Yup, I missed a day again. Oops, sorry!
Today’s topic: Creepy places.
But what about those “under the radar” places? You know, that place you go where it’s not glaringly obvious that something is off, but the hairs on the back of your neck inexplicably stand on end?
One day my mother was driving through a neighborhood in Deltona, and stumbled upon an area that was being developed near a lake. It was planned to be a nice community – streets were paved, street lights all put up, but somehow, it was never built. It wasn’t run down, exactly – there weren’t any houses built yet. She didn’t stay long before turning around and fleeing the area, unable to articulate why she was so disturbed.
Without any explanation, or indication that anything was wrong with the area, she drove a friend, Phyllis, to the location, telling her, “You’ve got to see this place!” She didn’t say anything about the feeling it gave her – for all Phyllis knew, they could be going to some gorgeous lake to the land of their dreams.
Phyllis had the same reaction my mother had. Something was wrong with the place.
I do believe that things that happen, that people’s lives, leave an energy in a place even after they are gone.
I’ve encountered these places many times in my life. It’s easy enough to chalk up to imagination. But sometimes that imagination is shared with others.
In the fall of 2000, I moved into a rental house in West Babylon, New York. I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but it deserves another go-round even if I have.
In the early days of my first marriage, right after having Baby Number One, my husband and I moved to Long Island. Our first place was a two bedroom apartment in Massapequa. More specifically, East Massapequa, which was in the Amityville School District. Yup, THAT Amityville. The apartment was okay, but the leasing agents wanted us to sign a ridiculous lease the second year, so we rented month to month and looked for another place to live. I was 10 months pregnant (really 8, but it felt more like 10) during that search. We viewed many places that simply couldn’t work, including a house where the landlord wanted to be allowed access to some secret crawl space in the little closet alcove that was supposed to function as a bedroom for one of the kids. And there were people living in the basement.
I ran after the real estate agent (that must have been fun to watch!) when we were trying to view some little house in Long Beach that was crammed onto the property with another house. House is a relative term here – the walls hadn’t been built yet, but we were supposed to take it on faith that they would be. And there was no parking. Nope.
So when we found “That seventies house” in West Babylon, it only made sense to snatch it up despite some obvious flaws. The worst flaw was the landlady – some crazy cat lady who owned a bunch of rental houses, which she would visit on the first day of the month to collect rent in cash (or money order.)
It was a duplex. It was right behind a gas station. Both sides were two stories. Ours was the bigger side, the side with a garage, the side with the “pool” in the back yard. And by “pool,” I mean it was supposed to be a swimming pool, but the liner was torn. There was a cover over it. One day we removed the liner to clean the leaves off of it, and it was filled with murky black water and TOYS.
The ground floor was decked out in yellows, avocado greens, and browns. The half bath had yellow daisies all over it. 1970s daisies. The first floor was probably the only thing okay with the house, once you got past the battle over the refrigerator that stopped working right before we moved in.
Upstairs wasn’t too terrible, except that the electricity only worked in the bathrooms and two of the three bedrooms, something that still wasn’t fixed when we moved out. The master bathroom was horrible. The toilet was broken, the bathtub was scary, and there was a combination of metallic bronze wallpaper partially covered by peach wallpaper. The sink worked okay, which was the only thing that was ever used in that bathroom.
The basement was creepy. The first time I saw it, there were expletives written on one of the walls. It was “partially finished.” It had four rooms: a small room in which there was an upright freezer that we first thought was a refrigerator (and considered moving upstairs), another back room that had a staircase leading up to the garage, and the main room that had a cedar closet that I’m counting as a “room.” The cedar closet was nice, but had only a light bulb on a string. The circuit box was located in said cedar closet.
There was something wrong with the electricity in that house, and I made many a trip down into that basement.
It wasn’t overwhelming the first time I went down there. It was just a thought in my mind, that bad things in horror movies always happen in the basement. It grew over time, over trips down there, though. The thought that the lock to the garage didn’t work. The thought that the proximity to a gas station was a little disturbing. Little images of someone breaking in, committing random acts of violence, thoughts that the Amityville Horror house was not far away…
By the time we moved out, when I had to reset that circuit breaker, I would RACE down there, get it done as quickly as possible, almost holding my breath, until I made it back up the stairs.
There was also the fact that the cesspool needed to be emptied. But that’s really another story for another day.
We moved out, buying a house in Baldwin that had problems of its own. But the basement in Baldwin didn’t spook me.
I was talking to my mother about that house one day, a few years later. I asked her if she had opened the freezer in the basement. She hadn’t. She admitted that being down there filled her with an overwhelming sense of dread, and that all she wanted to do was get out of that basement.
There are other places that leave me with that feeling. One of them is right outside my grandmother’s house in Dunnellon. The past few visits, I’ve heard this high pitched electric noise that nobody else seems to hear. With it comes this sense of being watched. It wasn’t always there, but the past few visits, I kept looking over my shoulder. Fortunately, she now stays at my parents’ house and only goes back to that house to clean up and visit the cats daily. (The cats stay there because my mother is highly allergic to them.)
The truth is that I do have an overactive imagination. At least that’s what I try to tell myself when I manage to spook myself.