[CA] The Ghost Wore Boots – Part 3

What happened next was the most dramatic event of the haunting:

From the start, there seemed to be two ghosts. Now I was getting a very visual sense of them, though I did not see anything besides their mischief.

I perceived a slender, mournful woman in a form-fitting, slightly gaudy gown, characteristic of the 1870s or 1930s. I could not see the hemline to tell how long the gown was, to tell if it was from the 19th or 20th centuries. Generally, she was weeping. She was in the room with the two strange little closets.

Our other ghost was a man in dusty, dark casual clothing. He wore a shirt and pants like blackish jeans. He obviously wore boots, but I could not “see” them.

Sometimes, I sensed that he was calling on the woman, wearing a dusty, too-loose jacket with tails, and a very slim tie. He was our loud ghost, whose temper was echoed with his footsteps. Usually, he’d storm around the upstairs hallway, or the other two bedrooms.

The louder ghost continued to storm around the upstairs at night. My husband decided to join a gym forty miles from our house. Frankly, I think he was frightened of our ghosts. If he was concerned for my safety, he never mentioned it. When he was at the gym each evening, I was at home, trying to ignore the footsteps overhead.

As our louder ghost became more courageous, his walk became more distinctive. We could hear that ka-thud, ka-thud of a heel hitting the floor and then the sole of the shoe, as if he was wearing workmen’s boots or cowboy boots. That’s when we began calling him “Boots,” to make the reality a little friendlier, as if he was a companion and not a tormentor.

Some nights, I thought I heard the jingle of spurs from the “old west” era. That may have been something upstairs rattling, in response to the pounding footsteps on our hardwood floors.

I was anxious but not terrified. After all, the noises were only upstairs. I stayed downstairs.

Meanwhile, I had begun teaching children’s drama classes for the town. During the summer, I taught the classes in my living room.

One day, the afternoon class went particularly late as we were preparing for a performance. No one noticed how quickly dusk approached.

Then, in a pause during our rehearsal, I almost gasped aloud. I could hear footsteps upstairs. They were faint, but certainly there. How could I have forgotten about them?

I looked around the room, but no one seemed to hear the footsteps but me. I considered the possibility that it was a “personal” haunting, and perhaps no one besides me could hear the sounds. That allayed my fears for a few minutes.

The rehearsal concluded, and we discussed the strong and weak points of the rehearsal. My living room was filled with eager students, ranging in age from about seven to mid-teens.

I decided to ignore the footsteps, now getting louder, and talk to my class as if nothing unusual was going on.

I raised my voice as the boots thudded and almost clang’d, back and forth, angrily striding across the floor above us.

Finally, the footsteps started pacing at the top of the stairs.

One of my oldest students timidly put her hand up. “Excuse me, but is your husband at home?” She tilted her head, indicating the noises clearly coming from the upstairs.

My heart sunk as I replied, “No.” I wished with every ounce of hope that she was the only one who heard the boots, or that the sound would stop.

Another student was clearly baffled, “Um, are there workmen upstairs, or what?”

I knew I was in trouble. I said no, and gulped aloud when I saw the children’s expressions.

Trying to sound as if everything was perfectly normal, I ushered the children to our front lawn, saying that we’d finish the class outside.

To this day, I have no idea what the students thought, or if they heard the angry footsteps storming down the polished hardwood stairs as I closed the front door behind me. I hastily concluded the rehearsal, and held future classes in the town offices.

The group barely held together past the performance. I think the event scared the children, and I know they looked at me a little nervously after that.

Next: The conclusion of this four-part, true ghost story

[CA] The Ghost Wore Boots – Part 4

Our ghost was considerably quieter — but not silent — after that.

Within a couple of weeks, the house was filled with workmen. We gutted most of the house to remodel it. After that, we did not hear the boots upstairs on our new wall-to-wall carpeting.

We began using the new bedrooms on the second floor, and there were no further significant incidents in the house.

However, soon after that our marriage began to fail dramatically.

For awhile, I moved into another bedroom. Looking back now, I realize that I selected the room with the two little closets, but now I was the woman quietly weeping.

Things became worse.  I couldn’t seem to sleep at night, and I turned into a self-pitying shrew, constantly demanding more and more from people around me.

My husband responded to my unhappiness by insisting that he was a victim, too. Soon, he became the man storming around the other bedrooms, and pacing in the hall.

He found comfort elsewhere.

To save our marriage and our sanity, we decided to move out of our lovely Victorian home, leave the town and even leave that part of the country.

My husband was convinced that something, perhaps invisible, was affecting him. That sounded a little strange to me but — at my wits’ end — I hoped a change of environment might help both of us.

As we prepared to move, the ghost resumed activity in the one upstairs bedroom that had not been remodeled. This was the room with the strange closet and unexplained “filled in” areas in the walls.

I’ve often wondered if there was a body in those walls. It’s probably triggered by too many Gothic novels and scary movies.

The windows in the un-remodeled bedroom were funny, each opening like a cabinet door. They swung in, with latching hardware like a medicine chest. Because we rarely used that room after the hauntings started, some of the windows’ latches were stubborn, or still rusted closed.

During the weeks before we moved, our ghost waited for me to go downstairs each day.  Then, he opened the windows, one by one, in clockwise fashion. And, even on windless days, each window would thwap-thwap-thwap against the wall next to it.  It was like a strong breeze was forcing it back and forth.

I’d go upstairs to close the one that had opened, and check all of the latches.

Then I closed the bedroom door behind me, to prevent any cross-draft… although these were always hot, breezeless days.

About five minutes later, the next window would open, thwap-thwap-thwap. I’d go upstairs, close it, and check the windows again.

This routine would go on, with the windows opening in clockwise sequence, for over an hour.

Many days, I’d leave the house just to get away from it. Sometimes when I returned, all of the windows were wide open.  It was never just one or two. Either he opened them all while I was out, or he left them alone. There was no halfway with our ghost, and there was no pattern to this.

At other times, I’d stay at home, running up and down the stairs, trying to cope with the pounding noise of the windows.  Then, I’d hear a low male laughter, and sometimes a woman quietly sobbing, as each window-opening session slowly drew to a halt.

This annoyed me, but it didn’t really frighten me. I can’t explain why.  Something about it seemed logical.  Even when we nailed the windows closed and they kept opening on their own, the experience wasn’t frightening.  Maybe I was numb at that point.

What irritated me the most was that this usually happened when my husband wasn’t at home.  At night when we slept upstairs, the house was as silent as any other older home. There were merely the usual creaks.  I know, because I spent so many nights awake, miserable and too exhausted to sleep.

When I’d complain to my husband about the stress of dealing with the windows, I’m not sure that he believed me.

But, to be honest, I’m not sure I’d have believed my story, except that I was living it every day.

We left that house without looking back.

Within six months, my husband and I had filed for divorce.  The stress of that house had left us exhausted and unable to communicate what we felt.

I have so many regrets about that, yet — looking back — I don’t see any other outcome after what we’d gone through.  Instead of drawing us together, the stress of dealing with something invisible and menacing… it had driven us apart.

Since we moved out, at least two other families have lived in our former home. I’m not sure if they’ve encountered the ghosts. I hope that they didn’t and never will.

Though I miss my lovely home and have terrible regrets from that time, I do not miss the ghosts.

This house was the subject of a true ghost story, “Boots,” by Margaret Brighton, which appeared in FATE magazine in 1981.