Later that evening as we all sat on the porch, trying to cool off. It had been a usual hot July day. The guys had installed the new window units and we were hoping the house would feel cooler by the time we retired for the night. I told everyone about pastor McDonald's visit, but no one not even my father could place him.
The next few weeks were filled with unexpected events. Storms were frequent and severe. There was even a couple of small tornadoes. No real damage was done to our immediate area, but people not ten miles away had a huge mess to clean up. Thankfully there were no casualties.
It still was a wonder to me, just sitting or swinging on that old front porch, listening to the rain pelting away at the tin roof, such a soothing familiar sound. We all played endless games of checkers and on especially rainy long days a game we played as children, the "I see something game". Someone would choose something obscure in the room saying I see something whatever color it was until someone guessed it.
One rainy night, unable to sleep, I decided to get up and venture downstairs. The old house was pretty scary at night, with it's creaks and settling sounds. I often wondered how my grandmother lived there so many years alone. I would have gone crazy I think. I entered the downstairs hallway, stopping dead in my tracks, listening to a sound I couldn't distinguish. Maybe someone else was up. As I got up the nerve to round the corner to the living room, I gasped. The large portrait of my great uncle Connor, fell to the floor. The thing was creepy enough just hanging there. Connor was the youngest of my grandmother's siblings. He had moved away when he was around twenty. The portrait made him look forty. A lot of the pictures people had done then were like it, solemn, cold, haunting. I picked up the picture, barely checking to see if it had broken. I just wanted to re-hang it and get the heck away from it. His eyes stared at you, stared wherever you were. He was handsome though. Grandmal had said my father looked like him, I could see it. Good it hadn't broken, I flew back to bed!
The next morning I told Ellen about the picture falling. She said it was probably a "hant". She was making fun of what my mother would always say, meaning something was haunted. We decided to stay up late that night and tell old stories we'd all heard a dozen times, but still would manage to give you a chill.
Charlotte started first. "I'm gonna tell one about Grandmal Miller" she said. Grandmal Miller was my mother's mother. I knew the story she was going to tell, it was a good one.
"One cold rainy night Grandmal was doing some private duty nursing at and old house in town that had been converted into a recovery hospital. It was late about eleven or twelve. She needed to call the corner pharmacy for her patient's medication. She made the call unlocked the door and lay down on a cot next to her patient. She was tired but didn't plan to go to sleep. While she slept the pharmacy delivered the meds as they had done before and left without waking grandmother. While Grandmother lay sleeping, another man came to the door. This one did awaken Grandmother, but as soon as she opened her eyes to see him coming through the door, she knew it wasn't the pharmacy boy. The man was crazed, probably looking for drugs. Grandmother lay still, pretending to sleep. The man ransacked the tiny hospital room and quickly left, leaving the door ajar. Grandmother waited a second then jumped up running to the door to shut and lock it. As her hand touched the doorknob, someone on the other side grabbed it, and held the door. Grandmother felt her heart pounding. In an instant he pulled the door from her hand and slammed it shut! Grandmother frantically locked the latch. She peered ou the sid window to see if he had gone, she screamed! There was his face staring back at her. He laughed, a menacing howl, running away wildly into the black street."
When Charlotte had finished her rendition of Grandmother Miller's tale, we each took our turn. Each trying to tell the best ones we could remember. But the one William would tell, left us all with an eerie feeling of something.
William began,"in this house right down this hallway" William stood, raising his arm high, pointing with his finger, head turned aside. "Our great grandmother came face to face with a real live ghost, but not just any ghost. NO! The ghost of her dearly departed Clarabelle. The story so goes. One blustery October night, just days after the much too, early death of dear great aunt Clarabelle, our great grandmother walked these floors trying to get baby Claralee to sleep. Claralee, the baby Clarabelle had died giving birth to- one week shy of her nineteenth birthday, which just happened to be October 31th-just a coincidence- that being OL HALLOWS EVE--I DON'T THINK SO" William cackled, being his truly dramatic self. As dearest Grandmother finally was able to quiet the child, she put her in her cradle, yes her cradle! Down this hall in the bedroom our mother and father are sleeping in at this very moment. Some time during that night, somewhere around midnight October 31th. Grandmother awoke to little Claralee crying uncontrollably. She sat up in bed, sled her cold feet into her slippers and was about to go comfort the baby, when a great wind knocked her back. As she caught her breath and steadied herself, she looked over at Claralee and there at the foot of her cradle was a figure, singing in a strange voice. Grandmother reached for her spectacles, rose to her feet. She tried to speak, but couldn't- was she awake. She bite her lip, yes she was indeed awake. There rocking her baby was her precious Clarabelle. She reached to touch her but she was gone, but Claralee's cradle continued to rock back and forth back and forth all through the night." As William finished there was a hard knock at the door. We nearly jumped on top of one another. Who could that be at that hour?