This is a real ghost story from Portland, OR.
I had a house there, in a nice neighborhood. There was a brunch place in walking distance where they’d just put a basket of scones on the table when you sat down. And when you got the scones, you’d need ‘em, cos you’d been standing outside for an hour, holding a cold coffee and a newspaper. You could grab a scone and leave, but that’s against Brunch Code.
Before it was Fancy Brunch Place, it was an old bar where they would fry something that was technically breakfast and you could eat it while smelling every drink from fifty years before, soaked into the wood paneling. So that was the neighborhood, it was getting gentrified. I’m sure it’s even nicer now, but ex-husband lives there with third wife, so I don’t go.
That’s not the awful thing I’m telling. This is about another awful thing.
Anyway. No matter how nice a place is, bad stuff happens there. A woman in my neighborhood had been kidnapped and kept in a basement for a couple of weeks, and she managed to stretch her restraints to one window and get one finger out of the blinds and was trying to signal for help, but nobody saw, not even my friend who lived next door.
My friend felt terrible, but in her defense, would have to be a pretty sharp observer to see one finger scratching at a basement window.
This is not about that awful thing. This story is about another awful thing.
My next door neighbor’s house had been rented to a few groups of people, and then it was renovated and sold, and when the woman who bought it moved in, I tried to introduce myself to her a couple of times, but she always seemed tired and upset.
When a friend looks upset, you can ask: hey, are you OK? But when it’s a stranger, you’re too embarrassed to say, hey, you seem fucked up, are you OK? Unhappiness is embarrassing. I avoided her. She just never seemed to be in the mood for a chat. I didn’t see her much anyway.
That Spring, I see her in front, planting flowers and looking like a different person, and I went over to say hi. I introduced myself and we talked about the really boring stuff people talk about who have nothing in common except for living next to each other, and finally I say, I’m sorry this isn’t my business, but you look so happy and different! I’m glad you’re feeling better? And she looked at me happily and said yes, I’m much better!
Then she explained: my house was haunted. How did she know? She said, the first night I slept there, a man appeared and beat the shit out of me. I said oh wow, did you call the police? And she said, no, because he was a ghost. And that’s true. Police don’t come out for ghosts.
It happened the second night too, she said, just for months, every night this ghost would appear and beat the shit out of me. And I said wow that sounds bad, because what else do you say? I didn’t know what to say.
She said, at first I thought I’d sell the house, or find out if I could cancel the sale, but then I thought, what if the next buyer has a kid, someone who can’t defend themselves, so I thought I’d have to take care of it myself. And I said, what did you do? And she said I found a great exorcist who smudged the house and BOOM! The ghost disappeared and I’m finally enjoying my house!
So, I’m planting these flowers, and the next thing I need to do is get rid of some furniture and stuff, because it’s really too crowded in there, and I said, isn’t it a two story house? And she said yes but. I couldn’t afford to get the upstairs smudged yet, and I’m worried the ghost just moved upstairs, so I just stay on the ground floor.