Welcome to SC Ghosts!

Here at the Springfield's Casa, we love to entertain company and the best way to entertain guests is to tell stories! Ghost stories! Real, honest, no joke ghost stories!

So, come in, kick back and allow your unbelief to be left at the door, for when you enter here you enter for your own enjoyment.

Oh. If the phone rings .. take a message. It may be really long distance.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Room at the Top of the Stairs

Wendy had kissed Ben goodbye as he and his brother, Harold left for work.  If you could call it work.  They were helping out an old friend on some painting job for a couple of days.  It was good money, it just wouldn’t last very long.
She was feeling pretty good this morning.  She had the whole house to herself and she intended to do some serious cleaning before her future Mother in Law, Clara, got home from work.  Of course, she wasn’t entirely alone, since Aunt Nellie was in her bedroom in the front of the house.  Being bedridden, she wasn’t going anywhere.  Taking care of Aunt Nellie was the reason for Clara and her two sons living here and Wendy didn’t mind helping out.

Wendy began with the foyer/hallway that ran from the front door, all the way to the back of the house.  It was about fifteen feet wide with beautiful, dark hardwood floors and light paint on the walls above walnut wainscoting.  There was a lot of space, but most of it was filled with antiques, paintings, pictures and hand carved items in all types of wood, from all over the world.  Nellie’s brother, Lewis had collected these during his travels with the U.S. Air Force.  He had retired after thirty years in.  He had collected lots of stuff!  She intended to polish every bit of it.

Cobwebs were fairly easy to take care of with the help of one of Ben’s ‘painter’s poles’.  It was six feet long, closed, but telescoped out to seventeen feet, fully extended.  Wendy discovered that the head of a cheap, ‘Dollar Store’ broom would screw on this pole and thus, she could reach the thirteen foot high corners just right!  She also used Ben’s ten foot step ladder to reach the chandeliers that lighted the hall.  Even when he wasn’t here, Ben came in pretty handy.  The antiques shined up really nice with some ‘Old English’ and a soft rag, though she had a bit of trouble getting into the little nooks and crannies on some of the carved pieces.

The last thing on her agenda, before lunch, was to dust and polish the banister going up the stairs.  It was old oak and the stain on the top of it was worn off from over a hundred years of hands moving up and down, over and over.  There had been children’s hands that grabbed and pulled little bodies up the stairs and held on to slow the same child’s descent.  There had been young, strong hands that just barely rested on the banister as they hurried up or down, always with somewhere else to be or some errand to run.  There had been old, arthritic hands that, like the child’s, held on for support and safety, maybe for the last and final time.  It was a long tumble down the steep staircase.
Wendy dusted and then polished to banister till it glistened.  She did the same for the portraits that lined the wall, matching the staircase in angle of ascent.  The portraits were of family long since gone.  Gone, but never forgotten by those that remained.  These pictures differed from others scattered about the old house.  Those were of happy times and events, people smiling or laughing at the photographer.  Some were professionally taken, but most were obviously amateur.  The ones lining the stairs were of stern visage.  No smiles adorned these faces staring out of the frames.  The men were in topcoats and ties, stern and hardened with women of the same cut.  Some of the men were mustachioed while others were clean shaven.  None of the women wore loose hair, nor was it cut short, but all pulled severely back or in a bun.  None of the frames had names attached so that later generations might know who they were.  It seemed that they were considered too important to forget.  Well, no one that Wendy knew had any idea who these people might be except for Aunt Nellie and she seldom spoke of them at all.

