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Restaurant Ghost

February 2004

My boyfriend lives in a two story apartment above an Italian restaurant that has been run by the same family for about 100 years. Shortly after he moved in, we were alone in the apartment for the night. Around 2:30 a.m., I was awakened by strange sounds from the restaurant below. I lay still and listened for a few minutes. It sounded like someone was running water and moving furniture. Puzzled, I got up and looked out at the parking lot. The only car there was my boyfriend's. (for the sake of the story let's call him Al). Thinking that perhaps someone had broken in, I woke Al up -- no small task -- and told him what had been going on. "It's probably nothing," he grumbled. "I wouldn't worry about it." There was nothing for me to do but go back to bed and think of possible explanations. After about a half hour the noises stopped. Rodents? The old place settling? My imagination? Automated cleaning systems? I really couldn't figure it out. In the morning I brought it up again with Al. He worked as a bartender at that restaurant -- maybe he knew something I didn't. But again, he told me to ignore it and quickly changed the subject. Maybe it was rats or something, he said.

My curiosity grew stronger as the weeks went by and the noises continued almost every night. They came at odd hours, the middle of the night when the restaurant couldn't possibly be open or still housing a few workers. There were never any cars outside besides those of the other four roommates, and the noises were too bizarre to be explained away. Besides water running and furniture moving, I heard banging on the pipes, breaking glass, doors slamming, and sometimes a woman singing. I eventually convinced Al to talk to the owner about it -- at this point I thought perhaps a vagrant was somehow sneaking in every night, or worse, hiding somewhere in the building while the restaurant was open and coming out at night. Farfetched as that seemed, it was all I could come up with. He said he'd talk to Delia (the owner) about it and that she would investigate.

As the months went by, other odd things started to happen. One night I was in the apartment with Al's roommate, Jamie. It was after midnight, and we were waiting for Al and the other roommates to get back from a party. We were in the computer room, which is directly down the hall from the apartment's only door, at the opposite end of the building. There was a loud knock on the door, and we paused in our conversation. We hadn't heard anyone come up the outside steps. It is actually quite impossible to come up the steps without making a lot of noise, as they are rickety old metal fire-escape style stairs. "Did you hear a knock?" asked Jamie. "Yeah, did you?" I asked back. "Yeah," he said. We weren't hearing things. Then there was another knock. We were a bit unnerved -- it was late, we hadn't heard anyone on the stairs, any friends who might be dropping by would walk right in rather than knock as the door is never locked. We went down the hall together and Jamie opened the door. There was no one there. Now, it is quite impossible to get up the stairs without being heard, and even less possible to get down them, especially as quickly as you would have to to avoid being seen, and make no noise. And we had heard no one go downstairs. There is no place to hide on that landing -- there simply was no one there. We decided to tell each other we had imagined it and went back to the computer room.

Another time, Al, Jamie, and I were in the living room watching a movie. It was around 2:00 a.m. Al remembered that he hadn't brought the CDs in from his car for the night and went outside to retrieve them. Moments later, he came (loudly) up the outside stairs and began rattling and knocking at the door. I finally got up to see what the fuss was about and found the door to be locked. I turned back the dead bolt and let him in. "Very funny," he said to us. "It's cold out there, you know." Jamie and I exchanged puzzled looks. "What are you talking about?" I asked. "Oh cut the crap! Locking me out. Real original guys!" He was more amused than irate. "O stop." I said. "YOu know you locked yourself out." "No I didn't," Al returned. "I didn't take my keys." I looked incredulous. "They're right there!" he pointed to the living room table, 10 feet away. I went to look, and there they were. His house key was on the ring. Now I was really confused. "Al, what's going on? I swear to you we did not lock you out. Jamie and I were sitting right here the whole time." Jamie nodded in agreement. Al could see we weren't lying. Even so, I expected him to dispute the point. Instead, he looked around for a minute and then said that it must have been some wierd fluke with the locking mechanism. Then we all sat down and kept watching the movie. There was no more discussion of the incident, until it happened again when another roommate was bringing groceries in one night. This time Al and I were in his room. No one else was home besides Neal, who was busy making trips between the kitchen and his car. After one such trip, we heard him pounding at the door and yelling to be let in. We got up to see what the problem was and found the dead bolt was thrown. We unlocked the door, and Neal laughingly accused us of playing a lame joke on him. We responded that he must have accidentally locked himself out, and he showed us his keys, lying on the kitchen counter. It was all very odd, and I started to say, "Remember that time..." when Al cut me off and changed the subject.

