I am following Chris’ theme from last week, regarding ominous and personal, unsettling tales. I am not the avid Ghost Hunter that Mr. Clark is; and truthfully, Chris is more confident about the social agendas of ghosts and their lounging about… I suppose I am undecided. However, that being said…
The year was 1995. Katie and I were married that August and we were living in Provo, Utah that fall, where we attended the BYU. To help Katie’s family, we had agreed to live in the basement apartment of Katie’s grandfather’s house. It was a yellow, two-story house on 50 East, right behind the Brick Oven, where the pasta bar became all-you-can-eat-for-half-price after 9 p.m. Rather capacious for the location, and quite outdated in comparison to the new student apartments across the street, the house looked out of place.
Katie’s grandfather had experienced a number of strokes in his old age and was not the picture of health. He could barely move on his own and required others to help him bathe, eat, and change his clothing. He didn’t need any help going to the bathroom, however, because he did that wherever and whenever he pleased.
Though the bedrooms were on the second story, to help Grandpa get around, he and his sleeping arrangements had been moved to the main floor. The four bedrooms upstairs were spacious, along with a full bathroom and several sizeable closets that were used for either storage or just left empty. With nobody living up there, and no maids, the upstairs was always very still and dusty. It was like nobody had been up there since 1857, when the Saints built the first two-story house in Provo. (I didn’t fact check any of that last sentence.)
The main floor featured the front room, where Grandpa spent most of his time watching television and spitting out his pills that we had given him about 5 minutes earlier, with a dining room and a kitchen behind the front room. Off to the side was a parlor that had been turned into Grandpa’s bedroom. Our basement apartment was directly under his bedroom. There was a set of stairs that went up from the back of our apartment into the kitchen on the main floor, and that was the path we usually traveled to go up and check on Grandpa and take care of him.
Once, in the middle of the night, Grandpa fell out of bed. Turned out he was coherent enough to recognize he had to go to the bathroom and wanted to try and make it on his own, bless him. Unfortunately, he got as far as sitting up in bed…then he sort of just fell out of it and onto the floor. The thud woke me up and I went upstairs, hoisted him up off the floor, checked his diaper, and put him back in bed. As I walked back down the stairs from the kitchen to the basement, it dawned on me how wise we were to live in the basement; strategically so, as we could hear Grandpa on such occasions.
We had lived in the apartment just shy of two months when one of the most unsettling things took place one evening, ‘round midnight.
Katie and I were going to bed and had most likely just finished chatting about how nobody could possibly ever be in love as much as us, and even though we were newlyweds, we would totally act the same giddy way our whole lives, because we were awesome and we would always find each others’ belches endearing and everything we did would be cute forever and ever. We had been lying there in the dark, silently, for those few minutes before one drifts off to sleep, when abruptly, there were five distinct, deliberate, and pounding footsteps running across the floor above us. We both shot up in bed, looked at each other, and shouted “What was THAT?!”
I physically jumped out of bed. “Did you hear that?!”
“Was that right above us?!” asked my panicked wife.
“That couldn’t have been Grandpa,” I said. “I hoisted him off the floor the other night. He’s like an enormous sack of Hogi Yogi. That was something else. SOMEBODY IS IN THE HOUSE.”
Having almost drifted off for the night and then to be shocked into a state of panic, my adrenaline was really hummin’. I ran up the back stairs, through the kitchen, and into Grandpa’s room. He didn’t budge. Still snoring, wrapped under his blankets, he was unaware of anything. I did a lap around the main floor – through the front room, the dining room, the kitchen – I saw no signs of anything. My nerves were on fire!
I grabbed the fireplace poker, and I took off up the stairs. I could almost hear the people yelling at my movie screen “Don’t go up the stairs!!!!! You’ll kill yourself!!!!”
I didn’t turn on any lights, for fear of giving away my exact location to the intruder. I ran into every bedroom and closet, ripping the doors open, each time fully expecting to confront somebody. When I tore open the final door to reveal absolutely nothing, I paused only for a second before the horrible thought came to me, “He’s run down the back stairs into my apartment and he has Katie!” Faster than I had run up the stairs, I ran back down, through the kitchen, down another flight of stairs and into my little apartment.
There was Katie, sitting up in bed with the covers pulled up to her chin.“Who is it? Who was there?”
“There’s nobody there. There is not one soul in this house except us and Grandpa.”
I went back up and took a more calculated and leisure trip through the house, paying more attention to detail and looking to see if there were any small signs of disturbance. I couldn’t see a thing.
It was a few weeks after that, when we were relating this experience to some of Katie’s family. Her mom had sat silently through our story, but afterwards pulled us aside. It was then she told us that her brother, Katie’s uncle, used to live in that very basement apartment, years before us. He had moved back home as an adult, due to some struggles with emotional and mental imbalances – some very real issues with depression. He had killed himself in that very apartment.