The Helloman.

March 31, 2009

What scares you?

What causes your eyes to widen, your throat to constrict, your heart to pound? What makes you run, legs pumping, lungs straining, out of the darkness and into the sanctuary of light? What paralyzes you in bed, freezes you in place, pulls the covers over your head, puts your hand over your mouth to stifle the screams?

Let me tell you a story. Two stories, actually.

My last post related how I saw something in the kitchen of our neighbors’ historic house. A woman who was there and then wasn’t. The ghost who dwells in our neighbors’ bathroom and likes the door to be kept open.

The truth is, there is something — a presence — in our house as well. The actual building is dated 1960 on our property plans, but the land itself, the ground the house was built on, is ancient. And something—someone—is still attached to the place. Has never left. Is still seeking the portal to wherever it is the dead are supposed to go.

Viking Woman says it’s a man. During the course of our marriage, she has consistently demonstrated a degree of psychic ability that I have come to trust. For instance, she ALWAYS know when I’ve been naughty. So I have come to trust her ability to “see” things that my dulled Planet Man senses can neither perceive nor comprehend.

Except, this time I do know there is something else in the house with us. I’m often here by myself while Viking Woman works out of town and, in the quiet and the stillness I have, on more than one occasion, caught movement out of the corner of my eye. Each time I have snapped my head around to see who is there, a reaction as instinctive as pulling your hand back from a hot stove. And each time there has been nothing there. No one. The room empty but for me. The house empty but for me.

In the dead of the night there comes noises. The groans and knocks of a 59-year-old house settling as the temperature drops in the graveyard hours? Or the footsteps of someone doomed to forever walk the floors of this structure we call home?

You can see into our kitchen from the lounge. Viking Woman has often supervised my dishwashing efforts from her vantage point in front of the TV. Earlier this week, I entered the kitchen from the other end of the house and was in the process of closing the blinds over the sink when she called out to me.

“Leave those alone and come in here.”

“Why? There isn’t anything on TV I want to watch.”

“Just come here.”

There was an urgency in her tone that made me drop my hand away from the handle and dutifully pull up the easy chair beside her.

“Are you OK?” I asked her.

“Yes.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“He was in the kitchen.”

“Who was?”

“The man.”

“You mean the ghost?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Where in the kitchen?” I asked.

“Standing right behind you.”

Here is the second story:

The abovementioned neighbors have a two-year-old daughter. All two-year-olds are naturally precocious and so we merely shrug and smile when wee Bella goes into our fridge, hauls out a raw egg and a bottle of tomato sauce and announces she is hungry. Or when she wanders through the house, examining our wonders and treasures.

I was sitting in the lounge when she came down the hall after a solo exploration of  the bedrooms.

“Hello, Bella,” I said. “Are you having fun?”

She responded to my question but because toddlers have their own language, and this one is filtered through a New Zealand accent to boot, I’m not exactly sure what she said. But I do know it was something about the “helloman.”

I thought that was cute. That she was saying “Hello, man” to me as a form of greeting because she’s not yet sure of my name. But when I mentioned our conversation to Bella’s mother, she frowned in puzzlement.

“Bella knows your name,” she said and, to prove it, gathered up her daughter, pointed to me, and said, “Bella, who is that?”

“John,” she said.

So she does knows me. She knows my name. Which means she wasn’t talking about me when she came down the hall.

So who was she talking about?

What manner of creature had she encountered in the cool depths of our house?

Who is the Helloman?

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