Before I share this next story, I have to tell you that my husband’s name is Chris. He’s given me the go-ahead to use his name, though he never really told me not to, and it’s not like most of you don’t know us anyway. Besides, I will get too agitated if I have to keep referring to him as “C,” and so will you. The poor man was actually with me for this interview and he is traumatized. Which means, it’s gonna be a good one. So, on with the story.
The night started as a simple weeknight dinner at The Cottage with Chris’s collegue Chad and his wife, Emily. Chris and I were running about five minutes late and as I panned the bar area I spotted the Hayes couple immediately. Emily wore a kelly green sheath dress with gold Jack Rogers. A little bit of my ever-present social anxiety disappeared.
Trust me, I know that, at least socially speaking, I am a thirty-seven-year-old eighth grader, but I just like to feel as though I fit in. I was wearing bright pink sandals with a navy blue, sleeveless dress with scalloped edges. A stack of mismatched gold bangles and a pair of big gold beaded earrings completed my go-to cocktail party outfit, and it seemed a safe bet for this dinner. Chris worked with Chad, whose family had recently moved to Wellesley, and I didn’t really know what to expect from the couple. In small town fashion, I’d actually met his wife, Emily, at Perrin Park, though we’d only spoken for a few minutes.
We ordered drinks and made small talk by the bar about kids and neighborhoods while Chad went to check on the status of our table. Emily was fun to talk to and I immediately felt at ease around her. Whereas I typically dread the couple-on-couple dinner date because it so often felt like a blind date mixed with a job interview mixed with a marriage therapy session, I was already thinking that I might have found a new friend.
After only ten minutes of conversation I was planning to invite her to my squad’s next playgroup. She seemed like she might fit right in, and as any mom knows, if you are lucky enough to find a playgroup where everyone has roughly the same vibe about parenting, you do not upset the apple cart (or apple sauce squeeze-pack box, as it were). A free-range parent among helicopters will absolutely kill the vibe and vice versa. Our little playgroup had a sip wine and if they keep interrupting us while we’re talking turn on Paw Patrol vibe.
We hung at the bar for about fifteen minutes and when we were seated the conversation turned, as it so often does, to explanations of how everyone ended up in the suburbs with kids. Chad and Emily had met at Michigan State, she was from Ohio, he from Indiana. I tried not to spaz out and scare them away, but I just LOVE mid-Western people. LOVE them. They have a calm, reasonable assurance about themselves and a spot on sense of humor. Just about every mid-Westerner that I have befriended has unfolded like a rare buy-all-five-items Stitch Fix. In my experience, they have a refreshing lack of neurosis, a fantastic sense of humor, knowledge about interesting things like pontoon boats, and wild college stories.
I tried my best not to fan girl out. Chris started talking some sports ‘n such with Chad and the conversation split, with Emily and I discovering just how compatible we were and the guys talking about, well, I don’t really know what. Emily informed me that after college she and Chad moved to Manhattan, where he worked in Real Estate and she in some finance something or other. They had their three children in the city, Michael, her now seven-year-old, Benjamin the five-year-old and Margaret, the baby, coming in at three years.
After Maggie was born Emily wanted out of the city. She explained that ultimately it was the never-ending public restroom lines that did her in. She couldn’t take it anymore. After having her third, she was always scouting out the next bathroom and lived in fear of wetting her pants.
I had found my soul mate. I had to play it cool.
“I think you’re my soul mate,” I told her, after taking a huge sip of Chardonnay.
“Don’t jinx us,” she replied, sipping red wine. “Give me your back story.”
So I told her about our post college move from upstate New York to Boston, our slow crawl from Brighton, to Brookline, to the Back Bay, then finally to Beacon Hill and then, our inability to hold onto the dream. I glossed over the many careers I’d had, and she actually shrieked when I told her that I was a former librarian. Chad tried to break into our conversation to find out what was so thrilling and she actually shushed him and then peppered me with questions about librarianship.
I had a warm and fuzzy feeling that just grew and grew throughout the dinner. These people were funny and they laughed and drank and told interesting stories. We’d found new friends! New friends!! My friends are really just about the most important part of my life. I realized when the girls were babies that if we were going to survive parenthood, then we needed to establish a solid network of solid couples for Chris and I to lean on and find a way to laugh at the craziness with. We found those people, and here were two brand spanking new friends to add to the circle. I had to stop myself from asking the waiter to take a photo of the four of us.
