Some people swear the house is haunted. It hadn’t always been. What had once been a decent three-bedroom bungalow now slanted under the weight of neglect. A low hum howled from cracked windows framed in crooked shutters. Shrieks. Groans. Growls. An occasional disturbed giggle, interrupted the humming. An awful smell assaulted those who dared to walk by. A combination of odors, a comingling of burnt popcorn and smoking wires reminiscent of scorched regret mixed with singed frustration.
A man, lets call him Ned, who walked that street every day, crossed to the other side when he reached the house some people swear is haunted. He wasn’t proud of this. His cowardice shamed him until one day, he didn’t cross the street at all. He just stood there, right in front of it. After staring at the porch steps, rotten, ready to cave under the slightest weight, he drew in a deep breath.
It was go time.
When he approached the door, the humming, shrieking, groaning and all the rest, were in full swing. Smells wafted from the cracks in the windows and stalled in the man’s nose. With shaky fingers, he grasped the doorknob on the house some people swear is haunted, twisted it open, called out a tentative, “Hello?”
The noises screeched to a halt, but the smells continued. The man made his way through a kitchen piled high with dirty dishes, unread mail, and Amazon shipping boxes. He tiptoed into the front room. And there he saw the source of the trouble. A woman slumped in front of her television with three remote controls splayed in a semi-circle on the floor. Ned’s eyes worked their way from a bowl of popcorn to a tangle of wires connecting a DVD player with the TV.
The woman fingered the buttons on each clicker. “Is it too much to ask?”
Ned knelt beside her. “Do you have paper and pencil?”
The woman looked puzzled.
“I’ll write down instructions for you.” Taking each clicker in turn, he bobbed them in his hands as if testing their weight. “On second thought, maybe two pieces of paper.”
The woman supplied him with what he needed, and he went to work. “Press this button for this and that button for that on this one.” He scribbled on the paper. “Scroll down to this, and then punch this and then that. Now go back to this one.” He added a few more notes with a flourish. “There.”
The woman nodded, followed his directions, and Tom Hanks loomed on the screen.
“Cast Away?” Ned asked. “That came out fifteen years ago.”
The woman shrugged, offered him the bowl of popcorn.
They sat on the couch in the house that some people swear is haunted and the glow from the TV washed over their faces. After a time, Ned said, “Some people find this part where he’s alone on the island annoying, but I don’t mind it.”
“I don’t mind it either,” the woman said.
Nothing was ever the same after that in the house that some people swear is haunted.
What's your story? Has anything you feared ever turned out to be a good thing?
House image: Thomas Spellberg via Unsplash