Ghosts in the
You know how some movies just seem to stick with
you throughout life? Those certain films that change your perspective,
make you feel triumphant or in-love again? There are the cinematic
masterpieces that you can recall in a flash and relive the celluloid
moment frame by frame. Oh I have some wonderful films etched deeply
in my memory bank unfortunately, it’s the scary ones that
tend to creep up when the sun goes down.
It was the end of September when we finally were
able to insulate the house. Being semi-earth conscious, we decided
that we would use recycled paper pulp insulation blown into the
walls (more details later). A messy job, believe you me. And lucky
for me I was delegated to filling the machine with the bales of
pulp. Doc unfortunately for him, was designated as the pulp pumper.
It was a nasty job especially in the 90º heat of the attic.
At quitting time, Doc was invited to have a few beers with his buddy
down another holler. I was happy to spend some time alone with Sam
playing cards and eating snacks for dinner. This would be my first
evening without Doc in the new house.
The beginning of the evening was fun, after homework
at about 7pm Sam and I played a rousing game of Crazy 8s, watched
“That 70’s Show” and ate Mac & Cheese. It
was great not to have the old man around, as I’m sure he was
happy not to have us around. Being a school night, Sam hit the hay
at 9 and I thought I’d do the same. I never realized just
how dark the house could be. There were no beams of police helicopters
filtering into the house, no street lamps, no porch lights from
neighbors illuminating parts of the driveway. No sounds of conversations
coming from next door, no pitter pats of dog walkers finally home
after a long day at the office. Just the sounds of a house alone
at the end of a dark gravel road: crickets, hooting owls and the
rustling of millions of leaves. I laid there listening I could feel
my heart begin to pound and my mind began to wander aimlessly down
a shadowy path.
I’m all alone out here, Doc has the car,
it’s too quiet.
What the hell was that? Just the house settling,
it’s an old house, yeah that’s it, just the house settling.
How old is this house? Over a hundred years old…someone probably
died here, maybe in this room. This was the parlor; my grandmother
always said that they laid the dead for the mourners viewing in
the parlor. Oh my god, I could be laying in the same spot that they
put the coffin. Okay, let’s try to get some sleep, I am a
A double thump that doesn’t seem like a
settling noise…I’m all alone in a house that’s
surrounded by nothing but darkness and trees. Alright let’s
think happy thoughts.
Me and my stinkin’ happy thoughts…oh
I tried, but all I could think of was a movie. One of the scariest
movies I have ever seen in my life: “In Cold Blood”
by Truman Capote starring Robert Blake. Blake drives up the long
desolate country road with his buddy to an isolated farmhouse.
Oh my god, the falling coin scene then the family
gets butchered…my mind wanders to the execution scene…I
spring out of bed and head straight for my old childhood standby
when I would be home alone until my mom came in from work: A bottle
of 409 and a butcher knife. My thought as a 9 year old was that
I would spray the 409 into the eyes of the killer then stab him
and run like hell. Over 25 years later, this still seemed like a
viable solution to my fear.
I turn on the TV and all the lights in the living
room, I put a sleeping bag on the couch, why a TV makes one feel
safer I don’t know. I lay down staring at some Grand Ol’
Opry show from the 60s on the Rural Farm Channel.
There’s no one outside, so maybe…maybe
it’s a GHOST! Poltergeist! I’ll just go get Sam and
have him sleep out in the living room with me. Okay, it’s
a ghost, this area was a major battleground during the Civil War…the
unrest of dead soldiers…but maybe they’re good ghosts.
Yeah that’s right good ghosts…
My thoughts turned to Hope Lang and Edward Mulhare,
from the television show The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. I thought of a
handsome Civil War soldier that just merely wanted to get to know
me: Mrs. Seay.
THUMP, THUMP, THUMP –
There it is again! Maybe this is a ghost of the
captain’s wife and she doesn’t want me around these
“SAMMMMMM!!!!!!” I am no longer
a controlled mature adult.
Sam wobbles sleepily over to the top of the stairs.
“Sam I want you down here this minute bring
your sleeping bag you’re sleeping in the living room with
“What? I’ve gotta go to school tomorrow,
Mom! Why do you want me down there, just come up here…”
“No! You come down here….” I
don’t tell him that by going upstairs I’m walking straight
in to that suspenseful trap used in every scary movie. Besides,
by going up stairs I will have to pass the attic door, nothing good
ever happens in an attic. My thoughts turn to those poor children
in the book “Flowers in the Attic” and the mean grandmother.
“Why? Just come up!” Sam is looking
I pause, searching for the right words, words of
strength and confidence…
“I’m scared. Yes, that’s right
I admit it I’m scared. I know I’m your mom but I can’t
help that I’m scared and I’m not going up those stairs,
I’m staying right here and you’re coming down to sleep
in the living room with me.”
With that Sam busted out laughing…hysterically.
I felt so stupid I began to cry.
“Come down, please Sam, please!”
“Ha, ha! My mom’s scared of nothing”
He chimed in the typical sing song school kid way
“Alright smarty pants, did you hear that?
What’s that thumping?”
With that Sam stopped and listened as he clunked
down the stairs…A minute went by no thump…another minute…no
thump after what seemed like an eternity there was a THUMP THUMP
Sam plopped on the couch with a big old grin. I
shook him…”Didn’t you hear that thump?”
My mind went to an old movie “Gaslight”, and I was Ingrid
Bergman going insane by way of my son and husband.
“SAM! Please did you hear that?” I
Sam got up took my hand and led me through the
living room to the kitchen. He opened the freezer and pointed then
turned around and headed back upstairs to bed. By opening the freezer
door the mystery was solved; it wasn’t a Civil War soldier,
a scorned captain’s wife, or even Robert Blake, the ghosts
in the machine: The ice maker in our new fridge.
Just as I shut the freezer door feeling like a
complete idiot, I hear that familiar sound: THUMP – THUMP!
My thoughts turn to little ice cubes, and I believe they’re
laughing at me.
All rights reserved. ©October 2004