As I mentioned in a previous story, "Goodbye Tessie", I started working for a small book publishing company in South-Western New Hampshire early 2009. The main business was run from the owners' attic, while we had a warehouse in the nearby city. When I started working there, I was enamored by the history of the place, the fantastic structure of the building, and the classic New England feel maintained by my bosses. Antique furniture, hardwood floors, the gorgeous use of space, low ceilings on the second floor, large, unfinished attic, a beautiful "colonial garden" out back - I had no idea that the place even come with a residual haunt.
The longer I worked at the company, the higher opinion my bosses developed of me, and quite regularly, they would ask me to put in a few extra hours when they had errands to run, to watch the house. Both were relatively elderly, especially the husband (92 and still running a business at that time - yikes!), so there were often doctor's visits to be kept and shopping usually took them at least several hours. I was left behind many afternoons, with just myself and the dogs (dog, after Tessie passed), to answer the phones and finish up my tasks in silence. The house was often so quiet you could hear a pin drop in the front living room - I could hear cars passing on the road outside, and the occasional huffs of the bored dogs. Otherwise, all was silent.
The first time I heard anything strange, I admit that I panicked. I need to describe the layout of the house a little so this makes more sense, so bear with me a little! The house has one door to the outside on each side of it - two with very beautiful, large porches, and two with stone steps leading down brick paths. Only one door was in use, given the occupants' old ages, and that was on the North side of the house, leading to the driveway. It was late November and I had been asked to stay until seven in the evening, with a promise of a home-cooked dinner. The house was locked up tight as a drum with me in the third floor attic. I had been alone only about an hour when I heard a door slam - a very hard, very serious slam - at the front of the house, the South side.
This door, in my experience, had only been used when big things were brought into or out of the house, and was otherwise locked from the inside with two deadbolts and a heavy wooden bar. I had a set of keys to the house, and there was no key to open that door from the outside, as far as I knew. At first I thought it was the dogs mucking about, maybe they had knocked something over, but quickly realized that Tessie was at her usual station underneath my desk, and Sadie was standing at the top of the attic stairs, slowly wagging her tail and looking expectantly down the steps.
I got up, and walked towards the top of the staircase with the office phone in my hand, ready to dial 911 in case of burglars. I loudly called out a "Hello? Ron?" Ron was the warehouse manager, at that time, and sometimes stopped by the house to see if anyone needed anything before headed home for the day, and it was about that time. No answer except for heavy steps making their way down the central hallway on the first floor, from the South door up to the North side of the house. These steps sounded like old, heavy, scrappy boots, clump-clump-clump. I've heard it so many times since, that it's engrained in my mind.
The steps stopped, and I heard the door separating the mudroom from the rest of the house open with its very distinctive, rattling wood-and-iron sound, and then it was silent again. The mudroom also had four doors - One was that North exit, the door used to get to the driveway; one was to the basement, one was to the kitchen (the direction from which the steps had come), and the other was to a staircase leading to the second floor. It was this latter door that I then heard rattle open and hit the wall behind it with considerable force - these doors are old, and make a considerable amount of noise. The footsteps slowly climbed the steep steps and stopped outside the first bedroom at the second floor landing. Both Sadie and Tessie were standing with me now at the top of the attic steps, and they wagged their tails before they began to bark furiously. I called out "Hello?" again over the dogs barking, taking slow steps down the attic stairs, towards the bedroom where the footsteps had stopped.
I made it down to the small landing at the bottom of the attic stairs, and peeked around the corner, where I could see right into that bedroom - a small room of maybe 10x8, long and narrow, with a day bed on the left and a row of closets on the right wall. There was nothing there. No one. Not believing it, and being pretty excited, I jumped the three steps from the landing onto the second floor and ran into that room - nobody. No one in the closets, and no one was under the bed. It was empty. Those steps were so loud and distinct that I would have heard them going anywhere else in the house - absolutely. They had stopped outside that door.
Confused, and a little freaked, mostly excited, I called the dogs outside to stay with me while I smoked a cigarette. We were still outside when Ron, the warehouse manager, pulled up into the driveway. He took one look at me and laughed in that old New Hampshire drawl, "Oh so you met Benjamin did you?" Ron then proceeded to tell me about a soldier that had been a working tenant at this house after the Revolution, and was a bit on the crazy side until his death.
Benjamin apparently worked on the property until he died in the early 1800's, and his quarters were on the East side of the house - the small bedroom I had heard the steps walk into, which was originally joined with the other small bedroom right next to it on that side of the house. Benjamin is heard coming in the South door, clomping through the lower floor, through the kitchen, where he makes his way (noisly) up to his old quarters. He was reputedly a drunk, and a very sad, eccentric man until his death. He is buried in the small family graveyard just down the dirt road headed out to the properties disused pastures. According to Ron, Benjamin has been heard by everyone that ever worked in the office, and that his pattern never deviates.
Despite having been terrified with my initial interraction and thought of "Oh no! Burglars!", I was oddly relieved that this wound up being nothing more than a residual haunt, adding even more character to the charming New England home. I remained working at this company, in this office, staying late several times a month, for another two years. Benjamin would make his presence known every once in awhile, and when my replacement experienced him during our training, I was able to laugh about it much like Ron laughed at me.