My grandparents lived in a house built on hallowed ground. The cemetery that was once located there was re-dug and removed before the present structure was built. It’s beyond my comprehension why someone would consider building a house over an ancient cemetery, disturbing the peace of those buried long ago. Regardless of whether or not you believe in ghosts, some things are right and some things are not right. In my opinion, that simply was not the right to do. But, this building went up in the aftermath of WWII, a time of such great turmoil that all sorts of unprecedented things happened. At any rate, the fairly large house built on that land contained seven or eight spacious apartments. In one of them lived my maternal grandparents.
My mother’s parents were religious folk; especially my grandmother. She was also quite superstitious. Every time I went for a visit, she filled my ears with all kinds of weird stories. Maybe she just made these tales up, because she got some enjoyment out of seeing my eyes wide open with awe, as her narrative unfolded. I’ll never know. I would often get so frightened after hearing one of her stories, I’d be afraid to leave the living room; at least not until my mother got up and left the room. Somehow, seeing my mother next to me, gave me the extra courage I needed to face any monster that might pop out of the dark. That house frightened me throughout my entire childhood.
My grandmother’s stories of mysterious lights moving from room to room; of lit candles which suddenly appearing and vanishing on the night table; of curtains moving without apparent explanation; of fluttering angel’s wings; of detonations in the basement; all these stories fed my fears until they grew to be of sizeable proportions.
Although I’m convinced my grandmother told me stories purely for her own entertainment, my grandfather said that one of her tales was actually true. It was the story of the detonation in the basement.
This is what happened, according to my grandparents: The whole house was awakened by a loud rhythmic noise like that produced by someone beating a mallet against the wall. The tenants crowded into the hallway. Baffled and concerned, they wondered what could be causing it.
No one dared to take a flashlight or a candle, and climb down the stairs to the basement to investigate. Some voiced a concern that there was a break-in, and that the violent perpetrator was still in the basement. Finally, my grandfather mustered up enough courage to light up a candle and, in the safety of its faint light, he disappeared into the deep darkness that swallowed the basement. As you might suspect, he didn’t find anything. No one ever figured out what happened.