Tuesday, January 28, 2014

For Sale: Slightly Haunted House

For sale:  Slightly Haunted House.  A home in Pennsylvania has been put up for sale by the homeowners because a few "odd" occurrences have occurred.  For me, as an ex-Realtor, a red flag immediately goes up and it causes my hackles to stand on end.  As someone who doesn't do scary movies, every nerve in my body screamed for the homeowners to run for their lives and never look back as I read their story.

Courtesy of Wikipedia. Public domain image.
Having been a Realtor, I've gone in some of these "occupied" homes and you can feel the presence of something before you ever open the front door.  Back in the late 90's, I had a client who was an investor.  He'd buy dilapidated old homes, bring them back to their glory, and then sell them for a profit.  A few had some "Casper the Friendly Ghosts" that were no big deal, but there was one home I will never forget.

It was located in an area of town that was just beginning to see a resurgence of pride in homeownership.  The house I was taking the investor's contractor to assess had known only 1 owner in its 60 years since being built.  The contractor had become good friends with my husband and I, so I felt very safe looking at homes with him in rather questionable areas of town.  The home was in pretty bad condition as the owner had been elderly and thus hadn't been able to maintain the home in a very, very long time and had recently passed away.

We arrived to walk through the home at dusk and the minute we pulled up into the driveway, we both just sat there looking at this home.  "Holy crap!  It's the house from Amityville Horror!", the contractor exclaimed as he pulled his handgun out and made sure it was loaded.  I looked at him and asked "Does this really look like a home we need to go inside?".  He looked at me with an expression of complete amusement and teased "Well, since you're scared, why don't you sit in the car with the doors locked while I walk around the outside."

"Oh really?!  You're the one with the gun but I'm the fraidy-cat?!".  Remembering an old verse from the Book of Proverbs: "Pride goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall" I decided to sit in the car.  "Ok," I said, "I'll sit here and call 911 when a vagrant hits you over the head and steals your wallet".  Laughing, he got out of the car and walked around the exterior of the house.  After checking the home, he was confident it was devoid of squatters and had been properly secured, and thus was safe to enter.  He motioned for me to turn on the car's headlights so he could check out the garage area first.

He lifted the garage door and took a step into the garage.  Using my large Maglite flashlight, he shined it into a dark corner of the garage.  As soon as the light touched the darkness, the darkness moved!  The contractor jumped at the sight and sprinted for the safety of the hood of my car....... after being chased by several very large, and very ticked off, rats.

I laughed hysterically at the scene before me.  Determined not to be bested by the rats........ or me, he closed the garage door and then motioned for me to open the front door of the house.  By this time, the sun had completely gone down and dusk had been overtaken by night.  "Ummmm....... are you sure we need to even go in?  It's so dark, we won't be able to see anything.  Maybe it would be best if we come back tomorrow when it's daylight.", I suggested........ hoping beyond hope I wouldn't have to walk in this house at night.

"Oh no.  We are going in.", he said.  Dear Jesus, protect me!, I thought.  I unlocked and opened the front door.  He looked at me and said "Stay close.  Hold the flashlight.  If anything comes at you, whack it with the light.  It'll kill anything you hit with it.......... just make sure it's not me.".  With that ever so reassuring thought in my head, we stepped into the house.

We were immediately greeted by the overwhelming stench of death.  We both grabbed our shirts and pulled them over our nose and mouths to act as a filter against the smell.  We took a few more steps inside into a large open living room with  beautiful hardwood floors. We were both surprised and impressed with the layout and bones of the home.  A few more steps into the home and we came upon a bedroom...... where the odor seemed to be emanating from.  The owner's remains had been removed, but the mattress had not.  yuck.

We both sighed with relief that the odor was all we had to deal with.  We turned from the room and started to walk back to the living room when the contractor held up his hand for me to stop.  He had his head cocked to one side and was listening intently.  I froze.  He waited a few minutes, shook his head and we moved on.  We came upon the stairs which led up to the very dark upstairs rooms.

As we looked up, we heard the creaking of floorboards in one of the upstairs rooms.  The contractor looked at me and said firmly "Time to go up.".  I looked at him like he'd lost his mind as I said quite emphatically "Oh, hell no!".  He giggled and replied "Well, I am going upstairs and I have the gun so if you want to stay downstairs all alone with just a flashlight, then go ahead.".

I closed my eyes, said a quick prayer of protection for my stupidity in following him, and made the sign of the cross (I'm not Catholic but I was hoping to cover all my bases).  He held the flashlight and the gun as we slowly walked up the stairs, while I held onto the belt loops of his jeans.  He was having to carefully check each step for durability before moving up to the next step, so it was taking a bit to go up the stairs.  As we progressed upward, more creaking sounds emanated from the upstairs area.  I was pretty sure he could hear me swallow hard because he said "it's probably just more rats". 

The thought of being chased by rats caused me to stop.  This was like the 3 Stooges in a haunted house - except there were only 2 of us......... or were there???  It was at this point when I decided I would much rather stand on the stairs in complete darkness than see what was upstairs making those creaking noises.

As I stood there on the stairs, every nerve in my body was standing on edge, as were the hairs on the back of my neck.  You could feel we weren't alone.  There was most assuredly another presence in this house and it was not of the rodent variety.  The contractor shrugged his shoulders at my hard-headedness to stay put and pressed on, leaving me alone in the dark. As he continued up the stairs, he called back "Just scream if you need something", while chuckling at his own humor. 

 He walked around one side of the upstairs and checked it thoroughly.  As he walked to the other side of the upstairs, all of the sudden, the sound of footsteps came from the area he'd just checked.......... followed by the slamming of a door.  My heart was in my throat!  The contractor quickly stepped around the corner and shined the light on me on the stairs.  I lifted my arm and pointed to the area where the noise came from.......... the area he'd just checked.

He looked back at me and all he saw were my elbows and backside as I flew down those stairs and out the front door!  I did not stop until I was inside the car and the doors were locked.  He was quite a few steps behind me and by the time he caught up, I already had the car engine started and the car in reverse.  He had to knock on the car window for me to unlock his door so he could get in.  Thankfully, he'd locked the front door back and secured the house key in the Realtor's lockbox so I didn't have to.

I left part of my tire's rubber in that home's driveway in my zeal to get the heck away from that house.  As we were driving away, the contractor looked at me and asked "I have to ask........ did you slam that door trying to scare me?".  Without hesitating I said "No!" with enough conviction and fear to convince him I wasn't the one.

He picked up his cell phone as we drove back to my office and called the investor.  "Yeah, that house is beyond my level of expertise.", he said.  The investor asked why.  Without missing a beat the contractor replied "Exorcism of a house isn't something I have been trained for.".

Christie Bielss

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