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Burning down the house: a firm conversation with our house ghosts

Burning down the house: a firm conversation with our house ghosts

By Rick Hinton

I had a business trip to Dallas a few years back when our dog Norm was still alive. Like clockwork, whenever I left, the house acted up. Now, you might think that a dog’s barking is par for the course, and usually I would wholeheartedly agree. However … it was those other little things in the mix which got my attention.

Laura stated the house had not felt right. She sensed a presence (she does this quite well). It was a weird energy, yet not threatening she felt. However, she chose not to go into the lower level of our home to watch the 2016 presidential debate on the big screen TV, rather deciding to view it on a smaller TV upstairs; something was going on down there, she claimed. There was Norm’s barking – short little warning yips – as he locked his attention upon a wall down there. Laura had known this dog for 10 years and was well familiar with his personality. She had never heard this tone of bark before as it carried on from 8:30 to 10 p.m. all three nights I was gone. Jerry the cat was relatively new and was upstairs with Laura, looking at her as if to say, “I’m not going down there!” When her foot hit the steps to the lower level the barking would stop.

The wise and knowing eyes of Norm Hinton. I see ghosts! (Photo by Rick Hinton)

Our grandson Michael used to stay over three nights a week. He asked Laura one day if our house was haunted. He told her that one night his bedroom door swung open on its own. He got up and peered into the hallway – no one was there. While I was on that Dallas trip, Laura was escorting him upstairs to bed when the TV she was watching switched itself off. Jerry the cat was nowhere near the controller.

On Thursday nights Laura and I were in the Public Safety Citizen’s Academy. That particular night we were meeting at IFD Station 9 in Castleton. Coming back home on I-465 we ran into road construction. Laura was on the phone with her son John, who at that moment was not a happy camper. The house didn’t feel right, along with the creepy feeling of the hairs on his arms standing up. Norm had resumed his tirade of yipping in the lower level. Jerry the cat was with John on his bed. Laura sensed urgency as she spoke to him. He stated he wasn’t scared … more disturbed than anything. We were at a standstill in traffic, inching our way southward. Then he said, “Your bedroom door just closed!” From his bed he could see our bedroom door in the hallway. He watched the door swing shut (not easy due to thick carpeting) hard enough to latch. When we finally made it home, the bedroom door was indeed shut. Norm looked at us with a smile and a wagging tail.

The next day, with the house all to myself, I had a firm conversation. It was long overdue. Boundaries needed to be set. If we were to continue to coexist, then it needed to toe the line in silent lucidity. For reasons known only to my brain, the band the Talking Heads hypnotizing drum cadence from their song “Burning Down the House” played repeatedly in my head as I moved through the levels of the house during “our” talk. I do believe we arrived at a compromise.

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