Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ghost Case: He Came In the Night


My family moved into Aspen Grove when I was a little toddler. The sights and sounds of the house to me were perfectly normal. Children adapt to realities, like tossing your ball in the air results in it coming back down every time and the sound of a sister screaming at the other sister in another room can be heard through even the thickest walls.

When we first moved in, our family dog, King (a Collie/German Shepherd mix) had some issues with--nothing. My mom would watch the dog growling at the wall, backing off from the center of the room, snapping at something not there, then jumping as if he had been kicked, tail between his legs, howling and rushing off, nearly going through the closed side door. My mother eventually got spooked by his reactions to what seemed to be something he was aware of that she was not. Eventually, King would not come in the house anymore and remained the rest of his 15 years outdoors. We set him up a sweet doggy place in the shed, but he would not go near the inside of the house again.



Then, while father was away on his work that took him off in all hours of the night to locations around the country, mom would lie in bed alone and listen. The house seemed to come alive the minute the last person went to bed. Was it settling sounds? Well, nope. One time, father heard it too and commented. She felt great relief.

One day, an old owner of the house visited and lightly mentioned the ghosts. My mother blinked. She was not a believer in ghosts, but the woman explained a story that gave my mother shivers.

"During the Civil War when the home was being used as a field hospital, a young soldier was upstairs in bed when shooting erupted outside. He rushed out without his boots that his parents had given him. He was shot and killed outside. Every night, he still walks the stairs and hall looking for his boots."

My mom, being a closet historian and an art teacher, found some romance in that story and took pity on the soldier. She began to haunt the library and City Hall in search of information about the home's history. I grew up in the dusty records rooms glancing through old soldier's diaries and other books while mother gathered her information.

And, every night I heard him. Booted feet, walking up the stairs, then down the hall to the middle bedroom. He only took a few steps into the bedroom and then in front of the radiator, the board would creak and that was the end of his vigil. As a kid believing my life was being guarded by unseen soldiers, I would turn and whisper to him, "good night." It was a ritual I grew to appreciate until I became a self-conscious adolescent and the thought of a man in my bedroom was kind of creepy. So, I took the end bedroom in the newer part of the house that had no activity.

One night, tired of telling stories of the ghosts and having kids scoff at them, I sat down on the middle of the stairway, turned on my dad's recorder and waited. He started up the stairs. It was the first time I'd been there when it happened and it seemed to go so quickly and then he was on the board I sat on. And, for the first time in all those years, he paused a moment and then continued on. I held my breath and exhaled as he headed down the hall. I realized in that moment that he seemed to have sensed me just enough to stop a moment and wonder before finishing his trek.

It was in that moment one of my theories began and still persists--perhaps they are not the only ghosts; perhaps we are ghosts to them.

9 comments:

  1. You ever read something, and just had to read the entire thing...
    All cuddled up into yourself, one hand on your mouse, on hand against your mouth?
    Just in awe of the tale.

    Completely Awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I miss King , Did he get along with Andy ?

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  3. He actually let Andy hang around the yard, but he tore the shit out of a St. Bernard that wandered into the yard. He was very protective of me as a little kid. How's it going?

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  4. Why would the ghost sound like someone walking in boots if the story is supposed to be a soldier looking for his boots? Love the part about King.

    BTW: The only ghostly activity I ever experienced happened several times and consisted of a woman in high-heel shoes walking down a hallway. The sound changed when she turned the corner from carpet to hardwood. Heard several times by myself and once by my husband.

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  5. I agree about the boots story. It's those kinds of stories that are born more from folks passing stories from one generation in the house to the next. Someone had to come up with a story for why the booted feet. Never made sense to me why a barefoot ghost would make sounds of heeled boots going up. One of the many reasons I ask questions of phenomena and passed down stories.

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    ReplyDelete
  7. I will be at LepreCon and would like to have your opinion on a photo I took a few years ago. I believe I captured the image of a ghost- it certainly disturbed all my friends who were with me that night. May I bring the photo to your panel?

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  8. Sunday, I'll be in DIY ghost hunting. I'd love to see it.

    ReplyDelete

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