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The Disembodied Roommate


Michele Dutcher

The Disembodied Roommate

Forty years ago, my first husband and I moved into a shotgun house built in the 1900s in New Albany Indiana…and there was a ghost already living there.  A shotgun house, as anyone from the Midwest in America knows, is a home built with the rooms placed one behind each other, so that if a person fired a shotgun with the doors opened, the shot would go straight through the house and out the backdoor.

This ghost on Oak Street made itself known primarily in three ways:

1: taking a bite out of a freshly made sandwich while no one was watching

2: setting four dishes on the table and smearing them with ketchup while the people in the house were gone – with the doors locked

3: running from the front yard of the house into the backyard each morning at 1 a.m. – which was all the more amazing since there was a six-foot fence around the backyard and the gate was by the alley in back. 

Of course there were the usual manifestations like there always being a cold spot in front of the fireplace, even during the summer.  But the most upsetting of the signs of a haunting was the last one, the running at 1 a.m. that woke us up in the middle of the night every night.  Who was running past? Why were they running? Who or what were they running from? And how in the heck could they get over that wooden fence every night?

After about a month of this nonsense we were fed up and decided to see who was making all the racket.  So we went to bed one night and set the alarm clock for 12:45 a.m. When the alarm went off we opened the curtains and sat there in the dark on the bed, waiting for our disturber to run past.

1 a.m. came and we could hear the footsteps running around the front of the house next door, running past the parlor and the front bedroom, past the bathroom and then the footsteps got to our bedroom window.  For the first time the footsteps stopped suddenly and we could hear them shift towards us, as though someone had stopped to look through the window and see us sitting there in the dark – but noone was there.  Then the footsteps turned again towards the backyard and started running, sprinting straight through the fence and down the alley.

Of course we both freaked out, closed the curtains, turned the lights on and spent the rest of the night drinking coffee in the kitchen.  The next day we called a friend of ours who was studying to be a priest in the Catholic Church.  He talked with a priest, his mentor, who blessed a vial of holy water and showed him how to cleanse a house. There was a specific ritual of burning incense and saying prayers and then he walked through every room of the house, splashing the rooms with the holy water. It worked and our little house became a quiet home with no more unearthly intrusions.

However, two years later around Halloween, The Tribune - a local newspaper - ran a column about a woman who had a ghost that moved into her shotgun house, a couple of blocks from where we were living. The ghost took bites out of sandwiches, smeared plates with ketchup, and woke her up with its running every morning at 1 a.m.   

As the years passed and I gained some perspective on the haunting, I began to feel a sort of guilt.  After all, the ghost had been living there first (well, not really living but you get my point). The ghost never physically harmed anyone – besides wasting bottles of ketchup and interrupting a good night’s sleep.  I began to hope that this other lady might have shown more tolerance than we did by making a lot of noise and throwing water at it. Perhaps this new roommate would allow this apparition to reside with her in peace.

From other paranormal events I’ve witnessed, the living can be pretty annoying to ghostly roommates. After a few years of televisions blaring and people running up and down the stairs, they’re usually ready to pack up and move on to whatever is next.

Even if a spirit is imbedded in a place, it won’t hurt anyone – or will it? What does a manifestation from another dimension really have on its mind – especially when the days of autumn grow shorter and all of nature seems to die, and the wind bangs against the window panes demanding entry into our tiny warm hideouts.

We here at Quantum Muse ask that you decide for yourself what is on the mind of the unworldly apparitions presented in this month’s stories. Are these shadows of the paranormal friend or foe? – real or imagined? – evidence of life after death or life-threatening fiends?  Will the voices in our heads keep you up all night or will you be able to simply rest in peace?   Either way, we hope you enjoy what The Muse has to offer this October.

2015-10-06 01:23:49
mark211 - Great story! Also beers, as well as bears, are godless-killing machines. If you're doing it right.

2015-10-05 05:48:31
m ditcher: cats are evil, closely akin to the godless-killing-machines known as beers - I mean bears!

2015-10-02 14:12:16
r.tornello - sounds like my cat

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