Once Wendy reached the top of the stairs she decided to sit and rest in one of the two bedrooms located off the large landing.  The bedroom to the left had belonged to Nellie’s late sister Doris, an embittered old maid that, rumor had it, had been left at the alter when she was but a young lady looking to her future.  She had never married, but had stayed in the family home all her years and ruled the household with a stern stare and sharp word when needed.  Her bedroom, as Wendy explored it, lent evidence of someone that might have been quite different if she had not been dealt that heavy a blow so early on.  There were beautiful dresses in the closet, some in dry cleaner plastic and some still with the sale tags attached.  Some of the tags announced high end clothiers long out of business.  There were shoes of styles Wendy had never been aware of.  Hats with feathers or flowers or plain with bead-work.  Doris seemed to have been a woman that liked finer things but, after purchasing them, had nowhere to go nor reason to wear them.  Costume, (she assumed it was costume) jewelry filled polished boxes with glass and mirrored lids.  Real silk stockings hung in the closet while beautiful sweaters were wrapped and stored in seemingly ancient, cedar chests.  There was also a small
Wendy looked at her watch and discovered that time, while seeming to stand still in the bedroom had continued for the rest of the world and, if she didn’t get a move on, she would be hard pressed to have dinner ready by the time the guys and Clara got home.  She had passed more than two hours rummaging through Doris’ possessions.  She closed the lid on the last chest and made her way to the landing where she stood for just a moment longer considering the differences between the great aunt Doris that Ben and Harold talked about and the one she had discovered in the room at the top of the stairs.
She took the first step with a firm grip on the railing she had previously polished and then the next when, surprisingly, she got the distinct impression that someone was behind her.  Even though she knew no one had come up, she turned slightly to look over her left shoulder.  Sure enough, no one was there.  As she, again, began her decent she imagined the portraits on the wall were following her progress from behind glasses frames. 
Just as she began scolding herself for an over active imagination, two small hands landed in the middle of her back with such force as to force the air from her lungs and send her on the beginnings of a head first tumble down the stairs to certain injury if not worse.  Wend instinctively made a grab for anything to break her fall.  To her right was only the wall and the portraits, but to her left was the bannister she had so lovingly polished.  It was to the railing on the banister that her hand grasped toward and clung to, slowing her enough that she kept her legs under her instead of above her head. 
After stumbling and staggering down the remainder of the staircase, Wendy paused at the bottom to catch her breath and look up to see who had pushed her.  No one.  There was no one at the top of the stairs.  She knew that she had been alone up there.  She also knew that someone had pushed her.  Could it have been Doris, angered at the intrusion into her private domain?  Could it, truly have been the specter of this past matriarch of the family?  Actually, Wendy didn’t spend much time considering who it might have been, she was too busy making a promise to herself that she would never again take the initiative to clean the banister nor explore the upstairs of this eerie old house.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Setting Up With Annie

