Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Haunted House

You can learn a lot by accidentally opening a piece of mail not addressed to you. Now that I’m seeing certain events in this new perspective, it explains a lot about what happened, and how it happened the first couple of days after we moved into this new house. I’m convinced it is haunted. Now, don’t get me wrong, the jury’s still out on whether or not ghosts do or do not exist; part of me wishes that they do, but with the same token, I wish they’d hold a press conference about their existence. I mean, really, c’mon. You’re a ghost and you have unfinished business here with the living? Well, make yourself known, and not just to the crazy people either. Do your research. Find a credible person to talk to. Call Barbara Walters or Peter Jennings and tell them your story. Oh wait… sorry, Peter Jennings, you need call Barbara Walters and tell her your story and quit freaking people out. Better yet, there are people looking for you right now.

As a kid I had always wanted a poltergeist, even after seeing the movie. I just thought it would be neat to freak out houseguest by having stuff moving about the room during their stay. But why can’t they be nice? Why aren’t ghosts helpful like Casper? I could really use some help around here some times, and it would be nice to have someone get me a drink from the fridge who could go through walls. Some times, there’s just too many stairs.

Wait, so any way, I’m convinced the house is haunted, not by some spirit seeking his revenge or help into the after life, but by the laziest ghost in the Underworld. Seriously, what kind of world do we inhabit where phantoms are allowed to be lethargic? Frankly, it makes me glad to be alive.

So, the story starts the first night we moved into this house. After a hot sunny day of moving furniture, it was nice to finally settle into bed. There’s a palpable mix of euphoria and eeriness hovering over the bed that night. The boxes piled up in various corners of the rooms cast odd shadows on the walls, and there’s a strange, creepy feeling throughout the house, like I just don’t belong within it’s walls. It’s dark, pitch black. I don’t know where anything is. And everything is so deathly quiet, I expected tombstones to sprout up from the floors at any moment.

Suddenly, from downstairs, Elsa begins to bark ferociously, as if her mortal enemy has suddenly appeared before her eyes and she is trying everything to get outside for the confrontation. Springing from the bed I glance bleary-eyed out the window at the moon-drenched yard below, and a black shadow springs to life on the grass, bounding towards the wall in successively higher and higher leaps until it almost appears airborne. As if it abruptly sensed my presence, it took flight over the wall into my neighbor’s yard, and my eyes followed where it should have landed on the other side, but I didn’t see it return to the earth. I scanned the wall for any signs, but it had vanished into thin air.

By then, Elsa was quiet, perhaps awestruck at the unidentified visitor’s movements. Sleeping after that was nearly impossible. My heart raced, and I watched the yard through the window for a long time, half hoping that whatever it was would return, but half hoping it wouldn’t.

Then, it began to rain, unexpectedly, a downpour which lasted for all of 10 minutes. The following morning there was a dead bird on the patio in our backyard and the dirt around the side of the wall had been disturbed. Was it a warning sign? Was it a message from the world’s beyond this one that we are not welcome in this house?

Perhaps it wasn’t, I reasoned, ever being the logical one, but my thoughts and common sense were time and time again challenged as I started to notice other strange things occurring. For example, things will go missing for no reason. Books, papers, mail and toys disappear. Natalie used to have six little frogs. Now there’s only two. Doors will slam shut upstairs when the whole family is in the living room, downstairs. Elsa, whom I have decided can see the spirits of the dead and undead as they walk unseen by human eyes into and out of this world, would bark at something for no reason, looking up into the center of the room as if she was looking up at someone. Outside, she visits one corner of the yard, sniffs around repeatedly as if something had just been there.

The largest clue didn’t arrive until this afternoon. In the mail today, we were delivered a thick letter from a law office, and since we had just filed a living trust, I assumed it had something to do with that, so I opened it without looking at the addressee. Inside, the envelope contained settlement papers of a tragic event that happened nearly five years ago; I quickly surmised that I had opened a letter that wasn’t addressed to me, but the news I learned was too disturbing to repackage back in the envelope before reading. It appears as though the wife a previous owner of this house was murdered while at her job in downtown L.A.

Doing some investigating, I went out to the gas meter where the Gas Company has a habit of writing your name on the meter when the service is changed from owner to owner. Next to my name, the last name of the murdered woman was written on the meter with a reading of 0000. They were the original owners of the house, so it would make sense that she has an emotional attachment to the house that may transcend space and time, the fabric of mortality and the long-reaching grasp of the “other side.”

It all seems to make sense now, and the realization gave me quite a chill. The apparition floating over the wall in the middle of our first night here. The sudden rain shower. Elsa barking. Toys missing. Noises. Creeks. The dead bird. It all is coming together: The woman has returned to take possession of her house.

But she really isn’t trying very hard. Maybe she’s new at the job and not really experienced at extricating the living, but where’s the rattling chains in the attic? Where’s the scratches on the walls or the knives flying through the air? No deep, evil sounding voice of the damned has even once said, “Get Out!” I would have expected, at the very least, a moan or two in the middle of the night. I mean, everything that happened is easily explainable. The black shadow that jumped over the wall could have been a dog. The walls are quite low and I’m surprised that Elsa didn’t figure out that she could jump them too. The rain show was a result of the suddenly cooling of a humid day. It rained two nights ago and we had 100-degree weather. The dead bird? Bird’s die, and that one happened to be flying over our patio at the time he suffered a heart attack and went down. I’m sure all birds don’t die conveniently on the ground. Elsa barking at the ceiling in various rooms? What can I say? She’s an idiot, and I’m surprised she doesn’t drown when she takes a drink and forgets to pull her head out of her bowl.

So, maybe the house isn’t haunted. It was only built in 1998, and that doesn’t seem like a long enough time for word to get around the Necropolis that we are worthy of a good haunt.

In all seriousness, it is a terrible tragedy that someone can be murdered in this day and age of social “enlightenment,” and the ones that need to roam the wastelands of purgatory in the rotting skins of their undead bodies are the people that make this a scary and unsafe world. Of course, raising children in it is what’s really haunting me.

1 comment:

Brian Roche said...

Great, now I won't be able to sleep tonight.


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