Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Local Spooks


My first wife is long gone (not from the earth, from my sight if you will), but she did leave me with a few stories to tell. I used to recite them in a true but crass way, bitterness being the cruel master that it is. Now I try and avoid the guillotine and just go for the cheese. I know… but it makes sense to me…

We'd just been married and had rented an apartment. It was an old manse; a two story, late 19th century Victorian that had been turned into a duplex. We were on the first floor and no one had rented the upper at the time, or the attic which was livable.

We decorated in true hippy style, painting ceilings blue, walls red and trim white. "Gaudy patriotic" I’d call it. (“Shock value” if I were being honest) Our quarters were the old living-dining rooms plus kitchen and crappy little add on bath. But it was cool, full of old woodwork including a ceramic tiled fireplace and a beaded wooden room separator.

The living room had been built a double pocket door in the center of the inside wall, now removed and replaced by sheetrock. This hid the original bedroom, which had then been made into a storage locker for yet another renter. To me, staring and pondering as I’m wont to do, there was this big picture frame with a blank wall inside just screaming for objects d’ art. Think of the time if you’re able. I might have use fluorescent posters and black lights, or perhaps shlving covered in lava lamps of various sizes. Instead I bought black mirror and deep red carpet tiles from Sears and made myself a vertical, ivory reflecting pool surrounded by a rim of red shag umm… grass. In the words of the day it was…way cool dude.

We slept in the dining room in a queen sized mattress and box on the floor. It was here the story begins.

I'd been driving cab that night and had come home at 3am expecting to find my honey asleep. All the lights were on. Strange. I went inside being as cautious as I could considering I'd worked 12 hours and was now exhausted. Anita screamed, loud and long.

She scared the crap out of me. There she was sitting in the center of the bed, deluxe 14 inch long chef knife in hand and rocking her head around like a puppet looking for applause. We'd just seen the Exorcist that week and pea soup was on my mind. I stared at her for a minute hoping she wouldn't twist her head all the way around.

I finally got her calmed down enough to talk and she told me a little story.

The bed looked out into the living room, the black hole wall. My cowboy boots had been standing, facing that mirror for a day or two. She wasn't sure, maybe she was dreaming, but she swore she'd woken and had looked into that room where a man was standing in my boots facing the "wall". Of course she assumed it was moi. Then he turned toward her, started a slow walk to her side and spoke.

She didn't know what to do so she listened and swallowed her screams. He told her a story about having built the house we were in. His wife, an invalid lived upstairs, hence the duplicated bedrooms and baths on both floors. She wanted to have the view from the second floor and as she was in a wheelchair, getting up and down the two level stair was impossible.

Long story short, this woman fell down the stairs one day and died on the landing that was just outside our front door. She'd lost an earring, one of a set. He had no idea where but he knew where the other was...a hidden compartment in the built in buffet across from our bed.

Don't ask why but he wanted my wife to have the jewelry; so she says, dream that it was.
Then, she has no idea what happened. She woke up and was scared shitless by the sound of her own breathing. She ran to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and sat in the center of the bed pressed against the wall, waiting for Satan to make a house call. I showed up instead.

I finally convinced her it was just a dream and got her to sleep, not because I knew what to think but because I was exhausted and to stay awake any longer would give me a migraine. I thought about investigating the buffet, but I really didn't want to find this thing. So I slept as well.

The next day though, feeling a lot more confident in the sunlight, I searched for this hidden compartment. Lo and behold I found it; and damn if there wasn't an earring in it along with some other junk… A triangular Masonic looking metal plate earring with a teardrop pearl hanging.

Ok, now I was getting the heebie jeebies. I didn't want to tell my wife. We needed one of us to be sane and it wasn't going to be me at this point.

I went to the foyer and looked around. It was all too obvious. There was a cold air register on the floor right at the foot of the stairs; A large one with a wooden grate. So ok, if I reach into it what are the odds some hand will grab mine and try to pull me into the aluminum shaft? I thought about it. I couldn't help it.

Like a kid taking his first bite of limburger I kinda held my nose, closed my eyes and reached down into the huge dust ball that 80 years of neglect had built. Hmmm, pencil, some dining utensil…I pulled them and the dust bunny out of the hole, heart pounding a thousand beats a minute.

As I pulled the poof out of the vent I heard a little metal on metal scrape. I waited for the screams of the dead...but none came. I leaned over and looked down, now holding a flashlight to light the pit. There....it was a small piece of metal glinting. FUCK! It was a triangular Masonic looking metal plate earring with a teardrop pearl hanging.

I damn near had my first heart attack 20 years ahead of schedule. I'm shivering now and looking about just thinking about it. Never write a ghost story at 3am.

We moved as soon as we were able, not an easy task for a young cab driver/waitress couple.
But....we were.....motivated. I think she still has the earrings. Maybe they house her demons. I can only hope she has them safely locked up and ready for deposit in the nearest volcano.


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