The day was finally coming to a close; the friends had mostly all gone home and the house was quiet.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but not necessarily good, either.  Not when you are the one left to sit up with the dead from eleven pm till three in the morning.
Her best friend for the last 20 years, Annie had died just two days past and today had been brought from the funeral home to the family house for viewing and a wake.  This was still the custom in the rural areas of South Carolina in the mid 1940's.  The family had been worn out after greeting all the neighbors and friends that had come to pay their respects.  Of course, many of them were just there for the food and maybe a nip from Mr. Ramsey's flask.  He really wasn't much of a drinker, but once in a while you could see him and some friend or another slip quietly outside to "get some air."
Miss Doris had sat next to the coffin from dark till eleven that evening and she had just gone upstairs to her bed for the night.  Louise was up from Georgia and she would be relieving Jolynn at three.
Technically, it was relatives that were supposed to do the sitting up, but they all thought of Jolynn as just another of the family.  It had been that way since she met Annie.
They had met at the corner store just a few days after Annie and her mother, father and the rest had moved into the area twenty years back.  They had become fast friends and remained that way from then on.  It was rumored at the one room school they attended that they were really sisters, switched at birth and just now reunited.  It was also rumored that they had started the story.  They never denied it.  Mostly they giggled about it in the quiet places where they would meet and discuss all the things proper young ladies didn't talk about.  Like, well, you know.  Sometimes they would spend the night at each other’s house and sit most of the night just talking or being quiet and growing into adulthood.
In that respect, this night was like so many others.  Just she and Annie, friends.
Jolynn enjoyed visiting with Annie.  There were always people coming and going.  There was the house, as well.  Big, like the family.  It seemed to have a character all its own.  It was an old two story kind of farmhouse, though there was really no farm attached to it.  A large front porch spanned the entire front with the door set right in the middle to balance it out.  As you entered the main hall, Annie’s room was to the left, looking over the porch.  She and her husband, M. L. had occupied it since moving in when Annie came down sick.  Originally, it had been the living room, and would be, again.   Across the hall was Nellie's room.  She was Annie's little sister and one of Jolynn's favorites.  She’d had polio and walked with crutches, but was still a lot of fun.
When Annie died a couple of days back, Jolynn was devastated.  She cried throughout the night.  Her young husband was no help at all.  He kept trying to get her to eat or drink or some such nonsense.  All she wanted was for him to leave her alone and let her get these terrible feelings out of her heart!  After hours of his unqualified failure to ease her burdens, John acquiesced and let her be.  Some things are only possible if done alone.  Once done with the crying, she made her way to the house to help in any way she could. 
Now she sat, with her book on her lap and her memory in her past.  Just she and Annie.  She was thinking about some of the times they had sat and talked well into the night as girls.  Talked about everything and nothing.  They had planned out their futures and decided what kind of husbands they were going to have and how many children.  So far, she’d had none.
They would ramble on until they fell quiet or began telling ghost stories.  They would try to out do each other.  They would compete to see who could tell the scariest.  This was where her mind had settled when the grandfather clock in the hall struck 1a.m.
As the chime faded away, she heard another sound that froze her to the chair.  It was the rustle of fabric as it was moved.  She glanced to her left just as Annie sat straight up in the casket!  Every nerve in Jolynn screamed run, but she did not move.  Not until the next sound.  This was a great, sad, hollow moan … from Annie.  Then Jolynn made for the door.  She later said that she only touched the floor once from where she sat to the porch, she was so scared.
When they found Jolynn an hour or so later, it was down the road, in her house, at the back in her bedroom, hidden behind her bed.  Her scream had woken the whole first floor and they had rushed to see what had happened.  When they got to the front room, they had discovered a still dead Annie, sitting up and an empty chair where Jolynn had been a few minutes earlier. 
Jolynn said that at the time of this incident, she had been remembering the $5.00 she had borrowed from Annie a few days prior and was certain that Annie had returned from the dead to claim the debt.  Jolynn never came to the Henderson home again, though she said that she just never had the time.
When Annie died a couple of days back, Jolynn was devastated.  She cried throughout the night.  Her young husband was no help at all.  He kept trying to get her to eat or drink or some such nonsense.  All she wanted was for him to leave her alone and let her get these terrible feelings out of her heart!  After hours of his unqualified failure to ease her burdens, John acquiesced and let her be.  Some things are only possible if done alone.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Excuse Me?!

