Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Old House

The house where I grew up was old. From what I heard, it had originally been built around an old log cabin that stood there. It had an upstairs that was almost always filled with shadows, and several different attic spaces. It creaked a lot.

I often got a little creeped out in that house. There was an opening into part of the attic right next to the landing of the stairs. Dad hung a board over the opening and put in a hook to keep it closed. Mom used that space sometimes to store goods she canned, like green beans, corn, beets. But she only used the front of it and I could see it extended pretty far back into the darkness. My brothers told me about the “things” that lived in that attic and how I better hope they never “got me.” I believed them.

We slept upstairs during the winter and I would go up the stairs at night with my back against the outside railing of the stairs so I could stay as far away as possible from the attic. I’d watch the hook on that door like my life depended on it. When I’d come down the stairs I’d often jump over the last few steps so I could get past the attic before anything grabbed me.

One late afternoon, probably when I was about ten or eleven, I was home by myself for a little bit. I’m not sure where mom and dad were. I was sitting in the living room watching TV when I clearly ‘heard’ footsteps coming down the stairs. I bolted, out of the living room, down the short hall and out the front door, never stopping to look behind me to see what shambling horror might lurk there.

When mom and dad got home a short time later, I was sitting near the front porch with our pack of hound dogs around me. They asked me why I was outside and I just told them I’d wanted to play with the dogs. I let them go in first, though. When they didn't scream and come running out, I followed them in.


Years later, I figured that what probably made the sound of footsteps was a squirrel dropping a nut down between the walls and it bouncing off the support boards as it fell. My rational mind tells me this anyway. My imagination is still not quite so sure.
-----
-----

35 comments:

Tom Doolan said...

EEP! Ya know, stuff like that still creeps me out. I hate mysterious nights sounds.

Ty Johnston said...

It wasn't nuts. Believe me, I know. I knooooowwwww.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Aw, nuts.
Old houses make so many strange sounds, it could've been anything. Of course if it was old, who knows what critters were living in and under it.

Randy Johnson said...

Loved this story. I too lived in an old house that creaked a lot and heard similar stuff.

jodi said...

Charles-You poor kid! I think we all have stories like that growing up.

ivan said...

...Love stories about the thing in the attic.

Charles Gramlich said...

Tom, that house had scads of them.

Ty, been there eh?

Alex, we had quite a few critters actually come in that house, but that's another story.

Randy, I'll have to tell about our snake and skunk visitors.

Jodi, I'm sure so.

Ivan, I have another attic story to tell as well.

sage said...

Good memories... I am thankful my younger brother isn't the writer-type, if he was I might have to change my name due to the stories we fed him...

Keith West said...

Go with your imagination. You know it's right...

Richard Prosch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Prosch said...

For a short time I lived in an old house where a fellar killed himself. All of the adults acted like they never thought about it. I recall thinking that was NOT something to just shrug off. I wonder how I would act now?

Charles Gramlich said...

Sage, I'm getting my revenge now. :)

Keith, pretty sure, pretty sure.

Richard, I was told later in life that a couple of my ancestors had died in that house, and that they'd did the "Sit up with the dead" thing there several times. Probably good I didn't know that when I was a kid. I had a good imagination.

Ty Johnston said...

Yeah, been there. Still not convinced the place was haunted, but there were definitely a bunch of weird things that happened. Flower vases seemingly moving on their own, our dogs barking at a staircase, weird dreams, even pet rabbits vanishing despite being locked in a cage in a locked room in the attic, and plenty of other details I won't bore everyone with.

Randy Johnson said...

Never had a skunk visit, but I remember one of my sisters going into the bathroom one morning to find a snake lying on the floor. She comes screaming out and my mother assumes I did something to her.

That was my life, getting blamed for picking on my little sisters.

Charles Gramlich said...

Ty, my hair is standing up. We didn't have anything that substantial. Weird sounds, animals in the house, cold spots, feelings. Mostly just that sort of thing.

Randy, I came into the house one night ahead of my parents to turn on the light. When I did, I turned around and saw I'd stepped right over a copperhead on the floor in our hallway.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Wow, did that one remind me of home long ago. My brothers and I lived up in the converted attic. I think I spent more time hiding under my covers than I did sleeping. :)

Cloudia said...

And a fiction writer / psychologist is born!



Aloha

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernard, my sister's room was part of a converted attic. It sloped all weird. It was kind of a cute room but I was always afraid of it.

Cloudia, is true.

Chris said...

This explains a lot.

Charles Gramlich said...

Chris, only scratching the surface, my friend.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Nice story, Charles. I can see parallels here. I still creep out when I wake up in the middle of the night and see a white shirt hung by the coat hanger swaying eerily; it's the shirt I hung up the previous evening!

the walking man said...

I think what you imagined was the real deal and you got out just in time!

H&H said...

freaky! that would have scared me as a kid too.

- greg

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am sure this house influenced your writing. Mine was the most ordinary rowhouse in the world and yet it pops up in my stories all the time. OUr childhood homes have a personality as strong as the people in them.

Charles Gramlich said...

Prashant, that reminds me of an experience with a pile of laundry when I was a kid. I'll have to write it up one day.

Mark, I think there's at least a 50 50 chance you're right. :)

Greg, might scare me pretty good today.

Patti, I have used it as an actual prop in stories for sure, and the feelings engendered by my childhood a lot more of course.

laughingwolf said...

could be you did hear footsteps, the dead are known to be restless

we lived in similar places, but after dad built a new place, things were ok... til a family friend died of a stroke in our living room - the death likely opening a portal through which all kinds of stuff began to emerge... or so i thought

Riot Kitty said...

That sounds like great material for a story! But then again, you know, I am not really sure if it was a plumber who made tracks in the snow near my house or a polar bear ;)

Charles Gramlich said...

Laughingwolf, I felt pretty weird for a while in our new house after my father died there.

Riot Kitty, surely it was a polar bear. That would be far cooler.

David Cranmer said...

I'm with your imagination, Charles!

Charles Gramlich said...

David, I'm sure I would be as well if I went back there now.

Ron Scheer said...

I'm still like that today. Wake up in the middle of the night and reason is totally unpersuasive.

Erik Donald France said...

Right on. Noises, being alone = scary times. This is when dogs are good -- except when they are barking at something apparently lurking inside a wall . . .

Charles Gramlich said...

Ron, yeah, shows that we are not really rational organisms but clearly emotional.

Erik, yeah, dogs can up the ante of fear. we lived in the woods so when the dogs started barking madly at the woods I'd get a bit freaked out.

jodi said...

Charles-We had a similar basement issue with a scary root cellar that my Mom would send us down to to get canned things. I love these little glimpse into your childhood. So personal and so awesome!

Travis Cody said...

Sometimes the creepiest stuff is told in the most matter of fact way. The memoir quality of this story is like that.