Copyright 2015 by Lisa Rehfuss
We all have life stories that give us goose bumps, yet the sheer volume and “creep factor” of my family’s stories is such that I have to wonder ‘what gives?’
It’s certainly made me question the age-old argument of fate versus free will. Are we set up, fated to a prearranged destiny? Does everything happen for a reason? If life is built on destiny’s shoulder, if we are nothing but mere marionettes, then there’s no hope in changing the underlying creepy theme.
Or, does free will play a part? And if so, at least in my universe where the ‘creep’ continues, it makes me wonder about the choices I make that time and again place me in creepy, unsettling situations. Perhaps within these stories a common thread will be found and maybe, just maybe, it can be unraveled it to live the rest of my remaining days outside the ‘creep’. What a quest!
Obviously I don’t recall exactly what was said when all this went down in the 1960s, but the framework is right. In other words, the stories are true, even though there was liberty taken with the reenactment and in particular, the dialogue. It seemed boring to share a story that simply states “so the chicken was found in X” when I could color it up with dialogue.
I’m going to take you back now to the beginning when all this started…with the chicken.
Oh yes, dear reader, the stories you are about to read are true.
One blistering summer day, Mom took eight of us swimming. Knowing we’d be late getting back, she prepared dinner in advance, cooking chicken three quarters of the way through in a large pan. The pan was then covered with tinfoil and placed on the kitchen counter with a note asking Dad or my oldest sister Sue, whoever arrived home first, to put the chicken in the oven.
Upon returning, Mom immediately peered inside the oven. “Where's the rest of the chicken?” She asked.
“I thought you were coming home with more,” Dad answered as eight of us ran over for a hug and to give him a kiss on his cheek.
Mom tapped the counter with two glossy red fingernails. “Why would I do that? I left a full pan of about 30 chicken pieces right here on the kitchen counter.”
“Well, Sue and I did what your note asked which was to put the pan in the oven and the pan was only half full.”
Sue chimed in, “Remember how strange Duffy was being, Dad?” Holding a stack of plates she had unloaded from the dishwasher, she turned to Mom, “We got home at the same time and were coming through the back door when Duffy bolted right past us. In fact, she could barely wait for the door to open. We watched her run down the steps and cower in the corner of the yard.”
This was not typical of Duffy, our laid back English Setter, who normally required several treats to get her to budge.
“Well, there was a full pan of chicken on this counter when I left,” Mom said, accusingly.
“I think it’s pretty obvious what happened - the dog ate it.” Dad replied with a half-smile.
Dogs were one of my parent’s favorite pet peeve topics. Mom loved them; Dad tolerated them. He put up with every 4-legger Mom brought into the house, but didn’t give up needling her every chance he could.
Defending our beloved pet, Mom railed back that there was no evidence Duffy ate the chicken. The dog couldn’t jump up on the counter, Mom reasoned. Besides, dogs leave evidence. There would have been a chicken bone or grease spot or some other evidence of Duffy’s guilt.
Unconvinced, Dad left Mom to figure out how to supplement the evening’s dinner. He retired to the living room where he sat down in his leather chair to read the newspaper. Pulling his glasses down to read over the top of them, they slid off his nose and landed between the cushion and arm of the chair. Reaching down to retrieve them, he came up with a drumstick.
After a brief conference with Mom, they called all of us into the living room. We were given the task of searching the entire house for the remaining chicken. Dad told us to pay special attention to the furniture. “Don’t leave any cushion unturned.”
“Don’t forget to put it back in place,” Mom quickly added.
For the next hour, eleven of us searched every room in the entire three-story house. We located 12 chicken pieces neatly tucked in the left hand corner of three couches and nine chairs.
“Clearly the dog didn’t place chicken between the cushions,” Mom said, needing to make this point with Dad.
That evening, after a hastily prepared meal of spaghetti, I was clearing the table and listening to my parents discuss what had happened. It seemed silly to get the authorities involved, but someone had placed the chicken in the furniture, so doesn’t it stand to reason that someone broke in?
