Saturday, November 29, 2008

House on haunted hill

Now, I’m not saying the ghost of Elvis was tramping through my attic, or that the spirit of the King of rock ‘n’ roll was doing some light reading when I wasn’t looking, but some strange things did happen in an old house I was living in.
The house in question was a run down, 1940s era home that had been a rental property for years.
At one point it was a nice place, with detailed landscaping and a great view of the city, but years of neglect reduced it to a shamble of a building that my wife and I called The Addams Family home.
Every time we would drive into the yard one, or both, of us would start singing the theme song to the popular TV show and subsequent movie series that featured people even stranger than my in-laws.
The house itself was kind of frightening with dead trees lining the driveway, peeling paint, creaking doors and a half collapsed outbuilding in the weed-infested backyard.
But the scariest part of the house was what we had dubbed The Hell Room.
The Hell Room was one of two rooms in the attic that had been converted into living quarters. One of the rooms was quite nice and we put a spare bed, night table and bookcase in it.
The Hell Room, however, was not so nice. The window had a hole in it so when the wind blew there was an eerie howling sound and it was always full of flies and wasps.
On any given day dozens of the flying rodents could be seen crawling on the walls or buzzing around the room like drunken airline pilots.
I taped up the window, but the winged vermin continued to reside in the room.
I suspected it had a hole to the outside, but I could not find it.
I even looked behind the peeling, 1970s red and white wallpaper – which was actually rather frightening on its own – but could not find where the bugs were getting in.
So, I reached an executive decision and decided to ignore the room altogether.
Because the door had no latch on it, I dug deep into my skills as a home repairman and stacked a pile of old encyclopedias in front of it to keep it closed – Bob Villa eat your heart out.
Feeling the warm glow from the satisfaction of a job well done, I forgot about the pesky door and life carried on.
However the next day I had to get something from the nice room and noticed the encyclopedias had all been moved to the side, allowing the door to open.
The books were still stacked neatly, but they were no longer in front of the door.
I closed the door, reinserted my handy keep-the-door-closed invention and went downstairs where I asked my wife why she moved the books.
She said she didn’t touch them.
OK, if she didn’t move them and I didn’t move them who did? I checked on the books a couple of days later and, sure enough, they had been moved.
Feeling not unlike Van Helsing, I slowly moved toward the door, slammed it shut and re-stacked the books before retreating downstairs faster than a child who thought the boogeyman was after him.
Hey, for all I know he could have been.
This time the books remained there for several weeks, but one day they were shoved off to the side yet again.
This was not the only bizarre event to happen in the house.
One evening I was watching TV in the living room, which was directly below the Hell Room, when I heard the floor upstairs creak from one end to the other – as if someone was walking across the room.
No, I was not watching TV with a Mr. Jack Daniels so we can rule his influence out as a possible cause.
My wife was at work, so I assumed it was one of our dogs. However, one dog was sleeping next to the fireplace and the other was at the foot of the couch.
All those little hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I looked at the ceiling from where the noise had come.
I considered my options. I could go charging upstairs to see if the books were moved and maybe get a glimpse of the phantom roaming our rental or I could stick my head in the sand, and chalk it up to an overactive imagination.
Sand one - bravery zero.
When my wife came home I told her about the creaking and she said she had heard it also on different occasions.
So was it a spook haunting my humble home, or was it just the house settling causing the floor to creak?
If it was the house settling, how did the books get moved? I don’t know.
We lived in that house for 15 months and I am often tempted to knock on the door and ask if the current tenants have had any strange happenings.
Who knows maybe the ghost of the King decided to set up residence in Vernon and I was just lucky enough to share a house with him.

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