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My Favorite True Ghost Story
My Favorite Truly Ghostly Sky
It seems that everyone has a ghost story. Some are so fantastic that they just don’t seem believable in the least. Some are intended to give you the creeps or to keep you awake at night. And of course there are the ghost stories that should be made into movies. I grew up in a family that scorned the notion of ghosts – or, at least, publicly we did so. I have no idea what my siblings think about the subject nowadays. Still, every now and then, along comes a story, a true event, that – even to someone who is basically very skeptical of ghosts – at the very least makes a person think; at most – well, I’ll leave it to you to decide what these stories do “at most.”
Setting the Stage for the Ghost Story
I was the designated driver – okay, I was the driver. It was my vehicle, and we had decided to carpool, because it only made sense. Our music club had taken a field trip to a destination an hour’s drive away. So two friends were in the car with me, and when we got back to our starting point Trina casually asked whether I were in a hurry to get anywhere.
My kids were at home with their Dad and I wanted to be polite, because obviously there was something on her mind, so I let her know that I could stay for a little while. She asked Yael the same thing – did she have a little time before she had to get home? – and asked her to tell me about her house. Trina hinted that something unusual had happened, and I was certainly curious to know what it was.
I had been inside Yael’s house once or twice. It was a lovely older home in the city – the long, narrow kind built between other long, narrow houses in a block where every inch of living space had been squeezed together as graciously as possible. Some Victorian style, I guess. I'm not sure what they’re called.
Yael and her husband were doing an excellent job of renovating the house, refinishing the beautiful floors and woodwork, painting the walls in those rich dark colors that were in vogue at the time. They clearly had good taste. I didn’t know much about the house; I didn’t even know at that time that they had only lived in it a relatively short period.
Slightly Unusual Happenings
So Yael began her narrative. I had no idea what to expect. She started first speaking in generalities, telling me that they had had some odd happenings there. Sometimes someone would be sitting in the family room downstairs, far away from the front door, and they would hear a sound as if someone had come in the house – but when they called out no one would answer. Sometimes it sounded like someone was walking out in the hall and the dog would start growling slightly, even though it was obvious that no one was there.
On at least one occasion – maybe more – when one of them was in the family room, the door from the hall into the room would open wider (sounds like the wind to me). That didn’t seem very significant until Yael mentioned that the door had always been difficult for anyone to push open because it would get hung up on the new deep-pile carpet. They really needed to shave a little wood off of the bottom of the door. On one of these occasions, the dog growled and hid behind the couch. The family started referring to this puzzling behavior as their “ghost.”
Big Deal. But the story was about to get more interesting.
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Ghostly Sounds at Night
From time to time there were noises at night. Sometimes Mr. or Mrs. PQ would wake up and hear someone playing pool in the attic upstairs above their bedroom. A pool table was up there, and the family did play occasionally, but not often. It seemed odd that one of them would play when everyone else was asleep.
Sometimes the sound even woke them up, or sometimes they would wake up for another reason and then hear it. It seemed usually to happen around two a.m. The parents figured that their kids had just had a late night and decided to relax a little bit before turning in, but they finally decided they had had enough and must confront the kids about it.
When they mentioned that it was just too noisy for the kids to play pool at 2:00 a.m. – and besides, they really should be in bed already! – the young people denied any knowledge of these events. Despite assurances that they were not in trouble and would not be punished for telling the truth, the kids insisted that they had nothing to do with the pool-playing sounds at 2:00 a.m. So everyone started paying attention to those sounds in a new way.
The Source of the Sounds?
Not too many days after the loudest pool incident, Yael was walking down one street in town, when she encountered the previous owner of the house, the widow who had sold it to them soon after her husband’s death. It was really just too much house for one person.
Mrs. X caught sight of Yael and they chatted. She asked how the family liked the house, and Yael told her that they really loved it. But she admitted there were occasionally some strange sounds and events they just couldn’t quite explain. She told about the door dragging across the carpet and the sounds of someone entering the house. And she told about the sounds of someone playing pool a little after 2:00 a.m. As she began to relate this, Mrs. X started to get a thoughtful, musing, pensive look on her face.
“That sounds like Horace,” she said. “Did you know that he owned the local pool parlor downtown, not terribly far from the house? They always closed at about 2:00 a.m. When he got home just a little bit after 2:00, he would often unwind by going up to the attic and shooting pool for a little while before he was ready to change clothes and turn in for the night.
“He absolutely loved that house. I was ready to sell it many times in the years before he died, but he simply refused; he told me he would never leave it. “ She shook her head. “I guess he was telling the literal truth!”
The Aftermath of the Meeting
The conversation lightened up somewhat after that, and Yael and Mrs. X went their separate ways. Not too many days afterward there was one more pool-playing incident, and then the sounds stopped altogether. Yael didn’t have any definitive explanation but, she said, she just imagined Mrs. X “talking” to her dead husband.
“She was a pretty imposing woman herself. Sort of a biker-gal, no-nonsense, take-it-or-leave-it type of person. I could just imagine her saying, ‘Horace, now you listen to me!! You’ve had your time in the house, and you got to enjoy it while you were here. But these people have bought the house now, and it is theirs. They have a right to enjoy it now, just the same as you did. It’s time for you to leave and stop bothering them! You get out of there, and go somewhere else!”
And Yael said, “If Mrs. X talked to me like that, I certainly would obey her!”
It was a great story, a fun story, and I have never known what to make of it. If I were the one reading this, I would enjoy the puzzle and wonder just exactly what happened. But I’m the one writing, and I was in that car while Yael was telling us her story. Out of all people on the earth that I would believe about this, she is probably at the top of the list. She’s one of the most level-headed, down-to-earth, intelligent people that I’ve known personally, and I would believe her first-hand report of her personal experience a lot sooner than I would believe many newspaper accounts, historical books, and scientific reports. That’s just the kind of person she is.
I still don’t know, and may never know, just how her experience fits in with the things I believe about life on earth, death, and the hereafter.
But I also have a ghost story of my own, which you can read here.