“You’d think our fearless dog would have protected the house,” Dad remarked, earning a scathing look from Mom.
The discussion went around for awhile until terror-filled screams came from Nancy and Linda’s bedroom. I flew up the stairs and made it to their door ahead of Mom and Dad. Seeing what was smack dab in the middle of the room, I scooted back behind my father.
On Nancy and Linda’s rug were three wrinkled pieces of chicken.
Five minutes later the police arrived.
“Looks like we have a food comedian in the neighborhood,” one of the officers said. “Just last week the priests in the rectory three doors down came back from a day trip to find their phone on top of a spiral ham. And you know that flower arrangement Mrs. Floyd puts on the good priest’s dining room table every week? It was replaced with a huge mound of peas.” The policeman rested his hand on his gun belt and chuckled. “Oh, this guy's a character all right.”
Dad let out a relieved sigh. Mom was not amused.
“Where was this food comedian when we searched the house?” Mom asked. “How is it that he was able to put three chicken pieces in my daughter’s bedroom not one hour after we’d searched their room? Don’t you think Officer that he might still be here?” Good question.
The policemen took special care going through the basement, first floor, and second floor of the house, pausing when they got to the third floor. On the third floor were two bedrooms and four storage closets. One could enter Sue’s closet on the east side of the house and walk through four large interconnecting storage closets to arrive at Jack’s closet on the west side of the house. Two of the storage closets went deep, way back into the eaves. The policemen grabbed heavy-duty flashlights from their squad car.
What they found shook us to the core.
In one of the storage closets were discarded food wrappers from food our family never purchased. We had uncovered the food comedian’s lair.
With a family as large as ours, who would question hearing random footsteps from the floor above or missing food? And what better place to carry out ones pranks than in a house with secret passageways? I believe after the Chicken Caper, he still used our house as his base operations, yet probably not as much. Frankly, it was hard to discern when an incident was because of him or the otherworldly beings living in the house.
I had forgotten all about the food comedian hiding out on the 3rd floor. To me, our basement had enough dark corners and weird smells to act as the ultimate setting for any horror scene.
So when Mom told me to run up to Jack’s room to put his clean, folded clothes on his bed, I didn’t hesitate. It got me out of the basement, where she had cornered Elaine and me to help her with the laundry.
Jack was working his paper route and Sue, whose bedroom is on the opposite side of the hall, was out with some friends. Jack was going to be gone for a while. He left two hours late to deliver the morning paper and would undoubtedly have to sit through several lectures about the importance of responsibility and being on-time from his customers. His growing list of dissatisfied customers!
Nosey, I took the opportunity to go through several of Jack’s drawers and had just pushed his jeans to the side to see if he was hiding anything under them, when an ungodly sound came from behind.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU LITTLE SNOOP.”
I froze. There was no going back. No excuse to give. My hand was still thrust in his drawer.
“I WARNED YOU.”
He slammed the door behind him. It was just Jack and me. Oh, my, my, this is not happening.
Jack grabbed me by the shoulders, and with one swift motion swept me into his closet. I was nothing but a pliable ragdoll. Thrown against his big beaver coat, I scrambled to right myself so I could prevent him from….SLAM….slamming the closet door shut.
Terrified of the dark, I grabbed hold of the glass door handle, twisted it and pushed. It didn’t budge. Jack was on the other side of the door with his legs stretched out, his whole back flat against the door. I know because last week he trapped Elaine in his closet and that was only because she came upstairs to tell him it was time for dinner.
“I can’t hear you.” He called, luring her up two flights of stairs, while downstairs Mom admonished her, “Don’t yell to your brother, go up and tell him.” Mom wasn’t a big fan of yelling.
When I was sent up to check on what was keeping both of them I found him in that position, with Elaine screaming inside his closet. I ran down the stairs yelling “MOM, MOM,” before he had a chance to trap me too.
