An Uninvited Guest

In Going Home Again, I talked about my childhood and the nomadic lives my family led for many years. We lived in fourteen different houses or apartments by the time I finished high school. Each was memorable, but the one that made an impression was a little place in Lake Worth, Texas.

The place was nothing special. It was the standard size for a small family in those days. As I remember, it looked much like it does in the picture above, which I took in August 2021. In fact, it looked a lot like most of the houses we’d rented over the years. There was a difference, however.

The place was haunted. Okay, not haunted in the movie sense, but there was something strange about it. It had the same weird noises and what have you as other frame houses. There were the normal creaking floorboards, howling windows during a storm, and other phenomena people look for in a “haunted” house. Still, there were two things no one could ever explain.

The first occurred when my brother and I slept in our mom and dad’s room. Dad worked odd hours and some nights in those days. Sometimes, we slept with Mom when he was working late or overnight. That was always a cozy situation. King-sized beds were not common in our neck of the woods.

For the three of us to sleep in the same bed required some adjustments. Mom and my brother slept normally. Their heads were near the headboard, and their feet were toward the end of the bed.

I slept between them with my head at the foot of the bed. I often slept face down, with my head hanging over the end of the mattress at times. Occasionally, while sleeping in this rather awkward position, a hot breath on the back of my neck woke me up.

At first, I thought it was my brother pranking me. However, he wasn’t that clever and needed to be extremely stealthy to move so quickly and quietly he could fool me and not wake our mom. Also, it wasn’t a heating system or fan causing it, as this was in the 1950s. Central heat and air were not available in places like ours.

We wrote the whole thing off as some freak circumstance. Still, my brother and I started sleeping in our beds, and things settled down to the normal eerie noises an old frame house might make at night. Then I had a visitor.

One night, I stayed up, waiting for Dad to come home. I was in the living room watching what passed for late-night television in those days. Somewhere in the evening, before the television station signed off, the front door opened.

I almost came out of my pajamas, not just the chair. Remember, this was the late 1950s in small-town Texas. Some people left their doors unlocked much of the time. We didn’t, but leaving the door unlocked while watching television and waiting for someone to come home wasn’t unusual.

In fact, I checked to ensure the door was unlocked in case Dad’s hands were full when he tried to come in. I also made certain it was firmly closed, as leaving the door open or letting it come open at night was inviting Texas mosquitos to invade your space. There was no way that door just opened on its own.

I looked at it for a moment waiting for Dad or one of my low friends to stick their head in to see if I’d jumped out of my skin. Dad had a weird sense of humor; nothing was beyond him if he thought it was funny. Instead, the door just remained open. There was no wind sound or anything else to explain why it opened.

Being the smart-aleck I was raised to be, I finally let my breath out in a huff and said, “Well! You could at least close the door!” Immediately, the door closed soundly, and the silence in the room was deafening.

I jumped up; went to the door, and it was firmly closed. There was no wind, no giggling friend with a string tied around a doorknob, or anything else. There was simply a door that opened on its own and closed when I told it to shut.

To this day, I have not come up with a plausible explanation for that phenomenon.

© – 2022

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About S. Eric Jackson

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5 Responses to An Uninvited Guest

  1. Pingback: Speaking of Halloween | An Old Cop's Place

  2. Phil, got a bit distracted by winding up in the hospital for three days. Beginning to play catch-up now as i was not in any shape to write for those three days. Some strange sort of muscle pull or nerve problem in my lower back that just about incapacitated me for three and a half days. Having to do some low grade rehab now while the docs keep an eye on it. The good news was none of the scans or lab work showed anything serious involved or hiding out.

    North Texas is such a small world, even for those of us that mover around. I moved Denton after graduating from Arlington Heights a few years before you would have graduated. Moved back to Fort Worth after I met a Pachal girl who graduated the same year I did. Our folks knew each other and we had some mutual friends, but we’d never met. Take care!

  3. Phil Strawn says:

    Yep, it was a haunted house. Be glad the spook was friendly. My grandmothers farm house in Santa Anna was haunted. She made no excuses about the arrangement, but told us the “haint” was mostly friendly, but mischievous. I heard so many outrageous stories about the ghost from my uncles that to this day my cousins and I have no idea why it was haunted. Lake Worth was a bit rural back in those days. Any experiences on Jacksboro Highway?

    • We spent a lot of time around the lake over the years. Only lived in Lake Worth during my 7th-grade year. Later ate some great meals at different places along the highway, but no fun times at any of the joints out there. Moved over near Carswell for the 8th-grade. I was a west side guy from then on, cruising Camp Bowie and just hanging out.

      • Phil Strawn says:

        I remeber Camp Bowie cruising. I lived on Ryan Ave just off Berry, and if we would have stayed in FW, I would have attended Paschal High. I moved to Plano in 63 and stayed there for 40 plus years. Born and raised in FW as were most of my family.

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