Friday, January 23, 2009

Footfalls In The Darkness

A week or so after my ill-fated sleep-over, I was visiting again, during the day, this time with my mother. "Nanny", I said, "I think your house is haunted".
"Well, child", she began slowly...
My grandfather, who was puttering around in the dining room laughed, "Don't listen to her, she's from the old country, ya know! She believes in leprechauns and banshees, she'll tell you a fairy story!" he chided.
"Tell me!" I demanded, and my grandmother began a tale of a time when she had just moved into the three family house on the south side of Boylston Street as a young bride, fresh off the boat from Ireland.
Pa was a policeman working the night shift in those days, and Nanny was at home alone from dusk until dawn. It was in those days before children had come, and she had only a small dog to keep her company.
One quiet, late evening as she occupied herself with household tasks, she became aware of the sound of footsteps coming from the bedroom. Her little dog was standing in the hall, in an alert position, his ears cocked, growling low in his throat and peering into the dark room. In the far, northwest corner of her bedroom, there was a pass door into the tiny back room. The footsteps sounded as if someone was walking back and forth from the back room into the master bedroom. From the small dog's reaction, it was clear that he thought so too! Nanny waited up all night until Pa completed his shift and returned home. In her shaken state, she told him what she had heard.
Pa thought that she was simply suffering from an over-active imagination and downplayed the incident, but the next night the footsteps came again, and the next night as well, until Nanny insisted that Pa board up the doorway that joined their bedroom with the little back room.
Nanny held out hope that this would solve problem, until later that evening when Pa was gone off to walk his beat in the city, and the knocking started! Something was pounding on the boarded up door between the rooms! Her little dog barked and whined furiously while she quaked in terror!
The next day she wasted no time in calling a priest from her parish, who came over and blessed the house. After the blessing, they hung a large picture of Saint Theresa, The Little Flower in the boarded-up doorway. Things were reportedly quiet from that day forward.
I turned to my mother and asked whether she had ever experienced anything out of the ordinary during her years of occupation of the back room and she dismissed the question with a laugh and a wave of her hand; "I never heard anything!"
My brothers had also scoffed at me...none of them had ever had anything happen to them in the back room either. But Nanny didn't laugh. She completely understood why I would never spend the night again.

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