Laughter behind closed doors sent shivers, and when explored, opened doors would not always close, no matter how hard we pushed on them.
While living on the small island nestled in the San Francisco Bay, I often overheard bizarre tales of supernatural events that took place in some of the Victorian homes around Alameda. As a skeptical teenager, I would listen politely but believed such events only transpired in the overactive imagination of the “storyteller,” that is until strange things began happening in my own home.
For many years, my family and I lived in an old Victorian house that was divided into two apartments and nothing unusual ever took place. However, by 1975, our growing family needed more room, and we finally took over the entire house. That was the year, my mom and I began playing with an Ouija Board that I had found at a yard sale. At that time, many unexplainable incidents came to pass that left us all unsettled and more than a little edgy.
At first, we tried to shrug off the chilling events. Often, I believed my younger brothers were the culprits of some of the pranks, but as the hauntings continued, it was evident that “something” else was responsible. Besides on the days I would walk home from school for lunch, I often found my mom sitting on the front porch because she was afraid to stay in the house by herself.
I still remember the first day I found her outside. While mom cleaned the house, “someone” stomped along the hallways and slammed doors on the third floor of the large home. She quickly raced upstairs, so she could apprehend the child who had dared to play hooky from school. She checked under the beds and in the closets when suddenly, the teakettle downstairs began to shrill although she had not turned it on. Rushing downstairs and into the kitchen, my mom noticed that the teapot was sitting the middle of the stove, away from the burners. The range was not on and cool to the touch, yet the kettle and the water were hot.
From that time on, it was not unusual for the teakettle to whistle for no apparent reason. My father did not believe our story until it happened to him. One morning while in the family room, the teakettle started whistling, Dad looked at Mom, and questioned, “Did you turn on the stove?”
“Nope,” she replied with a smile.
He knew she hadn’t left the room for some time. Since it was early in the morning, he knew we kids could not have turned it on. He went into the kitchen, picked up the container, and the whistling stopped. He quickly placed the kettle back on the stove and raced back in the room. Mom stated that all he could stammer was “wa-water..hot!”
When he finally gained his composure, he asked mom, “What do we do?”
Always ready with a witty comeback, she replied, “well make a cup of coffee, of course!” Every time the kettle whistled, mom would make a cup of coffee since “someone” took the time to warm the water for her.
Over the years, the ghostly pranks continued. On several occasions in the middle of the night, the stereo or the TV would loudly blare on the second floor while we were all tucked in for the night on the upper level. Off and on, day or night, “our ghost” would “run” and pound on the front door and then around the back to the kitchen door. We could even hear the gate scrape across the sidewalk when our intruder went into the backyard before it knocked on the back door.
Although, usually, nothing was disturbed, the sound of breaking glass and loud crashes became normal in our household. My mother’s friends would often admonish that one of the boys was playing hooky from school and go to the upper level to investigate the loud noises. Alarmed at times, our guests would sometimes cut their visits short. Still, for the most part, my family became accustomed to the unusual occurrences, well almost.
At times, unexplained events left us terrified. Sometimes our dog would chase “something” through the house, and he would growl at things that just were not there. One night, while playing with the Ouija Board, I became so frightened at strange sounds, I never played with it again, and I made my mother throw it away.
Laughter behind closed doors sent shivers, and when explored, opened doors would not always close, no matter how hard we pushed on them. After some of our hauntings, we would often hear the laughter of children, and sometimes the smell of lilacs wafted through the room. Many nights, lights were left on all night as we fled the second floor to find safety and comfort on another.
Even today, one specific event still has continued to trouble me. My brother, Tommy, had a cat that was very ill. One evening, my dad explained that our pet was dying. That night, we placed Calico in a box lined with a blanket and set it near the heater on the second floor. Like every other night, Dad locked up the house. Once we climbed to the third level, Dad once again locked the upstairs, setting the deadbolt and slipping the chain across the door. Since the upper bathroom and stairway were right next to each other, he kept the locks on the upstairs apartment. He was afraid that we would wake up in the middle of the night, mistake the door to the stairway for the bathroom, and fall down the stairs. On that particular night, later in the evening, my dad went into the bathroom and found Calico lying dead in the bathtub. He checked the locks on both floors, and they had not been disturbed. We felt uneasy for a very long time.
Sometimes we have continued to reminisce and marvel at our mysterious, haunted house. We never understood why those creepy happenings took place so suddenly and unexpectedly. Did our activities bring in those uninvited guests with our childish games on the Ouija Board? If so, how? Why? Our strange visitors did not follow our family when we moved and went our separate ways. Even now, after all these years, we have often wondered if “our ghosts” still linger and reside in the old house on Lincoln Avenue.
The Daily Prompt ~ Ghoulish