It was a dark and stormy night. 
Okay, it wasn't stormy, though there was lightning and thunder.  And it was almost dark.  So, there! 
Lisa was in the room we laughingly call the office, since it houses the computer and file cabinets.  She goes in there, not to actually do any office type work, normally, but to have an excuse to get away from the rest of the family and just have a bit of quiet time.  That was what she was hoping for on this night. As she settled in and got the computer going, she let her mind wander to the affairs of the day. 
She had packed quite a lot into a small amount of time, today.  There had been the trip to the recycling center to haul off all the paper that consisted of junk mail, catalogs (of every size, shape and description, selling everything under the sun), magazines (read and unread), flyers advertising every event within a 50 mile radius and last but not least .. phone books.  (My Lord, how many phone books does one house need, or want?)  The trip lasted longer than anticipated once she realized that a stop by the grocery was called for if she wanted the family to eat, tonight.  Then there were the candles that she was making for the 4th of July festival in Maggie Valley.  It promised to be a big one and she needed to carry as many as possible in order to make some money.  So, yes, it had been a busy day.
The office chair that Jerry insisted they have really felt good, today.  Though not overly padded, it was soft enough and just the right height for typing. 
She had given notice to all that she had work to do in the office and did not want to be disturbed.  Of course, with two grandchildren in the house, that was like spitting in the wind.  But anyway.  They were why she wasn't really surprised to hear someone come into the room.  She was immersed in what she was typing and didn't bother to look, expecting that it was either Nate (3) or Abby (2).  Instead, it was their mother, Rachel that said, "What are you doing?".  At least it sounded like Rachel.
Lisa turned toward the voice, ready to ask, "What part of .. leave me alone .. did you not understand?" That 's was what she intended, anyway.  The sarcasm died on her lips as she realized no one was there. 
Thinking that Rachel had ducked back out of the room, she left the computer and went in search of the intruder.  She stuck her head in every room, but no Rachel.  Not in the hall, the den nor the kitchen.  Matter of fact, there didn't seem to be anyone, anywhere in the house ... but her.  Realizing that she was all alone and that someone that was not there had asked her what she was doing, she felt the best thing that she COULD do was exit the premises!
She found David, the farm help, lounging in the swing under the tree.  He promised that he had not been in the house over the last half hour or so.
After catching her breath and calming down a bit, she admitted to herself that she had just been visited by the Lady.  And even though she did not doubt that the Lady would never harm her, she determined that, from now on, she wouldn't be so adamant about being left alone.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Little Danny

The screams woke her again.  She knew where they were coming from, of course.  From herself.  It happened about once a week and had been for many years.  She would wake in the middle of the night to the dieing echoes of her own screams.  And she knew the cause. The nightmare.  Same one every time.  Well, not actually a nightmare, more of a memory, though she wished for the millionth time that it was only a dream.

It was the summer of 1964 and the weather was miserable.  It was even worse in the house, so El had decided to take her young nephew, Danny out for a walk .. maybe to the store down the street and around the corner.  Heaven knows, there wasn't much else to do in Johnston.

Chambers, the mill village she and her family lived in was just down from the Masonic Lodge and not far from the railroad tracks that led through the town.   Sometimes you couldn't hear yourself think for the trains coming and going.  Specially when they hit mid-town and started laying down on their whistles and horns.

Johnston wasn't a bad little town as little towns went.  It had a movie theater, a drug store with a fountain, a Western Auto, and of course the shops and grocers where everybody shopped.  Everybody that is except for those fortunate few who got to go into Greenville now and then.  That was the Big City.  Not far away as miles went, but a distant country when it came to accessibility.

El was only 15 at the time, but her mind and heart were far away, already.  She had a beau.  His name was Randal, or Randy as his friends called him.  She preferred Randal.  It sounded much more distinguished and important.  And he was important, at least to her.

Randal had joined the military and was away.  El missed him.  They wrote back and forth, but never regularly, though she treasured the letters that she received.  It had to remain just friends for now, anyway.  Her Mother and Father would throw a hissie-fit if they knew how much she really cared for him.  But she would get to see him when he came home on leave one of these days and that filled her thoughts.

She held little Danny by the hand.  He was only 4 years old and rambunctious.  He had his own ideas as to how quickly they should be walking and in what direction they should go.  Sometimes it was difficult to control him, like now.  At just that moment, as Danny tore his hand from her grasp and made a bee-line for the other side of the street, a driver desperately locked his brakes and tried to swerve past the flash of red that was Danny.  He did not succeed.  The sound that followed was unrecognizable, yet it came from El.  Before her, in the street, a pile of rags and broken bones lay crumpled in an expanding pool of blood.  Little Danny was gone.  That quickly his life was extinguished and her life would never be the same.  She cried and begged God to let this not be real, but it was.

Randal came home as promised in November.  She had finally accepted that the world as she knew it would continue to turn and so would life.  Randal asked her to marry him and she agreed.  It should have been the most wonderful time of her life, and it would have been, if not for the nightmares.  Those haunting, dark, miserable nightmares.  They just wouldn't leaver her alone.  They constantly brought to mind the same question, "Why?"