We were eating dessert when Chris asked, “How long have you guys been here in town? A couple months, right?”
Chad looked at his wife and replied, “We’ve been in Wellesley about four months and we’re already on our second house.”
“How?” I asked, looking between them.
“You think our move was complicated?” Chris commented. “Wait until you hear what these guys have been through.”
I waited expectantly, but they just exchanged a sideways glance and looked back Chris and I.
“Was it that bad?” I asked.
“It was pretty ridiculous,” Emily confirmed. “We were only in the house for about two months when we called our real estate agent and asked her to find us a new home,” she paused and drained her wine glass. “It just became un-livable, we tried to make it work but we couldn’t.”
Chad nodded his head in agreement. Chris and I waited for further explanation, but when none came I demanded, “What was it? You can’t leave us hanging like that, was there fecal matter in the water or something?”
Chad snorted and a little bit of his vodka tonic came out his nose. Emily laughed and said, “I wish it had been as easy as shit in the water. No, it was just – ”
“We had ghosts,” Chad blurted.
“Chad!” Emily growled, thoroughly annoyed. “They’re going to think we are crazy.”
“Oh, shit,” Chris said in anticipation of my freak out.
“Shut the fuck up!” I declared, slapping my hand on the table. “You seriously moved into a haunted house?”
“Yes,” Emily admitted, embarrassed.
“I must know everything!” I practically shouted.
This cinched the deal, I was in friend love, and I didn’t care who knew it.
Chad looked at his phone, it was around nine o’clock, “We have to relieve the au pair,” he said. “How late do you guys have the sitter tonight?”
“Until ten thirty,” I answered.
“Why don’t you come over to the house, it’s just around the corner. We’ll have a drink and tell you our ghost story and I can show Chris that new grill we were talking about.”
Chris started to decline the offer but I put my hand on his arm to stop him and said, “We would love to!”
As we followed the Hayes’ car out of the parking lot Chris grumbled, “Let’s hope you didn’t just sign us up to swing.”
“Stop it,” I said, tisking and rolling my eyes.
The Hayes’ au pair was waiting in the family room when we got to the house. She was a tall, thin, leggy blond with a huge smile and bright green eyes. One look at this girl and I was ready to shove Chris out the door and into the car.
Emily introduced us to Alison, the twenty-year-old girl from Denmark. After shaking hands Chris enthused, “I’ve always wanted to travel to Europe.”
I had to stop myself from saying, “Settle down; we are not getting an au pair.”
Of course, the hubs has never given me cause to worry. My aversion to au pairs is about my own insecurities, paranoia and fear of aging. I simply don’t want to be replaced with a newer, less bitchy model. So I certainly wasn’t going to move a newer, less bitchy model into my home for the same reason I don’t stock Oreo cookies and Parliament Lights in the house: temptation.
Anyhow, gorgeous Alison filled Emily in on the kids’ evening activities then excused herself to her suite above the garage. The guys went to the backyard to see the aforementioned grill while Emily and I headed for the kitchen to pour drinks. We walked through the cozy family room with its overstuffed sectional couch (grey) and colorful throw pillows. Family photos decorated the walls alongside framed kid’s artwork.
“Wait,” I said, following Emily through a set of double doors. “When did you guys move in?”
“About a month and a half ago,” she replied over her shoulder.
“How are you this settled? We’ve been in our house for a couple months and I’m still using a moving box as a night table.”
Emily waved off the comment, “Half of our stuff was still packed in the basement of the old house. The move was easy.”
I just made an affirmative noise. Two moves, with three young children in less than four months. How had she managed all of this? The rooms looked freshly painted (white on white, all of the color in the home came from artwork and accents). The floors were newly refinished (in a dark chocolate colored stain).
When I stepped into the kitchen it instantly became my favorite place in the whole world. The cabinets were a gleaming, glossy navy blue, set off by white walls and countertops. A large center island, and a long farmhouse style table (above which hung a crystal chandelier) completed my new happy place. I saw a hand towel draped over the oven’s handle that read, “It’s not drinking alone if the kids are home.”
