Monday, December 01, 2008

The Unexpected Perils of House Hunting

Lately, I've been researching paranormal investigation methods as part of the rewrite for my new novel. In so doing, I am reminded of something that happened to me summer of '07 while shopping for houses.

I met my real estate agent, Angela (not her real name) at a foreclosure house in Olive Branch. As we approached the door, Angela told me that she had stopped by the house the day before to check it out, because it was such a good house in a good location and she hadn't known that it was for sale until I mentioned it to her. So while she's trying to unlock the door, she tells me that the day before she was having a hard time getting the door open and had the distinct impression that somebody was on the other side of the door trying to keep her out. As she's saying this, she can't get the door unlocked, so I step up to help and I can't get it unlocked. Finally, the key works for her and the door unlocks.

We enter the house and it's in a state. Not the worst I'd ever seen (that came a couple of weeks later, in the house with no cabinet doors and a pile of shit on the stairs), but still pretty bad. So Angela tells me that she didn't even look at the upstairs because once she got in the house, she could have sworn somebody was upstairs, so she left after a quick walk through.

Now she heads for the kitchen, while I take a turn through the dining room. Just as I walk around the corner, a toilet upstairs flushes. I get into the kitchen and say, is that a toilet? She says, I think so, and then we both hear somebody walking around upstairs.

Discretion being the better part of valor, we decide this house won't work for me and hightail it. But on the way out the door, I glance into the downstairs half bath and it looks like something out of Amityville - wallpaper peeling in strips down the walls.

We get outside and I photograph all the upstairs windows, hoping to get a glimpse of the intruder peering out, but nothing shows up in my pictures. We move on and I see about a billion other houses ove the following year until finally, in August '08, we pick out the house we will eventually buy. I turn around and there, kittycorner across the street from our new house, is that haunted foreclosure from last summer.

All I can say is, I am damn glad I didn't move there. But I wonder if I should tell the current owners. I figure sooner or later we'll see them leave in the middle of the night.

Another house hunting ghost story:

Last spring, a fine old house came up for sale in old town Olive Branch, on Pigeon Roost Road three doors down from the elementary school. It was an interesting old place, sitting on an acre and a half of land right there in the middle of the city, and the price was within reason, provided it didn't need too much immediate work. After looking it over and talking it over with my father, we were almost on the point of buying it. We thought we could move in and do a little bit at a time and end up with a real showpiece.

With a house that old, though, you have to expect there will be some residue. There's going to be a ghost, or repeating phantasms, or something. I was very conscious of this every time I looked at the place. I tried to feel for it, because I can usually tell a haunted house just by looking at it. But my impressions about this place were ambiguous at best. I thought the house could work for us.

So I was over there one afternoon with my youngest - the ghost attractor. Remember him?

We're looking around, checking out the barn and stuff. We're there about twenty minutes when all of a sudden, with no obvious outside stimulus, he says, Daddy I want to go home now. I don't like this house. It's scary. And he heads for the car. I open the door and he climbs inside by himself, which he almost never does, and asks me to shut the door and can we please go NOW!

So over the next few days, I drive by the house a few times with him in the car, just to see if his opinion will change. Every time he sees it, he says, that's a scary house. I ask, do you want to stop and look at it and he says, in no uncertain terms, no he doesn't want to stop, he doesn't want to live there.

I've read The Shining. We didn't buy the house.

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