Sometime this September, after the house had sat vacant for almost a year, we noticed somebody new over there taking care of the place--mowing the lawn (which hadn't been done since July), picking up some of the random garbage in the yard, cleaning out the house a bit. It was in bad shape, as I said, and it needed some help. We wondered whether by chance this was a new owner/landlord (since the property recently changed hands from a private individual to a rental company--though still probably the same private individual), but no, this was our new neighbor. Yaay!
Well, sort of. The man who was taking care of the place, his child was going to be living there, and the child's mother would be there as well. The man, the father, he lives elsewhere. He clearly cares for his kid, though. (We think he should have custody, but that's another story).
Then came the move-in, and not long thereafter I met the new neighbor.
Right away I should have known something was up. I am not a person prone to superstition or who believes in, well, much. I don't believe in ghosts or psychics or ESP or the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot or the conspiracies of the Knights Templar and the Council on Foreign Relations. Conspiracies are another matter, but as a rule I just don't believe in things that don't have rational explanations. I also hate it when people feel the need to embellish the truth about something in an email, when frequently the truth is quite nice by itself. But that's another rant. (I do believe in UFOs, but mainly I believe in what I think is self-evident, that intelligent life has clearly evolved elsewhere in the universe and eventually we'll meet it--but most (not all) UFO reports (and all abductions) I tend to think are crap.)
In any event, she was convinced that the house was haunted. She had been told that there'd been a murder in there, six people were killed, there were ghosts... and of course she bought it all. And her child did, too, but the kid's nine, and the man who told the kid these things ought to be strung up and poked repeatedly with a pointy stick until he promises never to tell such lies to a child again. Ugh. (It doesn't help that he's a lecherous old man, either.)
She claimed that within a few days of moving in she began to feel depressed, the house felt oppressive all the time, like the ceiling was coming down on her, and one evening her child was running through the yard and ran smack into an obstruction that wasn't there. Nee nee nee nee nee nee nee nee...
Later, Smittywife and I were walking to the neighbor's house and stumbled over a large steel plate in the yard, hidden by tall grass, but raised enough above the surface of the ground to very easily trip someone (Smitty, for example), and to make a small child fall as if having run into a large object that wasn't really there. We removed said plate, which wasn't covering anything. It was just trash (left there by the landlord I'm sure).
She said she'd been obsessively cleaning since she moved in, because there was blood all over the walls and ceiling and cabinets in the kitchen, and it kept seeping out of the walls.
Okay, that's creepy, right? But we've been here longer than that house has been vacant. We knew the previous tenants. There's no history in the public records of any incident at that address--and a sextuple homicide would almost surely generate a police report. At least a newspaper article. Some obituaries, perhaps? No such evidence exists, and the neighbors, though one neighbor I know claims a previous tenant was beaten in there during a dispute, can't think of anything like that that's ever happened here. We'd know. This is a small neighborhood. Indeed, most of the neighbors simply note that we never had any problems here until the current tenant moved in. Hmm.
You know what does continue to leach out of the walls no matter how many times you've cleaned? Tobacco stains! And I know the previous tenants smoked in there. A lot. And probably didn't bother cleaning at all (what's the point if you're just going to have another cigarette after you're done?).
Also, and I know I've said bad things about the landlord/property manager, but really, would you just leave bloodstains on the cabinetry if you were trying to rent the place? Really? I mean, come on. Let's not forget that since the last tenants were not slaughtered in there (there were six of them, though, and when they moved out they stole the fridge and some other stuff, so no doubt the landlord wishes they were dead) they would have had to have lived there for three or four years without once bothering to clean off the blood stains.
If that seems plausible to you please lay down the crack pipe and check yourself in to the clinic.
Still, although she was flighty and given to fears about ghosts and murders in her home, she didn't seem like a bad neighbor. As a rule, most any neighbor is better than a vacant house. I used to believe that was a general truth of the world. Oh well; live and learn.