There were three wood canes hanging from a hook on the back of the closet door. They clanged and hit my body as I continued to push and pull on the door, screaming at the top of my lungs. The only way Mom could hear me is if she was on the 2nd floor. Last I saw her she was in the basement folding laundry.
Trapped in a dark closet with swinging clothes and hangers, wooden canes thumping against the door, against my stomach; the dark, the utter black ‘can’t see a thing’ gloomy closet. A creepy beaver coat with bristly hair scratching the back of my legs, arms, head and then something soft hits the back of my neck. I scream louder. Then I hear something.
That’s all it said, “Kadio”.
I stood still, swiping snot from my nose, hyperventilating while willing myself to remain still so I could hear the voice.
There was no mistaking the whispered, firm voice. “Kadio.”
I then remembered how the closets interconnected on this floor. I could go to my right and through a series of twists and turns wind up on the other side of the hallway where Sue’s bedroom was located. I made the trip once, about a year before, and thought ‘I’m never doing that again’. There are no lights, darker corners and a pathway maze that led to many dead ends. It was creepy. And at the time, I was with Linda and Peter and I was still creeped out!
“Kadio.” It whispered.
The door flew open. Surprised, I pitched forward, gasping for breath.
“Now look what you’ve done to your sister.” My mother stepped around Jack and put her arm around my shoulder.
“The, the…there’s someone in there.”
“You’re just scared.” Digging her fingers into my brother’s forearm, she scolded him, “Don’t you ever put your sisters or brothers in your closet again.”
“But, the, the, I felt something soft tickled my neck and….” I started to cry, “And someone said ‘Kadio’, five times.”
“HA! Kadio.” Jack laughed.
Mom gave him a stern look. “Look dear.” She pointed to Jack’s Indian outfit. “The feathers on the headband tickled your neck, that’s all. Oh honey, I’m sorry you got spooked. Let’s go downstairs and you can help me fold the laundry.”
Last place I wanted to go to was the basement, but I needed safe passage from Jack’s room. From that day forward all the footsteps in the middle of the night after everyone was sound asleep, all the radios that were turned on and shut off at will (in the 60’s you had to physically turn on/off radios), all the times we left the house only to return to find clothes neatly piled at the bottom of the 2nd floor or 3rd floor landing, all the lights that flickered on and off. Yes, all the human made, animal made or ghostly made events were henceforth blamed on Kadio.
Even the dog’s
IT’S THE SISTER. THAT’S RIGHT, IT’S ALWAYS THE SISTER
I opened wider the bedroom window. It was one of those stifling summer nights when the air stilled and the heat visibly shimmered in the street lights hazy glow.
Mom and Dad sat in green plaid aluminum chairs in the backyard two stories below. Leaning against the window screen to hear better their conversation, the screen popped out. By the time it banged to the ground a mere foot from Mom, I was in bed pretending to be asleep. Elaine, at the tender age of 8, angrily whispered, “You better not blame this on me.” We heard Mom stomp up the stairs with the window screen she held occasionally banging against the wall.
Groggily, and with a perfectly timed yawn I asked what was going on as soon as Mom turned on the light. Elaine glared at me and was just about to protest her involvement in the screen flying incident when we heard the plaintive wail of the woman next door, “Go away.”
All three of us looked toward the open window. “Go away. Go away.”
“Why does she do that mom?”
“That’s Mrs. Dunning’s sister. The poor woman is an invalid and probably doesn’t want to take her medication. I think it would be a good idea for both of you to pray for her and for Mrs. Dunning. It can’t be easy taking care of her sister so they both need our prayers.”
As Mom fit the screen back into the window, Mrs. Dunning’s sisters’ cries grew louder. Elaine and I had had this discussion about the Dunning sisters. We’d heard the invalid sister’s cries before, but had never seen her. We’d only seen Mrs. Dunning, the neighborhoods creepy lady. As soon as she came out of her house every kid would run into their house, hide behind a bush or climb the nearest tree. We were petrified of the woman.