It was a simple question, but one with no answer.  "Why?  Why didn't she just stay at home that day with Danny?  Why didn't she hold his hand tighter?  Why did no one blame her for his death?"

No, no one blamed El, except for El.  Of course she had seen the look that came over Danny's parents faces when they learned what had happened.  When they saw her covered in Danny's blood.  But no one had come right out and blamed her.  Maybe it would have been easier if they had.

It was almost unbearable when people spoke about the tragedy.  They would make over her and pat her and say how sorry they were that she had gone through that.  It was as if they felt more sorry for her than for Danny.  And that wasn't right.

But life did go on as the old folks said.  And she and Randal made their wedding plans.  Nothing fancy, just a small affair in the park with her parents and Randal's parents.  She had invited Jim and Nora, Danny's folks, but they said that something came up and they couldn't make it.  Just as well.  It was better this way.

The years went by and the world continued to turn.  Randal got out of the military and they settled down on the outskirts of Greenville.  It didn't seem as much a 'big city' now as it had when she was younger.  Seeing a bit of the world had changed her perspective a bit.  But not her nightmares.

This particular night seemed different, though.  It seemed in her dream that Danny stood on the far sidewalk.  No blood, no torn clothes.  The same gap-toothed grin on his face that he normally had.  He was waving for her to come on, follow him, he had something to show her.  He kept disappearing around the next corner, leading her farther and farther from the place where he died.

Finally, they came to a stop in front of an old iron gate, the one to the cemetery where he was buried.  She woke up.  This time she wasn't screaming.  This time she felt differently.  It was as if she were on a mission.
She checked the time .. 1:15am.  She had been asleep for a couple of hours.  She had made it her habit to go to bed about 11pm and let the sound of Randal coming in wake her when he got home from working the second shift at the mill.

This time his coming in hadn't awakened her.  Matter of fact, she could hear the shower running and that meant that he had been extra quiet this time.  She loved him more and more every day and he loved her.

She thought about putting her head in the bathroom door and letting him know what she was doing, but she knew that he would try to talk her out of it.  Not that he could, she was pretty strong willed when she wanted to be.  And besides, it was only a short distance and she would be right back.  It was always easier to ask forgiveness than get permission.

She grabbed the car keys and headed for the door.

The silkiness of the night air brushed against her and the stars shown with a brightness that lent a lie to the dark.  She knew that it was not normal to go out like this in the wee hours, but she felt compelled.  Not frightened, just that it was important.  To her.  She backed out of the drive before turning on her headlights, knowing that they would cast their light on the bathroom window.  No need to startle Randal.

The drive was a short three miles and in what seemed only a moment, she pulled up to the gate, the same one in her dream.  Old and a bit rusty, the black paint chipping and peeling a little from the wrought iron, it swung open with an unexpected quiet.  She half thought that it would screech like in the movies, it should, right?  Rusty iron gate to an old cemetery in the middle of the night with the moon full?  Oh, well.

As she made her way along the cement path that had been installed a couple of years ago, she began to question hear reasoning for coming here at this hour.  Was it just because of her dream, or had Danny reached out from the grave to pull her here?  Her musings had no answer before she was startled back to reality.  A light was glowing from just beyond the old, gnarled oak next to the path.  It wasn't a bright light, just a glow, like the luminescence from one of those light sticks the kids get at the festivals or concerts.  Just a glow.

She pulled up sharply as she rounded the tree to find Danny's grave with Danny sitting Indian style on top of the stone!  Her breath left her lungs as if she had been sucker punched.  The stars that had been so bright just a moment ago, now seemed to swim in the heavens and the m\om danced.  But only for a minute.  She closed her eyes, shook her head and truly believed that when she opened them it would be to see her bedroom and realize that she had just experienced a dream within a dream.  her eyelids parted just the tiniest space and she peeked out to find Danny still sitting on the stone, still wearing that "Boy, I sure scared you", grin.

