27 November 2011

Skeleton secrets...

I’d previously had a very long and poorly written post about the presence of ghosts (spirits, demons, whatever you want to refer to them as) in my childhood home…it was horrible. This one will not be  better constructed grammatically, but should be a little less boring and rushed. 
Take two.
As a child, I was awakened at least a couple times a week by this creature, this thing with green glowing eyes envious of the apparent innocence of my small frame. Long bony fingers ataxically creeping up the foot of my bed, growing ever more near to my being.
Cries, bellowing cries heard by none, not even me.  Fear had paralyzed my legs, arms, vocal chords, but not my awareness.
I would lay there, frightened, praising God, pleading with God. I would lay there trying to move, trying to control my breathing—trying to gain control.
It wasn’t just cloaked by night’s slumber that my “friends” came out to play. They came whenever. They hung out as glowing heads in the shower. They presented as tall sad persons looking for hugs, looking for someone to help them. As old women confused by the new equipment in their kitchen, and angry fathers beating their children in the basement’s corners.
I wasn’t the only one to see them. School friends were exposed (some would never return to my home again), as well as my mother and her friend.
...and my home wasn’t the only one on the block.
My next door neighbor and I were frightened of our homes as children. We would be at one's home, hear noises, thumps, moans, screams. We would see shadows moving in unusual ways. We’d run, screaming to the other’s home--no solace was to be found. It was as if the terror of our homes were connected. We’d end up stuck standing in the middle of the street which separated our homes, frozen by panic, hockey sticks and butcher knives in hand.
There was a room in her basement which had been boarded up as long as she could remember. Neither her older siblings, nor mother knew what was within or why it was “closed.”  My basement had a hallway which ended with oversized concrete steps leading outdoors, and was separated from the rest of the basement by a thick, heavy steel door which opened with an initial thud followed by the typical creaking door noise heard in horror films. Inside the hallway were two rooms. One, long and very narrow, was lined with shelves, and assumingly used for storing jars of canned items of some sort. The other can be described no other way than a single prison cell. A cell which had the barred door and the bars from the window removed. It was cold, with a very low, maybe 6 foot ceiling, with concrete walls and floor.
The creep factor of these homes, of this period of my life cannot be explained to, understood nor appreciated by many. We couldn’t accept it as a product of our imaginations, like many adults wanted us to believe. We created our own explanation.
My home, sat on property owned initially by a gentleman with the last name of Lambert, who was a physician at the time (this is true as far as we know). There was a cemetery only 5 houses down which gave us a good picture of the death rates in the neighborhood, and the house across the street from hers was inhabited by the ghost of a young woman who had hung herself from the stairwell—and this is where the story began.

Dr. Lambert was having an affair with the young woman across the street. Sometime after its conception, he was asked to abandon his wife to live happily with his young mistress. He declined her pleas, and shortly thereafter, she hung herself from the stairwell of her parents’ home. Upon finding her swinging, pale body, they called for “the doctor”. He rushed over, cut the body of his lover down from the beam of death, but could not manage to revive her. He was crushed; brain was flooded by grief, by what-ifs, by guilt.

He snapped.

My home, his at the time, was where his practice was for the most part. It was where he mixed the medicines, tonics and potions of the early twentieth century. It was where he helped, cured, healed. After her death, it, the basement mostly, became his chamber of torture, of revenge. Angry with his world, his god, his cowardice, he declared to dedicate his life to finding human weakness.

The room we felt was a prison cell was used for such. Straw on the floor, patients were kept. Weeping, screaming, pleading, confessing, they were kept until he operated on them. He thought he was helping them. He truly believed that he could change, better their lives by finding the source of their weakness, their pain, suffering and removing it.

He was never successful. He had a room of body parts, and organs in jars of varying sized lining the shelves of his canning room, yet none of them contained what he hoped it would. None of the patients’ lives were improved—they were simply lost.

His madness grew. His hunger, his desire to cure mankind consumed him. He ran out of space in his own place to store the bodies, the caverns of human ailments, and struck up an agreement with the man next door (my neighbor’s house). His home was the community ice house (this is fact), and for a considerable fee, a fee only a physician could possibly afford at that time, he rented an entire room to Dr. Lambert.  This one single room would be used to store his experiments, experiments the Icemaker was initially unaware of.

Dr. Lambert became increasingly reclusive, and lost within his own world. Deaths were mounting in the area, and people were beginning to question their physician’s competency.
Come early fall, he transported another unsuccessful experiment to his special room at the Icemaker’s, and, as he had done so many times before, locked the door and affixed a board to its exterior. Within a few hours the Icemaker heard movements beneath him, heard subtle moans. Investigation led him to the door rented for years by the doctor. He leaned in, pressing his ear tightly to it. His mind had not deceived him; he had indeed heard movements and moans. Without thought he broke into the room, the room filled with a madman’s refuse. Bodies, mutilated and dismembered, were stacked atop one another, and were piled to the ceiling in some spots. The ice normally frosted and pure looking was painted with the remains of Dr. Lambert’s inflicted terror and pain.

Townspeople were called for in the night. The story was told, was heard. They gathered their torches, their shovels axes and sickles and marched through the street towards his residence. Busting into the home, his wife and children huddled together in fear as they hollered for him, yelled threats and obscenities. They found him in the upstairs bathroom, rope tightly bound about his neck, hanging, swaying from the beams in the ceiling.

This was our explanation, the only one that helped us to comprehend, to make sense of the oddities that consumed our nights, and fueled our fears. It became a part of our reality—and remains so.