Shortly before I married my first wife, my parents purchased a house in a small village about 35-40 miles south of Jackson, Mississippi. They'd advised that we could live in it and work on restoring / renovating it, or they'd do it themselves and keep it for a rental property. Since the ex and I both loved old houses and enjoyed the calm of living in the country, we decided that we'd move into the house after our marriage and live there. It was only about fifteen miles from my place of employment anyway.
My parents had purchased the house from the surviving heirs of an old woman who had no children of her own. I'd mentioned this house in my previous submission, "Introduction and Small Incidents". This was the old house which, I understood, had partially burned at one time and was rebuilt from an old hotel in a deserted "boomtown" which died away when the railroad bypassed it. It seems like I recall the original construction was completed around 1890. I don't believe I ever heard when the fire occurred.
When my parents bought the house, the economy in the area was very, very limited and accordingly, there was a lack of demand for housing, so the house had been on the market for close to two years. Let's just say, you'd be hard pressed to buy a late model used car in today's dollars for what they paid for the place in 1985.
The house was not in terrible shape at all. The structure and roof were sound. It basically needed rewiring, replumbing, sheetrocking to cover old wallpaper on bare wood walls, painting, new fixtures / lights, and a few window sash replacements here and there. Okay, that's a lot, and I did have skilled family members show me how to do the work. We were able to complete the renovation in a couple of years' time taking it at a leisurely pace. That sort of work IS a young person's task though, as I'd never consider doing such a thing again at the age of 54.
It wasn't long after we moved in that people in the village started telling us about the old woman's nephew dying in the bathroom. We heard this several times over the first few months we lived there. Just a comment made in passing; no one was making a big deal out of it, but it was a bit odd. I knew in a general way who the woman's family was because some relation of her's had been a veterinarian in the small town I grew up in.
In my previous story "Introduction and Small Incidents", I'd told the story about the loud crash we'd heard that was clearly emanating from the kitchen just a few feet from where my wife and I were standing at the time. While typing, I just remembered a couple additional small inexplicable events which I'll share now before getting on to the more involved incidents.
We were so poor back in those days. We didn't even have a stove for the first couple of months. Everything we cooked had to be prepared on a grill outside. If you wanted bacon, soup, whatever, you had to cook it on a backyard grill with pots and pans.
One evening we were going to make dinner and I got a box of frozen vegetables out of the deep freezer. The vegetables were processed from my parents' garden and placed them in a plastic bag, then the bags were placed in these commercially produced wax coated boxes (roughly 6 x 10 x 2) made for this purpose. The boxes had folded tops and bottoms with tabs to keep them closed.
Anyway, while getting ready to cook the dinner, I placed the box on the porch. I went about my business doing whatever else I was doing at the time, going in and out of the house. When I was ready to start the grill, I walked over to grab the vegetables. The box was off the porch, laying on the ground about 5 feet from where I left it. The top on the end of the box was open and the bag of vegetables inside it was missing. Never found the bag. I have no clue what could have done that, or why. The only possible thing would have been some sort of pranksters or a stray dog. Our neighbors were all very old people and had no children or grandchildren around, we were childless, and if it were a dog, I don't know how or why it would have opened the paper lid on the box without tearing it and then removed the bag from that box rather than just dragging the box away. Just bizarre.
The other small event was simply that one day there was an absolutely unmistakable knocking on the front door which, of course, we thought was a visitor. The entrance had a glass fanlight around the door frame and over the top. The top half of the door had a very large pane of glass in it. The front door opened into the living room which was the most spacious room in the house.
At the time, we were in our bedroom. The bedroom door opens into the living room and is maybe six feet from the front door. That side of the house had a ten foot wide wooden porch along its length and our bedroom had windows which overlooked the porch as did the living room. I thought it curious that we heard no one walking on the porch or saw any shadow cast upon the drapes by someone walking on the porch.
Hearing the knock, we both looked at each other, puzzled, due to the lack of any accompanying sounds of walking and commented on that afterwards in our effort to figure out what had happened. Being right next to the front door, it took less than 10 seconds to simply go from the bedroom to answer the door. Of course, when I went to the door, no one was there and I heard no one walking on the front porch. It simply was not possible for someone to sneak up to the door quietly, knock, then get away that quickly without hearing them running on the porch to make a quick getaway.
