Ghost Stories I: The Neighbour

Why do so many not believe in ghost stories? Christian friends and relatives especially, after all, they believe in the Holy Ghost. I gather from that, they must believe there is only one ghost, and that there are no unholy ones. I am comforted by that, which may explain why I am not afraid of them.

Contrary to popular belief, ghosts do not only reside in old haunted buildings, I know of one who regularly shows herself in the newly built bungalow next door. The owners of the Federation style house with the gorgeous Queen Anne windows, travel a lot; they are hardly in Adelaide to enjoy their cosy house. Which, therefore, makes perfect sense for that ghost to reside in theirs. Why waste such cosy space with luxurious amenities?

The first inkling I had that their house was haunted was when their courtyard pond kept drying up overnight, consecutively for 3 nights. This happened on their first return from overseas, not long after they had thrown their house warming party. They stayed for only a week on that occasion. The man of the house asked me to keep an eye on the pond; he told me he suspected there is a leak. He had to fill it up the morning after the party. No, I failed to tell him I had also filled it up on 2 previous occasions.

The courtyard pond

The man of the house is quite meticulous, maybe even fastidious, I would say. Every item in the house has its proper place. The soap must be in the soap holder, and the soap holder must be placed on the left side of the niche in the shower cubicle. If the soap is suddenly moved, then questions will have to be asked. If the soap is suddenly found on the floor outside the shower cubicle, then no questions need to be asked! It has to be the work of a poltergeist!

The lady of the house is very neat and tidy, maybe even fastidious, I would also say. Every bit of rubbish must be immediately chucked into the bin, and every bit of scrap paper is rubbish. When she found a square piece of unused toilet paper on the floor of her kitchen, no questions needed to be asked! It has to be the same poltergeist, her husband said.

One wintry day last year, the couple returned from an extended holiday. You should have heard the commotion soon after they got into their house. No, no soap out of place, and no, no unused toilet paper on the floor. So, why did they cause such a scene? They must have seen me in my backyard tending to my roses. Both rushed out of their house, you should have seen their faces, as if they had seen a ghost! Both visibly agitated, interrupting each other rudely as they tried to tell me what they found on the floor in front of their Miele fridge. Since they couldn’t get the words out coherently, I said with some exasperation, just show me what you found! All three of us rushed back inside their house, led by the husband, followed by the wife who was struggling to catch up with her small Geisha-like steps. Look, look at that! She cried out softly in her meek voice. There on the kitchen floor was a brown withered gum leaf, almost cocooned in spider web.

Since that day, the husband has been watchful of such incidents. During one dinner party, he shared more ghost stories. There was one that did not convince me was the work of a ghost. His Mandarin Hotel slippers inexplicably left their dedicated spot on the foot of his side of their bed one night. After a long search, he said they were found under the dining table. A meticulous man, he swore that he would never abandon his slippers there. I gave him a litany of reasons why he may have inadvertently left them there. He drank too much that night was one obvious reason, I said. So, he began to run a test to prove the misdeeds of the ghost. Every night, he would accurately place the exquisite Italian dining chairs from Domo one inch away from the matching table. All eight of them, exactly one inch from the table. A week later, with a satisfied look on his face, he reported the test results to me. This was his findings: all six guest chairs remained fixed on their positions. His and hers were different from the rest, with arm rests. His was slightly bigger, with more intricate carvings, the throne. That one moved some six inches away from its spot on the sixth day. It’s settled, that was the proof we needed. There is a ghost who lives there!

Their lovely garden is also spooky. Their veranda lamps flicker, like little light houses warning trespassers not to venture in. The electrical contractor came, checked his installations with different gadgets, scratched his head and announced all is in order. He could not explain the random flickering of all the lamps, but assured the couple they are properly installed and checked, the compliance certificate bearing his professional signature. The plumber was also summonsed, but he too walked away scratching his head. He could not explain why the garden tap would suddenly gush out water at full blast. He has been back three times and was seen scratching his head every time. I wonder when his next visit will be.

A good neighbour I may be, most reliable one could say. When they are away for long periods, I am the one to tend to their roses, and clean their 40 foot pond. I am the one to trim their fruit trees, harvest their chillies and potatoes. Their ghost would know this urghhling, I spend a lot of time there in their garden. I have not been able to tell them no tests are required, no scientific theories to be disproved. I have actually seen her reflection.

The ghost in grey was seen next to the bird bath.

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