape when you weren't looking. This is the first time I'll be in California since then. I promise I'll wait to go back to the beach until you’re here, too.

    I've heard the view of the stars over the Pacific is beautiful. Maybe I can still teach you a thing or two.

    I love you because I like destruction,