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.
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