My mouth dropped. Never had I expected her to utter those words. “Yes,” I said, feeling an immediate kinship with a woman who was standing in front of me on the cement pavement at the bottom of the driveway of my old house where I had raised my children and where she now lived. “When we first moved here,” I explained, “for the first three years or so we heard something; the house had a bad feeling. Something foul. There was an ooze, something ancient that didn’t care for our intrusion. My husband used to hear chains rattling at night in the basement. But I wasn’t sure if I believed him. He used to dress up as Richard III for Halloween and recited Shakespeare on the front porch standing before the spider webs we wove around the banister. My son said he saw the ghost, a heavy presence like a water balloon about to burst its skin. All I know is that I had a feeling of discomfort. I’d always look around before I placed my foot on the last step to the basement.” She seemed relieved, nodded for me to continue. “But after awhile,” I said, “the ghost went away. We were happy for a time living in this house, raising our children. Maybe that made the ghost happy.”
Cam had stirred up twenty-five years inside me. I thought the ghost must be Woody or Forest, which had been the name on all official documents, husband of the woman whom we had originally bought the Oakland house from for $65,000. Some said he had committed suicide, died in the bathtub; neighbors revealed the story more than six months after we had lived there. “He was an alcoholic,” said some. “Killed in a car crash,” reported others. His wife, Jane, as I recall, taught at the University of California at Berkeley, or maybe it was the other way around; her house was filled with artwork, vibrant colors, paintings with a Mazatlan sensibility; outside she grew cactus. Living there, I came to believe that there was something clinging to the foundation. But after I had replaced the green Kenmore that never worked well with an antique Wedgewood, and also listened to a dream where my mother instructed me to hang my family’s photos in the kitchen, that creepy sensibility dissipated.
“I don’t think the ghost was your husband. He bounced up and down on my bed and pulled back the covers. He scared me. That’s why I put Buddhas all around the windowsill.”