Why? It probably had something to do with the ensemble she wore every day. EVERY day, she donned a wide brimmed, black hat complete with a thick, black veil that fell to below her shoulders. She wore an ankle length black dress replete with a black belt, black gloves, black stockings and black shoes. She never showed one inch of skin and she never said a word. She simply clunked down the sidewalk in her all black attire, on her short one block walk to and from church.
She was the church organist.
Since no one had ever seen Mrs. Dunning’s face, Elaine and I decided that at night Mrs. Dunning took off her black veil to reveal her craggily face. That’s why the sister screamed, “Go away!”
“Go to bed.” Mom admonished and then went back downstairs.
A week later, Peter and I had a contest to see who could go higher on the swing set in our backyard. Being two years older, he likely would win, but still, I pumped away.
“You’re not going to believe what’s on Mrs. Dunning’s porch,” Peter yelled.
“What?” I pumped harder to see if I could catch a glimpse of what he saw over the fence.
“Come on.” He said. Taking a flying leap off the swing, he ran to the back gate.
He was already standing in front of Mrs. Dunning’s house when I caught up with him.
“Is that….?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he nodded.
Kerry Denigrous, who was Peter’s best friend and lived across the street, came running over. “What are you two looking at?” When he saw what we saw, he shut his mouth quick. Before long, three other neighborhood kids joined us to stare at what appeared to be a dead body wrapped in a blanket sitting in a rocking chair on Mrs. Dunning’s porch.
In no time the daring began in earnest. “You go up and touch it,” Peter said.
“No you,” I shot back.
“I challenged you first.”
It was Kerry Denigrous who took up the challenge and made several tentative steps toward the porch.
“What are you children doing?” Mom’s voice rang out. “Kerry Denigrous, get down off Mrs. Dunning's porch steps this instant!” The look on Kerry’s face showed he was happy to oblige.
In a mad rush, we told Mom how Peter had seen the body when we were swinging in the backyard. At least we thought it was a body. It was shaped like a body. And what looked like a toe was peeking from beneath the blanket. Heck, it looked like a naked dead body!
Mom sent everyone home and immediately called the police.
That evening at dinner, Mom told us the body was indeed Mrs. Dunning’s dearly departed sister. Sadly, the sister had passed away the night before. Mom explained, “In the old days when someone died, their body would be put in a casket and placed on the porch so family and friends had the opportunity to say their good-byes.” She wiped milk from my 3-year-old sister’s mouth. “Now the reason for this custom is due to the fact that doorways weren’t wide enough to allow for a casket to be brought inside. Mrs. Dunning didn’t have a casket readily available, so she thought it best to place her sister in a rocking chair.”
“But she works as the church organist. Wouldn’t she know about funerals?” Nancy asked.
Mom sighed, “Mrs. Dunning is an elderly woman and we really shouldn’t blame her for not knowing she shouldn’t put dead bodies on the porch. Now everyone eat up. They’ll be no more discussion of dead bodies at the dinner table.”
How could Mrs. Dunning possibly think it was a good idea to put her dead, naked sister out on the porch? It was all very odd, but as kids still in the single digit years, we quickly forgot about Mrs. Dunning. Why, we didn’t even notice when she moved.
Fifteen years later Mom filled us in on the rest of the story.
Seems when the police arrived that day they had some questions for Mrs. Dunning. They wanted to know why her sister’s body had whip marks all over it. Mrs. Dunning calmly explained how nightly she performed a ceremonial dance in her sister’s bedroom, working feverishly to whip out the devil that had taken up residence in her sister’s body (Fortunately, the sister didn’t feel the whip). According to Mrs. Dunning, it was the devil that made her sister an invalid.
Mrs. Dunning was immediately sent to a mental facility.
It’s difficult to imagine the nightly scene that unfolded in the Dunning household all those years. Especially when right next door a completely different scene played out in Elaine and my bedroom. Every night we would climb into bed to spend the next half hour to an hour talking about our shared day. Just before we’d drift off to sleep, we’d whisper across the space between our twin beds, “Good night, I love you, you’re a good sister, remember to say your prayers.”
