Friday, July 20, 2012
A House of Spectres?
We'd heard stories about the house long before we ever imagined we might one day live there. It was natural that people would talk. The place was dark, mysterious, situated on an isolated patch of land that local lore insisted had been a Civil War battlefield, and curiously empty for all its attributes. The first time I saw it it stood like a ghostly ruin, a black hunk of rock in the dead of night. No wonder they said it was haunted.
I dismissed all of this out of hand, naturally, but several events after we moved in made me wonder. First, on the very night we took up residence, our reclusive cat Heidi disappeared for a period of two days.
"She's gone," my mother declared. "She's just gone."
We'd searched every nook and cranny, even going so far as to look in the yard despite Heidi's known aversion to the outdoors.
"Something had to happen to her," I insisted. "Mom, you know Heidi. She'd never have run off."
When the feline in question resurfaced she chose a fittingly bizarre way to do so; my mother walked into the laundry room to retrieve a load of clothes and there was Heidi, falling through the air from nowhere in particular.
After that the groundskeepers came in with their stories. The last family, they said, had left because of the commotion made by the otherworldly residents. Objects were rumored to rearrange themselves at night of their own accord. At one point, allegedly, a priest had been brought in to calm things down.
Other than my cat vanishing (and, evidently, developing the ability to fly), however, nothing particularly odd had happened to us, so it seemed to me that either our haunted house had taken a serious chill pill since we moved in or the staff were having some fun at our expense. I put it out of mind.
The postwoman looked apologetic when she knocked on the door yesterday afternoon.
"Hi," I said uncertainly as I stepped outside.
"How are you?" she asked.
"I'm really sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if you'd seen a package," she explained. "We delivered it here on July 3 but it was meant for the previous resident."
I imagined she was sorry; we've lived here since February.
"No," I said. "And my mother's at work, but I can ask her when she gets home."
"Alright," she said. She cast a glance at the front-facing second-floor windows. "It's nice to see someone living here again."
"What do you mean?"
"There's been a different family here pretty much every year," she said. "It seems like no one ever wants to stay. Someone from Marble City was using it as a summer home a few years back but they just stopped coming. Then there was the last couple."
"Our groundskeepers keep telling us that they left because it was too haunted. I think they're trying to scare us."
Her face was blank.
"I hadn't heard that."
"I'm sorry..." I began, confused.
"He died," she said. "The husband, he died in a car accident on the road just outside of town. A little while after it happened the wife was out in the field and she got attacked by some kind of animal. She was just injured but she left, too."
The postwoman smiled.
"I don't think your house is haunted," she said. "It just has a colorful history."
"Knock on wood," I answered with a nervous smile.
"Have your mother call if she remembers anything about the package."
I'm not one to get too shaken up over a spooky story and my encounter with the postwoman was nothing more than a funny anecdote minutes after it happened. I'm also not one to take chances, though, so when my parents announced that they'd be leaving this evening for an overnight trip to Native State I called in my insurance policy.
"Yo, ho," I said when Black Boy picked up his phone.
"What up, nigga?"
"Listen, my parents are going to Native State and I'm going to be here all by my lonesome tonight. No homo, but do you want to have a slumber party?"
"I am definitely down for a slumber party."
Popcorn and movies should keep any possible spirits at bay. Provided, of course, that we don't pick horror movies.