Ghost Story

I’m sensitive. No, really, I am. I’m a grown man scared of ghosts.

Eli’s horror movie phase only lasted about a year. As a young teenager, he blew through an extensive list of well-known titles. The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Shining, et al. Trying to participate, I suggested we watch the 1982 film Poltergeist as a family. “This is the scariest movie you’ll ever see!” I never know when to keep my mouth shut. As the closing credits rolled: “Dad, that movie was really lame. How about I pick the next movie.” We never did that.

Besides Poltergeist, I can’t really think of any supernatural horror films I watched during my teenage years. This was the era of slasher movies; they seemed to release something new every few months—specifically Halloween and Friday the 13th, (I, II, III, IV…). Those slasher movies don’t really bother me. Sure, I jump and spill my popcorn like everyone else when an owl flies out from behind the water heater, but these movies don’t give me nightmares. They don’t keep me out of my poorly lit basement. Ghosts do that.

For a couple of weeks during my high school summers, the Minogue family asked me to house-sit. This entailed watering plants and caring for their big, dopey golden retriever named Mack. They lived right behind us, so I simply hopped the back fence for meals and fresh clothing, but at night, at bedtime, I felt a world away. When my nighttime TV options dwindled away, I’d face the prospect of going to sleep in a big, empty house. Their basement, well on its way to becoming a hoarder’s den, featured a maze of passageways through boxes stacked to the ceiling. Each night, Mack and I crept around the maze corners, assuring myself that the house was free of… what? I wasn’t worried about a hockey-masked psychopath. More likely a creepy little girl in a nightgown. <== Must watch video!

The last horror movie I watched (other than my attempt to frighten my family with Poltergeist) was the Sixth Sense. Susan and I saw this movie in a theater twenty-three years ago. I vowed to never see another horror film. Decades later, I’m still unable to make a midnight bathroom run without adverting my half-closed eyes towards the floor. I never look in the mirror, certain that I don’t want to see what’s lurking behind me. Like many (most?) people, dead children creep me out, and the Sixth Sense has no shortage of them. The scene that pops into my head at two-thirty in the morning is the little boy wandering the halls of Haley Joel Osment’s house. “Come on. I’ll show you where my dad keeps his gun.” The boy turns away and displays the half of his face missing from the gun accident that killed him.

In my first living situation after college, I rented a house with three friends. Scotty and I took the upstairs: two bedrooms, one bath, while my roommates had a similar setup downstairs. Our bathroom, Scotty’s and mine, had a moderate sized storage room adjoining it. The doorway into that room was one of those slat-doors, the kind that look like Venetian blinds. Looking straight at the door, it was impossible to see through, but if you got up close on your hands and knees, you could look up and see into the next room. Every time I walked into the bathroom, I envisioned someone on the other side of the door watching my feet.

I probably entered that storage room three or four times during the year I lived there. The dingy black and while tiled floor resembled something you might find in an elementary school from the forties. A bare bulb on a pull-string illuminated the room. No one stored a single item in that room, not the landlord and not us renters. Everyone was terrified of the room. Regardless of the temperature, I got chills whenever I walked into the bathroom. At night, I never looked at the door.

The Sixth Sense showed us that ghosts are everywhere. For those unfortunate to see or sense them, ghosts are an ongoing fact of life. Living in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, often touted as one of the most haunted places on earth, I see countless ghost tours up and down main street anytime I’m out after dark. With almost eighteen thousand soldiers dead or missing in the three-day civil war battle, plenty of disrupted souls may still lurk here. I once had a dream that the ghosts in my bedroom decided to make themselves visible to me. A dozen of them, young to old suddenly appeared a few feet away.

Like many people, a handful of times, I’ve encountered strange and unexplainable events—three of those times were in that rental house. I see the probability of ghosts existing like I see the potential for extraterrestrial life. Given the sheer numbers of possibilities (dead people throughout history, planets within the universe) it seems almost impossible that a few spirits aren’t hanging out among us. For me, it’s a love hate circumstance. There’s nothing I’d love more than a clear, undeniable paranormal encounter. But God, I’d hate for that to happen.

Another ghost story I blogged about:

25 thoughts on “Ghost Story

  1. A movie that scared the bejeebers out of me when it came out, but doesn’t stand the test of time is Nightmare On Elm Street. Younger is a serious Freddy Fan, and the concept is still scary.
    I’ve never seen a ghost, but I’ve felt and heard things🤷🏼‍♀️ We have a certified Haunted House in San Diego, The Whaley House, and I’ve felt cold spots there.

    Paranormal stuff is something we want to encounter, as long as there’s safety nearby, right?😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • As I was writing this up, I was thinking about nightmare on elm street. It’s a slasher movie but there’s a paranormal angle as well. Seems like it should be really scary for everybody. It’s interesting how some movies just don’t age well. Depends on the audience too. I still love Butch Cassidy but Susan thinks it’s slow as molasses. We took a ghost tour once on someone’s birthday and it was excellent. Do you have any of those in your S.D.?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I actually don’t know if there’s a ghost tour other than the Whaley House. There are supposed to be several ghosts there and the tour of the house, old Court Room and gardens takes a while.

        I think there’s a Haunted Room at the Hotel Del Coronado too. Very famous hotel!

        I’ve never seen Butch Cassidy😲 Shocking, I know.


