A Ghost Story

I am a very cynical person. While I love hearing about ghost stories, hauntings and all that stuff, I pretty much think it’s all a load of crap. Entertaining, but crap. Or, at least I did, before…

I haven’t told this story yet because it just seems so far-fetched, but I think you know that I don’t really bullshit around by now. So here we are.

Jeff and I bought our first house in a tree-lined neighborhood of Washington, DC. It was a Tudor that we purchased from the children of the original owners. They were a brother and sister in their late 70s who were born and raised in the house and had never left. (That should have been the first clue.) They were more than a little bizarre, but the house was beautiful and they seemed harmless. Under the hideous wallpaper and ratty carpets, it had the character and beauty we were searching for with a price tag we could (kind of) afford.

The sale went through and we moved in to the new place. Other than a completely unsettled dog, things were fine. Until, a few weeks later when the walls began to bleed. Say what? Inexplicably, the walls would constantly drip this clear amber liquid all along the second floor ceiling. We had roofers and plumbers and electricians and every other house specialist I could think of over to the house. Each and every one of them had never seen something like it before and the last guy’s response was, “Ma’am, that’s freaky.” Sure, it was a nuisance, but nothing to be afraid of. There had to be some explanation. Or, not.

The house was equipped with an alarm system. Every few days I would get a call at work that there was motion detected on the second floor and that the police had been dispatched and every few days I would dash home to a completely empty house with no disturbance. Eventually, the alarm company began to ignore the second floor motion detections, but since Penelope rarely ventured up there, it remained a mystery. I started to get a bit unsettled.

And then I went up to the attic. We’d never been up there before we bought the place. It was inspected, but the pull-down was pretty treacherous and we skipped that part, leaving it up to the inspector and agent. One day, I decided to explore and see if there were any goodies up there. Maybe some old plans from when it was built or cool antiques left behind. What I found, instead, was an altar complete with countless crucifixes and other religious relics. I entered complete flip out mode– this house was wrong. Between the altar, the bleeding, the alarm and the fact that Penelope would literally run around in circles all night, something was very, very off. I wanted out. A few days later, we found out we were pregnant and it made sense to consider a move out to the ‘burbs and leave the city behind.

We sold the house in a few days (thank you, real estate boom,) and were out in a blink. As we were leaving, the next-door neighbor came up to me and told me how glad she was that we were moving out. No young couple starting a family should live in that awful house, she said. You know it’s haunted, right? Before this experience I would have rolled my eyes and called her crazy, but I just nodded. I do, I said. And we can’t get out of there fast enough.

The night before closing I was up until three in the morning scrubbing the newly stained walls. I wonder if the current owners have to deal with that, too, and if they feel the spookiness. Maybe they’ve never seen any of it at all and are living a long and happy life there. I certainly hope so. But, better them than me.