Okay, on to the main events which are the subject of this submission.
On Mother's Day, 1986, the ex and I prepared a fantastic meal for our two Mothers which they thoroughly enjoyed. The main course was a spinach lasagna made with two sauces.
Roughly three weeks later, I'd decided to make a regular lasagna with ground beef. I remembered that I'd totally emptied the tall glass pasta container when I'd made the dinner for the Moms and used a few pieces of lasagna from another box which was still in the pantry. When I looked on the shelf, I saw that there were a few lasagna noodles in the pasta container. How odd. I absolutely remembered, without a doubt, that I'd completely used the lasagna that had been in the container AND had to take a few pieces out of another box. That's how I knew there were enough pieces left in the partial box in the pantry to make another lasagna. Okay, I figured maybe the wife put some in there (but why just a few?).
I opened the pasta container and looked inside it from the top. At the bottom of it was a strip of paper with typewritten words on it. The piece of paper was a little bit smaller in length than the inside diameter of the pasta jar, and maybe 3/8" in width - slightly wider than the text which was printed on it. I took the pasta out and could then read the words on the paper. It was my wife's full maiden name on one of those name cards that people buy for graduations to place in invitations and thank you cards. All the excess of the card removed except for her name in type with a little bit of space on each side.
Another twist on this already bizarre incident is that before we were married, I'd asked her if she had one of those graduation name cards as I'd thought it would be neat to have one. She apologized and said that if anything like that were still around, it would be up in her Mother's attic in some box behind piles and piles of who knows what. In other words, forget it - she wasn't going to go dig around in her Mom's attic to find a name card to give me. Of course, I told her about the event immediately and she appeared to be as stunned as I was. She swore she hadn't cut out a name card, certainly didn't have any of them in our new house, and had not touched the pasta jar (which is believable since I did all the cooking). The only ordinary explanation there could be was that my ex came up with this bizarre prank to freak me out. Obviously, something was going on here.
The final event occurred later on, but before September 1987 when we moved out of town so I could return to college and finish with my degree program.
There was a book by Peter Straub called Ghost Story which was made into a TV movie. It seems like the wife purchased it at a used book store as a gift for me, but I'm not certain on that. Anyway, I read it first then gave it to her to read. She'd read it several nights in a row before bed and I'd seen it laying around in the bedroom when she wasn't reading it.
One night she asked if I'd seen the book as she couldn't find it. We looked around the bedroom, under the bed, in the closet; no dice. Huh. Oh well. We'd both figured she'd just picked it up and laid it somewhere and that it would eventually turn up. A couple times over the next week or so, she commented she had no idea where the book was as she'd been enjoying it and had searched all over the house, in the car, etc. (I'm paraphrasing here because I really don't remember exactly where she said she searched, but you get the point - I do remember her being exasperated with not being able to finish reading it). Okay, a mystery, but no reason to suspect anything unworldly.
Perhaps a week after the last time she'd complained about not being able to find the book, I walked into the bedroom one night and the book was laying on the floor on the other side of the bed.
There's another weird twist on that. Inside the book was a photographic negative (it hadn't been there before and I'd never seen it previously). I held it up to see what was on it and it was a picture of a fellow that looked to be roughly 30-40 years of age sitting in a large chair holding an old Falstaff beer can. The man's dress looked like something from, at the latest, maybe the mid-70s and more like the early 60s. Looking at it closer, the man in the negative looked remarkably like the veterinarian I'd mentioned earlier - so much so that it could have been the vet if the guy had been thrown back in time so as to be that age in that time period. Of course, I asked the ex about it and she said she'd never seen the negative, had not seen the book earlier in the day, and appeared / claimed to be as stunned as I was. As with the pasta incident, the only earthly explanation possible was that the ex pulled this as some sort of bizarre prank.
None of this stuff was really scary at all, and after getting over the bizarreness of it, we just sort of accepted that the house was haunted. I don't say it was absolutely impossible that the ex could have pulled these stunts, but although she was a dishonest person, it manifested itself in her lying about something - I'd never known her to pull pranks of even the smallest kind for amusement purposes, much less anything as involved as these incidents.