I make my living telling scary stories, so whenever I’m called on to tell this story to a fresh audience, I can practically feel the skepticism. It’s not too different from the occasional response I get when I tell people my birthday: “You were born on Halloween AND you lived in a haunted house? OF COURSE YOU DID.” [insert eyeroll here] But I promise, what follows is 100 percent true and has been corroborated by several witnesses, including people outside my family — and at least two of them are the skeptical sort themselves.
When I’m not getting skeptical looks — when it’s a “receptive audience,” one might say — I usually hear something along the lines of, “Luck-ee!” and “I wish I could live in a haunted house!” I used to say the same thing — I’ve always loved a good ghost story, and the morbid legitimacy of living in a real, authentic haunted house was a truly awesome thought. (I remember once being terribly disappointed in my parents when they passed on buying this gloriously decrepit old Colonial that was reputedly haunted.)
But now I’ve lived in a so-called “haunted house,” and despite the fact that I do love all things creepy and spooky, I would never live in another haunted house again.
In early 2002, my husband and I were not doing well financially. I was out of work, our son was a toddler, and we were briefly forced to move back in with my parents. For obvious reasons, it was not an ideal situation. We were deeply embarrassed, for one thing, and while I’m sure my parents meant well in a “tough love” sort of way, we felt like burdens and deadbeats and were desperate to get out of that situation as soon as humanly possible.
My husband’s great aunt had passed away the year before, and her son had given her house a thorough cleaning in hopes of renting it out and making a little money. The rent was more than we could afford, but through the intercession of my father-in-law, it was dropped to more affordable levels and we were definitely interested. My husband, Scott, picked me up one night after he got off work, and we went over to look at the place.
It was a small two bedroom house that had originally been a tenant farmer’s house; it had started life as a two room log cabin with a central chimney. The modern layout was very odd. The living room and the bedroom on the front of the house were original. You could climb into the attic and see the logs, and when they added to the house, they simply plastered over the original logs and painted them. As a result, the walls in the front of the house were ridiculously thick, and tapered from the bottom to the top. You could see this best in the open doorway that led from the living room into the kitchen. The inside of the doorjamb had to have been two feet thick, at least.
A huge country kitchen had been added later, and a second bedroom which was connected to the first by a short, fat hallway. The original back porch had been partially closed in, with a third of it now a large laundry room that opened on the back porch, and the other third now the house’s sole bathroom which connected to that second back bedroom (which would become the bedroom my husband and I shared). The laundry room was reached in a really odd way; you had to go through the small, dark pantry, where there was another door tucked away in the shadows that opened on the laundry room.
Like I said, it was a weird little house.
Continued in Part 2