My mother bought the house during the Depression, when she was just 20. She got a very good price on it because it had laid dormant and sealed up for a decade, because of a very messy murder that had occurred in that upstairs front bedroom. I only got to read an article about the event in an old newspaper once, and it had something to do with a man stabbing his wife for some reason. Nobody wanted to buy the house after that.
My mother found the house in terrible disrepair, and worked hard to fix it up. She told me about the brass and lead fixtures, and I still remember the old ceramic-coated metal bathtub with feet on it...I was sad when she replaced that during my early childhood.
Every summer we would escape my father to take care of the house during summer. It was a good excuse, and houses do need to be checked on and given the odd repair now and then. I loved my summers there except for...the things that happened late at night.
Most of the time, the sounds were fairly soft. Footsteps across the ceiling, the occasional sound of a drawer opening and closing. Very rarely, I would hear the footsteps downstairs. When that occurred, my dog Sunny would leap to attention and guard my downstairs bedroom door, growling as though facing an enemy. He would intently watch nothing, as I heard it pace from one end of the house to the other.
Mostly the sounds were always from the upstairs front bedroom. Some nights nothing. Other nights, moderate. Some rare nights it was pretty blatant, and I was always amazed that my mother's reaction was to turn up the television louder to drown it out. I would argue with her that something was up there, a burglar, maybe, but she would always claim that the sounds were 'just the house settling'. I guess a burglar was pretty impossible...the only way into the upstairs was either through the front door, or through the lone sealed window upstairs that belonged to that bedroom. Both directly faced the police station and courthouse. A ladder up there would be watched intently by the police day or night.
The sounds were strange...pacing, the occasional stomp, and the sound of drawers being opened and shut. The sound of the upstairs, squeaky closet opening and closing. The sound of clothes being ruffled through, the hangers tinging. It always sounded like someone searching for something. A few times the sound of the upstairs bedroom door creaking open and shutting loudly was heard. Once, I heard the rhythmic rocking of the old wooden rocking chair up there rocking back and forth for hours. The television got turned up really loud that night.
My mother refused to sleep upstairs. She always slept on the couch in the living room downstairs. My entire life, she did this. On the few occasions that my father stayed in the Baker house, he slept upstairs, but even then, my mother wouldn't join him. She claimed that she 'slept better' on the couch. The night of the events of this comic, when I loudly confronted her about the events, and her behavior, that was the only time she admitted the truth....she was terrified to sleep upstairs. Because of whatever it was up there.
Do I believe in ghosts? I don't believe in anything. But...I know what I experienced, and it was very strange. Was it a ghost? Or some other thing that just seemed like a ghost? Whatever it was, it was consistant, difficult to deny (though my mother made every effort!) and terribly disturbing. To this day I still get chills, and still have the odd nightmare about that house. It was creepy just drawing these pages.
I cannot explain these events. That is the bottom line here. I just have no rationalist cop-out, no clever answer to explain away loud footsteps so defined and clear that it was possible to stand below and follow them wherever they went, or the clear sounds of well known drawers and closet being searched, endlessly.
Or, above all, how my small dog could drop a good 15 feet straight down, no arc, to thud at my feet at the bottom of the stairs. And when I say he was ice cold, I do not mean that metaphorically...it was a muggy 90 degree summer night, and he was literally ice cold. When I picked up his sagging frame, his fur gradually became damp from condensation...he was that cold. Cold like he had been stored in a refrigerator for an hour. It was the god-damnedest thing.
Before he fell, there was no sound. No running. No skuttling of toenails on wood. No stomping either. Just total silence that followed that strange doggie scream. A minute and a half later, thump. Ice cold, apparently dead, dog.
I do not claim a ghost. But I have no explanation, either.
This event sits, undismissible, inexplicable, uncanny.
I have no answer for it.
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