Then there's the bathroom. One night I got up to use the bathroom around 3:30 and was surprised to see no light in the hallway emanating from the bathroom, as it's usually left on at night. I continued down the dark hall, but when I rounded the corner I saw that indeed the light was on, but the door was closed. Not wanting to disturb anyone, I went back to Al's room and waited for the sounds of someone exiting the bathroom. After about 20 minutes I had heard nothing -- no water running or toilet flushing, or anyone opening the door -- and I went to check again, thinking something might be wrong. I knocked quietly, got no response, knocked more loudly, and eventually began talking to whoever was in there asking if they were alright. There was nothing but silence from the bathroom. A bit worried, I tried the door. It was locked. Although there is a keyhole on the outside of the bathroom door, the key has been lost since long before anyone we knew lived in that apartment and the owner never bothered to have a replacement made. The only way to see what was going on in there was to either break down the door or somehow get in through the window. I was quite worried -- whoever it was had locked themselves in and might be in some kind of trouble -- and I went to wake Al. After talking the situation over, he went, knocked, tried the door, and decided he had better try to get in at the window. This was fairly easy, since there is a flat roof over the restaurant kitchen that extends from the bathroom of the apartment to the kitchen of the apartment, and is easily accessible through the kitchen window. I waited outside the bathroom door while he went outside. He made quite a bit of noise getting the window open, and attracted the attention of the rest of the housemates. By the time he got in and unlocked the door, I had been joined by everyone except Neal. We got a considerable shock when Al opened the door on an empty bathroom. OUr exclamations finally awakened Neal, who came groggily out of his room. We could find no logical explanation for the locked door. AFter lots of head scratching we all went back to bed, telling ourselves it must have been some trick of the locking mechanism.

The weirdest incident happened one night around 10:30. We heard footsteps on the stairs, and then a rap on the door. Neal opened it to find two police officers standing there. They asked politely to see the back room, which was the computer room described earlier. Confused and a bit worried, Neal led them down the hall to where Jamie was sitting at the computer. The cops poked around, asked a few odd questions, and then told us this story. They had received a phone call from a neighbor across the street. The neighbor had reported an apparent suicide in that room. She had seen a body hanging in front of the picture window, as if whoever it was had hung themselves. She at first thought her eyes were playing tricks on her, but as the evening wore on and she still distinctly saw the form, which she had never seen before, she decided to call the police, just to be on the safe side. There was nothing there that resembled a hung body, but we decided her eyes must have been playing tricks on her. What else could it have been?

I was not satisfied, though. I finally cornered Al and asked him if he'd ever talked to the owner about the noises. They were still going on almost every night, and I had heard nothing about an investigation of their origin. There were too many wierd happenings to ignore. I wanted to know what he knew.

"Alright." he said. "I didn't want to tell you this, because I didn't want to scare you. And you can't talk about it with the other roommates, because they don't know, and I don't want to scare them either. But downstairs, everyone at the restaurant knows this place is haunted. Delia's family used to live in this apartment. But then in the 40s something happened with her grandmother -- I think the grandfather was cheating or something -- and she hung herself in the back room while everyone was away. That's when they started renting the place out. After that, wierd things started happening. Like in the restaurant, everyone would leave for the night, and in the morning when they came back to open it up, all the furniture would be rearranged or stacked up in a corner. And people would get locked in the basement when they went down to get extra wine bottles and things like that. Some people even say they've seen her. I haven't, but you know. There are stories. I really don't think much has happened in the apartment. It's mostly in the restaurant. Delia told me that nothing has happened here in about ten years, and no one has ever walked out on the lease. I think the thing that happened in the apartment was that they always heard someone singing in one of the bedrooms, but they could never find the source. And they one night one of the tenants was asleep, and they felt a pressure on thier back. They woke up and looked behind them and saw this woman's face, right there in front of them, and they turned on the light and it disappeared. I really didn't want to say anything about it, because I didn't want to scare anyone. Don't worry about it. It's not going to hurt you."

"Hey, Al? Tell me honestly. What bedroom did this ghost stuff happen in?"
"Ok. Just promise me you won't get scared and stop coming here."
"I can't promise that. Just tell me what room it was." He didn't say anything. "Okay. If I guess the right room on the first guess, will you tell me yes or no?"
"OK." he said, after a long pause.
"Was it your room?"
He nodded.

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