"Hi, El," he said in way of greeting.  "Where ya been?"  Okay, this was getting a little weird.  Wait a minute, it was already weird.   There was absolutely nothing normal about this scene.  She was not going to carry on a conversation with the ghost of little Danny, who really wasn't here and this was definitely just a part of the dream within the dream within the .... oh, never mind!

"Hi, Danny".  Well she had to say something.  "Long time no see."

"Not really.  I stop in to check on you every once in a while.  You sure do cry a lot."  It was true, each time she had the nightmare, she cried.  Each time she remembered the accident, she cried.  Each time he crossed her mind, she cried.

" I just wanted to let you know that it really wasn't your fault.  I was being a brat.,  I'm sorry that you've hurt all this time because of me."

El could be still any longer.  "Because of You?!  I'm the one that was supposed to watch after you.  I'm the one that decided to go after ice cream that day.  I'm the one that didn't hold on to you tight enough.  It was me.  It was my fault!"  El's voice had risen a full octave as she spoke.

"Calm down, you know I'm right," Danny said from his perch.  "Anyway, I'm way more happy than you.  I don't cry 'cause there's nothing to cry about in Heaven.  I don't have to worry about none of the stuff you do.   And, guess what?  I know a lot more stuff than you do, now.  Can't tell you what it is, but I know things that you just wouldn't believe!"

Right now El thought that she would probably believe just about anything.  She started to smile in spite of herself and lowered her head to hide it.  When she looked back up, he was gone.  The glow, Danny and all.  Had it been real?  She hoped so.  It would be wonderful to know that Danny didn't blame her for his death.

She turned and made her way back to the path and then, the gate.  As she closed the gate behind her (This time with a haunted house type screech!) she could have sworn she heard Danny say, "Yeah, it was real."

Thankfully the drive home was uneventful and  El was almost in a state of euphoria when she glided in the door to see Randal sitting on the couch waiting for her.  The expected questions from Randal about where she had run off to gave her the opening she needed to tell him all that had gon on that night.  Amazingly, he
accepted her story at face value and didn't question her sanity.  His only statement was that he hoped it helped her.

Randal and El were married another twenty-nine years before she passed away and in all that time El never again woke screaming in the middle of the night.  Never again haunted by the memory of little Danny and his death.  Never again haunted by guilt.  A God fearing woman that stood with her husband day in and day out, El lived a great and wonderful life.  One thing that many said after meeting her for the first time was that she seemed to have a peace about her that few had.  El would have told you that it was due to her faith and maybe just a bit because of something a little boy named Danny had said.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Donaldson House

Donaldson, SC was once a sleepy little community just outside the city of Greenville. It was a community that shared its resources between farming and the textile industry. It was, that is, until the Air Force established a base, complete with hangars and run-ways there. Donaldson was initially known as Greenville Army Air base and was used by the United States Army Air Force's Third Air Force as a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber training airfield during World War II. Renamed Greenville AFB following the establishment of an independent U.S. Air Force in 1947, and later renamed Donaldson AFB, it was home to C-124 Globemaster II transports and called "The Airlift Capital of the World" for its role in the Berlin airlift, Korean War, and Cold War, being assigned to both Tactical Air Command (TAC) and the Military Air Transport Service (MATS). It was closed as an active USAF installation in 1963. The base is now known as Donaldson Center Airport and the Donaldson Center Industrial Park.

When Jerry and Lisa moved back to the Greenville area, they did so with mixed feelings. Jerry was happy to return to an area in which he had grown up as well as being close to his mother and family. Lisa had been promised a good job at the hospital in town as a registered nurse. They brought with them their two daughters, Claire and Rachel as well as their nanny, Taimi and her son Rick. Taimi and Rick had been with the family since before the move from Pamplico and were as much a part of the family as anyone else by now.