I pointed to it and asked, “Alright, can we go steady?” Emily laughed and we set about pouring drinks.
As I happily watched her pour some peanut M&Ms into a big navy blue and white striped bowl I said, “OK, I’m going to come clean. I blog about ghost stories in Wellesley. I am a total freak.”
“No,” Emily said in excited disbelief.
“I do,” I admitted, hoping this didn’t end the magical night. “You wouldn’t believe how haunted this town is.”
“Oh, I believe it,” she said. “You can totally tell my story on your blog, it’s a doozy. I used to love watching those reality T.V. ghost shows. I can’t anymore. That shit is real and it is nothing compared to what we went through.”
I couldn’t believe it. First of all, hashtag soul mates. Second of all, I’d never had a haunted friend before. It was amazing. I asked her if I could record the story (fate allowed that I’d left my little digital recorder in the car) and she enthusiastically agreed.
We met up again with the guys on the deck and each of us sank into one of four (navy blue and white striped cushioned) lawn chair set cozily around a circular table on their patio. Chris shook his head when he saw me set the recorder on the little garden stool between Emily and Chad’s seats.
“Don’t worry,” I assured him. “I’m sure it won’t be that scary.”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Chad said ominously. “I haven’t slept through the night since we moved to Wellesley.”
“None of us have,” Emily agreed.
“Shit,” Chris said, surrendering to his fate. “Then we’re going to have to call an Uber because I’m not listening to this sober.”
“Deal,” I agreed then asked, “So what the hell happened?”
With her wine glass gripped between her hands, Emily began, “We bought a brand new house off Cliff Road. When Chad found out he could transfer to the Boston office we had, like, one weekend to come up here to find a house. We needed to buy a place in time for the school year to start for Michael, so we wouldn’t have any time for renovations prior to moving in, and most of the houses we saw definitely needed work. Then we saw the house. It was pretty much only framed, but we looked at the plans and it seemed like it would be perfect.”
“The lot was huge,” Chad chimed in. “Big backyard surrounded by woods.”
“I was never really, like, jazzed about the place, but I figured that was because when we saw it, it was basically a construction zone,” Emily continued. “It seemed like the ideal; a quiet neighborhood, bedrooms for everyone and then some. The five of us had been sharing one bathroom in the city. We were moving for space and suburbia. The house had three and a half baths, it was luxurious.”
“Was it a tear down?” Chris asked, referring to the town trend of demolishing smaller homes to build larger, more modern digs.
“Yeah, there had been an old ranch style house on the property that the developer took down in order to build the house.”
“We moved in the middle of August and I knew by the end of our first day there that something wasn’t right,” Emily confessed.
“I thought it was just the stress of leaving city life and diving into suburbia,” Chad said in agreement. “But it was undeniable, from the first time we stepped foot in that house, something didn’t want us there.”
“Like a bad vibe?” I asked.
“No,” Emily explained. “More than that. Weird things started happening right away. The day we moved in I was unpacking kitchen stuff while Chad and the movers were unloading the truck. The kitchen opened up to the living room, so I guess you would call it a “great room.” The boys were on the couch watching a movie on the iPad and Maggie was toddling around, bugging them every once in a while and playing with her Paw Patrol figures [See what I mean?!? She’s perfect for our playgroup.] I was unwrapping our wine glasses and happened to look out one of the kitchen windows when I saw Maggie walking through the backyard towards the woods. It took a minute to realize what I was seeing. I snapped at her brothers about opening the sliding door that lead out to the porch, but they seemed as surprised as I was. I rushed out to get her and walked her back to the house. I asked who’d open the door and she said it was the ‘pretty lady.’”
“Oh fuck,” Chris said, before draining his glass.
“What pretty lady?” I asked.
“That’s what I asked,” Emily said. “Maggie told me that a lady in the yard opened the door for her. It fucking freaked me out. Our movers were there, but they were a group of young guys. I was thinking that maybe there was a weird neighbor around. I mean, we were technically in a neighborhood, but the house was basically surrounded by woods.”
“We had an alarm system installed the next day,” Chad interjected.
