I Think We Have Ghosts

I unearthed this piece I’d written about ten years ago when Dorian and I were temporarily staying with her cousin in Visalia California, two months before moving to San Francisco.

It was buried in a long-forgotten archive in Google Docs on an account I haven’t used in years. I decided to blow the dust off and post it here, because who doesn’t love a good ghost story?


November 2008

We’ve been living in this old house for a few months, and I think it’s rather ghostly.

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It was built in 1963 for the hospital supervisor of the area but we don’t know anything beyond that. No history, no traumatic events, no murders, births, shootings, wild parties, frat initiations, explosions, poisonings, stabbings, exorcisms or seances.

That we know of.

Of course, a house this old is bound to have had some of that activity at one time or another, and it’s likely that a few of the former occupants are now deceased. Whoever they were, they lived here, which means they’ve laughed here, screamed here, cried here and maybe even died here.

I hate not knowing.

Speaking of screaming, one of the stories cousin Jo has told is that screams have been heard emanating from the living room area on two occasions. She claimed she was present and heard them both times, as did a couple of her housemates, who corroborate the story.

She said it was a lady screaming — both times were in the afternoon — and nobody was in the living room when it occurred. Everyone present heard it, and they all say it sounded like a woman being murdered right there in the living room and was as loud as if she were actually standing in there screaming, with no ghostly, ethereal aura about it at all.

It was just as if it were really happening at the moment.

On both occasions, they rushed into the living room thinking something dreadful had occurred, only to find… nothing.

Thanks for telling me this, Jo. I have to live here for a bit longer.

This place is creepy, and stories like that don’t help. No, she wasn’t trying to freak me out, she was serious, and she added a few sightings and “touches” to the accounts that have happened to her during the five years she’s been here.

Nothing major, the screaming story is the big one, but she said there are “little things” here and there that make her feel like there are more residents in this house than just the corporeal ones.

I know what she means.

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Last week I was headed to the kitchen. It’s at the end of a long hall and the room we’re renting is down on the other end. I left our room and as I approached the kitchen I saw that the door was open. This isn’t unusual, and neither was seeing someone cross from right to left just inside the door.

But stepping into the kitchen a few moments later and finding that nobody was in there after I’d just seen someone cross the door moments earlier, well… that was unusual.

I looked to the left and there was nowhere anyone could have gone. I even looked under the table, thinking someone was messing with me. That’s how sure I was I’d just seen someone cross. They couldn’t have crossed back to the right and exited without me seeing them.

I was sure I’d seen a young woman wearing a blue ankle-length dress and some kind of head bonnet or hat, but the hallway was dark.

Literally one second before stepping into the kitchen I fully expected to see cousin Jo or one of the four other housemates sitting at the table.

But nobody was there.

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I turned around and went back through the door into the hall, and the front door of the house was on the immediate right. I stepped out onto the porch to find that one of the four housemates, Amanda, was standing there having a smoke.

“Were you just in the kitchen?” I asked.

“No, why?”

A glimpse at her cigarette showed she’d been there for at least a few minutes, it was burned down to the halfway point. And realistically, there’s no way she could have gotten from that kitchen table to the front porch without going past me. Also, she wasn’t wearing blue. She had on grey jeans and an Iron Maiden T-shirt.

“No reason, sorry. Thought I just saw someone when I walked in there, but no one’s there.”

She took a nonchalant drag from her cig and exhaled matter-of-factly.

“Probably just one of the ghosts.”

Thanks, Amanda.

Damn.

She’s been here for a few years and she was one of the witnesses to cousin Jo’s screaming story. She was in her own room while Jo was in hers during one of those occurrences, so she converged on the living room with Jo and several others to find nobody getting murdered.

Which is a good thing, I guess, except maybe a woman did get murdered in 1972 or something, and it keeps replaying over and over.

What are the odds she was wearing a blue ankle length dress?

It’d help if this place were like the Addams family mansion, but it’s not. It’s just a large, sprawling five-bedroom ranch-style house in the middle of suburbian hell.

It’s totally normal looking.

Just like the house in Amityville.

I think I’m ready to move on.