They had planned the move after Jerry had found a beautiful home in the Travelers Rest area, with a pond in which he and the kids could do some fishing on hot summer days. Four bedrooms, 2 baths It sat in a small valley on fifteen lovely acres with pasture for the horse. It even had a ready made chicken coop! (Jerry had several hens he kept for their eggs.) However, after selling their small farm in Pamplico, the widow that owned the property decided that she couldn't bring herself to sell, so they found themselves scrambling to find a rental til they could locate another property they liked.

Almost as a miracle, they stumbled across the farmhouse that sat on what later became the air base. It was a two story that had seen a hundred years of husbands, wives and children come and go. It had been expanded at least once, in the ‘forties when the owners had added a large ‘family room’ off the kitchen. Two baths, 4 bedrooms, living room with a large Craft stove and a huge eat-in kitchen as well as just the ambiance of a home this old made this a fine temporary residence. A beautiful, old clapboard with a covered porch across the front. A fixer-upper, but beautiful, just the same.

As you pulled off the side street when approaching the house, your first impression was of the grounds. A large, stately Magnolia tree greeted you in the circular drive with a boxwood hedge along the border. What had once been a well manicured lawn had long since gone to weeds and the dandelions had all but overtaken what portion the wild onions had not claimed. Oaks and pines dotted the landscape of the acre plus yard. A worn path that had been gravel at one time, led to the porch that was obviously intended for swings and rocking chairs. The family was taken by the sight at first glance. But this old place had much more to offer than stateliness and possibilities.

As the family moved their furniture and belongings from the U-Haul to the house, they began claiming their individual spaces. Claire and Rachel were immediately drawn to the bedroom off to the right at the top of the stairs while Taimi decided on the room at the far end of the upstairs hallway. Rick had already staked his claim to the room next to his "sisters". That left Jerry and Lisa with what was believed to have been the formal dining room at one time. This was located off the living room and the hall that ran from the front of the house to the back. Heavy drapes made for a workable petition for privacy from the living room and a door let into the hall. Just right.

The family found that moving in could be hard work and called it an early evening after setting up the beds. Unpacking and placement of the rest of the furniture could wait for the morrow.

Two in the morning and something woke Lisa up. A sound, maybe. But she was sure that something was not right. She and Jerry had taken the downstairs bedroom that was just off the living room. It also connected with the kitchen via a short hallway.

That was it. Not a sound, but a smell! It was the aroma of someone baking bread. It was wonderful, but she wondered what could have prompted Taimi to be up at this hour? Then another thought struck her. There was no oven for Taimi to bake in. Matter of fact, there was no stove at all since they had left theirs in Pamplico believing that any rental house would surely have a stove. So where was this smell coming from?

Lisa, always curious, switched on the small lamp she had placed on the floor next to the bed and made her way into the hall leading back by the kitchen. As she neared the rear of the house, the aroma grew until she was convinced that she would find loaves of fresh baked bread cooling on the table, stove or no stove. She entered from the hall to find .. nothing. She got up, fully awake now, and made her way down the hall to the kitchen. She peeked around the corner, not really sure what she expected to see. What she did see, however, was nothing. No non-existent person cooking on a non-existent stove with her non-existent apron hanging around her non-existent body. Even the smell seemed to disappear. It was gone so quickly that Lisa wondered if she had been dreaming it. After all, yesterday had been tiring and the snack they had all had before retiring didn't go far. Sure, that was it. Wishful thinking and hunger pangs.

She didn't say anything about it the next morning, knowing that she would be embarrassed for the others to find out her mind had been playing tricks on her. After all, she was a college educated, very logical person. She was not given to flights of fancy. It was actually Taimi that brought up the subject as she made breakfast on the two burner camp stove that had made the trip with them.

"Did anyone smell anything, last night?" she asked.

Lisa was immediately attentive. "Such as?"

"Well, it was weird", Taimi said. "It smelled like fresh baked. I thought about getting up to check it out, but then I heard one of you up and figured you were doing something. So I rolled over and went back to sleep."

