Friday, July 20, 2012

A Series of Unsettling Events

...continued from "Introducing...Chester"

When we last convened, I was mid-tale in my account of Chester Drawers, a second-hand piece of furniture that I blame for some odd occurrences in my home. Because he's so photogenic, I'm posting another pic of our dear Chester.

Hick unceremoniously carted Chester off to the basement to free up some space in the room of Toddler Genius. The basement is not some dark hidey hole for spiders and boxes of Christmas decorations and an occasional game of cat-and-mouse between Jame Gumb and Clarice Starling. It's a functioning part of our abode, running the length and breadth of the House That Hick Built, containing a TV/game room with a pool table, pinball machine, air hockey table, piano, electric fireplace, bookshelves, and of course, my recliner. Other rooms in this subterranean paradise include my dark lair office space, the NASCAR bathroom, a giant workshop, and Hick's treasure room. The basement is accessed by walking through the floor of our living room. That means that it is not sealed off with a door, but has stairs descending through a large rectangle surrounded by sturdy wooden railing.

I stuffed Chester full of off-season clothing, and he sat unmolested on his squatty legs until a snowfall, or the harbingers of spring appeared. Basements are known for their cool temperature. So I can't speak as to whether Chester dropped the digits upon his relocation. I had not even made a connection yet between Chester and the odd happenings in the room of Toddler Genius.

Shortly after Chester's move, we began to have issues with a specific light bulb in the basement. Hick is not one to thoroughly finish all projects. To this day, we have a bulb that is simply screwed into the socket on the ceiling. No fancy fixture on that one. Even though other lights have them, and the pool table has a Tiffany style stained-glass-looking rectangle enclosing its overhanging bulbs. This problem bulb hangs over my big-screen TV and recliner part of the room.

One evening, the light bulb went out. I told Hick he needed to replace it, that we had blown a bulb. Two days later, I was still waiting, using my plier-lamp (another story entirely) for illumination. And that bulb came back on! I told Hick to forget the replacement that he had already forgotten. "How can it be blown and come back on?" He thought I was crazy. A few days later, the bulb went out again. Hick put in a new one. "Must be a bad bulb." The new one lasted about a day, then started the same tricks. On for a while. Off a few hours. On. Off a few days. On. Hick put in a third bulb. It shined for a week. And then...

Around 11:30 p.m., I finished watching TV and started for the steps, to ascend to the upper level and my boudoir. You know how you get a creepy feeling that something isn't right? I had one. I thought, "Don't you dare go out now, you stupid light." AND IT DID! It went right out the moment I finished that thought. The hair on the nape of my neck stood up. I ran up those thirteen steps and turned off the basement light switch. The next morning, the bulb came on as normal. And stayed on. I suppose I had been shown who was boss.

Hick installed an electric fireplace in the corner of the basement TV room to guard against the chill. Normal basement chill, I presumed. He could never enforce his Socks or Slippers Policy on the boys, who enjoyed barefootin' all over the house. And I refused to let him drill through the concrete foundation and put in a flue for a wood or gas fireplace. So electric it was. A pretty little corner fixture with a mantle and glass doors and fake light flames and a blower. Genius, the budding photographer, took a picture of it a few days after installation. The fireplace was turned off at the time. He showed me the photo on his digital camera.

"What's that?" There was a purple sphere of light in the fireplace, floating between the fake logs and the glass.

"I don't know. It wasn't there in the preview."

"It must be a reflection."

"Mom. I had the flash turned off."

Surely it was a spec of dust. A purple spec of dust. Yeah. That had to be the explanation. Genius lost that picture when his computer crashed, or I would post it.

And now, for the grand finale...wait a minute. This is getting very long. Perhaps we should wait another day. What's that? You'd rather just get it over with, like ripping off the BandAid, chugging down the medicine, yanking out a baby tooth with a string tied to a doorknob? Okay. If you insist.

I saw a man in the basement. Not an intruder. Not flesh-and-blood. Not with all his body parts. What some might term an apparition, I suppose.

Chester had been moved, from the wall nearest that recalcitrant light bulb and the fake fireplace, to his position in that picture, which is at the bottom of the stairs. On the other side of the stairs is the big-screen TV and the end table which holds the satellite receiver. I like to watch TV without the overhead lights. I have a lamp. It's cozy. The only problem back then was that the main light switch was at the top of the stairs. So once I turned off my lamp, I had to cross the room in the dark, with only the glow of the TV upstairs to guide me. It was enough light to see the outlines of the furniture, and where the steps started.