“I insisted on having cameras installed too,” Emily continued. “I was so freaked out. It was, like, a total culture shock moving out of Manhattan and into this huge, secluded house. When we were in the city, listening to our neighbors stomp around overhead or overhearing their arguments through the vents used to aggravate the hell out of me. But this house made me miss that claustrophobia. I couldn’t keep track of the kids unless I gated half the house off. It was just too drastic of a change. Our apartment was tiny. There I couldn’t have lost one of the kids if I had tried.”
“We had this huge two car garage,” Chad said, putting his arm over Emily’s shoulders.
“Tons of storage space. Anyway, I was stacking boxes with Kevin, one of the movers. We were taking loads from the truck and stacking boxes on one side of the garage. We were in and out, you know, passing each other as we went back and forth. On one of my trips from the van I slipped on the floor and almost dropped the box. Someone behind me said, ‘Nice catch, man.’ I thought it was Kevin. I put the box down and turned around to say something but Kevin wasn’t there, I was alone. I walked out of the garage and saw him coming out of the truck with another box.”
“Oh dear,” I said quietly.
“I didn’t mention that to Em, I tried to convince myself that I’d just imagined the voice. But, I heard it a few more times before we got out of that house.”
Emily nodded her head in agreement and said, “The next morning I was sitting at the kitchen table making out a list of stuff I needed to pick up at Target. This is weird, it’s hard to explain without sounding stupid, but I took a sip of my coffee, went to write something down then heard one of the kids call to me so I turned around to yell back to them. When I reached for my coffee cup again it had been turned around so the handle was facing away from me. I went to grab the handle while I was looking back at my list and my hand just grabbed at air.”
“No way,” I said, goosebumps tingling my arms.
“That was the calm before the storm,” Emily continued. “I’d say little weird stuff like that happened for about a week or two,” she looked at Chad for confirmation and he nodded his head. “Then I was on our back deck once, the house had this two level deck in the back yard and a wrap around front porch in the front, which were totally beautiful, but I never wanted to spend any time on either of them, there was something, like, off-putting about that yard.
“Anyway, I was dragging some pots around on the deck in the back trying to decide where I wanted them when someone banged on the underside of the porch, seriously, like, right beneath my feet. The top level was probably, I don’t know, five feet off the ground? It was so loud that I screamed. The two older kids were at school, and Maggie was inside for her nap. I had the baby monitor with me in my pocket. I backed towards the sliding glass door to go inside and all of a sudden the baby monitor went crazy with loud static and those beep-boop noises you hear when you put two walkie-talkies too close to each other.
“I had the worst feeling I think I’ve ever had in my life – well up to that point anyways. I ran upstairs to Maggie’s room as fast as I could and yanked her door open. I just ran over to her crib and grabbed her then ran out to the car and went to J.P Licks on Central Street. I called Chad to tell him what happened – “
“Yeah, I was glad you got right out of there, but so pissed that you hadn’t immediately called the police,” Chad interrupted. “I thought we’d missed the chance to catch whoever was sneaking around outside the house.”
Emily glanced over at him and said forcefully, “I called them from the ice cream shop and met them back at the house. One of them walked around the property while the other checked out the house. Then they asked to see our video footage. In my panic I had completely forgotten about the cameras we’d set up around the outside of the house after Maggie walked out into the back yard by herself.”
“Did they catch anything?” Chris asked. I looked over at him, I knew he was hoping it had been a person doing the porch banging.
“Nothing,” Chad said. “Well, the cameras didn’t catch a person, but when we watched the moment the banging happened, you could see Em jump up and scream and run into the house, and then there was a sort of glitch in the recording. It got staticy for a moment before returning to normal.”
“Fuck,” I said quietly.
“After that, I hated the house,” Emily insisted. “After only two weeks I was constantly looking over my shoulder. Obsessively checking the door locks and windows. I didn’t let Maggie out of my sight and I could tell that the boys were a bit nervous too. Michael began coming into our room in the middle of the night. He insisted that he heard someone banging around in the attic.”
“That fucking attic,” Chad chimed in.
Emily looked at him and repeated, “That fucking attic.”
I felt Chris’s hand tighten on my own and glanced at him, I knew he shouldn’t be listening to this, but this story was too good to abandon.
