February 21, 2006

I was just recently talking about all of those ghost shows on late night cable TV. I had been watching one about a bar that was haunted by a former bartender who had blown out his brains with a shotgun in the back room. It was one of those shows where actors play the parts, and then they switch over to the actual people for little interview segments.

It's a cheaply made program. By showing the same acting segment several times, sandwiching commercial breaks, they end up having an hour-long show with fifteen minutes of actual acting footage.

Even though the shows are 100 percent cheese, this one gave me a little fright at 2:00 Saturday morning. I figured that cowardice was an indication that it was time to turn off the TV and go to bed.

I'm happy to make fun of those shows, but at the risk of sounding like someone who should himself be ridiculed, I think there's a house in my neighborhood that's haunted.

As regular readers know, I walk the dog at night. The people who live in this house must spend their time in the back, because the front rooms are almost always completely dark. It never really bothered me, and it's a very average house. I never really paid much attention to it.

One night, as I was passing, I just started to feel creeped out for no real reason. I got something like a little chill, and started to feel nervous. Or maybe anxious is the better word. I looked up at the dark windows, and I could just make out a face looking back out at me.

I think I shit myself a little bit, but I forced a deep breath and looked back. I stopped and stared. The face didn't move, and I couldn't see it very well because of the dark. I had the sense that it was a boy's face. It wasn't at the height that it would have been a full grown person. As it wasn't changing, I convinced myself that I was seeing a statue or a plant with an unfortunately human sort of shape or something like that.

A week or so later, I worked up the nerve to walk past again. This time, the front rooms were alight. I slowed way down and craned my neck to take inventory of everything in the rooms. I didn't see anything by the window, and I didn't see anything at all that looked remotely like a child's face. I just chalked it up to imagination.

A couple of months after that, I had nearly forgotten about all of this. Then I got another chill.

I looked up at the dark house and didn't see anything. My eyes were set on the spot where I had seen the face, and there was nothing. But as I was moving my gaze back to the road, there was a small face in the next window over. I glanced back once to make sure that I wasn't imagining it.

I wasn't.

I made haste, and got the heck out of there.

Since then, I've walked past the same house dozens and dozens of times without seeing anything unusual. From time to time, the front is lit up, and there are people living there. Once, I passed as the people were dragging their trash to the curb. I passed up the opportunity to ask if they sensed that their house was haunted. I would rather think that it is.

Bret Easton Ellis's Lunar Park

That's my whole ghost story, but if you like creepy stories, I have a book recommendation for you. I started Lunar Park as an audiobook, and had trouble listening to anything else until I was through with the story. In a couple of years, I will have forgotten the details, and then I'm actually going to read it.