At 6:12am one Christmas morning, we ripped wrapping paper off presents eager to reveal either a toy or a plain box which signaled a shirt, pants or sweater inside. Our dog, Duffy, ran from kid to kid making sure a treat wasn’t being uncovered. Among squeals of delight, voices rose over the din to be heard. Dad sat in his leather chair, reading the instructions on Kerry’s tricycle, all the while fielding her questions on why she couldn’t ride it in the snow.
It was loud, chaotic, sheer madness, and wonderful.
In typical fashion, Mom had festooned the whole house for the holiday. Large, red-berried wreaths hung on the front and back doors. Evergreen garland bordered every doorway. Tufts of lambs wool cushioned the nativity scene on the oak console in the entryway. Carefully placed pine branches swept across the fireplace mantle. Pine-scented candles burned throughout the house, while an assortment of nutcrackers in various sizes were placed strategically so one would be surprised, and delighted, to happen upon them. Just like every Sunday dinner and holiday, the large dining room table was set with fine linen, china and crystal goblets. Why Mom allowed our child-clumsy hands on her finer cutlery, is a testament to her commitment that her children grow up to be civilized creatures.
Suddenly from the corner of the room Linda’s squeal broke the sound barrier. “Look! LOOK!”
“What is it, honey?” Dad asked, rolling his glasses down to get a better look, setting aside the screwdriver he was using on the tricycle’s wheel.
Linda stretched her arms high above her head.
In her hands? A Ouija board.
Sue, who purchased the gift for Nancy and Linda, was now the benefactor of Mom’s glare.
“What were you thinking?” Mom hissed. “That game is C-R-A-P.” She spelled out for the benefit of young ears in the room.
“I thought it would be fun.” Sue shrugged, leaving it at that.
“Linda, bring that over here honey,” Mom brushed aside boxes, tissue paper and torn wrapping paper to make room for Linda who still had to walk a tightrope to avoid crushing any boxes or landing on her rump. She handed the Ouija board to Mom who read the back cover.
“It’s cool, isn’t it Mom? Janet got one for her birthday and we called up ghosts in her house but there weren’t any, which was kind of disappointing, but I bet there’s some here. Do you think Kadio will get in touch with us? Oh, wouldn’t that be spooky?” Linda’s eyes grew wide. “Only kind of spooky. I won’t be scared Mom, I promise.”
“You know this can’t really connect you to ghosts, right?” Mom asked.
“Ha! Ghosts. There’s no such thing as ghosts,” Dad called from the other side of the room.
“Never mind your father. There are ghosts, but this is not the way to communicate with them.” Mom placed the game down among the strewn wrapping paper. It appeared as if she intended to hide it. Out of sight / out of mind. Linda wasn’t dissuaded and even brought the Ouija board to the kitchen table when it was time for breakfast.
“Remove that box from your lap,” Mom warned.
Linda placed it in front of her chair with her legs holding it in place.
“I can’t believe you bought her that gift,” Mom admonished Sue again.
The day rolled along, the night drew down its curtain and Aunt Mary and Uncle Bob had just left after sharing Christmas dinner with us. Sue, Jack, Peter and Elaine were tasked with clearing the table, putting away the food and hand washing all the dishes (china, crystal and sterling silver do NOT go in the dishwasher!). The smell of roast, roasted potatoes and pine filled the house. Kerry and Stephen were fast asleep upstairs. Dad poured Mom a shot of Vermouth and they retired to the living room where they found Nancy, Linda and me checking out the instructions on the Ouija board, a weirdly mysterious board that promised to foretell the house secrets.
“It’ll connect us to the dead.” Linda marveled.
“Kadio?” I quietly asked, afraid to say it louder in case our resident ghost overheard.
“Come on, open the box,” Nancy implored.
