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First Encounter

February 1998

When I was twelve my family moved. The house was in great shape but had been vacant for several years. A story that went around the town said that the last resident, a bootlegger called Rockshoot Joe, had a lot of money hidden somewhere in the house that no one could find after he died. One of the neighbors, an elderly man who liked to sit on a rocker on his front porch and watch the house, had a different story. He said that a man named Curly was mauled by a bear in the woods behind the back yard. Curly crawled through the yard and up to the house but died when he reached the door. The neighbor said Curly was the one to watch out for, not Rockshoot Joe.

The house itself is built at the base of a mountainside. What is actually the basement looks like the first floor from the front of the house, complete with doors and windows. The 'real' first floor can be accessed by going through the basement and up the stairs or by going up the outside stairs that run alongside the house. The stairs from the cellar go into the parlor, the middle room of the first floor. The outside stairs enter at the kitchen, which is the room farthest back.I have to admit I was pretty excited at the prospect of living in a haunted house. Not that I ever expected anything to happen...

After we were settled in for several months, I was very comfortable with the house and believed the ghosts were nothing more than entertaining stories. One Saturday evening, most members of my family were out for a few hours. My older sister, who is hard of hearing, and I sat in the living room, the room closest to the street, reading the newspaper. The cellar stairs were diagonal from from where I sat, and the door to them was closed.I was quite absorbed in the article I was reading, when I heard footsteps coming up the cellar steps. I thought, "Mom and Dad are home," and went back to the article. Then I realized only one set of feet were coming up the steps. THEN I realized that my parents weren't due home for another hour. I listened, wondering who was there, and why I hadn't heard the door to the street open and close. Paying less attention to the newspaper and more to the sound of the steps, I heard the footfalls stop at the top step with a sound of heavy finality to them. I put my newspaper on my lap, with an expression of fright on my face. My sister laughed, and said, "What's the matter, do you hear a ghost?" I put the paper down and rose, and walked to the door. I turned the knob and pushed it open. The hall light was on, even though it was still daylight. I stepped up to the edge of the top of the landing, and looked around the basement as well as I could, wondering where the noise might have come from. I then had the feeling that I was looking eye-to-eye with someone, and that someone was distinctly looking at me, even though I could see no one standing in front of me. At that point the footsteps returned, turning around on the top step in front of me, and walking down the steps. I stood, motionless, as the footsteps walked across the backroom of the basement into the front room, and stopped. Feeling it was done, I returned to the living room. "Was anyone there?" my sister laughed."No," I said.

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