There is an old saying “Does life imitate art, or does art imitate life?” This has been on my mind recently. I’m afraid that if you live by the sword, you will die by the sword and apparently I may have just fallen on my sword. I’ve been dabbling in horror for so long I think the lines of fantasy and real life are beginning to blur, and not in a sexy Robin Thicke kind of way.
So if you haven’t noticed I’ve been away for awhile and it is because I moved residence. The Rasputin family unit needed a bigger place to rip and tear so we packed up our hot rodded hearse and moved like the Beverly Hellbillys we are and moved the hell out of our old crypt. Far from the big city, there are woods at the end of the street, you can see all the stars at night, you can hear the frogs chirp; it is the dream home location. The house is a lot bigger. It is room for the fleet of cars, the Harley, the things that we couldn’t afford when we were first starting out, all the bells and whistles of a modern home. It is also the way most haunted house movies start out. Did I mention we are the “last house on the left”?
From the start, it was explained to us that the house would be built in 3 months. Five months later with no good reason for the delay we had our home. When we picked out our plot of land I jokingly asked the developer if he was sure there wasn’t a cemetery underneath. He didn’t look at me but responded with “A chemical dump. Local cleaners dumped their waste here”. We knew it was a joke since we were familiar with the area. Either that or they had to take extra time laying an extra foot of dirt on the top layer of the graves.
The house was not quite complete on the day of closing. It lacked small jobs here and there but it wasn’t anything large (that we knew at the time). We wouldn’t know what to look for anyway. (Were the walls up? Does the air condition work? Does the ceiling leak? These are our concerns.) No sooner had we closed when we started to move in and the terror began. Countless bad luck injuries to us, mechanical defects, lighting problems with the wiring, the construction either being wrong or not finished at all, the security alarm not being installed then not working, plumbing installed wrong, muddy ground that five days after the rain still wouldn’t dry, an endless supply of flies (hadn’t seen one of those all year until now), moving boxes going missing from right in front of us, the dogs whimpering all night long, and then the obligatory strange noises. You can understand why Mrs. Rasputin and I nicknamed our new place “Hell House”.
Now every new house has strange noises that you must acquaint yourself with and the reasons that cause them. It may be the pipes, the house settling, animals that found their way into the attic, the mother-in-law chewing through the restraints in the garage, but last night I heard the oddest of them all. A couple of minutes after 2 AM I woke to the sound of my pit/lab mix, Lizzie Borden, whimpering (something she never does). As I clear out the cobwebs from my head, I see her as she stops to look up at the ceiling just as the sound of a bouncing ball starts. The odd noise “bounced” four times in the same place. Above us is one of my daughter’s rooms, but she went to sleep with her sister in another room on the opposite side of the house. Feeling much sympathy for Jack Torrance at this point I naturally start up the stairs to investigate.
Of course they are nocturnal, they’re my kids. However I am not nocturnal in the least and I enjoy my slumber. I reach for the doorknob, turn on the lights, and enter the room to find to my surprise …nothing. The room has not been touched since we played with the kids hours ago. After checking on the girls in the other room, I find them both asleep on the other side of the second floor.
I lay back down and after a few minutes Lizzie starts whimpering again. I look at her and she has focused her attention back to the ceiling. Again she stops just before the bouncing sounds return.
Okay, this is bullshit. I start back up the stairs at a faster pace than before because I’m going to catch my kids in the act. I turn the knob and sling the door open to find only the moonlight shining through the window of the little princess’ room just as I had left it minutes ago. I turn on the lights and take another look around. That’s a negative Ghost Rider the pattern is full.
I once again return to bed when Lizzie begins to whimper for a third time. Just as the previous times, she is staring at the ceiling with her ears back and drawing her mouth to a scowl. She stops just in time to hear a heavy box being dragged across the floor of the same room above me. I made my way back up the stairs to find no such object in the darkened room that could have caused such noise. Only I tried to turn on the light, but it wouldn’t come on. “Fuck! Now I need to change the light bulb out tomorrow.” Checking on the children, they were both still asleep in the same position where I left them.
Returning to bed my wife had awoken and inquired about my late night adventures. I told her the story and she related that the same thing happened to her last night at the same time! We were both puzzled until she first said what both of us were thinking but neither wanted to; “Do you think it is a ghost?”
I’ll spare you the rest of that conversation but I can tell you that at 2:23 in the morning your head does have a tendency to get carried away very easily. Mrs. Rasputin doesn’t believe in ghosts despite all the sleepless nights we’ve stayed at the Stanley Hotel, the R.M.S. Queen Mary, the Lizzie Borden B&B, Le Richelieu, Hotel Galvez, and countless hotels in Salem Mass. So for her to even consider it possible means a lot. Then she dropped the bombshell on me. “Oh, yeah. We need to change out her light bulb tomorrow. The third time I tried to turn it on it wouldn’t come on. ”
After seeing Amityville, The Black Hope Horror (true story that happened here in Houston, check it out), Poltergeist, the Haunting in Connecticut, and Insidious I was certain that we had a ghost problem. Everything checked out. Unexplained noises, check. Lighting problems, check. Dog growling at the wall, check. Flies, check. Two adults accusing the other one is crazy, check. I was missing a menacing tree trying to eat us and unholy voice telling us to “get out”. Well, there’s always tonight.
Look, I’ve gone ghost hunting before for fun. But when the ghosts come to me, in my house, I have to say “Screw that”.
I’ve seen this shit too many times to not recognize the signs. I consider myself a pro at dealing with the spiritually enriched dwellings (I think that is the PC term they prefer these days). I have to go through the motions of having a priest over to bless it, scream “What do you want from me?” at the top of my lungs in the rain, and then throw the TV out on the street. I’ve got this. My whole problem with watching all this horror stuff is that I start believing it, thinking that it is real, and it is happening to me. Now that I know how I’ll react when I see something too much, I’m thinking about watching more porn.
*Update – Since I’ve written this article my dog has growled at a closet door, empty bedroom doors are locked but unlock themselves only seconds later, and my large red ball belonging to my daughter came bouncing down the hall towards us…from a dead end hallway.
Until next time, rest in pieces.
Renfield Rasputin was biting heads off bats before Ozzy ever made it cool.