Things That Go Bump

by Ann Tracy Marr

Things that go bump

Are you up for a serious discussion of the paranormal? I have a yen to talk about ghosts. Not Casper the Friendly Ghost, but the kind that seem to populate all old English and Irish buildings and plenty of other places. If you know anything about the subject, you know it is wide open. No one knows anything for sure and very few admit to personal contact with a ghost. As in seeing is believing and now they believe.

When a person dies, they go to Heaven or Hell. There is little room in modern day theology for a dead person’s essence haunting a condo. Do you agree with me? Or have you seen something that suggest otherwise?

It is the seeing, not believing, that interests me. How about the ghost who resides in your apartment, condo, home? Do you have one?  If you do, how do you know?

How many of you have seen a ghost? Raise your hands. No, seeing something on Ghosthunters or Ghost Adventures does not count. You have to have personal experience of a haunting. Doors opening and closing by themselves, a plate sliding across the table under its own power. An unseen person tripping over a non-existent footstool and thudding against the wall in an empty apartment. Things of that nature. How about a Wedgwood vase disappearing from the china cabinet and being found months later packed in a box of toys in the attic? Or a Q-Tip wedged into the dish drainer. A voice humming, or laughing, or saying, “Hey.” And the ultimate --  an unsubstantial figure floating down the hall and disappearing through the wall. Have you experienced any of that? THAT’s what I want to talk about.

Terry says the house she grew up in was haunted. How did she know? Well, she and her three sisters were holy terrors. They wanted to go up to the attic, which was strictly forbidden. The door was heavy and locked. So Terry snitched the key and they wrestled the door open, only it slammed itself shut and relocked. All their efforts were in vain; they couldn’t get the door open again. The piano in the living room played itself when no one was in the room. They had trouble keeping maids. (Lucky Terry grew up in a wealthy family. They had a German laundress who stood no nonsense from four holy terrors. She made them come down when the holy terrors took chairs up to the roof and sat in them at the peak.) Terry has no fear of ghosts. She believes in them.

A well seasoned college senior, Gina moved into her dorm room and put posters up. Lots of posters; these girls don’t like bare white walls. She arranged her textbooks, set up the computer, put away her clothes and made the bed. Then she went to dinner. When she came back, every poster had fallen down. All year long, books threw themselves around. The computer turned itself on in the



middle of the night and printed random pictures from her theater class. Things went missing; if she asked nicely, sometimes they came back. Gina figured out that swear words and other unladylike behavior unsettled the whatever it was. It took a while, but she stopped being scared. I think she believes in ghosts.

Sharon’s kids are used to the sound of footsteps traversing the upstairs hall and going through their bedrooms. It doesn’t scare them so much anymore since nothing else happens. Sharon’s daughter thinks she saw a woman in white, but she might have been dreaming. Sharon believes.

I found the haunted house in my town by dint of elimination. I knew the general location and I heard it was always up for sale. Is it the house I often pass – the one on the corner of the main drag and a residential street that is empty more than lived in? The house that looks almost derelict with shaggy grass and uncurtained windows? It is up for sale again. One night, about eleven, I was on my way home from an appointment. On a whim, I parked outside the vacant house and examined it. No wonder it is empty. Who wants a dreary Tudor with dark brown brick, dark trim, and wild shrubs? But that doesn’t make it haunted. Neither do windows that look blank. Blank and troublesomely empty. That was my emotional reaction to a lack of human habitation and the power of suggestion, not proof of a haunting.

The car radio was still on, and the weather report came on. Clear and cold. Then I started seeing flashes of vaguely blue light in the house, first in one window then another, all on the first floor. Nothing bright. Kind of drifting, if flashes can drift. I got goosebumps. There was nothing outside the house to produce those blue lights. The house next door and the one across the street had lights on – people home, watching TV, maybe reading a romance. They didn’t have blue lights. From the safety of my car I verified that there was nothing from those houses – nothing from the street – that could flash lights on the windows of that empty house. Besides, the lights were inside, not on the glass. No, I did not get out of the car. No way was I going up the walk and peeking in. Instead I drove home. Yes, I found the haunted house. Yes, I can’t help believing in ghosts.

Terry, Gina, Sharon, and I are all real people. What I have written is what they told me, what I heard, what I saw. The truth, not the plot of a paranormal romance or a Stephen King novel. We believe in ghosts. Do you?