The Spooky House

There’s one in every neighborhood. When I was six, the spooky house was two doors down from my home on an urban tree-lined street. A brooding three-story structure of gray stone with a sprawling covered front porch, white columns, and side bump-outs, it oozed mystery. The adults might have been clueless, but the neighborhood kids knew it was haunted.

No one actually lived there. It had been converted for business offices with a huge parking lot in the rear that butted against an alley. The lot was sectioned off with lengths of heavy chain strung between squat cement posts. We’d see people come and go, swallowed up inside, but there were never many cars in the lot and that made us suspicious.

My friends and I were convinced a coven of witches met there, and that if you ventured too close to the sides where the shadows were thickest, you’d get sucked up into a coffin tucked under the eaves. No one would ever know since an evil twin, capable of fooling everyone, would take your place.

The house also had a ghost who lived on the second floor. We knew this because the south facing room had a trio of beautiful stained glass windows and that was the perfect place for a ghost to languish.  Our phantom was female. She was a melancholy soul who’d been separated from her true love and imprisoned by the witches because they were jealous. She spent her time listening to an old-fashioned music box, weeping for her lost love, and looking romantically tragic in a flowing white dress. It’s amazing what six-year-olds can envision when inspired by Dark Shadows and Quentin Collins.

Once when we were swinging on the metal chains in the parking lot (kids do dumb things when adults aren’t around), one of the neighborhood boys fell and cracked his head on the asphalt. It was a traumatic experience with a lot of screaming, crying and blood splatter. I remember following the trail of blood down the alley and across a connecting street to his house a day later. The evidence stayed there a long time before the rain washed away the grisly reminder.  Although Chester recovered, we were sure the witches had caused his fall, angry that we’d discovered their secrets. I don’t think he ever swung on the chains again. I’m not sure I did either.

Not long after that, my family moved to the suburbs where I made new friends and found a new house to invent stories about. Why is it that old homes twine so ideally with the paranormal?  Perhaps writing about WEATHERING ROCK, a nineteenth century home in my novel of the same name, has me thinking about those fanciful haunts from of my childhood.

What about you?  Was there a spooky house in your neighborhood that still resonates in your memory? I’d love to hear about it!

10 thoughts on “The Spooky House

  1. Growing up in ‘cattle country’ we lived 60 miles from the nearest town (and it was small with the main feature being the grain elevator). Yes, rural America had plenty of spooky houses back then and even more today. I specifically remember a log cabin that vagrants used from time to time (and as kids we never knew when the time was going to be). One of those shacks that was across the creek and a mile or so into the woods. It was common knowldge that it was there but it was still scary. We visited it a couple years ago as adults, and it’s still scared us!

    Like

    • What a great story, Sheri! Mind-boggling too, that you lived 60 miles from the nearest town. That’s so hard for me to envision but it immediately sends my mind into creative hypedrive. Just like your shack across the creek, in the woods. It must have been great to go back and visit, and still feel that prickling sense of goosebumps. It’s probably been a good 15 years since I visisted my old, old neighborhood but I pulled it up on Google Earth when I wrote this post and there was the “spooky house.” It has an awning over the walkway extending from the front porch now, but otherwise looked much the same. It’s amazing the memories the sight of that house resurrected!

      Like

  2. I lived in small-town New Hampshire, close enough to all the “witch trial” history that it spilled over. My road was narrow, with a treeline and a farm field on the side opposite our house. In those days, streetlights were only found in town, so the road was dark at night. Behind our house was a wood–not a stand of trees, an actual “leave-a-trail-of-bread-bits” wood. In the midst of the wood was a cemetery, with gravestones marked from the 17th century. It was said that the witch and her familiar were buried there, the ones who’d hung themselves from the rafters of the barn on the corner of our road, about half a mile from my house.

    I have not returned there since leaving New Hampshire over 30 years ago. A part of me wants to return and see what remains; a part of me is frightened to find the magic over-run by the HOAs of suburbia.

    Like

    • Lynne, what awesome material for a story! I’ve got goosebumps thinking about it. How intriguing that the cemetery was found in the midst of the woods. I love exploring old gravesites, thinking about the people who lived in a time I could only imagine. If the HOAs of suburbia did creep in upon that site, the witch and her familiar would probably be pretty ticked. A story with Stephen King written all over it, LOL. You should pull up your old address on Google Earth and zoom in on street view. You might even catch a glimpse of the woods. Cool story. Thanks so much for sharing!

      Like

  3. Oh! I love old houses! As for spooky ones – apparently my grandmother’s house was the haunted house in the community (at least according to the neighbor kids). It was an old abandoned two-story house that had lost all evidence of paint and was starting to lean. It was in the middle of an open field where we had cattle. I used to go there with my uncle, and hear family stories about it, so I thought it was a great place. The other kids would dare one another to get close to it. 🙂

    Like

    • Ooh, another great story! I love hearing about all these places and picturing them in my head. I can see that house jutting up from the field, Lorraine. Very cool that the’spooky house’in your childhood had a place in your family history!

      Like

  4. I really enjoyed reading this, as well as the additional stories about old houses in the comments. I wish I had a house like that in my neighborhood growing up. Sounds like fun – although it would be tempting to peek inside. If I were you, I would just have to see… 😉

    Like

    • Hi, Stephanie! *waving* Thanks so much for dropping in for a visit.

      I never stopped to consider the inside of that house but now you’ve kicked my imagination into overdrive. I wonder what it would have been like slipping inside…if there’d been a massive staircase off the foyer, leading to that stained glass room on the second floor. An opportunity I shall have to explore in a story, I think 😉

      Like

I love comments, so please scribble a thought or two!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s