In 1992, I had the happy fortune to reconnect with my best friend from high school. We shared the type of friendship, that though 16 years had passed by without communicating we picked up right where we left off. Bonus points: our then husbands got along and our kids all adored each other. It wasn't too long after when Patsy announced that they were buying a house on the other side of town. That house - that's where the story really begins.
Originally, Patsy wanted to wait for me to see it, until after they were settled in, but within a week or two I started feeling subtle changes in my friend. She was always tired after working all day as a housekeeper at a motel, but now she seemed more so, with dark circles starting to form under her eyes, and she seemed a bit agitated, jumping at sounds and shadows. (Since I was babysitting her kids while she worked we saw each other almost daily.) When I asked if everything was alright she left it at stress over the move, trying to get things settled while working, and that she and Jerry were fighting a bit more than usual (he'd had an affair and she hadn't quite forgiven him). My instincts said differently, that there was more to it, but I've never been one to pressure people to talk.
Sometimes, clearing our coffee cups, I would get impressions that I really did not like. Normally, I keep myself shielded even from family and friends to at least some degree, because reading someone like this is pretty much an invasion of their privacy, but sometimes if the emotions are very strong I still pick up on them. One particular emotion came through loud; fear. Something was causing my friend to actually feel afraid. I reached out trying to pick up on what caused the fear, but it wasn't clear. Apparently, whatever it was didn't have a clear form in her mind. Sometimes I saw an inverted cross, or felt anger, 'saw' her and her husband arguing. Things of that nature. It was a jumbled mess, which told me her own thoughts weren't clear.
I remember it was a weekday, the kids were in school, the husbands at work, when Patsy showed up at my door. I thought it odd she had the day off, but she admitted to having called in sick. I looked at her, "Are you sick?" and in a flat monotone voice she replied, "Maybe in my head." The way she said it gave me a chill in the pit of my stomach. We went to the kitchen for a coffee and a talk.
Barely seated Patsy reached into her purse, taking out her cigarettes and a new pack of playing cards. The seal hadn't even been broken. She laid the deck on the table by me, then fired up a cigarette, "Do a reading for me?"
For Patsy to ask for a reading was serious stuff indeed. When we had first met, she was one of the all time great deniers of anything paranormal. In fact, the very first time I ever did a reading for her was just to prove it could be done; since we didn't really know each other she thought she'd be able to be all 'HA!' in my face with it, but after I described her mother (whom I hadn't yet met) to a tee, and an argument they'd had, Pats became more open minded. At least when it came to me. Over time, she accepted that there was more to this world then we know or understand. She also understood it was no parlor game for me and had witnessed some of my struggles to control various aspects of 'gifts' I had.
I took one look at the layout of the cards, and said, "Pats, would you be ok with me seeing the house now?"
"You see something," it was more of a statement then question. I nodded. "Care to share?"
"Not yet," and then I added, "I could be off, Pats. You know I'm not always right. I just think your house would help crystallize it."
"Yeah you're only right like 99.99% of the time. But, if you think we should -"
"I want to stop by St. Mary's first."
The priest at St. Mary's knew me, and I knew he wouldn't question my wanting Holy water and blessed oil much. I also knew he'd happily come bless a non-Catholic home for me, which I wanted to happen shortly after I visited the place. First, I wanted to put Patsy's question of sanity at ease, and maybe get a few answers for her.
Walking up to the two story house, everything seemed in order. Empty moving boxes neatly stacked in the car port, lawn neatly trimmed. Inside you could tell unpacking was still going on, but the bulk was done.
I walked through the living room and started down the hall. Patsy asked where I was going, and I said "Your bedroom."
"Val, you've never been here. How do you know where my room is?" I shot her a look and she gave a shaky laugh, "Ask a silly question, huh?"
"It's ok, Pats. The cards told me," to anyone else that would sound crazy, but Patsy just nodded.
Just inside her room I stopped dead and gasped. "What the heck is up with THAT?" I pointed at the upside down cross. Normally, I'd question if it was a St. Peter's cross, but Patsy was Baptist, inverted crosses were viewed as demonic by her.
"It keeps doing that," Patsy voice came out a harsh whisper.
"Does it now?" I dragged her dressing table bench over and climbed up to bring the cross down to examine it. I studied the hanger on it's back. "This new?" She nodded. "I think I see the problem. See the hanger-bar? It's at the bottom of the cross beam. Might be letting it be top heavy. Get me a little hammer and I'll fix it for you." I wasn't completely sure that was the problem, but it was a possibility, and I really wanted to be wrong on what I was feeling.
