Tag Archives: house

The Air Vent

29 Jul

(This is fiction.)

I was 6, my brother was 10, and we had the whole house to ourselves. Grandma and Mom were at the restaurant getting it ready for the morning crowd. The crowd wasn’t very large, maybe 10 to 15 people at the most, but it was enough to keep the business alive. Those who came, came for the biscuits and gravy.  Grandma was known for her famous biscuits and gravy in at least a three county radius.

We would have about 4 hours in between being checked on through the day to fill with whatever adventures I would device for us to do. The restaurant was just a stone’s throw away from the house so we could not get to crazy.  My brother being the oldest was in charge of me, and I being of little attention span was in charge of figuring out what we were going to do that day. Luckily my brother was game for whatever I could come up with, even if that meant being Barbie’s best friend for an hour.

The house was old, with creaky wooden floors and yellowing wallpaper peeling at the corners. Grandma was frugal with the air conditioning, so the house would heat up slowly throughout the day. She seemed to have it down to a science when to pop the air conditioner on the give just enough relief to the dwellers as to not turn them into melted pools of human laziness. In the older houses the air vents were in the floors as oppose to the ceilings of modern structures. The air would kick on with a ticking noise, and then a grunt from the house as if it was so inconvenienced by the thought of cooling off it’s occupants.  Then with a strong whoosh the floor would blow sweet cooling relief strong enough (in a 6 year old’s mind) to float on to the heavens.

We would grab one of Grandma’s good top sheets from the bed whenever we hear the telltale ticking and run to the nearest vent. My brother and I would duck ourselves under the sheet, holding all four corners down between us as the air would start it’s travel from unknown origins of the inner house workings and into our sheet. The sheet would fill with air encasing us in some sort of air igloo. Our skin would goose bump with the cool air and I would watch the sheet rise as it filled. We had about 10 minutes to cool down and exchange stories in our air tent. My brother’s would always be about pirates or dragons or cars, typical boy stuff. Mine would be about princesses, my future jobs, and how to care and raise unicorns. We would listen to each other’s stories with faked interest if we had too. That was the number one rule of the air tent. No fighting. We couldn’t waste the time with fighting.

I loved the days of staying at my Grandma’s. It felt like we had a freedom there not afforded to most kids our age. I was allowed to let my imagination take over and fill our days with adventures and games.

When we got older, Grandma sold the restaurant when her old bones wouldn’t let her stir the batter to make those famous tri-county  biscuits anymore. My brother and I stopped playing in the air vents eventually. Now when we would visit Grandma we would sit at the dinning room table with the adults and listen to adult topics like changing car batteries, the weather, and stories of the restaurant regulars.

However, whenever the air would kick on in the house, I would look at my brother, and he at me, and we would smile.

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The Ghosts That Haunt Me

13 Sep

There was a movie called “Skeleton Key”, I think…and it had Kate Hudson in it, and I think…

It was about voodoo and hoodoo and youdoo, and me-doo, and all sorts of doo, but the one thing I took away from the film was the line; “If you don’t believe, then it can’t hurt you. ”

Which I don’t. I don’t believe in ghosts, voodoo, hauntings, blog reviewers, and other nastiness that goes bump in the night.

The wife does though. She watches those ghost hunter shows where a bunch of guys with video cameras that film in the dark, and old cassette machines for recording obscure noises, turn an hours worth of pure nothing into almost-but-not-quite-we-may-have-recorded-a-ghost-but-more-likely-recorded-the-sound-of-someone-stepping-in-gum entertainment.

Whenever she threatens that I have to sleep on the couch, I just yell through the house, “Show us a sign that you are here. Show us your presence!” Which is what all the ghost hunter people yell at cemeterys, old castles, and old folks homes.

Back into the bed I get to go. I’m better than a monster-shielding blanket for a 4 year old.

My Uncle, (Great Uncle to the kids, so you know he has been around for awhile) believes in ghosts as well. He tells stories about when he owned his million dollar house on the banks of Lake Erie. He tells of a ghost that use to throw his folded laundry off the stairs, and move a shoe horn that he kept by the front door. The ghost also smoked, because my Uncle being a former smoker, (when smoking was cool) would smell cigarette smoke in the house.

My Uncle, a widower, lived alone.

Now you might be able to explain some of that: cigarette smoke lingers in the walls forever, absent mindedness on putting the shoe horn back, you didn’t quite set the laundry fully on the step and eventually it fell…

…or it could be a ghost.


That was a long way to go to tell you about what happened to me the other day. I was alone in the house, a rarity with 4 kids, when I heard footsteps in the loft. The loft is on the second floor and over looks the stairs coming up to the bed rooms.

This was definitely not the sound of a house settling, but foot steps walking from one end of the room to the other. I was watching TV, so I turned it off. I heard the foot steps again. I know I was the only one in the house, everyone was accounted for in either activities or work or school… no one can just sneak in either, the front door is way too noisy.

So, son-of-a-bitch for being a man, and protector of the family, I have to go investigate. Being a fan of horror movies and books , I know bringing a knife or golf club, or computer mouse, (hey, that was what was around me) would do no good against a ghost. So I go up the stairs empty handed. But also being a fan of horror movies and books, I know not to call out and alert every supernatural thing to my presence.

When I get to the top of the stairs and turn to look into the loft, I saw an image of my dead Grandmother holding a picture of my first pet goldfish (Goldy was it’s name.) in one hand, and with the other hand she is wiggling one boney finger back and forth, beckoning me to come closer, as she mouths the words, “I told you idiot you cannot walk a goldfish! Your were always a dummy!”

OK, I made that up. Actually when I got to the top of the stairs and turned to look into the loft, I saw…nothing. I pause and wait for a few minutes.


So I go back downstairs, and turn on the Playstation.

As soon as I do, I hear the foot steps again.

Throwing down the controller and muttering a few home made curse words, I charge up the stairs, look into the loft, at…

… nothing.

It didn’t happen again, although everyone in the house has reported as hearing the same thing at one time or another. The house is no more than 10 years old, no murder committed in it, no ancient Indian burial ground underneath it, just regular old suburban house.

I still don’t believe, although I can not explain the foot steps, or why other members of the family have heard the same thing.