Saturday, March 5, 2011

Worrisome Questions

After selling out their farm and before moving to town, my parents moved the family to a place a few miles down the road. The house was located on the north side of a hill, surrounded by many trees. In all of my memories there it seems as if the sun was far away, filtered through an invisible substance that reduced the strength and warmth of sunlight. It was not scary but strange.

Sometimes at night, when my father was working the third shift at Boeing in Wichita, we would hear heavy measured footfalls coming down the stairs. My mother blamed it on a pack rat dragging something heavy down the stairs in the walls. The trouble with her explanation is stair steps do not extend into the walls of any house I have ever been in. Even as a child, I wondered how that rat found the same item to drag down the stairs again.

Usually the cool shade beneath trees is welcoming and beckoning, but not there. The shadow was unpleasant. We were not there long, maybe six months, and no one in the family was sad to leave. It all fell into ruin decades ago. There is no trace of the house or the barn but many of the trees that once lined the drive remain. Even now that spot retains its unwelcome, dark aura. I wonder if measured steps down the vanished stairs can still be heard?

Maybe the more worrisome question is why am I remembering that now... in the middle of the night... when it is so quiet that not even Duke is making his rounds?


Anonymous said...

I wonder what Stephen King could do with "a pack rat dragging something heavy down the stairs in the walls"? As I consider about your mother's explanation, I think I'll sleep with a light on tonight.

Jackie said...

For the people at work who read my blog, (and for the general record): a pack rat is nothing like the plague-carrying nasty creatures that gnaw on sleeping babies and unfortunate homeless people. A pack rat is a solitary, gentle critter whose only crime against humanity is to build their nests under the hood of an automobile or find their way into the nether regions a house. They collect shiny objects to incorporate into their nests. I have heard they always leave something in return for an object they take. Which is mostly true. If they are carrying something home with them, and find something better, they would drop whatever they had for the new item.

You don't have to leave the light on for a pack rat, Kit. But a Stephen King rat, dragging "something heavy" down the darken stair.... definitely leave the light on, definitely.

Jackie said...

And leave the light on if you are afraid of a ghost - walking slowly, steadily down the stairs - in the middle of the night - in an isolated farm house where a young woman and two small children are lying awake in their separate beds - wondering who is in the house with them - in the dark... Boo!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps oddly, a ghost I can deal with. I've seen forms, I've seen the light of spirits. I can often feel their presence (presents?). These I've found comforting.

Yet repetitive heavy thumping down non-existent stairs in a wall is somehow disconcerting. It doesn't matter what the actual cause, my male brain needs to know what it is. Maybe there's a vestige of Poe's "Tell-tale heart" or, something "tapping at my chamber door..." lurking in my soul.

Jackie said...

I was taught along with everyone else that ghosts do not exist. But they still scare the bejeezus out of me! lol I have seen the energy around spirits and that is far different than the things that hang around in houses making noises and scaring the crap out of the dog, the kids, and the adults. I think Mom was scared hearing those footsteps and had to find a reasonable explanation for herself, and certainly she wanted to keep my brother and I from being scared. It didn't work. After the first time we were satisfied with her explanation. But even to a child, it wasn't logical that an animal would repeat the exact same noises. I do not think a pack rat, which is not very big at all, could possibly drag something that heavy, even down stairs. And even if it could and did, what in the hell was small enough to fit in the walls, but heavy enough to sound like a man walking down the stairs? Good riddance to that haunted place, for certain.