“What was in the fucking attic?” I asked.
“I’m going to need another drink,” Chris said. Emily started to get up but he motioned for her to stay seated. “I’ll get the refills, kitchen is through there, right?”
Emily began to protest but I said, “Let him go, he doesn’t want to hear this part.”
“Smart man,” Chad said, “I’ll come with you, I don’t like this part either.”
We watched the guys walk inside and I had a twinge of regret, I didn’t know if I wanted to hear this either.
Emily said, “Your husband is really sweet.”
“He is,” I agreed. “He’s my favorite. Now quick, what happened in the attic?”
She smiled and began, “So, the house was freaking massive. Way too big for us. Each of the kids had their own damn bedroom, and then there was our master and a guest room to boot. The third floor was an unfinished attic that the developer said he’d come back to finish for us when we were ready. The door to the attic was right next to our bedroom, it lead to a full set of stairs to the upper floor.
“When we looked at the plans for the house I thought the attic would make a cool office someday but once we’d moved into the house, there was something absolutely repellent about the space. I never even wanted to open the door, let alone climb those stairs.
“So when Michael started to complain about someone stomping around in the attic in the middle of the night, I had no desire whatsoever to check it out. I sent Chad. He wasn’t particularly psyched about going up there either, but he did, and of course, he didn’t find anything.
“This happened a few nights in a row and then I just gave in and said Mikey could sleep in his sleeping bag on our bedroom floor. Then one night the stomping woke me up. I tried to wake Chad but he was sound asleep and so was Mikey. I didn’t want to wake him so I tiptoed out of the room and stood in front of the attic door, just listening. There wasn’t any noise, but I had this, like, overwhelming urge to go up there.”
“Nope,” I said.
“Well, right, I mean, totally. But, this feeling completely overwhelmed the fear. I put my hand out to turn the doorknob and it turned itself. I felt it slip under my hand.”
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” I said before draining my wine glass.
“Even worse,” Emily continued, “Was that as I snatched my hand away from the door knob someone, or something banged really hard from the other side of the door. I screamed and woke everyone in the house. Chad ran out into the hallway in his boxers all disoriented.
“I told him that someone was in the attic. I ran into our bedroom as he swung the attic door open, and I grabbed my cell phone and herded the kids into Maggie’s room and locked the door. I called the police, but before they arrived Chad had already come downstairs to say that he hadn’t found anyone up there.”
“What did the police do?” I asked.
“They looked around the entire house and even searched the yard and they didn’t find a blessed thing. They were wonderful, I mean, they didn’t make me feel like I had overreacted at all, but they couldn’t really give us any answers either. It was the second time we’d called 911 since moving into the house and they suggested that perhaps we were just hearing the new house ‘settling.’
“I didn’t buy it for a second, but what could I say? ‘No Officer, it’s definitely a ghost, could you please call the exorcism team?’ All we could do was be embarrassed and thank them. But the next day I got a padlock for the attic door and prayed that would be the last of it.”
“But it wasn’t,” I guessed.
“Not by a fucking long shot. Oh good,” she said, brightening. “Here come the guys.”
I smiled at Chris as he sat down and he just shook his head at me and handed me a fresh glass of wine.
“Thanks,” I said, accepting the drink, knowing that I owed him big time for making him listen to this terrifying story.
“You owe me big time,” he said as he sat back down and asked, “Did I miss the worst part?”
“One of them,” Emily said apologetically. She turned to Chad and said, “I just told her about the attic, when we had the police come.”
Chad took a sip of his beer and replied, “That night sealed the deal for me, I had the alarm company back out and had cameras installed everywhere. I was convinced that we had some insane neighbor who was screwing with us. I mean, I tried to convince myself that was what it was. But how the hell could I protect these guys from something I couldn’t see?”
“That’s awful, man,” Chris said.
Chad nodded his head in agreement, “We were all on high alert, and nothing really happened until – “
“The book club,” Emily finished for him.
“Shit, right!” Chad said enthusiastically. “That woman, what the hell was her name?”
“Colleen Barron,” Emily answered, rolling her eyes. “I’d attended the fall kick off for the neighborhood book club a week after we moved in and, like an idiot, I signed up to host the September get together. I’d figured that it would motivate me to pull the house together quickly.
