A ghost story -- 11/01/11

I thought that maybe I would tell you a ghost story today.

After all, yesterday was Halloween and today is All Saints' Day (and Día de los Inocentes in Mexico) and tomorrow is All Souls' Day (and Día de los Muertos in Mexico)...

Bev did a Halloween meme and I was tempted to follow but didn't and then Mary picked up on that meme and I was again tempted, but there were so many questions and (as you well know) I can get a bit long-winded sometimes in answering these memes...

But one of the questions in that Halloween meme was Tell us a time you saw a ghost or heard something go bump in the night.

So here's my ghost story... just a little something that freaked me out and which I cannot explain.

I was living in an apartment on Oak Street in Binghamton, NY. It was a place that I liked, on the second floor in a three story building, two apartments on each level -- nice sunny living room and dining room, small bathroom, two bedrooms, and a narrow kitchen. I lived in that apartment for almost four years, beginning with September of 1976. I was sharing it with another guy at first, a friend of friends. He changed schools and I found another guy to split the rent. He got a job promotion that involved relocation. I had become a computer operator at the university shortly after I had moved in and by the time I lost my second housemate, I figured I was able to handle the rent on my own so I didn't seek a replacement. Then Nancy and I paired up and we lived there until we bought a house in 1980.

So... it's easier to draw a diagram rather than to spend a thousand words trying to describe the apartment...

My ghost story -- which is really not very long or complicated -- took place during the year or so that I lived there by myself.

It was early evening on a Sunday. I was where the "X" is drawn in the floorplan -- I was painting the wood trim of the doorway -- on my knees to paint the bottom part -- in that small hallway, facing the dining room. The bathroom door and the bed room doors were both open. I was home alone. Nancy was living in Westchester County, commuting to a job in New York City, would not be moving back to Binghamton for a few more months. Adam was in grade school and still lived with his mother and her husband. He often stayed over on Fridays and Saturdays, but this was a Sunday evening.

Something caught my attention -- just something out of the corner of my eye -- and I turned my head toward the bedroom doorway and...

There was a young boy standing in the bedroom.

This was just a quick glimpse -- he somehow reminded me of the child in the old Michelin tire advertisements -- seemed to be dressed in white -- appeared to be somewhere around four or five years old -- light brown (or almost blond hair) -- but it was just a fleeting glance -- anticipating that I would see nothing but an empty room, my head was already turning back to the task at hand...

It's a wonder that I didn't dislocate my neck as I whipped my head back around to see who this kid was and why he was in my apartment.

And he was not there.

I dropped my brush and stood up.

My arms and legs were covered with goosebumps. I stepped into the bedroom and called "Hello."

No response. Nobody there. I looked under the bed. I looked in the closet. I searched the entire apartment. The front door from the hallway was closed and locked. The back door from the kitchen to the back porch was closed and locked. The kitchen window was closed and locked. This was a second floor apartment. There was no other way in or out. I searched again. Nothing. Nobody.

But I had seen him. It was only a brief glance but I had seen him, had seen this little boy standing in the doorway looking at me (or looking towards me) just three feet away at the most.

And even as I am recalling this event and typing this almost three and a half decades later, I am covered with goosebumps.

How freaked out was I? Well, I had not recognized this boy but a general description of him and his apparent size and age would have fit my nephew and also the son of a friend. I got on the phone. Hi Charlie, oh nothing, just felt like talking, by the way, how's Chad doing? Uh huh, fine, okay, well I've got to go now. Bye. Hi Ed, oh nothing, just felt like talking, by the way, how's Dante doing? Uh huh, fine okay, well I've got to go now. Bye.

Yes, I was freaked out enough to need to check to be sure my nephew and my friend's son were both okay. I knew this had nothing to do with Adam, he was older, taller, with darker wavy hair, no resemblance at all.

I have no explanation. Some kind of hallucination. A cosmic ray particle bumping into some brain synapse.

Okay... so... an earlier occupant of this same apartment had been a woman from India, a graduate student (I believe), a divorced woman with a young son, about five years old.

A friend told me about her. She and a women's group in her synagogue had befriended this woman to give her emotional and financial support when (I don't know the details) she lost her financial support and then her son had fallen ill (and, again, I do not know the medical details). He died of pneumonia -- in a hospital, not in the apartment. The boy I saw did not look in the least bit Indian... but I have no idea what this woman's son had looked like.

I can offer no explanation at all.

But I had seen a boy standing there....

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