Sighing, Mom again informed us that the Ouija board was not going to connect us to ghosts and Dad again informed us that there are no such things as ghosts. Pushing his comment aside, Mom took a healthy swig of her drink and came over to sit down on the couch beside Nancy. Linda and I sat across from them on the other side of the coffee table. Reverently, Linda placed the Ouija board on the table. Included in the box was a planchette, a small triangular piece made of plastic, with a smaller magnifying glass in the middle.
Dad picked up a newspaper to read.
“I’m going to show you that this is a ridiculous game.” Annoyed, Mom scanned the directions.
“First thing is for each of us to place 4 fingers, 2 from each hand, on this doohickey, but don’t cover the magnifying glass.” Mom set the planchette in the middle of the board. Sixteen fingers jockeyed for position. It was obvious one of us was going to be booted from the game.
“Lisa, honey, why don’t you sit next to me and watch us play.” Indicating how much she knew asking me to sit out would upset me, Mom gave me a sad puss face.
“Why do I have to?” I whined.
“Because it’s not your game.” Linda shoved me.
“Linda!” Mom warned. “Sue did give this to Nancy and Linda as a present. You can watch from here.” She patted the empty cushion next to her.
Disappointed, I stood up, crossed my arms, pushed out my lower lip and stomped over to dad. I plopped myself down on the armrest of his chair. He slowly rubbed my back with one hand, his other hand keeping the paper open so he could continue to read.
Mom said, “Now, we’re supposed to ask questions and if there’s a spirit present, it’ll move this piece around the board, magnifying a letter, number or word.” She sighed, as if this was a complete waste of her time. “Linda, why don’t you start.”
“Are there ghosts?” Linda asked keeping an eye on the triangular piece that was shaking beneath Mom, Nancy and Linda’s fingertips.
“Stop moving.” Mom said.
“I’m not moving.”
Slowly the piece moved to the top of the Ouija board. Dead square in the middle of the magnifying glass sat the word ‘Yes’.
“I didn’t move it.”
“How many ghosts are there?” asked Linda.
The piece shuddered, then moved to the number ‘3’.
“What’s your name?” asked Nancy.
“Wait, wait, wait.” Mom started to say as the piece went to ‘J’, then ‘O’, then ‘H’, then ‘N’. Pausing for a few seconds, it continued its trajectory across the board, ‘M’ ‘A’ ‘R’ ‘T’ ‘I’ ‘N’
Mom’s face paled.
“Did you live here?” Nancy asked.
“Girls, stop moving it.”
“I’m not.” Linda and Nancy cried in unison.
Nancy continued, “Did you die here?”
“How did you die?”
“WAIT!” Mom took her fingers away from the planchette and told Nancy and Linda to do the same. She pointed her finger at first Nancy, then Linda. “One of you is moving this piece around and it’s not funny. Now I want you to stop it.”
Linda turned to Dad, “Did you hear, Dad, it says there are three ghosts in the house and one of them, John Martin, died right here in this very house.”
“Uh-huh.” Dad huffed barely listening as he continued to read his paper. He stopped rubbing my back about a minute after he started, but I remained on the arm of the chair, unwilling to give Mom, Nancy or Linda the satisfaction of moving closer to the game. I could see very well from here, thank you very much. I was hoping Linda was kidding around about moving the piece. I knew Mom and Nancy wouldn’t move it, but Linda? Linda had a bit of mischief in her.
“Let’s try this again, but no fiddling with the piece.” Mom fumed, her ability to quickly show this was a stupid, silly game was taking longer than expected.
Linda sat up, putting her legs under her to gain a bit more height.
Gently, 12 fingers touched the planchette.
Mom said, “Let me ask the questions.” She paused, “Is your name John Martin?”
“Mom, we already...” Linda began, but never finished. The piece flew up to Yes.
“You moved that.” Mom dared Linda.
“I didn’t. I swear.”
“We don’t swear in this house. Just stop moving the piece!”
Nancy chimed in, her voice gaining an octave, “I don’t think I want to do this anymore.” She leaned back, her hands firmly clutching the bottom of the couch cushions; her eyes glued to the planchette.
I was now starting to get scared.