      • I don’t, but I haven’t been active for a long time. I can ask Younger if they know. They’re a lot more involved in activism, networking, the whole Scene, for lack of a better word. 3 hours of sleep last night🥱🤪 ugh!


  2. 1) how did I miss that other post? That’s a truly creepy experience. I don’t really believe in ghosts, but it is a bit hard to reconcile the belief with the weird experiences my family had at a specific house we lived in for two years when I was young. The stories were later corroborated by the two previous homeowners.

    2) 6th Sense creeped me out too, badly.
    3) the last movies that messed with me a bit were the Exorcism of Emily Rose, and Hereditary, although for different reasons. I stopped being scared by “demons” after I quit religion, but being alone in a big empty building can still make the hairs on my neck stand up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve always believed in ghosts. My two really ghosty experiences have me pretty convinced they’re real, but I would never argue the topic. I sort of throw them in the category that it’s more fun to believe they exist. That’s great that you could turn off the demon thing. I guess I’ve thought a bit about the ‘devil’ and while it all seems unlikely, it’s not something I’d f— around with. 🙂

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  3. I’m a sceptic but had the privilege of caring for a WWII/Korea/Vietnam Veteran who was fascinated by ghosts, UFOs and conspiracy theories. We’d watch and dissect documentaries from these genres nearly every Friday over several years.
    The level of proof presented never persuaded me – but I was once a high jumper and I listen closely for the clip of the bar. Sadly, I still jump whenever an owl or whatever it is flies out from behind wherever it flies out from.
    Thanks Jeff for writing a story that will help to keep one wary eye open, even it’s if just a crack.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I thought Sixth Sense was deliciously scary. Creepy too. The Exorcist totally freaked me out. I saw a midnight show in the mid 70s when it was first released and had trouble sleeping for days.


  5. I feel your pain.
    I insisted my kids watch Psycho.
    They thought it was nothing.
    Kids have no imagination anymore.
    It scared the hell out of me.
    I had an experience about 15 years ago.
    I blogged about it.
    Wonder if I can find it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have never felt the urge scare myself. I prefer to get my thrills from things I enjoy. For example, being out in a violent electrical storm, or racing down rapids in a jet boat at 80 K/hr with the canyon wall mere centimetres away. I’ve never watched a horror movie, and have no intention of doing so. When disaster movies were all the rage (The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake, etc), I felt no desire to watch them, and in this respect, I’m like my father. On the other hand, when my mother was alive, she and my wife would go together to every disaster movie that appeared at the local cinemas.

    As for ghosts and other supernatural phenomena, I am more a non-believer than a sceptic. Or perhaps it might be better to say that every so called supernatural phenomenon has a natural explanation – even if we we have yet to discover what its real nature is. Knowing that everything that a natural explanation doesn’t lesson the fun/thrill of exploring a haunted house taking part in a seance. What I am mindful of in those situations is that some people hold different beliefs and I avoid being part of any activity that may be harmful to their emotional wellbeing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my goodness, lately watching horror movies is all Catelyn and I seem to do. We’ve gone through all the Conjuring movies last week and we watched “Unfriended” a couple of days ago. They really do keep horror movies up to date. I’m actually surprised at all the new unique ways they have to kill people. (We started watching the horror movie “Freaky” and the first death actually had me say out loud, “I never would have thought that option as a possibility.”). I’ve never experienced anything but I do think it is possible. The Conjurings were all based on true events. And on our many trips to Gettysburg we haven’t done an official ghost tour, but did stay one night to walk – the wheatfield I want to say? One of the fields where ghost soldiers are known to be seen walking the field at night. We didn’t see anything but I’m sure some people have. I can relate to your house-watching story too. The first time I watched Children of the Corn I was babysitting in a house comprised of walls of windows. The kids were asleep, it was dark, and I was never more aware of being watched from the outside. I was so freaked out. I stuck to lighter material while babysitting after that night!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The ghost tour we did was excellent. our kids maybe 12 & 15 both loved it and we adults did too. Susan & I were just talking about Children of the Corn yesterday (as we walked down a lane with 8 foot corn stalks on either side of us). Neither of us have seen it. I wouldn’t watch the movie, but do you think the book would be any good?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I only saw the movie that one time – any other time I saw the title I thought of how freaked out I was that night and never went back to the movie again. I think the book would be good though, yes. We watched all the “It’s” too – Stephen King made a cameo in the last one. He really does come up with good stuff!

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  8. You’re a braver man than I, Jeff. I can’t cope with horror or thriller movies at all. I can’t bear the suspense. I can’t even watch Miss Marple or Agatha Christie for that reason (I think they’re both English programmes – as opposed to movies, so I’m not sure you’ll know them). Even Sherlock Holmes is too much for me. I’m a coward through and through! There’s no way you’d get me to sit down and watch Sixth Sense, The Exorcist or anything like that – not even if you paid me a fortune. Even when you described the scene with the little boy with half his face gone … – Nope! Not going there. However, I’m fine watching real-life horror, blood and guts in the emergency police and hospital programmes. I watch those in bed before I go to sleep and thoroughly enjoy them. I’ll stick to those, I think. I couldn’t even watch your ‘must see’ video – I was too terrified! There’s no hope for me, Jeff 😶.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My days of watching anything upsetting are over. We don’t watch any hospital dramas in our house either because Susan can’t take them since I was hit by a car. Unicorns and rainbows in our house. I do like the idea of a ghost though. I think that would be proof that there is some sort of post death consciousness.

      Liked by 1 person

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