How I Lost the Battle (But Won the War).

After that night the ghost seemed to be emboldened. As far as he was concerned no room was off limits. Mi casa was his casa.

He really pushed it. I couldn’t go anywhere in the house without his eyes drilling into the back of my head. The dog went nuts, she could not get away from him. The kids couldn’t sleep with all the noise. He went crazy with the garage door. He threw the kids’ toys across the room every chance he got.

Taking a shower totally creeped me out.

One afternoon it came to a head. My son was in school, my 3 year old in preschool, and I’d just put the baby down for a nap – on my bed, of course. The dog lay next to her.

I propped some pillows on her other side so she couldn’t roll off and I sat on the edge of the bed, my feet in the bathroom – because that’s how damn small the room was – wondering what in the hell I was going to do.

Suddenly I heard this whisper. A man’s voice said, “Nobody wants you around. Nobody wants you here. Why don’t you just end it all? Go on, you should end it all.”

The dog jumped to her feet. She stood over the baby and began howling like a banshee.

My head flew up and when my head flew up I caught my reflection in the bathroom mirror. Over my left shoulder I saw him. Tall man, white man, dark mustache, brown hat, evil expression… sitting right next to me, whispering in my ear.

Oh, the horror!

I flipped around and swung my fist at him with all my might. He might have been a ghost but he ducked reflexively.

“Get out of my room,” I yelled. “Get the hell out of my room.”

This time the dog snarled and she threw herself at him. I think Rosie had simply had it. She was finally fighting back.

I screamed – “Don’t you ever, ever touch me again. Don’t talk to me. Stay away from me.”

The dog and I chased him down the hall and he vanished.

Suddenly I knew what to do. I’d known the answer all along, I just hadn’t realized it.

Tomorrow:  Winning the War.


The Ghost Throws A Tantrum.

So now I knew what he was and where he was.

What was some sort of trader or trapper or murderer or rapist or all around bad man.  He wasn’t a Native because the Shoshone didn’t grow mustaches, weren’t tall (as my son described him) and probably didn’t wear big brown hats. Besides, my son told me he was a white man.

If a 6 year old says the ghost is a white man then the ghost is a white man. 

Where was buried behind or beneath that nasty storage room.

The question was, what in the hell was I supposed to do? I called the rental agency. The agent in charge denied knowing anything about it. Besides, she said disclosure of a haunted dwelling is only required when one is buying a house. Stupid fine print.

I still had a good six weeks to go before hubby could join us. I was at my wit’s end.

My husband suggested I call a priest. But I’m Jewish. There were no orthodox Jews around to perform a Jewish exorcism, and I was worried a Catholic exorcism might make things worse.

Hey, I watch movies. I know how bad it can get when you call a priest.

Besides, do you really think a priest would have believed me? C’mon. Any priest I talked to was likely to think I was nuttier than a fruitcake.

So, one evening at supper – my two kids sitting in their chairs, the baby in her high chair, the dog beneath the table, me serving spaghetti, we heard noises coming from the tiny bedroom next to the master bedroom. Remember it was too small for a bed. I’d stacked a few unpacked boxes in there along with one book shelf filled with books.

We all looked at each other. So being mom, I gave a big sigh and went to investigate.

I stood in the open doorway. Dusk had fallen and the room was dark. It sounded as if something was being scraped along the walls.

I said, “Look, can’t we just co-exist? Does it really have to be this way? I’m sorry for whatever happened to you but I didn’t do it and I don’t really want to put up with your crap.”

I probably should have left out that last part.

Suddenly books flew off the shelves, slammed into the wall across the room. One of the cardboard boxes opened and the toys inside were tossed up in the air. I reached to turn on the light, but before I could touch it, he flipped up the switch.

I said, “That’s it. That’s it. You are dead. You are so dead. I’m going next door and I’m gonna get me a gun and I’m gonna blow you away. Do you hear me, ghost? I’m gonna blow you back into the ground. I’m gonna blow you back to hell. Do you hear me, mother fucker? Do you hear me? I’m gonna get me a gun.”

I stomped down the hall, seriously planning to go borrow a shotgun from my neighbor and shoot the hell out of that ghost when I heard him laugh. He laughed.

That son of a bitch laughed.

My son and the dog hightailed it out to the garage, leaving the two little girls in the kitchen. And I came to my senses.

Goddamn him. He’s already dead. I can’t kill him.

Tomorrow:  How I Lost the Battle (But Won the War).



I Have A Chat with the Neighbors.

We only had one close neighbor. The family had four boys– the oldest was 14, a set of 12 year old twins, and a 6 year old. The 6 year old and my son became fast friends.

Their mother, Pat, was about as level-headed, no-nonsense, as they come. One evening I finagled an invitation for dinner – bringing the dog too – because I wanted an opportunity to pick her brain. Afterwards her husband headed off to a meeting. The boys went outside to play – my 3 year old daughter had a huge crush on the twins and they were really responsible kids so I let them take her to play on their swing set.

