Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ghost Stories: Part 2 - Bob

First of all, I remembered after the last post that not everyone reads the same blogs that I do, so I have a little linking to do here. The ghost stories are prompted by Steph at Sweet Water Journal who wrote about her encounter in Amsterdam: Part 1 and Part 2. Then the thread was picked up by Jenn at Stinkbumps the Wonder Boy with this story. I finally weighed in with Ghost Stories: Part 1 and then my mom told about her little boy. This little boy also hangs at my grandma's house, so if you want to hear more about the bats in that particular belfry, I recommend it. I have never seen the little boy, but she has never seen Abraham Lincoln or the woman in the mirror, so, you know.

Okay, on with the show.

I've written about my friend Missy's house before. It's in the middle of nowhere. When you get to the house, you turn into a long narrow gravel driveway. Drive past a barn that looks like it may collapse right onto the drive and through a couple of curves and over a couple of hills, then you get to the house. There are a couple of little buildings around the house, a walk-out shed, a garage, etc. The house sits a little above the drive and there is a wooden plank sidewalk and porch leading up to the front door. The house is old. Not old like my grandma's house, but it's still a nice, old farmhouse.

Missy's family calls their ghost Bob. I found this exhilarating and a little worrisome when I was in high school. That kind of familiarity freaked me out a little, but suggested that there was a way of living with ghosts that didn't involve a constant denial of their existence.

Every workday between 5:20 and 5:30, gravel crunched. Someone within the house would look at the clock and say, "Bob's home." Not with any particular emotion, just to notify people that they didn't have to peek out the windows to find out who was coming up the long drive. (If that sounds paranoid, you've never lived somewhere secluded. It's always for you when you have a mile long driveway.)

The gravel would continue to crunch as it sounded exactly like someone was driving up to the house. Eventually, the car would come to a halt right outside the living room window. Then, a car door would slam. Footsteps would start in the gravel and then move to the wooden sidewalk, up the sidewalk, up the three steps to the porch and across the porch proper. The screen door would screech. The big door would open and then shut and the screen door would swing shut. The problem with this was there was no car, no person and no movement of the door. Just the sound.

I heard Bob come home on a few occasions, at least 2 or 3. Most of the time when I was there at the right time, it was Saturday, but I don't remember ever being there when Bob should have come home that he didn't.

Missy and her parents made jokes about Bob and sometimes blamed missing items on him. I would catch Mamadoo (yes, we all called her that) every once in a while talking to him. Almost like talking to herself, but not quite.

Missy had a lot of slumber parties. Her place was the place to be. All summer long, there would be parties with a bunch of us camped out under the stars. Sometimes we would stay at her sister's house instead. There was a haunted bridge there, but we never saw anything on it. All of her siblings were grown and married and she had the whole upstairs to herself.

One particular party (I can't tell you who was there besides me and Missy and maybe Sharlene) we had stayed up late watching a movie. I don't remember what it was, but apparently we had all fallen asleep with the TV and VCR on. I woke, late, probably 2 or 3 a.m. and the TV was showing snow as the VCR had cut off. There was that static sound, too, but not very loud.

As I laid there, trying to go back to sleep, I saw something move. Since I wasn't alone in the room, this wasn't unusual. I turned my head and saw a hanger drop to the ground. I was puzzling where it had fallen to, when I saw another hanger drop. Missy kept a stack of empty hangers on her closet doorknob and I turned to the closet to see hangers, one by one, flying off the doorknob, around the room a little, then falling to the floor.

It wasn't particularly violent, but they were wire hangers of the Mommy Dearest variety, so it wasn't like throwing feathers around the room. I laid, unable to move for what seemed like hours and then finally reached up an arm and grabbed Missy's arm hanging from her bed.

"Missy, Missy, wake up." I was afraid to move too much. I have always had this feeling (perhaps prompted by girls in horror movies running upstairs in heels) that if I don't move, it'll be okay. Missy woke up, sat up, rolled her eyes.

"Quit it Bob." She didn't yell or sound panicked or worried. She said it the way you chide your younger sibling when they are being annoying. Annoyance. That's all that was in her voice. Without even waiting to see if Bob complied, she laid back down and fell back asleep.

The last hanger fell to the floor. I looked back at the closet door and saw that there were still quite a few hanging on it. I tried to count in my head how many hangers had fallen, four? Five? Not many, anyway. I don't think I got back to sleep at all, but I may have dozed. At some point I sat up and stared out the window, watching the sky go from midnight blue to summer sky blue.

The next morning when I heard stirring in the kitchen, I slipped out of bed and headed downstairs. Mamadoo made pancakes and eggs and biscuits and gravy and bacon and sausage, because she knew how to do breakfast up right. I don't think I ever had a little breakfast in that house. She asked me why I was up so early.

I opened my mouth to tell her the story. I was ready to ask if Bob often did things like that or ask if she thought it was a dream. I was ready to tell her I wanted to go back upstairs and see if there were hangers on the floor. She was standing in their large cubbard area, getting something off the shelf. I heard her mutter something and remembered all the times I had heard her talking to Bob.

"Couldn't sleep."

"Well, have some bacon, sweetie."

I never asked her about it. Never talked to Missy about it. Never asked any of the other girls if they had woken up. Didn't go back upstairs until after everyone else had been up and down a few times. The fact was, I didn't want to know the answers to any of my questions. If it was a dream, it was a damn vivid one. If it was a dream, I wasn't sure about what else was real. And, although I wasn't afraid of Bob, I felt that if it was real, it was better for me if I didn't know it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I kept staying over at Missy's. I kept hearing Bob come up the drive. At one point, after a particuarlly nasty break-up in Missy's life I saw the curtains move as if someone were pacing while she told me what had happened between her and S. But I never saw something so blatantly surreal. I never felt threatened or scared in that house again.

That story, like Steph's, has fallen into the realm of story. I can tell the story and I remember silly details, like the wallpaper in that room and what pajamas I was wearing, but I don't have a clear memory of the occurrence anymore, just the story of the memory.

As with all my ghost stories, it would be easy to write this off as a dream. As something that never happened. My fear of talking about it as fear of embarrassment. I was easily and often embarrassed at that age. I can't pinpoint for you why I believe that really happened anymore. But I do.

Next up: Ghost Stories: Part 3 - Kids and Ghosts


Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

I never spent the night at Missy's house. We weren't very close friends, just friendly acquaintances (plus, that was a period in my life when all my time not spent on stage and at speech competitions was spent in chasing boys {rolls eyes}). I feel like I missed out on a lot due to that particular past-time!

Steph said...

Bob sounds pretty nice, as undead go. Although that hanger thing would have messed with me too.

You could make This American Life episodes out of these things.