While I waited for Patsy to return, I prayed over the cross, and repeated my prayer for protection. Slowly I was letting my shields down. I traced a cross with the oil where the cross would hang, then climbed down and opened the windows in the room. Walked over and opened the closet door. When Patsy returned, I moved the hanger bar to the center of the cross's crossbeam, and rehung the cross. After that together we blessed the perimeter of the room (including closet) with the Holy water and I blessed every opening with the Holy Oil, while reciting the Our Father.
We moved through the entire house doing that, with Patsy saying, "This is my home now," and other similar phrases, in each one. Finally we moved down to the basement. Where I knew 'SHE' waited.
I walked over to the work bench that lined one wall practically. It was really old looking, heavy oak. I closed my eyes for a moment and cocked my head. "Here...there was something box like here. Jerry moved it." To Pasty I asked, "Jerry has a lot of 'accidents' down here, doesn't he?" She said yes, and some of them were very strange, like things hitting him from out of nowhere. Literally he'd get struck by things flying and tools being moved, when he was down there alone.
I spoke to the room, "I'm here. Talk to me. Do you need help? That's all I really want to do is help you." Patsy was rubbing her upper arms and I was a large goosebump, myself. Along with the chill, came that tingling, cobwebby feeling I get when spirits are near. I dialed back my shields a notch, I don't know how else to explain it. I wanted to be able to communicate with this entity, but I was not willing to be completely open to it. To do that would be completely foolish. A combination of sadness, confusion, and anger washed over me.
I saw a haggard looking woman in a faded flower patterned dress being bullied by a large pot bellied man. Their mode of dress reminded me of the 1930s. He grabbed her arm and struck her several times about the head and shoulders with what appeared to be a shirt. I cried involuntarily, while describing what I saw to Patsy, when I heard the words, "You call this clean?" growled. There followed a montage of instances of abuse at his hands. Each worse than the last. I felt tears spilling down my cheeks, as I wept, "He's beating her with an umbrella. He just keeps hitting her!" I, myself, wincing with each crash of the umbrella. In a flash, I saw the same woman but as a child being mistreated by another male (her father?), and then this man who professed to love her, doing the same. She had grown to believe all men were like this, and with that belief came hate.
By now, Patsy had wrapped her arms about me, trying to give some comfort. I was struggling to get out verbally the scenes she couldn't see, and the onslaught of feelings that choked me to the point I was kneeling on the floor. "It's Jerry," I finally managed to squeak out,"she hates him." I saw Patsy's eyes grow wide and knew she worried over the safety of their young son also. I patted her arm, "Bobby's safe, he's only a boy. It's full grown men she has a problem with. She thinks she's protecting you from him. She hears the arguing, and fears for you. Oh, God, Pats, she was put through hell by her man," my voice broke and in that instance I knew the truth about Jerry, what it was about him that I didn't like. "He HURTS you," I looked into my friend's eyes. "Not with his fists but in other ways. She's fighting back FOR you." At least that's the way I saw it; in her own fashion, this ghost lady was only trying to protect Patsy from the same fate she'd suffered. "Think about it, Pat's everything has been pointed at Jerry, not you or the kids."
I asked Patsy what she wanted me to do, I could try and help the ghost to cross over, or try and establish ground rules for co-habitation. Patsy was quiet for a moment, then asked if the ghost lady was responsible for all the unexplained stuff that went on. I said I thought so, at least she's the only one I felt or saw. We decided to send her on her way. Patsy just wasn't comfortable with a residing spirit.
I started by thanking her for being there for my friend, and saying how sorry we both were that she had suffered, but she was free to go. Then I asked her if she needed help to cross over, or if there was anything we could do for her. At that point Patsy swears she felt a hug (which I 'saw'), and then the lady simply disappeared. At least I no longer felt her.
The cross in Patsy's bedroom never did flip upside down again. I really don't think the ghost was responsible for that, just bad craftsmanship. We still had the priest come do a house blessing, just to be on the safe side.
As for the ghost lady, I'm not 100% certain she did move on, because every now and then, especially after a bad argument, Jerry'd trip on the basement stairs, or get his head bumped on 'something'. Ask me, serves him right for making Patsy cry.