On this particular night, I turned off the TV. Turned off my lamp. And started the eight strides to the bottom of the stairs. At about stride four, just before the end table, A MAN APPEARED IN FRONT OF ME! Not directly, but in the two o'clock position. I was startled. I sidestepped to the left in order to avoid running into him. He was shorter than me, and had no head. He was wearing an old-time kind of black suit, with a white shirt with an old-time kind of collar that stuck up and didn't flap over. There were black buttons down the white shirt. No tie. He looked solid, not see-through. He didn't move or say anything. After about three seconds, he faded away.

I ran up those stairs faster than an Olympic stair-running gold medalist. I turned off the upstairs TV and hopped in bed next to Hick. I knew his snores would protect me. I woke him and explained my close encounter. He thought I was crazy. The next morning, I harped for him to put a light switch in the basement. He humored me. To this day, I have never turned off the lamp and TV without first turning on the overhead lights. I have flashlights stashed near all my sitting places, just in case of a power outage.

Chester has been relocated once again, to the outer wall, under The Pony's room. Have I mentioned that I hear walking upstairs in The Pony's room? The last being on Tuesday night. When The Pony spent the night at his grandma's house.


  1. If you have not already, you should read Joe Hill's (son of Stephen King) "Heartshaped Box." It's a doozy of a ghost story.

    My Chester quest on the internet continues...

  2. Oh, I am a believer! Do you think it was the headless horseman? No, really.

  3. Move it to the BARn, ASAP.

    "Heartshaped Box" SUITS this story perfectly!

  4. I think it was Shakespeare who wrote: there's a universe in what we don't know. As I get older I'm more likely to accept things I don't understand. Great story, and worth the wait.

  5. Though your post may be long, I hung on every word.

  6. Poor Chester, uprooted from somewhere, some time back. You might try telling him he's in the wrong place and can leave.

  7. I wish I had been smart and clever and fast enough to say what Stephen said. Alas. I will just agree with him.

    I wonder if Chester and the headless man would be so forthcoming to those ghost seekers with their night vision video cameras that turn everybody's eyes a spooky white. There might be a slot open on reality t.v. and even some cash.

  8. That is creepy! Chester should move to a consignment store and go haunt another family. In fact, there are those who would pay a premium for that!

  9. Sioux,
    I will have to read that one. Keep your nose to the ground while the trail is fresh.

    I think he was from another time. And all dressed up with no place to go but my basement.

    I've definitely got to get my hands on this Heart-Shaped Box. Chester is quite heavy. I don't think Hick wants to haul him up the steps into the BARn loft.

    I never believed this stuff until it happened to me. I'm a science teacher, you know. From Missouri. So you have to show me evidence.

    Good to know. Next, I will put something subliminal in my posts to make people cackle like a chicken when they read a certain word.

    I've thought about that. But I don't want to engage him. Things have really settled down over the last couple years, except for the footsteps overhead at night.

    Genius went on a ghost tour one Halloween, and told me about some trick with a flashlight that you set on a table and ask if anybody can turn that on to show that they are here. I don't even want to try that. The Pony, when a toddler, used to say that his (deceased) grandpa came in his room at night, "...just to make sure nobody is doing anything."

    Though Chester frightens me, I don't get a malicious vibe from him. It's like he wants to be noticed. Genius slept in the basement on the couch for a whole year. IN THE DARK. I would not have done that for a million dollars.

    Okay, that doesn't sound right. It's not like Genius was Rip Van Winkle. He spent a year of nights sleeping down there. Don't know why. He's always been an odd duck. He was around 10 at the time. Just preferred that couch to the bed in his room.

  10. Creepy-good story! According to a TV show, there's a man who will come to your house to determine if your possessions are haunted and then take them for his museum. But I don't imagine you'd want to part with Chester. I liked how you added (as if an afterthought) that the man had no head.

  11. Tammy,
    The lack of a head was not the first thing I noticed. It was his clothes. He looked so real that I jumped sideways to keep from colliding with him. Then I looked up for his face, and there was none. It only lasted a couple of seconds, and he faded away.

    I don't think I would part with Chester. Hick thinks his wood could be mahogany. Or maybe maple.