I held my baby on my lap while Pat mixed up a batch of cookie dough. (Pat gave me her top secret Heart Attack Bar recipe.)

“So Pat, did you know the people who lived in our house?”

She shrugged. “Not well. They kept to themselves.”

Me – “Did they have kids?”

Pat – “Four. Two boys and two girls.”

Me- “Why’d they move away?”

She sort of hesitated. “Well, I’m not sure, but I think they had some problems.”

Me – “What kind of problems?”

Pat – “I don’t know, exactly.” Mixing cookie dough. “It was kind of odd how it happened. I mean, I don’t really know what happened. They bought the lot. He designed the house, drew up the plans himself. He oversaw the construction. They moved in, but I really didn’t get to know them before they moved out. She took the kids and left after six months. He followed her a few months later.”

Me – “Do you know why she left?”

Pat – Another shrug. “I’m not sure. I heard a lot of yelling.”

Me – “Yelling? About what?”

Pat – “I don’t know. We really weren’t friendly with them.”

Me – “Where did they go?”

Pat – “I think she took the kids and went to stay with her mother in Nevada. As far as I know they’re still in Nevada.”

Me – “Um, Pat, when they lived there did anything weird ever happen? Did they ever mention anything strange about the house?”

Pat looked at me. She stopped mixing. “Like what?”

Me – “Oh, well, like for instance the garage door going up and down.”

Pat – “I’ve noticed that. It’s only started since you moved in. I’ve seen it going up and down when you aren’t home. I probably should have said something to you.”

Me – Girding my loins – “Uh, Pat, I’m pretty sure the house is haunted.”

Pat – Never missing a beat – “Doesn’t surprise me. He built it over a grave.”

(I’m not sure which troubled me more, the fact that he built it over a grave or the fact that she didn’t bat an eye at my statement.)

Me – “What?”

Pat – “Yes. When they were excavating, because you know the basement goes way back into the bench, they found a skeleton. Not a new skeleton or anything, but some old bones. He had to call the coroner.”

Me – “Uh, what? What bones? Whose bones?”

Pat – “I don’t know. They were pretty old. The coroner said they were probably from some trapper or trader. Maybe an Indian. The Northern Shoshone used to pass through this area to trade.”

Me – “Oh my god… I mean gosh.” (Pat was LDS.) “Where did they put the bones? Did the coroner haul them away?”

Pat – “No, they reburied them beneath the house in case they’d disturbed an Indian grave site.”

Me – “Did he call someone from the tribe to come and do something? Like settle angry spirits or anything?”

Pat – “No, just covered them over.”

And I am thinking, oh shit I am so screwed. I am so so so screwed.

Tomorrow:  The Ghost Throws A Tantrum.


Oh No You Di’nt…

So after our little encounter in the workroom, or shop, the ghost upped the stakes. He went after my kids.

Nobody, I’m tellin’ you, nobody threatens my kids. I will go all homicidal on your ass if you mess with my kids.

I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.

You hurt my children in any way and you are dead meat. Which is why The Walking Dead bugged me so much– because there were flesh-eating zombies everywhere and nobody ever knew where the fuck Carl was. Tsk. Tsk.

My aunt stuck around for a week. She’s now deceased, but she was a lovely prim and proper woman. She made more lemonade out of lemons than anyone I know. She observed the goings on, watched the ghost flush toilets, flip the light switches on and off, open and close doors, heard the chains rattling at night, and her only comment was… “How interesting.”

I think the ghost didn’t want to show his true colors in front of her because he waited until she left to get back at me.

Oh, by the way, this time when I drove her to the airport I brought the dog.

That very night, the night of the day she left, I was in bed with my baby when my six year old son and the dog burst into the room.

“I was asleep in my bed and my door flew open and the dog jumped on top of me and a man walked into my room and he had a mustache and a big brown hat. Can I sleep with you?”

Me, in a panic – “Where’s your sister?”

My son – “Downstairs.”

Me – “Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Watch the baby. Keep the dog in here.”

I hightailed it down the stairs. Just as I reached my daughter’s bedroom, her door flew open and this ice cold thing walked right through me.

“Get away from my kids,” I yelled. “You stay the fuck away from my kids.”

My three year old daughter lifted her head, confused. I threw the blankets off, grabbed her and ran up the stairs with her in my arms.

“I’m warning you,” I called back down the stairs. “You stay away from my kids. You touch my kids again and I’m coming for you. I don’t care how many lifetimes it takes, I will get you.”

Yeah, as if. But at that moment I didn’t care. Nobody, dead or alive, messes with my kids.

After that night we all slept together in my bed. Me, the baby, my son, my three year old and the dog. Actually they slept, I stood guard. If we had to go downstairs to get anything we went as a group.

Meanwhile the ghost took the opportunity to run rampant through the rest of the house. I was expecting the walls to bleed any day.

