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Phantom Call

February 2007

Of course I read the other accounts of what the Courtyard Ghost in Occoquan did. The ghost hated noise and tore shopkeepers' noisy wind chimes down. I found out during my market research that Occoquan is a very haunted town (mind you, after I already signed the lease and paid my deposit and first month's rent). It might have became just a power of suggestion controlling what I saw and heard. I know I'm not putting any wind chimes up, but since I am opening a business there, and will be there a lot, I plan to document everything I come across. And here is what happened tonight:

I just moved into my office on the second floor this past weekend. I'm not open for business yet, but I am setting everything up. Usually, at night, outside of my regular day job hours.

On Wednesday, January 10, 2007 myself, Jeff and my daughter Marissa arrived at the office well after 8:30 p.m. It was likely closer to 9:00 p.m. Jeff carried up the portable stereo and then some CDs when he couldn't get a decent radio signal or station. I asked for something mellow because I wasn't in the mood for anything loud and crazy, and I figured the ghost I had heard about was NOT going to like Systems of A Down or any of Jeff's other heavy metal or punk music CD blaring out to the courtyard. Jeff brought in a Booker T. and the MGs CD. My daughter Marissa spread herself out on the bare hardwood floor in the front room with her sewing/glue gun project, I worked on unpacking office supplies and equipment and Jeff was hanging my four part painting on a wall.

The music was perfect in the background and was at a volume of 15. At one point while they were there, I went into the bathroom and went to flip on the fluorescent light. It weirdly flickered and almost seemed to refuse to go on. Sort of when a bulb burns out. So, I figured the light was burnt out, flipped it off and returned across the hall to my office. Amazingly, later, the light worked perfectly. I noticed different lights in the front office of the room doing the same weird flickering later that night. I don't know. It just felt creepy.
At 10:10 p.m., Jeff and Marissa leave to grab some Wendy's fast food and Jeff mentions how late it is and how he needs to take Marissa home to go to bed, as she has school the next day. I tell him I want to stay and still work on things, so I ask him to come back and get me. He says he'll be back in 40 minutes, but I say an hour or more is okay. I am not only opening and working on my business in my off hours, I have a regular job that keeps me busy during the day. I need all the time I can get to work on things.

I lock the lower main entrance door after he leaves as I am now alone in the building. I tell him to call me when he gets there to pick me up, since he'll be locked out. I try a couple of other CDs. Actually, they all really pretty much suck, (Jeff and I don't always have the same taste in music) but I don't know what some of them are so I am trying them out. I listen to one (I can't remember which one) for a few minutes while I work in the next room and I hear the most horrific thump. I wonder if it was downstairs or in the next room. I don't know where it came from and I can't figure it out. But I turn the volume down to 10 and think I should change the CD and so I put in some classic Pink Floyd. I am hearing a few noises. I tell myself the building is dated 1860, I am sure old buildings creak. Or I decide, the ghost is hanging out in my office.

I am in the back room of the office working and suddenly I notice that I can't hear the music that well. I move to the front where the stereo has been placed on the bay window sill/seat to turn it up. The volume is at 7. I guess he didn't like Pink Floyd either. I put Booker T. and the MGs CD back in and turn the volume back up to 10. I work uninterrupted for a long while, although I feel a little creepy while putting empty computer boxes in the storage closet in the bathroom. I get my phone from where it is sitting in my purse (near the stereo). I slip it in my jacket pocket so I won't miss Jeff's call. I go back to the back room to work. I say out loud (because I talk to myself sometimes), "I hurt, I hurt, I hurt, oh, I know I need to go home". (I have been limping all night from my severe arthritis and all the sitting in traffic that night, moving and cleaning has badly aggravated it). But I don't want to go home, because I have a lot to do, still. And plus I am 32, so having arthritis at this age was not in my general life plan, and I have too much to do, so I often attempt to ignore it.

Anyway, apparently, I think this happened just after I said this out loud. I was cleaning the desk and seeing if the Murphy's Oil would clean and shine up the natural wood floors. I worked on my hands and knees near the desk. I think this was about the time that Jeff got a phone call from my Blackberry cell phone at the house (It was at 10:53 p.m. ? 40 minutes after he left with Marissa). He says that all he heard was static and rustling around. (Of course he did, it was in my pocket). So about twenty minutes later, he calls me, as he is around the corner from the building by then. He asks if I tried to call him at the house. He tells me about the call he received and he says he thought I could have been in trouble. He was rushing to come get me and was almost there. He was almost even afraid I wasn't going to answer if he tried to call back, so he just jumped in his car and left. I tell him no, I didn't call, but maybe I hit one of the speed dial buttons by mistake, I hang up with him so I can check the phone history. Yes, my phone called "home" at 10:53 p.m. I call him right back and tell him that, yes, my phone called, I somehow probably hit a button. But, I check over and over. There is no speed dial set for that number. My old Blackberry would do it all the time. I'd accidentally hit a letter or number connected by speed dial to a number. There's no way this new one did. No speed dial is associated with my home number. What I found even stranger was this: that phone had been newly reset that morning by Cingular because of device errors. I had to reenter in my regular names and numbers into my address book. I had entered in "home" (just that morning) but realized I had NEVER called it. It wasn't as if my phone accidentally redialed the last person I spoke with (you know how that happens, right?) because it wasn't on the call list. So does anyone out there have a Blackberry and know what I mean? My phone called home. By itself. It's in the call history. Jeff answered. It happened.

By the way, while we were driving back and I was telling Jeff what I had been doing, I mentioned that I said out loud, "I hurt, I hurt, I hurt, oh, I know I need to go home". I looked at him and said, "Duh!!! Maybe my new phone has voice recognition and I said "home!" We got a good laugh at that one. I spoke very clearly into the phone to test it out. No such luck. Here's my personal theory.

When I said "I hurt, I hurt, I hurt, oh, I know I need to go home" and I had been badly limping, I think "he" (?) was saying, hey it's been 40 minutes - that's when Jeff said he'd pick you up and I think you need to go home. Did he know Jeff had been distracted and had lost track of time? Did he just want me to get out of there? For whatever reason, I think he called Jeff at home for me and made it clear it was time to pick me up. I may need to change my schedule.

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