Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Haunted house

About a block away from the elementary school I attended from grades kindergarten through eight, still stands an old rickety two-story house that long ago should have been condemned. I don't know how the myth got started, or when, but it had to have begun with a simple rumor based on the neglected appearance of the and bits and pieces were added to the story over time.

Most of us children were terrified to go near the "haunted house" where it was said that ghostly figures peered from behind dirty window panes and ratty lace curtains. Some kids even claimed to have seen an eerie white figure of a man come outside on the dilapidated porch to collect old newspapers that accumulated by the weather-beaten door, although whenever I cautiously walked by on the other side of the street, the newspapers were still there in a rotting heap. But I would have sworn on the grave of my great-grandfather that I saw the ghost of a tall man on two occasions, once on the porch and once watching me from an upstairs window.

Halloween was a particularly popular night for the old house with children double-daring each other to walk past the house on the sidewalk directly in front of it., or for an even braver challenge, to walk right up onto the porch and peer inside, OR for the greatest dare of all, to actually knock on the front door!

One time, as I have been told (for I was not an actual witness to this event), a class big-shot and bully accepted the challenge and in an air of pretending not to be afraid, he knocked boldly on the door with three hard pounds of the tarnishes brass door-knocker. As he turned around to laugh smugly at his friends hiding in the bushes at a safe distance across the street, the paint-peeled door opened with a loud and eerie squeak and out walked an old gray-haired man wearing a tattered, faded bathrobe! He didn't need to say a word or shake an angry fist. What I was told, the boy's feet never touched the ground as he fled, screaming at the top of his lungs and his friends who had been hiding in the bushes were way ahead of him.

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