Mom and Linda continued playing.
“How old were you when you died?” Mom asked. Mom looked back and forth between Linda and the piece sliding over the board, bringing her along for the ride.
“56,” Nancy whispered.
Timidly, Mom asked, “How did you die?”
“Linda, stop moving it.”
Linda’s hands flew up in the air. “I’m not touching it.”
The piece skipped over to ‘I’
“What the....” Mom stuttered as the piece dashed to ‘R’ and then over to ‘E’; Mom’s fingers only on the piece.
“Fire.” Mom said quietly.
The piece flew up the board.
Mom’s fingers came off the piece, yet the piece kept moving wildly across the board.
I stood up to catch what it was spelling out, remaining a safe distance from the board. The planchette ran across the board, spelling the same thing.
“Jack!” Mom yelled to Dad.
“Huh?” He turned to the Sports page.
The lights in the room flickered. I had a good view of the dining room and the doorway into the kitchen. None of the lights in those rooms even blinked.
It was eerily silent.
Thinking the lamp beside his chair was the only light flickering Dad reached under the lampshade and started fiddling with the bulb.
“What?” Dad said, confused. It’s then he saw that all the lights in the room were flickering. “Well, that’s odd.”
“Not as odd as this...this...thing. With no one touching it, it flew across the board, spelling out words.” Mom shuddered.
The Ouija board was silent. The plastic doohickey finally rested on the letter ‘R’.
“That’s nonsense.” Dad stated.
The lights stopped flickering. A strong sense of something having passed through the room chilled me. I took two steps back. Nancy sunk back into the couch, tears streaming down her face. Linda’s mouth was in the shape of an “O” amazed and intrigued by what happened. Mom hurriedly put the game back in the box.
It was impossible to fall asleep that night, but Mom told us ‘not to worry’ and Dad joked that our breaths moved the planchette around. When I peppered both of them with questions, they told me to go to bed.
Since Elaine was drying dishes the whole time the planchette was cycling around the Ouija board, she insisted on hearing every detail of what happened. I only agreed if she checked on a lurking shadow in the corner of our bedroom. It turned out to be one of my sweaters.
Even though the expanse between our beds was small, Elaine had to strain to hear me. I didn’t want to invite Kadio to the discussion.
Two days later, Mom sat down at the kitchen table where 7 of us were having lunch. She asked Stephen to be a ‘big boy’ and grab some more napkins out of the pantry, and then asked Kerry to help him. With the two of them distracted, Mom related her findings.
“I don’t want your brother and sister to overhear because it will frighten them. They know nothing of what happened the other night and I want to keep it that way.” Mom scanned the table, making sure her point was heard and would be heeded. She nodded once in satisfaction. “I spent some time yesterday checking on well ... things. I talked to a nice man by the name of Tom Martin.”
Linda’s eyes bulged. “That’s the ghost’s last name.”
“Sshh!” Mom looked behind to see Stephen trying to undo the wrapping on the napkins. Kerry clutched either side of the wastebasket, a wastebasket as tall as she. She must have thought she was being helpful in case the napkins exploded from the pack.
Mom continued in a low voice, all of us leaning forward to catch every word. “Tom Martin’s great grandfather, John Martin, lived in a house that sat on this property. One night a kerosene lamp exploded, causing a fire to spread through the house pretty quickly. Poor John Martin never made it out. Now I believe in always sharing the truth with you children, but I don’t want to hear another word about what happened with the Ouija board the other night. Nancy...” She nodded to Nancy, then turned to Linda, “Linda. I’m sorry, but I tossed the Ouija board. I don’t think it’s a good idea to have it in the house.”
Mom’s steel tone indicated there would be no further conversations about what happened with the Ouija board, at least not in her presence. Nancy had just one question that needed to be answered before the door was shut on the discussion, “Was Mr. Martin a plumber?”
It didn’t surprise me when we moved from that house at 917 Madison Avenue, 8 months later.
Yet the strange, creepy events didn’t end with a move.