My husband scribbled this on a notepad and slipped it to me. All I could do was roll my eyes.
Lately things have gone missing from my house. That’s not all that unusual given the fact that we have a tween, a toddler and two dogs. At first we lost the baby’s bottle, the cap to our air mattress and a bottle of prescription medicine, all in the space of three or four days. We found the air mattress cap eventually, it was in Janey’s toy box (she can be a little squirrel-like sometimes). After that we just shrugged our shoulders and chalked it up to “one of those things.”
About a week ago something really odd happened. I was getting myself and the baby ready one morning and I was holding her and one of her shoes. She was holding the other shoe. I walked downstairs, sat down, put her shoe on and reached for the one she was holding. It was gone.
Not just sorta gone. Gone. Ceased to exist. I looked everywhere. The last time I had seen it was thirty seconds earlier. I retraced my steps (bathroom-stairs-chair) about three times. I still haven’t found it. You tell me where it went. A few days ago my husband lost his glasses. Now, if you’re one of those people with truly terrible vision you know that you just don’t lose glasses. If I ever lost mine and didn’t have a backup pair of contact lenses I wouldn’t be able to leave my house. My husband has the same problem. Every night he puts his glasses either on the floor next to the bed or on the dresser. But they’re gone. He woke up one morning and they were just not there.That evening he gave me his hypothesis.
“You know,” he said, choosing his words ever so carefully, “someone did die in this house.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” I asked, incredulous.
If you knew my husband you‘d know how ridiculous that statement was. He’s an atheist. Not just any old atheist. You might say he’s Atheist Plus. He’s a confirmed skeptic. He doesn’t just not believe in God, he doesn’t believe in anything that you can’t quantify, measure, explain and verify with a double-blind study. It goes with the territory of being a biologist.
Since I’m a Martin Sheen Catholic, it sometimes makes very interesting conversation around our house. Mr. Rizzuto hasn’t talked me out of being a Catholic, but he has definitely talked me out of believing in ghosts. I used to think idea of ghosts was fascinating. Now I just think it’s silly.
“Well,” he continued, “remember that lady in the picture?” Oh. The lady in the picture.
When we first bought our house a little old man dropped by and told us that it used to belong to his grandmother around the turn of the (20th) century. Apparently she was killed on the street out front when she was hit by a vehicle of some sort. He left us a picture of the house with her standing in front of it. She’s wearing a big flowery hat, the shadow of which obscures her face. She’s also wearing a long white dress with puffy sleeves. Very spooky stuff. I suppose if I were going to nominate anyone to haunt a house it would be her.
“Are you saying that that lady is haunting our house? Are you OF ALL PEOPLE saying we have a ghost?”
“I’m not really saying anything…”
“OK, why would she be haunting the house? She died outside. Shouldn’t she be haunting the street?”
“Well, don’t you thing she’d spend her time trying to get back into the house?”
“So why is she taking our stuff?”
“She’s still pissed off at being run over!”
This afternoon Mr. Rizzuto thoroughly cleaned out our bedroom. He even cleaned under the bed. We don’t normally talk about what might be going on under the bed.
“The glasses are not here,” he proclaimed. “They are not in the house.”
“OK,” I said. “Maybe you got up, went to the bathroom, put your glasses down and they fell behind the sink or something.” I was really reaching.
“I’ve never done that before, but you’re probably right.” That’s when he picked up the notepad and wrote me the note.
Whatever. I wasn’t going to sit around and listen to some nonsense about a shoe-stealing ghost. What would the kids think? Kids rely on their parents to keep a cool head at times like these. So I did what any reasonable person would do. I went upstairs, locked myself in the bathroom and said a prayer to St. Jude.