October 25, 2004

In the spirit of the Halloween season, here a few ghost stories. 

The Haunted Picture 

This happened to a close friend of mine whose identity I will cleverly disguise by calling her Robin.  It all started when Robin's grandmother, Helen, died.  Robin's parents, Jeanne and Van, went back to Ohio in order to settle Helen's estate.  They spent a couple of weeks clearing out the house and the night before they left, as they slept in Helen's bed, Jeanne heard the closet door—which she'd firmly closed—squeak open.  She said she'd never heard that door squeak before and it scared the hot holy hell out of her.  She didn't get out of bed to investigate because Van was sound asleep and she didn't want to disturb him, but she didn't get much sleep after that, either. 

As soon as daylight came, she got out of bed and went to the closet.  Looking inside, she noticed that part of the wall had detached a few inches from the rest of the wall.  When she peeked inside the crack, she realized it was a secret compartment and something had been hidden inside.  She pulled the compartment the rest of the way open and found old letters and, more importantly, the picture of a little girl about ten or eleven.  On the back of the picture was written "Alice" with birth and death dates.  This girl turned out to be Van's little sister who died at about the age shown in the picture and before Van was even born.  Helen was so distraught by her daughter's death she wouldn't let anyone talk about her and for years Van hadn't even known she'd existed.  Jeanne and Van were glad to find this picture.  She said, "I guess Alice just didn't want to get left behind or Helen didn't want us to forget her." 

So they took the picture back to California, framed it, and put it on a shelf in one of the bookcases in a small library alcove.  One day as Jeanne came into the house and walked in front of the alcove, a bird was suddenly there, fluttering frantically about, trying to find a way out of the house.  With great difficulty, Jeanne directed it across the room and out the sliding glass door.  The windows in this alcove were never opened, nor were any other windows downstairs, so it remained a great mystery how the bird got into that out of the way alcove.  Then one night as they sat in the living room near the alcove, Jeanne related the story of the bird incident.  An enormous thump sounded on the floor in there.  They hurried in.  Somehow a big, heavy book which had been shelved above the picture had worked its way out and landed five or six feet away.  The title of that book:  "The Myths and Superstitions of Great Britain."  

Several other incidents occurred regarding books, but the coup de grâce for my friend, Robin, was one day when she came over to her parents house to feed the cat. When Robin started thinking about Helen, the room filled with the scent of Helen's perfume.  She fed the cat and got out of there real fast.  

Eventually, Jeanne—who was Helen's daughter-in-law but had been closer to Helen than to her own mother—got to be concerned that Helen. or maybe Alice, was earthbound.  She hadn't ever felt afraid of the presence in the house, but didn't want anyone to get stuck here.  She said to the general cosmos inside her house, "I want you to know, Helen, that we'll never forget you and we'll never forget Alice, and it's okay if you want to move on to wherever you need to go."  There weren't really any more incidents after that.  

Ghost Cat 

This happened to another very close friend of mine whose identity I will cleverly disguise by calling her Mia.  I, or that is Mia,  had a cat named Mocha, a brown tortoise shell.  Mocha walked into the open door of Mia’s old apartment one day and said, "I belong to you now.  What's for lunch?"  So Mia fed her.  What else could she do?  She had loved all her cats, but Mia had an amazing closeness with Mocha.  The cat taught Mia many lessons about living.  Then one day, Mocha got hit by a car.  Mia was devastated.   

That same day, one of the other cats went outside and headed straight for the street.  He stomped on the brakes right at the edge of the sidewalk, looking out at the spot where Mocha had been hit.  His hackles went up and he started hissing until he was picked up and carried him back to the house.  Before this cat had even left the house, the spot where Mocha died had been hosed down, and Mocha had been consigned to the earth, but we still figured there could have been a blood smell. 

Mocha had also been good friends with the dog, Tippy.  They used to play a game around one of the swivel chairs in the living room—round and round, dog chasing cat, then cat chasing dog, all friendly and fun.  The evening that Mocha was killed, Tippy started playing the game all by herself, her eyes fixed on the height Mocha usually occupied, chasing something invisible, then being chased by something invisible.  Round and round and round.  Tippy also sat in front of the window where Mocha liked to sit and look out at the world.  The dog looked up into exact the spot where Mocha habitually sat and whined and whined and whined.  Mia went over to the window, which was in full afternoon sun at the time, and ran her hand over that spot.  It was much colder than the surrounding air.  Mocha also liked to sit on top of the cable box on top of the TV.  Tippy sat in front of that looking up at Mocha's spot and whined and whined.  Again, when Mia ran her hand over the spot, it was cold.  Mia also thought she felt Mocha climb onto the bed and settle in her favorite spot on the pillow beside Mia's head.  Mia woke up to her purrs. 

It was comforting, not scary, but Mia started to worry, like Jeanne in the other story, that her cat friend was earthbound.  One night she said to Mocha, "I'm okay now.  If you need to move on, you can."  Neither the dog nor Mia had any weird experiences after that.

Copyright © 2010 P.J. Thompson