When I was a child, about eight years old or so (I'm
nearly 21 now), our rapidly-expanding Catholic family needed a new
and larger home. I remember the house hunt only vaguely, a
long string of unfamiliar empty rooms and perky real estate
agents. I was a very sensitive kid, easily spooked and very
uneasy at the idea of anything supernatural or
out-of-the-ordinary. So at the time, my family fell into the
habit of hiding information from me. I guess it helped at
the time (who knows how neurotic I'd be now if they'd let me
in on everything). But still, now that I'm older and have an
insatiable appetite for anything weird or bizarre or
chilling, I'm glad that I've been enlightened to my family's
There's one house I remember that we all particularly loved.
It was downtown, a huge old Victorian-era house with an
in ground swimming pool, a little guest house, and magnolia
trees lining the porch. My parents were delighted at the
spacious rooms, plenty of space for hyperactive little kids.
My brothers and I dashed around the enormous empty house
while my parents talked business. I remember we all claimed
our bedrooms right away. The one I wanted had roses on the
wallpaper, big red storybook roses, and the windows looked
out onto the garden. For a little dreamy kid like me, it
To make a long story short, we didn't end up getting the
house (I don't know why, I was too young to understand
anything practical). We were all very disappointed, but
gradually I began to learn a little more about the house.
Though I never felt threatened myself, I'm currently very
happy that we didn't end up with the magnolia-house (as I
call it) ... because honestly, I don't know what kind of
experiences may have traumatized me if we'd wound up taking
First off, in the little sales brochure about the house,
there was a passing mention of a "hanger-throwing ghost." My
parents brushed it off as a joke, and could never really get
the real estate agents to open up about it. I've often
wondered about that "hanger-throwing ghost," and imagine the
previous owners of the house leaving in a panic, chased out
by a barrage of clothes hangers. Maybe it was just a cutsie
publicity stunt. Who knows? But my brother saw something
that was probably NOT intended to be shown to potential buyers.
My big brother is a trustworthy person. He's always had a
serious nature, and doesn't like to frighten me ... often
he'd make up scary stories and then become guilty when I got
too frightened and admit to making them up. But this is one
story he has always insisted on being the honest truth. Over
all the years he hasn't altered it in any way, so as far as
I know, he DID see this. Whether or not it's truth or a
child's overactive mind, I can't say. I'll leave that
decision to those who read this.
One day, when my parents were again looking over the house
with their friends and the very patient real estate agent,
my big brother (probably ten at the time), wondered off
alone into the upstairs part of the house. He told me he
remembered the dust filtering through the sunlight, the
faint water stains on the wallpaper, and the broad empty
echoing rooms. As my brother headed towards the bedrooms, he
heard quick brisk footsteps coming up behind him. Assuming
it was one of my parents, he turned around to make excuses
for wandering off alone. He never got to make those excuses.
My brother found himself looking at a man, average height,
with sandy-colored hair ... ordinary in that respect only.
The man was walking quickly, his hands shoved in his
pockets, seemingly unaware or at least undisturbed by my
brother's presence. He was dressed in what my brother
described as "old fashioned" clothes. Who knows what strikes
a kid as "old fashioned," although he did mention a rather
formal suit with coat tails. The fact of a strange man
walking through the house would have been odd enough, but
the clincher is this:
The man had no face.
It wasn't blown off or bloodied away, or even a black hole,
as you might imagine. He just simply had no face, as if
someone had taken an eraser to his flesh. Where a face
should have been was an expanse of bare smooth skin. The man
walked rapidly past my brother and out through a wall at the
end of the hallway. My brother, who was a strangely stoic
kid, didn't start screaming hysterically or faint dead away.
He didn't describe any goose bumps or cold chill, the way
people typically do. He just went downstairs and told my
parents. They brushed him off, and he kept it to himself for
When he told us again, years later, it disturbed me so much
I had trouble sleeping. Lying awake in my nice safe
ghost-free bedroom, I couldn't help thinking that I'd rather
be in a home with no spirits than have all the
rose-wallpapered bedrooms in the world.
There's another story connected to that same house hunt. I DO
remember this house having a weird vibe to it. Maybe my
memory has just been tainted, but I recall a lingering sense
of unease and fear. There was a child's bedroom with odd
cartoons on the wallpaper, and I can still remember looking
at that wallpaper and feeling irrationally disturbed. My
parents later admitted to me that the house gave them the
creeps too, for no reason they could really put their
fingers on. They, however, did have a story connected to the
As they looked it over, they kept hearing what they thought
was the cry of a baby or small child. Since they had several
small children at the time and have always been extremely
cautious parents, they kept on dashing away to check on us
as we scattered all over the house ... but each time they
discovered that we were, of course, perfectly fine. The real
estate agent wrote the sound off as neighborhood cats, and
who knows, chances are, she was dead right. But my parents
were made edgy and uncomfortable by this constant fussing,
and were grateful to leave the house.
Back at our own home of the time, however, they found
themselves still hearing the noise from time to time ...
sometimes at night, sometimes in the day. They told
themselves firmly that they were just hearing cats, but they
hadn't had a problem with neighborhood cats before. At
around this time, my youngest brother developed a very bad
case of asthma. He had frequent attacks and was rushed to
the emergency room time and time again. We didn't have a
history of asthma in the family, so we were all a little
baffled by the severity of his case. He was cured at around
ten or so, and now has only very infrequent relapses (mainly
brought around by his heavy smoking habit).
So who knows? In all probability, my big brother had a
strange case of an overactive imagination and later managed
to convince even himself that what he saw was real. And my
parents were just bothered by some stray cats, at the same
time that their youngest kid's asthma kicked in full-force.
But personally I liked to imagine, in the dark corners of my
mind, that maybe these stories had another edge to them,
something a little more ... unexplainable.