“We were in pretty good shape, on the first floor anyway. The kid’s rooms were coming together slowly, and we still had a ton of boxes in the basement, but on the surface, we were pretty settled in. I couldn’t back out of hosting because we’d experienced a few weird things, so I had to just buck up and do it.
“About ten women came from the neighborhood, we were supposed to discuss Primates of Park Avenue, but everyone just ended up chatting and drinking too much. Honestly? It was great, I felt more like myself than I had since we’d moved. I even dared to think that maybe everything we’d been experiencing had just been, like, stress induced.
“The evening was wrapping up and these two women hung behind at my kitchen island. Once everyone else had stumbled out, one of them, Colleen, said, ‘Please don’t think I’m a wacko, but, I am a psychic medium.’
“My heart fucking dropped. She seriously popped my denial balloon with that crazy ass declaration. I just knew what she was about to tell me. I mean, I didn’t exactly know, but that’s what popped right into my mind when she said she was a psychic – ‘She knows about the ghosts.’”
“What did she tell you?” I asked, enthralled by this story, but wanting Chris to call an uber immediately. I had to pee but I didn’t want to go inside alone, and I didn’t want to have to ask anyone to come with me either.
“She tiptoed around the issue by asking me how our move had gone and how we were settling into the house. I asked her to just cut to the chase, you know? What did she know? She said that the second she walked into the house she’d noticed a shadow lurking at the base of the staircase. It watched her the whole night and when I asked her where it was at that moment, she said ‘it’s gone back under the porch.’”
“Fuuuuuuuck,” I said slowly.
“Yeah. Then she went on to tell me that there was a woman there too, whom she’d spoken to in my bathroom. This ghost woman was so confused about the house that it was hard for Colleen to completely understand what had happened to her but she knew that the woman hid in the attic most of the time. Apparently there was also a man who sort of lurked around outside and in the garage and he was super angry. He had some sort of connection with the woman.
“She warned me that there might be more going on in the house but that the dark shadow under the porch was blocking her from seeing the full picture. She also said, ‘I really don’t like those woods back there, honey,’ referring to our back yard. I wanted to know how the fuck this could be happening in a brand new home, and she pointed out that there had been a house on the property before ours. It had been torn down to build our home.
“Then the other woman, Becky, the one that had stayed behind with Colleen, chimed in and told me about this website, diedinhouse.com. They said I should start my research there,” Emily said before taking a sip of her drink.
“I’ve checked that site before every single move!” I exclaimed.
“What in the hell is diedinhouse.com?” Chris demanded.
“It tells you who’s died in your house,” I replied, trying really hard not to follow it with ‘Duh.’
Chris looked at me as if seeing me for the first time, “I can’t imagine what goes on in that head.”
I rolled my eyes, and asked Emily, “Anyway, you checked the website and what came back from their search?”
“A murder/suicide,” Emily replied.
“What?” I demanded. “How is that possible?”
“The owner of the company, the guy that started the website, he actually called me. He left a message on my cell phone saying that one of his employees brought my search results to his attention and he asked me to call him back.”
“Nuh uh,” I said in disbelief.
“Yup. When one of their background checks turns up something particularly nasty, like a murder or a meth lab, he calls the client personally. He said it’s only happened a handful of times but he wanted to walk me through the search and, get this, ‘point me in the direction of some further research strategies if we planned to move forward with the home purchase.’”
“What did he say when you told him you were already in the house?” Chris asked.
“He was silent for a moment then suggested that I still do the research in case ‘anything came up in the future.’” Emily laughed, mirthlessly.
“Ok, so did you start packing immediately?” I asked.
“No, but we should have,” Emily admitted. “I followed the guy’s advice and did the research. Apparently, there was a man and a woman who lived in the original little ranch house on the property. In the winter of 1967 the man lost his mind, tied his wife up in their family room, stabbed her to death and then hung himself in the basement. But before he hung himself, the newspaper delivery boy came to the door to collect his dues for the month. The guy was covered in blood when he answered the door and killed the kid to keep him quiet. He carried the boy’s body out to the woods before he hung himself.”
