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My Friend Johnny

Aithne, Pennsylvania, USA
October 1998

Though I now live in Philadelphia, I spent almost all of my 18 years in a small up state New York farm town. For the first 8 years of my life, I lived in a two unit brick house (you know, the kind of house that is split so that two families can live there - a duplex home). They have always been like this as they were built for returning civil war soldiers so that they could marry and settle down easier. I remember a few things, but most of what happened is being told to me by my mother who experienced more then I did. What I remember is doors slamming, foot steps up and down the stairs, and things falling off tables when they were set back far from the ledge. We had a dog that would refuse to enter the master bedroom, my parents room, even when prodded or pushed. In this room is where most of the going-ons happened.

My father worked nights so my mother was often alone at night. She said that she would lay there in bed, scared out of her mind because she could hear someone walking around the bed and by the window. When she finally worked up the nerve to turn on the lights, it would stop, and of course, no one was there. Sometimes it got so bad that she wouldn't sleep in there, she would sleep with me or on the couch. I want to get it straight now that we were never afraid of being hurt, it was just scary to have a ghost in your house period!

My older sister told me that once she was in the bathroom getting ready for bed when she saw a dark haired man walk by. Thinking that maybe my father had forgotten something and come back home she called out, but when she stepped in the hall, no one was there. She went to go check my parents room when she heard me talking to someone (I was about 4 at the time) and thought my dad was in there. She opened the door and saw me sitting up in bed, alone. She asked who I was talking to and I said that Johnny came to say goodnight. From the time I could talk, till the time I was about 6, I had a friend named Johnny no one else could see. My mom at first thought like most kids my age I had made him up. But I keep insisting that he was really there and when I said he had dark hair "like dad's" and "wore funny brown shoes and a white shirt" she got scared and told me not to talk about him anymore. I don't remember him, but from what I'm told we had a great friendship. It got to the point that I wouldn't play with other kids, because "Johnny would cry." As I grew older I talked about him less and less till about the time I was 6 or so, and I stopped talking about him completely.

He was never mean. Sometimes we would be sitting in our living room (directly below the master bedroom) and we could hear furniture moving above us. Like someone was moving the room around. We would go upstairs and everything would be just as we left it. Other times there wouldn't be a sound all night and when my mother went downstairs in the morning she would find all the furniture pushed against a wall. The dog would bark at corners when there was no one we could see. And then cry and run from the room. I remember once I came home from my grandparents with my father, my mother was sitting on the front porch and refused to go inside till my father checked the house. She said she had been in the kitchen went she turned around and saw a tall thin man with dark hair and a white shirt in the doorway. He looked surprised to see her and turned around and walked down the hall. She ran out the back door and sat outside till we got home.

When I was 7 my little sister was born. We never talked about the "ghost" in front of her. When she was about 2 she started talking to a friend no one could see named Johnny... that was too much for my mom, we moved very soon after. I often go back to the street I lived on when I am visiting home to see old friends that still live there. The house is still there, though people are moving in and out constantly. We were the people to live there the longest according to my old babysitter, the oldest resident of the block. She believes in Johnny. She even says she knows how he came to be there. According to her, "Johnny" was a man that lived in my side of the house with his wife and small son during the early 1900's. He was mentally unstable and given to periods of depression to the point where he couldn't even work. When his wife left him and took his son. He apparently locked himself up in his room (the master bedroom) and killed himself. I don't know if I believe this, and I hope that my friend had a little bit of a happier ending. I would like to go to see if he is still there, but I am also hoping that by now he has moved on to a better place.

Aithne, Pennsylvania, USA
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