Friday, August 26, 2011
When you inherit a house, you inherit all the things in it... including any spirits that dwell within.
When I was growing up, we had one of the best neighbors ever. She was an older lady that I will refer to as Miss Annie. She was one of those grandmotherly types that wore a big hat to church every Sunday and always had something good cooking on the stove. She looked out for our family and we looked out for hers. As her house was only a block over from ours, we were able to look in on one another often. I mowed her yard every Saturday morning and she was always ready for me with cold grape soda.
Miss Annie was a widower, having lost her husband back in 1959 due to complications with pneumonia. Apparently it was a terrible misfortune that befell him. He was bed ridden in the house and was under the care of a hospice nurse. Miss Annie had went to a church service while the nurse was watching her husband. The nurse fell asleep and Miss Annie's husband asphyxiated in his own fluid, unable to call for help.
Miss Annie would often tell us how she still could hear her husband at night. Clearing his throat, opening closet doors and making noises in the bedroom in which he had died. She would say that he was very active whenever a woman with long dark hair would enter the house. She felt that his spirit was still angry at the nurse (who had long dark hair) and was trying to chase them from his home. My mother would joke back that she was glad she had short blonde hair. I can even recall times that I would see things fall off shelves, or hear banging noises in the back of the house, to which Miss Annie would blame her late husband.
Dear Miss Annie passed peacefully in her sleep in the fall of 84. My mother was very surprised to learn she had been named sole heir to her home due to our late neighbor having no close family or children of her own. My mother was in the rental business and after a years worth of renovations, she put the house on the market.
Mother could not keep a renter in that house. People would complain of slamming noises, doors opening at night, and footsteps. It seemed that if we had female renters, the strange happening were even worse. We often had renters get up and move out in the middle of the night, only to contact us days later with tales of being scratched in their sleep and seeing shadowy forms in the back bedroom.
At one point, my mother rented the house to the parents of Thomas and Julius Jones of football fame. Unfortunately their parents were less than responsible and left the house in the middle of the night owing months and months of rent. On top of that, they also wrecked the place. We had a long renovation in store for us. The house sat empty for almost two years as we made repairs, when time and money would allow. It was during the end of this renovation that my encounters with this angry spirit came to be.
Back in the day, we had 12 channels to watch on TV, no internet, and if you were super lucky, you had a game system that would let you play a mind numbing 8 bit game. Being bored was an easy thing to come by so we had to come up with our own entertainment. During one of these bouts of boredom my friends and I decided to spend the night in the vacant house. My mother allowed me and three of my best friends to camp out in the old house. We quickly made our way, sleeping bags in hand, to the old house.
The house was completely empty of furniture except for an old potbellied stove in the living room. There was no electricity or water so we had made preparations to bring snacks, candles, cord wood, and board games to entertain us. After we had set up a suitable "camp' in the living room, we placed candles all around the room to ensure even lighting and settled in for the night.
I think the first strange thing we noticed was how unusually cold it was inside the house. It was late August, but we all felt chilled. I went out to get some of the wood we had brought to start a fire. I even remarked to my friends, when I returned, how much warmer it was outside. Soon we had a cheery little fire in the stove and we all felt better huddling near the warmth.
We noticed shortly after lighting the fire, that the house seemed to get noisy. By noisy I mean popping, cracking, creaking, bumping noises coming from the back three bedrooms. Being a logical bunch, we attributed this to the heat of the fire, causing the cold wooden boards to contract and expand. Although the sounds continued, and even grew in volume and regularity, we paid them no
As the night wore on, we played many games, ate much junk food, and imbibed many pops. Since there was no running water, your only choice for bladder relief was to head for the back porch and go "redneck style" outside. To get to the back porch, you had to navigate through the adjoining kitchen. In the center of the kitchen wall, and in full view of the living room, was a large picture window. The street light from a block down glowed slightly through this window and gave us our only other source of light in the house. One of my good friends, whom I will refer to as "Cobb", felt the pressure of too many pops. He was forced to head through the dark kitchen to find the backdoor on his own. As he did I took notice of that dim street light shining through the window as passed . For a brief moment his form blocked the light as he continued on to the back porch.
Many minutes passed and he had still not returned. I was laying prone in the floor on my sleeping bag and had a straight shot view into the kitchen and of the window. I occasionally glanced up to check for his return and pondered out loud as to why it was taking him so long.
The creaking of a board drew my attention back to the window, and there in the dim light I could see a silhouette. I thought, of course, that it was our friend Cobb, returning from the back porch, but the figure just stood there. The body slowly shifting back and forth, the head craning at an angle, as if to get a better look into the living room. Cobb was a notorious trixter, and at this point, I could only imagine he was seeking to play a prank on us by sneaking back in. Without drawing attention, I whispered a warning to the other two friends in the living room with me. They cast sideways glances into the kitchen and smiled knowingly that we had foiled the would be prankster.