Let me tell you, the battle lines had been drawn and at this point I was concerned he could outlast me. After all, he didn’t need to sleep or eat.

Son of a bitch.

My husband still couldn’t come and the situation was escalating.

Tomorrow – I Have A Chat with the Neighbors.





Welcome to My Parlor Said the Ghost…

to the dumb-ass Jewish woman.

You know, the ghost was quiet the first night we were in the house. The only hint something might be wrong came from the dog. Our golden retriever, Rosie, refused to go down the stairs into the basement. Absolutely and utterly refused. But… new environment, new smells… We were exhausted and I didn’t think much about it – until the marble top to the marble top table moved, of course.

But as you already know that freaky little introduction wasn’t a deal breaker because my husband, Mr. Pragmatist, thought I was just being silly. Cuz, yeah, that’s me, a big practical joker. Haha.

So second night. Noisy. Noisy as, dare I say… hell? Somebody– can’t imagine who– ran up and down the stairs the entire night. Sounded like he was dragging a rattling tool box behind him.

Here’s my husband – “What are those bleepin’ kids doing?”

Me – “It’s the ghost. The kids are asleep.”

“Very funny.” He climbs out of bed to go check. Returns to the bedroom. “The kids are asleep.”

Me- “Told ya.”

The sucker kept us up all night.

You have to understand, this early in the game I didn’t realize how truly evil this particular ghost was. I’d known noisy ghosts before. I could live with noise. Didn’t like it, didn’t want to deal with it, but I could live with it if absolutely necessary. I could even live with a little furniture moving (you know, macho posturing) provided he didn’t take it too far. I wasn’t happy about my husband’s pending departure, but I figured once this ghost got accustomed to us, he would settle down.

Boy was I wrong. Oh boy, I could not have been more wrong.

So the next day while I was busy putting stuff away my husband decided to get the kids outside, maybe find some other kids. He attached our Burley trailer to his bike, loaded up the baby and our three year old, and set off along with our six year old to explore the neighborhood. The dog stayed with me, following me from room to room. She refused to let me out of her sight.

I heard a door slam. It was a door down in the basement. I ignored the first slam, hoping maybe, just maybe, some wind I didn’t feel blew a door shut. But then the door slammed again. And again. And again. The dog began to whimper. She bumped me with her nose.

“Oh shit,” says I.

Let me digress. All my ancestral genes screamed at me to grab the dog and run from the house. My ancestors believed in ghosts, spirits, evil spirits, demons and yes, dybbuks. Dogs believe in ghosts. Cats believe in ghosts. I do too. Yet there is a tiny Mr. Spock-like area of my brain which says, “Logic dictates there is a logical explanation. To assume otherwise is illogical.”

Thus I walked over to the stairs. “Hello? Anybody down there?”

Slam. Bang. Slam. Bang.

Even though I knew better, I convinced myself that maybe my son had come in while I was making my bed. “Hey, honey, you down there?”

Slam. Bang.

So I did something really stupid. I ignored the dog’s whining, I ignored the warnings of my genetic ancestors, and I descended the stairs to investigate. I’m a total fucking idiot.

As I neared the bottom of the stairs, here’s what I saw – and by the way, the memory still freaks me out– the door to that storeroom, you know, that storeroom leading to the the gates of hell, was opening and closing.

I don’t mean it was just moving open and then shut, like a door blowing back and forth in a stiff breeze, I mean I saw the doorknob turn, the door open, stop, and then slam shut.

So what did I do? Did I run away in terror? Did I at the very least attend to the dog’s panicked whining and back away?

No. Because I’m a total and complete dumb-ass I opened the door to the storeroom and walked inside. At that moment I was determined to find a logical explanation for an event that couldn’t be explained logically.

I reached for the light switch. Flipped it on. Followed the twisting and turning labyrinth. The deeper inside I got, the more uneasy I grew, the slower my steps. I felt eyes on me and the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up. Suddenly the light switch flipped off and I was plunged into inky blackness.

I turned and sprinted for the door, dove past as it began to slam shut. I landed on my knees– rug burn for all the wrong reasons– flipped around just in time to see the door knob turn once again, the door open wide like the maw of a great white shark, and then once more slam shut.

I ran up the stairs and out the front door, the dog right on my heels. We didn’t stop running until I finally caught up with my husband.

I made him stop and I dragged him out of earshot of the kids.

“I’m not staying in that house,” I whispered. “That ghost just tried to kill me.”

“That’s ridiculous,” he said.

“No, it’s not ridiculous. You can’t leave us here. He’s a bad ghost. He’s a dangerous ghost. This house is a bad house. You can’t leave me.”

“Well I am leaving. I’m leaving tomorrow and you’re staying in this house. We signed a year’s lease.”

I so hate him. (My husband, not the ghost. I hate the ghost too.)


Tomorrow – Let the Toilet Flushing Begin.