The Ghost of Uncle Earl
They looked up, startled...
Husband and wife looked at each other seeking to make sense of the noise they had just heard. She let the novel rest in her lap.
"Perhaps you should check it out," she said, her voice slightly higher than normal.
"I'm sure it's nothing," he replied. Still, he set his newspaper down and stood up from the chair.
The Locked Door
Indeed, as he walked to the front door, he could see the deadbolt had been turned to a locked position.
"That's odd," he thought. As he stood there, the open front window to his left slowly closed and also locked.
He turned and raced up the stairs followed by his wife.
Their two girls were upstairs in their room playing. As he bolted into the room, they looked up from their stuffed animals and said, "What's wrong, Daddy?"
He breathed a sigh of relief. "Nothing sweethearts. Nothing is wrong. I was just checking on you."
His wife clutched his arm behind him.
They went back downstairs to their reading, dismissing the event as an odd coincidence.
Until the next night.
Ghoulish Ghost Stories!
The next night at 8:30, as the family watched TV together, again, the front door deadbolt turned and locked.
As it had been a pleasant day, several windows in the house were still open to allow the evening breeze. These too, gently closed and locked. being engrossed in the television show, neither parents nor the two children heard the noise.
As the prepared to send the girls to bed, the woman let out a shriek, realizing the windows had all somehow closed and locked on their own.
Her husband inspected the windows and the door and could find no explanation. They felt no ominous presence, and each thought perhaps the other had closed and locked everything without remembering or telling the other. Again, they put the strange events aside.
They did, however, leave the hallway light on and the girls' door open. Both slept fitfully, tossing and turning and awakening several times to make sure their children were okay.
The girls slep tpeacefully and deeply, their small bodies barely moving in their beds.
The Magic Hour
8:30 became the magic hour for these nightly events. The front and back doors would lock, and any open windows would gently close and lock as well.
The family, became accustomed to the nightly ritual. After their initial fright, they came to see the spirit as a benevolent presence and went about their normal lives.
What was difficult for them all was their inability to talk about the situation to anyone outside their home without feeling they were truly going crazy.
After some months, they decided they needed to understand who this presence was. While they realized the spirit intended no harm, they regretted that they felt uncomfortable entertaining and didn't feel it right to ask their young children to keep such a large secret.
Asking the Question
One evening while the spirit was going through the house making sure all was locked up and safe, the husband asked out loud, "Who are you? We appreciate you being here and looking out for us, but who are you?"
All went still and nothing happened. The air even seemed to stop moving. It was as if the spirit was embarrassed at having been noticed in thiis nightly routine of ensuring the house was secure.
The next morning, they awoke as usual. When they walked the upstair hallway to the top of the stairs, they saw, written in an elderly person's shakey scrawl at the top of the stairs, the name "Earl."
Earl. Earl was in their home.
They went back through property records and found that an Earl and his wife had indeed owned the house years before.
Because of the unusual last name, they were able to track down some relatives.
The husband and wife walked into my grandfather's store one day and asked the saleslady if my grandfather was there. The saleslady, who happened to be his daughter, told them that unfortunately he wasn't there. She introduced herself and asked if she could help them.
"Your Uncle Earl is in our house."
The woman thought for sure that she had heard incorrectly.
"Your Uncle Earl is in our house. He goes around and locks the doors and windows every night at 8:30."
She knew then, that it must be true. This had been Earl's habit from the time his children had been small. When he returned home from work, the family ate dinner, he watched the evening news, and promptly at 8:30, he would make sure all the doors and windows were shut and locked before retiring to bed.
My aunts and the family in Earl's former house all got together and went to see the pastor Earl had been close to before he died. The preacher was retired, and welcomed them all into his living room. After hearing the story, he let out a long, loud laugh, and said, "Earl always was the diligent sort."
He gave the new family advice about how to ask Earl to leave their home and encouraged them to keep him posted.
The Conversation with Earl
The family sat down one night together after Earl had locked everything up for them and spoke out loud to Earl.
"Earl, sir? Umm, we really appreciate that you've been looking out for us these past few months. It's been nice having you here, and all, but we're a little concerned that our friends wouldn't understand. We'd like to be able to have people over and entertain and share our home with others. While we appreciate you keeping us safe, I think I can take over now and do the job fr you so you can go do something else for a little while. Maybe you can just visit us sometimes to check on us and leave the day-to-day to us."
As the man finished speaking, there was an awkward silence. The family looked at each other not quite knowing what to do next.
After sitting for some time in the living room, they decided all they could really do was get the girls ready for bed and see what happened next.
Ear never came back.
The wife, as her husband traveled more fro business, found herself missing Earl's comforting presence in their home and tried to call for him several times. He never answered the call and never, to their knowledge, returned to the home he had owned for so many years.
Who knows where Earl is now. Hopefully he is reunited with his own family and doing whatever spirits do to keep their loved ones safe and happy on the other side.
Haunted houses can range from super creepy and dangerous to quaint to funny. What's been your experience?