“We asked a few of the neighbors if they had ever heard anything about the murders but none of them had lived there long enough to know anything about it,” Chad said. “We did find out that the home had been a rental property since the seventies until it was bought to be redeveloped. One woman in the neighborhood had lived there for about ten years and she told us that the renters had turned over constantly. No ever lived there for more than a year as long as she could remember.”
“What did your developer say about all this?” Chris asked leaning forward.
“You don’t have to disclose deaths in Massachusetts,” Chad answered with an angry laugh.
“I thought there was at least a seven year rule,” I said.
“Nope. Trust me, we talked to a lawyer, sellers do not have to disclose if there have been deaths on a property,”
“That sucks, man,” Chris said. “How did you get out of it?”
“We’d only been there for a little over a month, we were going to take a hit moving so quickly, but Em wanted nothing to do with the place.”
“I tried to get a couple priests out to bless the place, but I just didn’t have any luck,” Emily said, defensively.
“What was the final straw?” I asked.
The couple exchanged a look, Chris took a huge gulp of his beer and I leaned forward in my seat.
Emily began, “We were just trying to digest the information about the deaths in the house and figure out what to do. There was weird shit happening, like, constantly. I was climbing the stairs one night on my way to bed and when I looked up I saw a shadow hovering at the top step. It was fucking huge. I had to go up there to get to the kids, but I was so scared I couldn’t move. Eventually it just, sort of disappeared, well, not disappeared, it was almost like it got sucked backwards.”
“No way,” Chris said quietly.
“We heard walking in the attic, too,” Chad added. “Always around the middle of the night. One Saturday morning I finally made myself go up there to take a look. No one was there, but I found a pile of our stuff in one corner.”
“We’d been misplacing things since we moved in the house, or, at least that’s what we thought,” Emily explained. “Sometimes they would show up randomly in another room from where we’d left them. The kid’s sneakers behind the bathroom door, or my keys in the fruit bowl – usually, it was easily explained away. But some stuff actually did go missing and it was so annoying. We tried to blame the kids for it, but they swore they hadn’t been taking things.”
“Yeah, so… the pile in the attic,” Chad said trailing off.
“Shut the fuck up,” I said, excitedly. “The things you lost were in a pile in the attic?”
“Yes. The door had been padlocked, no one had been up there since that freaky night but there was a pair of my sunglasses, one of our remote controls, a few plates, and, what else?” He asked Emily.
“A couple toys and there were some books that I know I hadn’t unpacked from the boxes yet,” she confirmed.
“Yeah, I would have been out of there immediately,” I said.
“Right, well, that was scary, but that wasn’t what made me call the realtor,” Emily said slowly. “There was this one night. The kids were asleep and we were watching television in the living room. I thought I saw something, like, out of the corner of my eye outside near the sliding glass door.”
“I’d noticed it a few minutes before,” Chad affirmed. “But I looked out and nothing was there, so I tried to ignore it so we could have a normal night for once.”
Emily continued, “Right, I mentioned it, but sort of dismissively. I felt the same way, I just wanted to drink a glass of wine and zone out watching Game of Thrones.”
“You truly are my people,” I said.
“For Pete’s sake just let them finish the damn story,” Chris pleaded.
Emily smiled and continued, “I was making a comment about needing to get curtains for the sliding glass door when we heard a light tap-tap-tap at the front door. It was so faint, but we both heard it, and we froze.”
“I muted the television and we listened in silence before it dawned on me to go take a look on the computer to check out the camera feed from outside,” Chad said.
“Yeah, and I followed him,” Emily went on. “I didn’t want to be left alone, I had this feeling of, like, overwhelming anxiety.”
“So I grabbed the laptop from the kitchen and we sat back down on the couch. I pulled up the camera feed for the front and back doors and it was clear – no one was out there. We watched it for a couple of minutes, reasoning away the noise we heard, when all of a sudden someone started banging on the front door,” said Chad.
“It was so loud I jumped and nearly knocked the computer off his lap,” Emily went on. “It startled us so much that it took us a moment to see, or, I mean, not see what was on the computer screen. Someone was banging on the front door but there was no one at the front door.”
“It was the damnedest fucking thing,” Chad affirmed. “My brain couldn’t catch up with what was happening. I sat there like an idiot listening to this banging and staring at the computer screen. It was impossible. Then all of a sudden it stopped. Silence.”
