The following is a story I have never told anyone... Until now. Growing up in the 80's in the San Fernando Valley, my family lived in a cookie cutter suburban neighborhood built in 1961. From the time we moved into this house, at the tender age of two, I felt a presence watching me from my bedroom window. As time went on, I could feel it from every window in the house. I would pick spots in the hallway to sit, away from all of the windows... But soon, the presence permeated every corner. I spoke to my mother about my fears, and she told me she had seen a friendly man. She said not to be scared and to talk to him.
I summoned the courage one day... I could not have been much older than four years old. It unleashed a whole new world... One that I could not be sure was real or a figment of my active imagination. His voice was in my head... Clear as any spoken word. Talking to him was the only thing about the haunting that did not really frighten me, and I believe he knew that and used it to his advantage.
My parents would leave us alone with our grandfather frequently. He would sit outside on the patio smoking a cigarette as my brother and I played quietly by ourselves inside. This one particular day, I had grown bored of playing with my toys. The spirit, whom I will call 'James', was with me. He would often instruct me on how to play with my dolls. They would frequently be naked in a variety of sexual positions. His favorite was a leering Ken doll watching two naked barbies going at it. I didn't understand, obviously, what they were doing, but I thought it funny and peculiar. I said to James that I did not want to play anymore. He said, 'Yes, this is getting old. Let's go watch a movie.' I walked into my parents' bedroom where the TV was, hoping to find some old cartoons on VHS. 'Which one is good?', I asked him. I scanned through the piles of videos when one from the top quarter of the stack caught my eye. It was sticking out about half an inch and a silver sticker seemed to glimmer before my eyes. I pulled it out carefully, and James said, 'Remember where it was. You will need to put it back exactly where you found it.' I stared at the sticker for a while... Amused by the shiny iridescence. I could not yet read. 'What are you waiting for? Put it in!'. Starting the movie, I sat on the floor in front of the bed. 'You will need to stop it if your brother comes in'. Close to the VCR, I watched with strange curiosity as the hard core pornography played out. I could feel that James was happy with me... Laughing and patting me on the back. 'ha-HA! Good job, kid!'
This went on for many years... And each time I would watch, he became more bold. 'Don't you want to touch yourself?' he'd ask. 'You're a beautiful little girl, don't you want to take off your panties and show me?' 'Don't tell anybody about this... They won't understand. They will think you are a dirty girl. But, we know different, right?'. I was, always, obedient. When he became bored of the same movie, he told me where to find my father's stash. A state of squalor had consumed the house by that time, and the pile of papers on my father's office floor had enabled me to reach the top shelf of his bookcase, where a raunchy array of magazines sat. 'Lips' was James' favorite. I could not understand why he liked looking at the pictures so much, but I knew he was pleased. 'Ok' he said, 'Let's watch the movie again'. I could feel a kind of restlessness in him. 'I could look for other movies if you want.', I said. 'No. Get your brother. He'll love this.' 'But, you said not to tell anyone. He'll tell on me for sure.' I said. 'Get your brother.' he insisted
I did as I was told, and my brother did, indeed, tell my parents. Scared and mortified, I denied it... Told them he was lying and trying to get me in trouble. I was angry at James... And my brother... And the world, really. There were so many things I didn't understand, and I wanted to put it all behind me. I felt like I had been very bad... dirty. I tried to ignore James from that point on. I could feel him staring at me, and still heard his voice in my head. He kept his distance for a while, but soon became impatient. I pushed my bed under the window, so he couldn't see me from outside. I slept with the covers over my head. But, in the wee hours of the morning, I could feel my bed begin to shake. I would try desperately to rationalize it away. It's just a tremor... it's a train going by... it's a truck. But, the movement would become more pronounced with each rationalization. It would feel like eternity before the shaking stopped... Like the mattress was being lifted and dropped. Sometimes, I could even feel a heaviness on top of me. Paralyzed with fear, I would begin to pray the 'Hail Mary' until I fell back asleep... And the more I prayed, the more I could hear him laughing.
There were places on the property that felt scarier to me than others. The garage was one that terrified me. When I was about ten years old, laundry became one of my chores. I would have to walk into the backyard, around the side of the house and into the garage from a side door. It was always dark and stacked to the ceiling with boxes, junk and a rotting old buick. The door opened in and I would prop it as far open as I could. I felt the uneasiness most intensely, and I was terrified of being locked inside. Without fail, the door would slam shut. Sometimes, it would happen as I was putting in the powdered soap and the soap would fly into my face as I jumped. Eyes on fire. This, however, would not be the most frightening thing that happened in that garage.
One day, I was doing laundry after my mom and brother had left. They didn't tell me they were leaving, but I watched as the car pulled away. I had come to think that maybe my brother was playing tricks on me with the door. I still felt uneasy, but told myself that what I was feeling was completely irrational. I propped the door open with a heavy box and made sure it was a bright inside as it could be. I still heard James talking to me, but I had stopped responding. Another voice... A voice of reason... Had joined the ranks in my head. I felt uneasy, but not necessarily scared. Until the door slammed shut with great force. I ran to the door and desperately tried to get it open. The knob wouldn't turn, even though it was unlocked. I would pull it open and it would slam shut again, my hand on the knob. Screaming and crying I pleaded for it to stop... I pleaded to be let out of that garage. It felt like eternity as I wrestled with the door. In desperation I cried, 'Please, help me!' and a warmth spread through me. A woman's voice spoke clearly, calmly and with a kind of conviction that permeated the darkness... 'She's just a little girl', she said. With that, the door opened a few inches and I ran back inside as fast as my legs could carry me.