Who’s that Knocking?
by Aaron Paul Lazar
Living in an antique home has its problems, especially when you’re not a handyman. My father taught me all sorts of wonderful things when he was alive, including passion for the arts, gardening, nature, gourmet cooking, and a good mystery. He didn’t know much about mechanical, plumbing, electric, or woodworking skills. Though I’ve tried to learn over the years with self-help books and advice from friends, I remain singularly unhandy, perpetually bowing with an unholy need to the whims of the local plumber and electrician.
Take, for example, the twenty-six windows that are crumbling as we speak. The six by nine inch panes are coming loose from their wooden mullions with alarming frequency. Or the floorboards in the bedroom, a lovely old yellow pine, that poke up like teepees when it’s hot and muggy. Yeah, they need to be treated with poly something-or-other, but for now, the moisture makes them swell. Consider the two wells that sometimes work in concert – except for the hundred times a year I have to run down to the cobwebbed cellar and reset the breakers or tap on the pump to make it work. The disadvantages are many.
But there are also great benefits, such as the three working fireplaces. Or the soil that surrounds the property, rich and black, untouched by bulldozers. It’s not like the hard packed fill they put in the new housing tracts. I don’t need to “amend” this soil. I just need to keep up with the produce and flowers.
Most intriguing of all, however, is the rich history.
Our house was built in 1811 by Dr. David Hunt.
Okay, so compared to the homes in Europe, it’s just an infant. But in terms of our country and its young age, it’s amazing. Think about it. This house was built and lived in more than fifty years before the civil war!
Imagine the births, deaths, dramas, romances, and heartaches that occurred within these rooms. Did the inhabitants suffer from small pox? Starvation? Were they affluent? How many horses or cows did they own? And… how many ghosts linger in these plaster and lathe walls?
Let’s examine the past 100 years. According to an elderly neighbor, over seven people have died on Hunts Corners. Traffic accidents. Drivers not stopping for the all-way stop signs, or sliding on ice, or drunk drivers plowing right into the telephone pole. Sad to think about. Makes you wonder about their spirits. Did they ascend to Heaven? Or do a few guilty souls remain in the area, confused and wandering, seeking the path to redemption?
Recently, I began to ponder another death disclosed to me by a young neighbor friend. We began to correspond after he read a few of my books. He’s a bright and entertaining young fellow who happens to be a voracious reader. We clicked. And we chat back and forth about books and life and sometimes… about the history of our area.
It seems Hunts Corners has a mystery all its own, stemming from the early 1900s. As the story goes, my young neighbor’s great grandmother noticed something odd one day. (I’ll invent names to “protect the innocent!”) While going about her daily duties, Mabel realized she hadn’t seen the young girl who lived next door in a long time. Anna no longer attended school, and rarely made an appearance outside the home. When she did, Mabel noticed a thickening in her middle, well-wrapped by heavy garments. She suspected the girl was with child. In that era, a pregnancy out of wedlock was unthinkable. Shameful. A sin. The family would endure public humiliation if news got out. So Anna was sequestered for nine long months as Mabel watched the child grow in her belly.
When the time came for the baby to be born, there was no activity in the house. No child was seen. No doctor arrived. All was quiet.
Speculation grew. Was the child stillborn? Or worse, was she murdered by a family cloaked in shame? Rumors were that the little baby was buried behind Anna’s house.
Since then, there have been reports of children pointing behind the house, exclaiming about the “little girl in the weeds.” The adults couldn’t see her.
But I think I might have, last winter.
I rose early to photograph our Christmas lights. They were unusually festive last year, better than all past years. We’d added a few lighted deer for fun, and I was bound and determined to capture the beauty in the blackest of night. It was a clear, chill morning. Five A.M. Not a breeze stirred. Most households were fast asleep. Few cars passed by.
I brought my trusty Canon Powershot outdoors and shot dozens of photos. Later, when I viewed them on my PC, I saw the ghost. There she was – looking straight at me with wide open eyes. Filmy, transparent, but with a clear face and body. Only two shots revealed her, although I took dozens that morning.
The photos are untouched, straight from the camera card. And yes, I know there’s probably a scientific explanation. Maybe the light from the flash illuminated ice crystals in the air, causing a momentary illusion. But I’d like to ignore that for now and just consider it a visit from my friendly little ghost.
Last night I woke to a tapping sound. Usually it’s Max, on his chair, scratching an itch and thumping up against the armrest. I rose to check, but he lay still, mouth open, breathing evenly.
Could it be my grandson knocking on the door? I looked. No one was there. All was quiet, no little boys or cats were hoping to gain entrance.
I went back to bed. The tapping resumed. Looking out the window, I noticed headlights flashing by, briefly illuminating the darkness. Was that a flash of white? A face? Or simply the reflection on wet streets?
The tapping resumed. Outside my window. On the second floor.
Could it be?
I buried my head beneath the covers and said my prayers.