(Note to subscribers. Sorry to be posting this a couple of days late. As you’ll discover from reading it, I tend to be a bit absent-minded. — Tim)
This is not a joke. My house is haunted.
Not haunted in the sense of a horror movie – no apparitions, spectral voices or things that go bump in the night. My house is haunted by a harmless (well, relatively harmless) poltergeist.
It’s been happening for years. One exasperating incident after another. Things simply disappear. Some vanish for good; others reappear in plain sight after weeks or months of looking for them.
The latest casualty was a Costco Cash Card. I laid it on a dresser, left the room for a couple of minutes and it dematerialized. I turned the room upside down, looked in drawers, under the bed, everywhere. My wife, who is better at finding things, also looked. No luck.
The next morning, it was lying in the middle of the bedroom floor in plain sight. I almost stepped on it.
Before that it was my glasses. The last place anyone remembered seeing them was on the arm of a couch. They were there one minute, gone the next.
We looked everywhere. They weren’t on or under the couch, on the end table next to the couch or anywhere else that a pair of glasses could logically be expected to reside. These weren’t a cheap pair of readers, either. They were pricey, prescription glasses.
To make sure they hadn’t absentmindedly been tossed in the trash or recycling bin, we searched the contents of both. Nothing.
Several weeks passed. We continued to look in increasing frustration and in increasingly unlikely places. Still nothing.
Then, there they were – in plain sight on a night stand where we’d looked a hundred times. We’d looked on the night stand, under the night stand, in the drawers of the night stand. The glasses weren’t there.
Until, inexplicably, they were.
Before that it was the even more baffling disappearance – and reappearance – of my cell phone.
Granted, cell phones are forever being misplaced. But what happened with mine is weird. Spooky weird.
Here’s what happened: When the phone went missing, I looked looked in pockets, under couch cushions, on tables, countertops, desktops, etc.
When looking in normal places doesn’t work, one tends to look in abnormal places. I looked in wastebaskets, the trash can, the laundry hamper. The workshop, the furnace room. Closets, medicine cabinet, refrigerator …
Don’t laugh; I once found my shoes in the refrigerator. (Yes, as a matter of fact I am a tad absent-minded.)
The phone was in none of those places. It was as if it had been snatched up and transported to an alternate reality.
The search went on for days. Everyone in the family looked. We looked in places where even the most hopelessly absent-minded person wouldn’t have misplaced a cell phone.
“Have you tried the ‘Find My Phone’ app?’” my wife eventually asked.
Of course! Why hadn’t we thought of that before?
The Find My Phone map on my laptop showed the missing phone in what appeared to be the back yard. When I got up to go look for it there, my foot brushed against something lying on the office floor. It was the missing phone – literally under my feet!
That office had been searched repeatedly. Every millimeter of it had been searched. And there was the phone – in the middle of the office floor! I practically tripped over it.
I could almost hear the poltergeist laughing.
Some things vanish permanently at my house.
The Vacation Eve Car Keys, for instance. They were lying right in front of me on a table where I was doing some last-minute paperwork before leaving on a trip. They were, at least, until they weren’t.
“Not to worry,” my wife said. “They have to be around here somewhere. We’ll use my car keys for the trip and find yours when we get home.”
Those keys are still missing three decades later.
This brings us to the Phantom Robe.
And the Vanishing Vacuum Cleaner.
The robe absconded from where it was always kept, hanging on a hook in a bedroom closet. A robe is not a small thing, like keys or a wallet or a cell phone. A robe is big enough that it should be easy to find, right?
Wrong. I looked off and on for months, gave up and bought a new robe.
The old one was hanging on its hook again the very next morning.
Unlike the robe, the vacuum cleaner didn’t show up when we bought a new one. It was gone forever. We suspected one of our then teenage daughters’ friends of taking it, but both swore they hadn’t. Both are grown now, responsible adults, and they still say they have no idea what happened to that vacuum cleaner.
Recently, the weirdness has taken an eerie turn. My son and I were watching television one evening when we heard the front door open and close and a woman’s voice upstairs in the kitchen. We assumed it was my wife, returning from a shopping trip.
Except that no one was in the kitchen.
Or anywhere else in the house.
A few weeks later, I was alone in the house on what had been a quiet evening and heard noises downstairs. Armed with a baseball bat, I descended the stairs to find that a large box had been toppled over and a television had been turned on.
My wife was out of town. There was no one in the house but me.
It took a long time to get to sleep that night.
If any of you reading this have had similar experiences, I’d love to hear about them. My email address is below.
And if you know a good exorcist, I’m all ears.
Tim Woodward’s column appears every other Sunday in The Idaho Press, sometimes more frequently, and is posted on woodwardblog.com the following Mondays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.