Mar. 24, 2017

The Haunting on Tracy Road

I lived with my brother, Brian, over the summer when I was fourteen. At the time, he was renting a three-bedroom apartment above an old shutdown grocery store that was being used as a church on Sundays. We often awoke to hymnals being sung. It was a weekly ritual.

One day, my friend, Spunky, whose real name was Ursula, was visiting. It was just the two of us at home alone while Brian and his wife, Debbie, along with their three kids, Jerimi, Jackie, and Jason had gone to the grocery store. The TV was off as Spunky sat on the love seat with a book in her hands. I was sitting in the chair adjacent to her with one in mine as well.

The window fan set on the floor behind Spunky blowing into the center of the living room. It hummed quietly behind her. Although the windows were open, there was no wind blowing through the apartment. It was very hot and muggy outside. Outside of the occasion turning of a page from the books we were reading, the fan was the only noise in the apartment so when it shut off, it was quite noticeable.

“What happened to the fan?” Spunky asked peering over the back of the love seat at it.

“I dunno. Might be the power,” I answered. “Sometimes the power acts goofy and it turns things off.” When I got up to wiggle the power cord I noticed the dial on the fan. The dial had off on one end, low, medium, and then high was at the other end. “Spunk, when you turned on the fan, what did you set it on?”

She glanced up from her book. “I turned it all the way on to high, why?”

“Because it’s on off.”

“How did it get on off? I swear I turned it to high!”

My niece and nephew’s bedroom was in the middle of the hallway by the staircase. While discussing the dial on the fan, their door slammed itself shut so hard, the fan in front of me rattled. Spunky and I screamed. There was nothing there to cause that door to close with that much force. We ran to the back door terrified. We tried as hard as we could to open it and it refused to budge. Our only other alternative was to use the staircase by the bedroom where the door had just slammed itself shut.

When Brian and Debbie came home from grocery shopping, they found us sitting on the outside steps waiting for them. We told them what had happened with the fan, the bedroom door, and then the back door. They laughed at us. As Debbie set a bag of groceries on the counter, Brian went to the back door and opened it without any problems.

“You two were just paranoid,” he chastised. “You’re letting your imagination run away with you.”

I was so mad about being ridiculed about the mysterious events; I stormed off to my room. Spunky was right behind me. When I left a few minutes later to ask my brother to explain the fan to me, Spunky was again, right behind me. I finally let it drop because it was obvious Brian was just going to be an asshole about it no matter what.

About a month later, I woke up to someone throwing rocks at my bedroom window. It was one of the neighbors trying to get my attention. “Come down and drink a beer with me,” he said holding up a six-pack of Miller Light.

“I’ll be down in a minute,” I promised.

I slipped on a pair of pants and headed for the bathroom first. It was just across the hall from my niece and nephew’s bedroom, the staircase was between us. It was the 70’s then and we rarely locked our doors so I wasn’t startled any when I heard, with clear distinction, the door downstairs open. Clear as day, I heard the footsteps stomp up the stairs, come around the staircase and walk the rest of the hallway into the kitchen where I heard the refrigerator door open and then close.

Figuring the neighbor had put the six-pack in the fridge, I called out from the bathroom, “Can you be a little quieter please? You’re going to wake everyone up!”

There was no response. I didn’t hear him walk back by so when I left the bathroom I went to the kitchen; he wasn’t there. I went downstairs to where I found him sitting on the steps with the six-pack. He looked up at me as I approached, “Why were you stomping around so much in there?” I asked.

“In where?”

“The kitchen. I heard you come upstairs and go to the fridge.”

“What in the hell are you talking about? I didn’t go in the house,” he said bewildered.

The next day, when my sister-in-law and I were alone, I said to her as a statement of observation; I clearly was not asking for confirmation, “You have a ghost.”

Debbie snickered and said, “Why do say that?” Again, I went over the bit about the fan, the bedroom door, the back door and this time, I included the events from the previous night. “Yeah, we have one but your brother didn’t want you to know.”

“Why not?”

Debbie laughed again, “Because the room you sleep in, no one wants to be in. No matter whose room it is, they can’t sleep in there.”

“I sleep fine in there,” I said, recalling how Spunky, Kim, or Cathy, none of them would be left alone in there. My bedroom was just off the living room. If I were to leave my room to go to the bathroom or kitchen, when I came back, my friends were always sitting in the living room waiting for me.

“I know but, when we first moved here, it was the boy’s bedroom and every morning, we’d wake up and they’d be sleeping in the living room. So, we put Jackie in there. The same thing happened. That’s why she is sleeping in the boy’s room now. She refuses to sleep in your room.”

Years later, after the kids were all grown up, I was talking to Jackie about that apartment. “Oh yeah, I know very well it’s haunted,” she said with a shudder. “I hated that place!”

“What happened to you?” I asked, amazed at her response.

“I had gone into the bedroom we all slept in one day. I was by myself. I had gone in to get a toy or something, I don’t remember. Anyway, the closet door opened up by itself and there was this old witch lady standing there. She smiled at me; she was toothless, and she started waving her hand at me to come on inside the closet with her.”

“Are you shitting me,” I exclaimed in surprised. “You’re serious?”

“Yes, very serious,” Jackie declared adamantly. “I was so terrified! I went and got Mom and when we went back into the bedroom the old witch was gone but the closet door was still opened. I was so petrified that Mom pushed the bunk beds up against the closet door and left it there. That’s why it was against the door, because of the old witch I saw.”

“What did she look like?”

Jackie thought a minute and then answered, “She was short, kind of bent like an old lady would be, long white hair around her face, and as I said, toothless when she grinned.”

Years later, I asked Brian why he stayed there, being as religious as he is and knowing the place was haunted. He explained it was because the rent was so cheap. “It was only $60 a month. You couldn’t beat that, even in those days.”

I think the haunting explains why the rent was so low. This was where my brother and his family lived just before moving to the old farmhouse where I encountered “The Hag.” It didn’t open any closet doors for me, but it did scare me more than anything else ever had before.