“That was even worse,” Emily insisted. “We didn’t move, we just stared at the computer screen and waited.”
“Then it came to the porch again, to the sliding glass door. I thought the glass was going to shatter it was banging so hard. Em ran upstairs to grab the kids and get them in one room and I stayed downstairs and called the police and told them someone was trying to break into the house, even though I knew that wasn’t what was happening. I didn’t know what the fuck I was dealing with. So the cops came again and walked through and around the house, and again they didn’t find a thing,” Chad said with irritation.
“Right, but this time they really checked the backyard near the tree line” Emily said. “One of the officers, this older man, he went into the backyard while we were talking to the female cop in the kitchen. When he came back, he was acting, I don’t know, like, strange. I even asked, ‘what is it, what did you see?’ He wouldn’t answer me, he just shook his head.”
“Yeah and I totally saw him exchange a look with the other officer,” Chad affirmed. “The next morning, Em called our real estate agent and asked her to show us everything on the market.”
“What did you tell her?” I asked.
“I said that we didn’t like being in such a remote spot, that it was too much of a culture shock for us, moving to the suburbs from the city, blah, blah, blah. I told her we wanted a smaller, older house in a more populated neighborhood. I tried to play it off like we were a picky couple from Manhattan. We looked at a few places and I called the owner of diedinhouse.com to do a personalized records search for me, and we landed in this house,” Emily explained, pointing to their home.
“It was built in 1933, was not constructed upon Native American burial grounds, and, according to public records, no one has ever died on this property. We are the fourth family to occupy the home,” Chad concluded as though reading from a report.
“But what about your other house?” Chris asked. “How’d you get rid of it?”
“After we moved our things out, I finally found a Unitarian minister to come over and bless the property,” Emily replied. “We put the house on the market and it sold in about two months to a family relocating from Connecticut.”
“And nothing followed you from that house?” I asked.
The couple did that sideways glance at each other again and then looked back at me.
“Aaaaand, that’s where I tap out,” Chris said. He put his drink on the side of his chair and took his phone out of his back pocket. “I’m calling an Uber, and then I’m going to wait in the driveway. Chad, man, that shit is fucked up, but I will see you tomorrow in the office. I’ll swing by to grab my car in the morning.
“Emily, you have a lovely home, we need to have you over soon and get the kids together. Peace out,” And with that he stood, shook Chad’s hand, gave Emily a kiss on the cheek and turned to me. “See you out front in ten minutes.”
We all watched him walk around the side of the house and I said, “OK, so what followed you here?”
“It wasn’t just the dead people at that house, there was something else, something dark. That medium from the book club said so too. Em thinks the murders and the suicide attracted something to the property and it might have latched onto us.”
“What’s happened at this house?” I demanded.
Emily glanced at Chad, “Nothing major, just stuff out of the corner of my eye, you know, weird feelings. It could totally just be, like, posttraumatic stress. But Alison said she saw something from her window the other night, and – ”
“I have someone that I can put you in touch with,” I interrupted, thinking of Biddy. “She knows people who can get rid of these things.”
“We would really appreciate it,” Emily said. “I mean, this house has a totally different vibe, but I just want to be sure.”
“I would feel the exact same way,” I said, wanting to get out of there, immediately. “I’ll call this woman first thing in the morning and have her get in touch. She will know exactly what to do.”
I followed the couple inside and placed my wine glass and Chris’s beer mug into the sink. I asked to use the restroom, said good-bye to the traumatized couple and met Chris in the driveway just as the Uber was pulling up.
“Sorry,” I said a bit sheepishly. I knew he was pissed, and it was totally called for.
We crawled into the black Suburban and turned to our cell phones. I was searching for Biddy’s contact information when it hit me
“Oh shit,” I said, realization dawning.
“What now?” Chris demanded.
“It’s nothing. I just forgot something,” I replied, my hand at my neck. I’d taken off my blessed St. Benedict medal when I was getting dressed because it didn’t look right with my outfit.
“There’s no way I’m sleeping tonight,” Chris complained.
“I know, I’m sorry, but, it’s fine. Everything’s going to be fine,” I said, trying to convince myself.