My True Colors
Hope everyone is enjoying your summer. I know it isn’t fall time but I thought you might like a ghost story instead of the random “There I was…” war story. I have to warn you before you start reading that the story I am going to tell you is very real. It really happened three weeks ago exactly as I describe it. If you get weirded out over scary things please stop reading now and go on to the next article, because I have proof that things do go bump in the night.
My wife is a wonderful woman who attracts good friends like a light attracts moths. She and three other women have formed a bond that is much stronger than the bond between sisters. All four of these ladies just happen to be in the medical profession although they were friends before their career paths were set. All of their kids are in the same age grouping with the two oldest being 15 and the youngest is just 5. The other six kids are between 11 and 7. The other three husbands and I can be described as garnish, we complete the meal but really we serve no real purpose. As proof as to the tightness of the four families, the last five years we have vacationed together at various locations around the beaches of Charleston, SC. In fact this year is the first we have not vacationed together because of various reasons. So this past weekend the four families minus two leaves of garnish spent the weekend together in Davis, WV.
Davis, WV is a sleepy mountain town about ten minutes from the Canaan Valley ski resorts and just two miles from Blackwater Falls. It is a town of approximately 600 people with a gas station, a couple of restaurants, a grocery store and about five stop signs. The house that we stayed in is almost 100 years old belonging to the extended family of one of my wives friends, Jennifer. As a youngster, Jennifer would visit the home of her Great Grand Parents playing in the yard and throwing sour apples at the neighbor’s houses. Her Great Grandfather “Pappy” ( I don’t know his name, but Pappy sounds about right judging from his picture) built the house in the just after World War I for his wife “Mammy” (I don’t know her real name either) and their sixteen children (Yes, you read it correctly. Sixteen kids in the house.) Jennifer’s Grand-Father took over the house and raised another large family. Jennifer’s Mother was one of the kids that grew up in the house. Not so amazingly, Jennifer doesn’t have any relatives in the area because all the children left Davis WV at a young age. Jennifer’s Mom settled in Huntington, WV where Jennifer was born.
Every year the family converges on Davis for their family reunion where they all stay in the house. Otherwise, the house sits vacant. I have lived in a lot of houses during my life but I don’t know that I have slept in a house that is that old. I ate dinner in a castle in Ireland that was a few hundred years old once and even that gave me the creeps. But giving credit where it is due, Pappy built a house that has lasted. Other than having old plumbing and electricity, the house is holding up very well. It is rock solid and looks like it can last another 100 years. Yes, it squeaks when you walk, but my house that is thirteen years old already has some squeaky places. It doesn’t have air conditioning but who needs it when you are at 3,000 feet elevation. Last weekend it was over 90 degrees when we left our house and upon our arrival in the mountains, it was a brisk 65. When we left on Sunday, it was 55, windy and rain. It felt like April at the Grand Canyon, cold and once again I was under dressed for the weather.
When my son saw the house Friday afternoon, he was apprehensive about sleeping there. He said it looked like one of those houses in the scary movies and he is right. I thought it resembled the Norman Bates house from the 1950 movie Psycho. My son was so nervous at bedtime that I let him fall asleep in our little bed and then I tried to transport him to the room where the other boys were sleeping. Normally, he falls asleep very fast and I can move him without an issue but on Friday night he woke up and wouldn’t let me walk out. I took him back to our room where we both went to sleep. My wife who normally goes to bed early actually stayed up to talk with her friends. When she came to bed, she got to have the fun of moving our 70 pound, long armed monster to his bed with the boys.
On Saturday night we repeated the process except this time, my wife fell asleep with my son and I stayed up. When I came to bed, it was my turn to move my son. The first night, the house was still a little stuffy from sitting closed up so all the windows were open and everyone left their bedroom doors open to allow the house to cool. On Saturday night, the house was comfortable so the windows were closed and all the bedroom doors were shut. The rooms that the kids slept in all had night lights but with the doors closed there wasn’t even the faintest glow below the door. Old Pappy must have been a perfectionist because there wasn’t any gap between the door and the floor. Because it was so dark, I grabbed my cell phone and tried to use the glow from the screen to give me enough light to make my way out of the room and down the hall. My wife woke up and saw me struggling with my son and the light so she took the phone and lit the way.
With my son in his bed, I went to the bathroom to do my business before bed. Walking into the bathroom, I stepped on one of the girls plastic necklaces. The kind that one of the Disney Princes might give to his Princess to earn her hand in the fairy tale marriage, except this one was made in China for two cents and sold in the USA for five dollars. Yes it was uncomfortable to step on but I was man enough to cry in silence. When I was finished with the bathroom, I held the door open with the light on to scout my meandering route around the railing of the stairs and back to the right room. I didn’t want to step on anymore kiddie landmines and I figured it was bad form to crawl into the wrong bed with the wrong woman. With the path cleared of all hazardous objects, I turned off the light listened. Any living creature that weighed more than seventeen ounces and was moving would make a noise. The doors of each room buckled against the latches as the air pressure in the house rose and fell because of the loud wind whipping around the soffits. It was an eerie feeling knowing that every door upstairs was moving in unison but no one was jiggling the door knobs. It seemed just them that flashes of lighting illuminated the hallway from the only open door in the back bedroom. The house groaned as the storm intensified outside with the sound of rain pelting the roof and windows. Despite all the clues normally associated with every 1980 slasher movie I saw as a kid, I was sure that I was alone and that my wife was back in bed. Being the chicken I am, I started my silent self-talk. “Don’t be afraid, Rob. It is just a walk in the park and there is nothing to be afraid of…”
I tried to step very gently but each step made two squeaks. The first when I put pressure on the floor and the other when I lifted the foot. Three annoyingly loud steps later, I found the edge of the railing. I started out slow because four steps straight out of the bathroom was the opening to the stairs leading down and I had no desire to tumble down the nearly vertical wooden steps. I put the finger from my right hand on the railing and slowly traced my path back to the bed. Making my way down the hallway, the alarms from my spider senses started going off telling me I wasn’t alone in the pitch dark hallway. My internal self-talk went into hyper drive telling myself that it was okay to die like a man. I kept moving towards the room with the forbidding intermittent flash of lighting.
But I wasn’t alone in the hallway.
Making the right 90 degree turn towards assumed safe zone, my left hand brushed against something that I would have sworn wasn’t there ten seconds earlier. It was wickedly cold to the touch. The shock wave passed through my body like a jet blasting through the sound barrier. I am glad that I relieved my bladder just a minute earlier because had I not, it would have happened right then. Instinctively I reached out and grabbed the object that my finger hit. It was a human wrist and the only reason I didn’t scream out in terror was because I was still in gasping for air. Freezing in position and gripping tightly to the wrist of the creature in the dark, my left index finger felt something unexpected… cotton.
With a trembling voice, I weakly called out to the ghoul in the night. “Baby?”
“Get out of my way, I have got to pee.” My wife replied. She went on to the bathroom thinking that I knew she was standing in the corner waiting for me to pass by.
When she came back to the bed, I confessed that I thought she was a ghost and if she had reached out to grab me, I would have jumped over the railing and tumbled down the steps to my death. She called me a chicken and we both went to sleep laughing.
Until next time, keep on rockin.