My wife Carolina and I were riding in a car which I was driving near The Ohio State University. When we passed a large two-story, white, frame house, I told her I used to live there. I vaguely remembered having had a small room in the house years ago when I had attended college. I recalled an old frail woman who had owned the house and who had also lived there.
As we continued past several other houses, I pointed out an empty red brick house where I said I would like to live. But I knew that wasn't feasible since the university owned the house and wasn't letting anyone live there. Large segments of the area had been bought by the university and were been reserved for another use; so the houses remained empty.
Gradually realizing we were in Portsmouth, Ohio, I told Carolina I had a wonderful idea. In my mind I was recallingthat my great-uncle Curt and I had recently been driving near Shawnee State University, and that he had pointed out a large brick building on the corner of Second and Gay Street which he said would someday be converted into apartments. I now realized I would like to be the one to undertake such a project. My mind raced as I thought I would have enough money to buy the building. I would then have to use the building as collateral to obtain funds to remodel the building's interior.
The building was in the shape of a rectangle and appeared to have been a warehouse at one time. It was about three stories high and had been painted a rather ugly shade of green. I contemplated repainting it, but finally decided it would be best to sand blast it and return it to its original color. As I imagined the process of sandblasting, I could see myself holding the equipment and actually blasting the paint off the bricks. In my mind Carolina and I had climbed a ladder to its very top, and I was blasting paint off the bricks which were directly under the gables of the roof. I could also see the peeling paint on the wooden gables and blasted some of it off. I enjoyed watching the true, old brick and wood emerge from under the weathered paint.
Slowly, however, as I continued my efforts, I became more aware of how high I was, and how easy it would be for me to fall off the ladder. I didn't want to show any fear in front of Carolina, but I suddenly felt my knees go weak and I knew I was close to panic. I assessed my situation. I wasn't even standing on the ladder, but was somehow lying down, right on the very top. I did have my legs somehow locked into the ladder so I wouldn't fall, but I feared if I moved my legs to descend, I would lose my lock on the ladder and fall.
Once again my mind began to roam and I thought of what might have made the work safer. If I had had a rope which would have been looped around the chimney and then around me, it would have kept me from falling. As I focused on the idea of the rope, I actually had the rope around me. Finally I even swung free of the ladder, dangling in mid air, held by the rope. I slowly and safely descended to the ground.
Carolina and I continued to survey the outside of the building. As we walked onto a porch on the back of the building, we were no longer examining a brick warehouse, but a large, white, two-story frame house. We were both surprised to see several wooden, antique wardrobes sitting on the back porch. We were even more surprised to see the back door was open. We cautiously approached the door, hesitating to enter. Finally I concluded we wouldn't be trespassing if the door was open, and we walked on in.
Apparently no one was living in the house. Most of the furniture had been moved out, although some still remained. A small writing desk sitting against the wall caught my attention. It had a painted design on the back panel which made it quite attractive. It, as well as other antique pieces of furniture scattered about the room, might be valuable.
As we slowly passed through the rooms, I was amazed by the size of the house. We passed by a small kitchen, then a second small kitchen and finally next to it, a large kitchen. I had been thinking of converting the house into apartments, but the more I looked at it, the more I liked it. I finally told Carolina I wanted to live in the house myself.
As we continued on, I was most concerned with whether someone was in the house. Just as I was about to pass from one room to the next, a woman appeared in the doorway in front of me. She was old (perhaps in her 70s), short and thin. She was dressed in white and had white hair. Although she seemed frail, she had a certain vigor about her which at first puzzled me. But almost immediately I realized why: she was a ghost.
In my right hand I was carrying a cane. As she moved toward me I held out the cane and put the end of it on her chest to hold her back. I definitely didn't want her getting any closer to me than the length of the cane. She didn't say anything and after a brief pause, I continued through the house.
I soon began encountering more ghosts. They didn't come as close to me as the old woman had, but I could see them back in the recesses. Finally one strong-looking man did approach me. It quickly became clear to me that he was a boxer, and that he would enjoy sparing with me. I didn't know much about boxing, but I thought it would be interesting to box with a ghost. I was uncertain whether we would actually be able to touch each other, or we would just go through the motions. I closed my fists and held them in front of me. He immediately pointed out that I was doing it wrong. I was holding my hand so the closed fingers of both hands were pointed toward each other in front of my face. He showed me that I should turn my hands so my closed fingers were pointed toward my face.
As I became preoccupied with the position of my hands, I thought I heard a man's voice. The boxer hadn't spoken while he was showing me how to box, so I thought someone else was trying to communicate with me. The idea of a ghost talking to me seemed important, and I looked around the room trying to find the man who had spoken.
Instead I saw a young woman standing near the sink (we were in the kitchen). I walked over to her and looked at her closely. We didn't speak, but somehow I knew she was about 22 years old. She seemed unhappy. I quickly concluded she had never dated any men and that was part of the cause of her unhappiness. She was somewhat overweight, and I thought her weight might also be part of her problem. I wanted to get to know more about her.
But thoughts were going through my mind and more ghosts were appearing and distracting me. The mystery of the house and all the ghosts was beginning to become clearer to me. It seemed the confinement of the ghosts in the house had something to do with money. Apparently all the ghosts were part of a family which had once been wealthy. Their money had condemned them to live now as ghosts in the house.
Suddenly I realized I couldn't live in the house. In fact, to free the ghosts from the house, the house would need to be burned down. I was uncertain I wanted to set the fire, even though it might be proper for me to do so.
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