The ghost in the hall.

A few years ago, James and I moved into a new apartment (a different apartment from that of the mouse and potato fiasco) in one of the more historic sections of our city. We’d graduated (barely) from the no air-coniditoner/appliances/functioning-outlets sort of places we’d been living in before and this apartment felt like our first real apartment, despite actually being our third. This apartment had actual rooms, not just a bathroom (attached to a closet for some reason?) and a little corner designated for the kitchen, but actual rooms—with doors and hallways and, thank god, central air. So, needless to say, we were pretty excited about it.

The only downside was that we lived less than a block away from a very old, very large cemetery—the kind with massive crypts and statues of angels shrouded in sheets. Also, when I say less than a block I mean within in viewing distance—like from the living room windows I could see graves. But hey, the place had hardwood floors and old fashioned windows, so who’s complaining?

So the evening we moved in, James leaves to get dinner for us and I stay in the new apartment to begin unpacking. After a few minutes of struggling to pull tape off boxes, I hear someone walking up the hallway and, assuming James had returned, went to investigate. Oddly, the hallway is empty. I’ve lived in my share of apartments and old houses, and I know they all have their weird noises so I think nothing of it and return to unpacking. A few minutes later I hear it again — distinctly this time, since I’m already on edge — footsteps, walking up the hallway. I get up and go and stand at the end of the hall and wait and almost immediately I hear the steps again, so loud and clear I can almost see exactly where on the floor the noise is coming from. The steps stop just a couple feet from me.

At this point I’m starting to freak out. It’s pitch black outside. Only a couple lights in this apartment have bulbs in them. And James isn’t back yet. So I call my friend, who is a die-hard believer in ghosts, and tell her what’s happening. She tells me it’s definitely a ghost and that it’s pissed that I’ve moved into the apartment it believes it rightfully owns. I can see the cemetery from my windows and there are no cars in the lot behind the apartment, so I’m alone in the building and in no place to argue. I ask her what to do. She tells me I’ve got to sprinkle salt all around the apartment to get rid of any lingering bad energy and that ideally I should burn some sage as well. I dig the salt container out of a box and walk around the apartment shaking it out onto the floor, but midway through this little exercise I hear the footsteps AGAIN, and this time a door slams, at the far end of the hall with a huge crash.

I freeze, still on the phone with my friend, who’s freaking out right along with me, and asking what’s happening. I whisper what’s going on to her and she tells me this ghost is clearly the very angry, very powerful kind and I’ve got to find something to burn or it’s going to stay in the apartment with me FOREVER and probably murder me in my sleep. I tell her I don’t know what box my sage is in and together we decide any kind of herbs will work. I have no idea where the spices from my kitchen are and as I’m frantically digging around for something to burn I hear a voice — a male voice — coming from the hallway, followed by more footsteps. I’m about ready to lose my mind at this point so I grab the closest thing to herbs I can find — a head of romaine lettuce— and a lighter and put my friend on speakerphone while I scurry around the apartment, trying to get what is essentially salad to catch fire. I’ve got the salt shaker and the lighter in one hand, the lettuce in the other, and I’m dancing around trying to shake salt out while trying to force the lettuce to burn and right then James walks in the door.

I scream. My friend on the phone screams.

James is staring at me wondering why I’m waving around slightly smoking lettuce and probably reconsidering whether or not he wants to live with me.

“Why are you burning stuff? And dumping salt on the floor?”

“Because there’s a GODDAMN GHOST walking up and down our hallway!”

James very casually glances towards the hallway and says: “That’s our new neighbor. His car’s parked out front.”

Apparently the floorboards between our hallways were attached so anyone walking in either hallway sounds like they’re walking in both hallways and there was a draft from the exterior door that made other doors in the building slam shut. Poor new-neighbor-dude was just walking up and down his new hall, probably wondering what in all hell is going on next-door.

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