Mind you, I don’t believe in ghosts.
But, if they do exist – and who are we to say one way or another what mysteries this universe holds – then we’ve got one.
Last year, after a dozen in our old place, we moved. The move wasn’t a long one, distance-wise. But we were in the position to take our time with it so it was a long one, time-wise. We started moving in on June 15th and stayed our first night in the new place on August 8th. No stress.
In the intervening 6 weeks or so I visited the new place daily. I’d pack up 6 boxes and 6 beers and take stuff over. I’d quickly sort the 6 boxes and slowly drink the six beers. It was my time. I would sit on the newly-finished back deck and stare off at the trees in the distance on 100-degree nights, throw the ball for Ludo, and be at peace. I always try to find moments of peace in life. As hard as it is to find in this modern world, it is ten times as important.
There was no furniture at the new place yet, not even deck chairs. However, I did have a couple of those old lake chairs with me, the kind that fold up into themselves and get stuffed in a like-colored sack. I had a red one and a blue one. I still have them, as a matter of fact. They have cup holders for beer.
The first time our friendly ghost showed up it was easily explainable, but weird. I arrived one morning to turn off the lights I kept on at night to give the illusion of occupancy, and something was amiss. When I had left the night before I had my two lake chairs sitting with each other near the living room sliding door. One of them, the red one, was sitting across the deck (a good 30 feet, I’d say), was folded up into itself, and was lying down.
Would a wild animal have done that? Could a strong crosswind? Why was the other chair entirely unmolested? I did not know and, after a brief moment of befuddlement, I chuckled and let it go.
This happened three times in those weeks between June 15th and August 8th. Always only one chair. Always entirely across the deck. Always befuddling.
It has never happened since. Apparently, the winds aren’t as strong when the home is occupied.
However, the wind did something equally freaky a couple of months later. I was lying in bed at 2 am when I heard a rapping sound against the wall outside. I ignored it, for as long as I could. When it crossed over into the “keeping me up” phase, I threw the covers off and went to investigate. I could clearly hear the sound as I left the room. As I passed through the slider on the other side of the house to catch the sound in the act, from behind, there was no sound. That is, until I secured myself into bed and pulled the covers over me. At that exact moment, the sound started again.
Aghast, I forced myself to sleep.
The next night, the sound again. Again I leapt from bed and went around the house only to find no sound once I exited. I stood in the freezing wind for 10 minutes at 2 am and no sound returned. Befuddled, I went back to bed. Again, as soon as the covers were over me, the sound began again. This time I threw open the slider in the bedroom itself. This time, the sound stopped immediately upon opening the slider.
I went back to bed. The sound started again. I slept, incredulous.
The tapping sound has never returned, in the 6 months since.
A couple of weekends ago, the missus and I were sitting in the house, me at my computer in the back office – doing this kind of stuff – her in the recliner watching a TV program. I heard a slight hissing sound and a crash from the other room. My wife said, “what the hell?” I got up to look and, behind her, the chandelier had fallen from the ceiling. Just fallen. The date stamped under the ceiling cover was 2006. Apparently, this lighting fixture had been on the ceiling for 10 years and, quite suddenly, decided it had been there long enough. No damage. Nothing broken. It was easy to re-hang, it turns out, because no parts had given out on it. It just … fell.
Okay, there is no ghost. Stuff happens. Chandeliers fall; that’s gravity. Chairs fly; that’s the wind. The knocking sound? Perhaps it was something blowing around inside the wall, completely imperceptible from the outside but wholly audible from within. There is a perfectly valid explanation for everything, isn’t there?
Okay, one more.
Some months back, in the early part of the winter, we had a snowstorm. It was a pretty good one for our area and the snow stayed on the ground for several days. Unusual for where we live. In the morning I let the dogs out to play and walked around filming them, on the snow-covered lawn. Ludo briefly escaped through the kitchen slider and made paw prints on the deck. I called him back in, but the picture of his prints in the snow was cute. I then drove the wife to work (she has a great fear of driving in the snow) and went off to work myself. That evening I picked her up.
Some time before dusk we were standing in the kitchen dining area talking about the day, and I was standing by the back slider. I turned nonchalantly to my left and perceived something that made my skin crawl.
To set the scene, my kitchen slider opens on to my deck, and directly to the right of that slider are two steps down onto a small, brick-covered patio before going off onto my lawn. I keep my BBQ on that brick patio, to further set the scene.
What I spied, that made my skin crawl, were five large footprints in the snow on that patio, going from my lawn – which had no footprints on it – to my deck, which had no footprints on it. Mind you, those paw prints from the morning were long gone, covered by the snow that continued throughout the day. The footprints in the snow never turned, never continued. Five prints, coming from nowhere, leading to nowhere. I had not been in the backyard since the morning. To my knowledge, no one had.
I’ll explain that one away by a curious burglar. He came from the greenbelt behind the house and approached the deck. When he heard the dogs barking he stopped in his tracks, literally, and carefully walked backwards in his own tracks across that patio. He then brushed the snow behind him as he left as to leave no prints in the lawn. Yes. That is what happened.
I don’t believe in ghosts.
But if they do exist, somehow, we have one. He isn’t an especially bothersome one, except he doesn’t approve of two light deck chairs sitting with one another. He doesn’t like being outside in the cold, either. He’s not violent, unless you count the chandelier. I’m guessing he understood there was nobody and nothing below it when he pulled it down. I’m guessing.
I’m not entirely sure at this point what his message is, either. Does he not like people in his home? Is he not fond of the furniture arrangement? Does he not like the coffee?
I can change. If we’re going to share this domicile for a while, he and I can come to an arrangement. I’m pretty easy to get along with. I’m rarely grumpy. I don’t have a favorite seat on the couch; I’ll move over for him. I’m not asking for rent. I just want to, you know, get along.
And stay in my house.
That isn’t haunted.
It couldn’t be.
I don’t believe in ghosts.
*Update 2019: this was originally written in April 2017, after about a year of renting the house. We have since bought it. “Sebastian,” as my friends have come to call him, still walks past Mrs C sometimes when she’s getting ready in the bathroom, and has cupped her butt once. A friend of mine, who rented this house some ten years ago, asked me under his breath, over a beer, if we ever see “anything unusual” around the house. He swears it was haunted when he lived here, and would wake up sometimes to hear someone “watching TV” in the attic. My neighbor remembers the original owner of the house, who he says “died there.” I keep forgetting to ask what his real name was. “Sebastian” will do, for now. It’s a good name for an imaginary character. Because my ghost is imaginary. It has to be. There’s no such thing as ghosts. 😏
**Also, I no longer have the red chair.