Thursday, July 9, 2009

Kitchen Memory: Haunted, Part Three

Blog reader Jenny C. has been kind enough to send us a very detailed and suspenseful kitchen memory, that also includes the bathroom, the rest of the house and the yard. We'll be running it in installments on Thursday afternoons. In part one,  which ran two weeks ago, Jenny takes a Polaroid of her family. When a blurry shape appears in the photo, Jenny teases her family by pretending it is a ghost. In part two, more Polaroids show a blurry shape that appears to be an actual ghost.

Something happened the day that Amy showed up at the new house. Troubled teens reportedly bring poltergeists. Or maybe Gary had wakened the dead with his incessant garage hammering. Regardless of what shook the house and its spirit occupant into life, to life it was. Chairs moved on the hardwood dining room floor when we were upstairs and when we were downstairs in the den watching TV in the evening -- baby finally asleep-- was when it truly got strange.

We'd be listening to Ed Asner rant at Mary Tyler Moore, just to be interrupted at the punch line by the punch of little footsteps in the nursery above. We'd take turns being the one to "put the baby back in bed."
But the baby was never out of her crib. Usually, she was fast asleep and happily kissing the angels. We were both in denial about this. Gary accused me of having "mother ears," a term I think he invented just for me. And I would accuse him of needing a hearing aid if he couldn't hear THAT! (Years later I was proven correct on his needing a hearing aid issue.)

We would banter about the haunted nursery and teasingly laugh. He was a non-believer; none of my "evidence" was ever going to turn him. Until that night,  that Gene and Karen, Noel's Godparents, came over to visit.

Amy and I had been trying to finish painting the fifth bedroom and private bath -- the maid's quarters -- complete with a private balcony and separate stairway downstairs to the back hallway. This room was where the maid's bell still clung to the wall. The foot button was no longer present in the hole in the floor under the dining room table. The other call buttons that were still in place had ceased to function- that is all except for the one in the master bedroom. If you pushed the call button in the master bedroom, the bell in the maid's bedroom still rang. This little bit of architectural nostalgia never failed to amuse our visitors.

Amy and I had run out of paint and decided to stop playing interior decorators for the day. Our friends were due to arrive at 4 pm for games and supper so we headed to clean up and start something to serve for supper.

The usual family redecorating rule was one room at a time. The designated room would be stripped- redone and then we'd head to the next room. Given that all the materials we needed were on hand, we could finish a room totally-- carpet torn up-- old curtains tossed-- old light fixtures and switch plates off-- room painted-- new curtains hung- light fixtures and new switch plates all new and installed- all could be done in about one week per room. This was after our day jobs. But what else would two hyper-actives do?

Our guests arrived and we started the entertainment for the afternoon-- volleyball of sorts by using the brick wall for the net we didn't have. Enough beers and it was quite a challenge.
Noel watched sometimes from her blanket but mostly from a position under the ball, and part of our job was to play the game and save the baby while doing it. Eventually she needed a change and I needed to make room for another beer and retrieve beers for my guests. So I swooped the baby up under an arm and off into the house went.
I dashed into the downstairs half-bath, Noel still under arm, and backward kicked the door shut. I needed to use the facilities so urgently that the sound of the door bolt shooting into the jamb didn't really register until I'd washed my hands, grabbed the baby from the floor and tried to tug the door open. It had locked Noel and I inside. The door face was nude, since the entire door trimmings were strewn across the top of the sink. The knob, the lock, key plates and knob plate were all lying idle on the sink. I tried to pry the door open with the available screwdriver. That failing I looked about for anything else that might help free my baby and me. But there were few resources available.
Having just been to see "Amityville Horror"- the baby-sitter locked in the closet scene fresh in my mind- it didn't take me long to start to freak out. I began to panic. I needed to get out of that room now.

Beseechingly I reviewed what the window might offer. It was a six-inch wide jalousie affair, meaning once cranked open it left four inches of opening into the front yard. The only escape it offered was for me to stuff Noel out of it and drop her into the bushes of the front flowerbed. What would a nine-month-old be able to do? Nothing of course, so there was no baby stuffing going to go on.
I screamed out the window to no avail. The rest of the residents were four or five brick walls away from my frantic screams, which did have some result however. That scared Noel enough that she started crying. She was reasonably upset that the one person entrusted to keep her alive had now gone mental.
Will Jenny get out? Watch this blog next week!

 We'd love to share your kitchen memories, even if they don't involve ghosts. Send them to us here.

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