Lisa then related her experience of the night before and she and Taimi agreed that it was strange but probably nothing to be concerned about. It may have been coming from a neighbor's house and just transported on the breeze. That is, until two nights later, when again the family had been busy all day unpacking and arranging things to suit them in the house. This time it was Jerry that woke to the wonderful smell of cooking. But not to bread baking, no it was spaghetti. It was of spaghetti sauce that had been cooking for several hours. Rich and full of garlic and herbs and spices. Wonderful, still, no stove. He woke Lisa (She just couldn't get a full nights sleep.) to make sure he was not imagining it. He wasn't. Oh, well.. back to sleep and figure it out in the morning.

These two episodes began a great time in this old farm house. Over the next year they had several events that we shall relate a bit later on. None of which caused any terror or danger, but were, none the less, a bit weird.

Speaking of weird, it so happens that Jerry is a relative of the Hendersons that we write so much about as well as being the son of Clara from the story ‘After the Game’. Hmm… Seems to run in the family.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Visitor

Mary Ramsey had finally gotten to bed. She had been up late with her young husband, Ben, getting him fed and off to work at the mill. He worked the graveyard shift and she would always stay up until he left. He worked hard for her and the two children that they had. It wasn't easy in these times and they were having to live in the old farm house with her family until times got better. But someday, things would change. They had already been talking of moving to Slater, the town that the mill owned. At least Ben wouldn't have to travel so far for work.
She really didn't like being up this late, specially with what she knew would be happening in a very short time. But Ben was worth it.

You see, there was this thing that happened pretty much every night in this old house. Okay, let me start from the beginning.

The bedroom that she and Ben shared had a large hump in the floor, right in front of the door. This made it extremely difficult to open the door. Actually it too two strong men to open it all the way to the wall. Except that each morning would find this door completely open. Everyone believed that a ghost opened it. Of course, with everything else that went on around here, it wouldn't be surprising. This occurred at precisely midnight. Several people had heard the terrible scraping and dragging that the door mad as it opened. Except for Mary of course, she had always been blessed with being in a sound sleep that only a crying baby could interrupt.

She had tried everything to keep the door closed. She had even tried the suggestion made by the old widow woman down the road, to tie the door shut with a baby's bonnet. Mary had taken her daughter Betty's bonnet and tied the door, knowing that this would settle the problem (the woman was rumored to be a witch). Next morning .. you guessed it .. the door was all the way open, again.

Tonight she was not going to get to sleep before midnight, she knew she wouldn't. It was already a quarter til and she was just now climbing into bed. As she rolled onto her side, trying desperately to will herself to sleep, the clock on the mantle downstairs began to chime ... midnight. If Mary had not been a good Christian she might have cursed, but instead she just burrowed down under the down filled quilt that Aunt Sara had given her on her wedding day and began to silently pray. It did not help.

The clock had just struck the final chime when she heard the doorknob rattle in its housing. She felt the draft as the door opened as far as it could until it came in contact with the hum in the floor and then .. oh, Lord .. and then she heard the door begin to scrape and drag across the floor. But there was another sound, a softer sound, one that an old fashioned petticoat made as it rustled around slippered feet.

Mary fought with the urge to peek out from under the quilt just to see what it was that could open this door. She decided instead to call across the hall to her sister, Nelly. "Nellie", she called, but no answer. "Nellie!", a little louder. "What?" was the reply. "I need you, Nellie." "No you don't. You just afraid over there by yourself. I heard the door!" "Please come sleep with me", Mary begged. "Well, only if you light the lamp. I ain't coming over there in the dark!"

So Mary, with her eyes still tightly shut, found the matches and having struck one, maneuvered the top off the hurricane lamp and managed to get it lit. Once done, Mary cracked her eyes to peek and found ... nothing. Oh, the door was open alright. All the way to the wall, but there was no gray ghost or any other color ghost for that matter. Just the open door.

Nellie did come across the hall and climb into bed with Mary, by the way.