In the summer of 1982, I rented a very strange old house with a long history. In a town with very little rental property available, it was both cheap and ready for me to move in… which should have told me something. But I was desperate, and making only “minimum wage” at the time while I was in college for my degree. So I just counted my blessings.
The ghost showed up before I could even finish moving in, but I didn’t give it a lot of thought until later, when evidence began to pile up to a level that could no longer be ignored.
The small living room had a nice, stout door into the rest of the house. In order to bring the boxes and furniture in, I propped open the door. And, no matter what I propped it open with, when I returned the door was firmly shut! I stationed my younger son at the door to hold it open, but he complained that the door “pushed him” and he refused to stand there any longer. He hadn’t been particularly eager to help me anyway once his things were in his room. My X, their father, was due any moment to pick them up for the weekend, so I shrugged it off since I wasn’t willing to start an argument right then.
Eventually, my friends from work and I got everything inside, furniture placed, and a good supper prepared on the ancient gas stove in a very strangely arranged kitchen/dining room. I swear that the light bulbs were all no bigger than 40 watts, and it was gloomy as heck in the house that first night. My little Welsh Corgi would not leave my side, and trembled constantly that night. She was normally a lively dog, afraid of very little, and she’d never reacted this way in two previous moves, so I didn’t know what to think. I just tucked her under a blanket at the foot of the bed and was asleep myself almost instantly.
With the boys gone, I spent the weekend cleaning, unpacking and arranging things, then went down to the shallow little basement to see if I could use it for storage. The walls were mostly unfinished, and the “walk out” door to the backyard hung on the threads of old hinges. The evidence of mice and other critters was also a discouragement, and I stood there wondering if it was even safe! Bitta’, the dog, would not come with me down the stairs, and suddenly began to bark.
Just then I felt a “presence,” and turned to see who might be coming down the inside staircase from the kitchen. I could not see anyone, and there was nobody in the rest of the house when I got up there to look around. The dog had stopped barking and I realized I was no longer feeling that “presence,” so I went back to work.
Monday night, the boys sleeping in their room, I had just gotten into bed myself when ALL the lights in the house came on (a few of them now 100 watters). The “presence” was strong then, and the dog went nuts. I got up and wandered around for a few moments turning off lights, but couldn’t see anyone and the doors were all locked, including the door blocking the basement staircase.
I needed sleep more than to solve the mystery, especially since I felt no hint of evil or danger, and went back to bed. The rest of the night was uneventful and I wasn’t really too worried about weird stuff if it wasn’t going to hurt anything, but I knew now that I had a ghost.
So, a month went by with the door that wouldn’t stay open, the lights coming on in the middle of the night fairly often, and the demented dog who would not go to the basement, and eventually would hardly leave my bedroom. The boys elected to go live with their father for a while early on, and I agreed. Not that the two pre-teen boys were afraid of the ghost, mind you… just that they were unimpressed – and bored.
I felt the presence of the ghost more strongly then, and more often, but there was no fear in me and I visualized him as an old cowboy. In time, I came to know him as Chase, a lonesome old man who had met death there long years before.
The old water cooler in a window just outside my bedroom ran night and day as the summer advanced. The middle of the Mojave desert is hot, dry and windy, so the cooler was large. It was also loud, and not pointed in a direction that did me any good in the bedroom, but I couldn’t do anything about that.
One night I woke to find all the lights on, and smelled hot electrical wire! Panicked, I got up and ran out to find the electric outlet where the cooler plugged in smoking and sparking. I turned the cooler off, then ran to the kitchen to the electrical panel and pulled the main switch off. The outlet had quit sparking, but the smoke was increasing fast. I called 911, then went out the front door to escape the nasty smoke.
The firemen were there in what seemed to be seconds, and a man went in to check. He came out soon, just shaking his head and turning off his big flashlight. “You were very lucky, ma’am,” he said. “The outlet there is melted and the wires too, but the wall didn’t catch fire.” He scratched his head and went on to tell me that he wouldn’t have believed it if he’d not seen it. The whole house should have gone up like a Roman Candle.
I knew that my ghost had saved me, waking me in time to get out. Who knows if he also damped the fire? I sure don’t. Not being all that stubborn and unwilling to take unnecessary chances – even with the warning of a friendly ghost – I spent the night on a recliner chair in the front yard, and started looking for a better place to live the next morning.
Going on to better things, I pretty much forgot all about my ghost until years later when I found a book at the local library called, “Range One East,” an account of the history of the Box S, the place where I’d lived. In that book was a very brief account of a man who had been killed there. His name was “Chase.”