After several minutes of this, our mood grew impatient. If Cobb was truly trying to scare us, he needed to hurry. The figure had made no movements to come into the living room just continued to crane and stare. I was about to call out to to figure when the front door opened. We all jumped in surprise as Cobb walked in.
He had walked around to the front of the house to bring in more firewood. I spun around in horror. If Cobb was behind us, gathering wood, then who was in the kitchen! The figure was still standing there is the weak light of the street lamp. Slowly it turned and walked away, as if heading not to the back porch, but deeper into the house where the bedrooms were!
To say we were rattled would be an understatement. We quickly packed up our gear, doused the fire, and headed back down the road to the safety of my house. When we told my mother of the encounter, she scolded us for being silly. We ended up staying in my room the rest of the night, not daring to sleep for fear that the shadowy figure had followed us.
Of course, it didn't. It did not visit me and I, in return, did not visit it... that is until almost 9 months later. It is then I had my second and last encounter with this spirit.
I had a cousin from Ohio visiting that summer. She was around the same age as me and my friends, so she fit in well. Late one night, while she and I were talking on the front porch, I got around to telling her the story of the haunted house. She was instantly intrigued and begged to go see the house for herself. I firmly told her there was no way I was going to go to that house in the middle of the night. She continued to plead and whine till I finally gave in. Grabbing a flash light, we headed over.
I had no intention of going inside. I was just going to take her to the door and let her look in and come right back. As we approached the house, she grew more and more excited about the prospect of seeing a ghost. By the time we were at the gate of the yard, she was practically bouncing. We made our way to the front porch. She impatiently grabbed for the handle of the glass storm door and opened it. Cupping her hands over her eyes she peered into the single window of the old wooden door. She complained about not being able to see inside and not even the flashlight would satisfy her curiosity. She wanted to go in.
I told her I would not go in, and further more I did not have the key. On impulse she grabbed the doorknob and with no effort at all, swung it inward. My mother must have left it unlocked, but this was highly unusual of her. Before I could comment, she was bounding inside with the only flashlight. I stood there watching the storm door shut slowly behind her. I called to her from the porch. When she did not answer I retreated to the gate, as the fear of my previous encounter in the house took hold of me. I called out again and again. She promptly ignored me.
Through the shut storm door, I could make out the ray of the flashlight whipping around in the darkness as she scanned the house over. I watched as that light receded into the back rooms of the house. I shouted at her again, panic over taking me, as I watched her venture deeper into the house.
I then recalled the words of Miss Annie. About how her late husband did not like women in the house, especially those with long brown hair. My cousin had long, dark brown curls to her shoulders! I desperately pleaded with her to come out. Several minutes passed before I could see the beam of the flashlight returning to the front door. Relief washed over me as I saw her standing behind the glass door, the warm glow of the light in her hand illuminating the doorway. She reached for the handle of the outter door when suddenly she stopped and swung the light around. In the blink of an eye, she came crashing through the glass of the storm door! Lights danced in the living room as the flashlight spun wildly.
I rushed to help her.
"I was pushed!" was all she could say. I tried to examine her in the darkness of the porch, but could make nothing out in the gloom. I felt blood on my hands. I started to get up and retrieve the flashlight, when I saw it!
As the flashlight lay in the center of the room, it cast it's beam on the far wall. There against the wall was a shadowy figure just visible in the glow of the light. A shadow of a man, but there was no man standing in the light to cause it! Gathering her up and out of the broken glass, we flew back home. Leaving the front door open, and the flashlight laying in the house.
When we were safely back to my room, I gathered band aids and peroxide for her cuts. Luckily, her injuries were superficial. Nothing more than a small cut on her knee and elbow. As I worked on her injuries, I asked her what happened?
She told me that she had went into each room in the house and found nothing. As she went to the last of the three bedrooms, she had a very uneasy feeling come over her. She quickly made her way back to the front door. When she went to exit, she could have sworn she heard a congested, wheezing cough come from behind her. As she turned to see what it was, she flew through the glass door as if pushed!
Nobody believed her story. My uncle (her father) was furious, my mother even more so. I was grounded for a month despite my cousin swearing over and over I had nothing to do with her accident. That marked that last time I was to go near that house.
After that, renters came and went. Some would tell us stories of hearing noises in the night, some would not. It was apparent that the activity had died down, somewhat, after my last encounter.
It is currently occupied by a local man and his two young sons. They have been there for many years now. They have never reported anything out of the ordinary with the house. Could they just be ignoring the ghost? Could it be that the ghost finds them acceptable and chooses not to reveal itself? Perhaps that angry spirit felt vindicated by forcing my cousin out of it's home that fateful night? Does the spirit still haunt the house at all?Only time will tell.
For the record, I'm not going to be the one to find out.......