Monday, August 25, 2008

The Haunting of Villa de Swendson

My house is not a likely location for a haunting. It's a Spanish Mediterranean-style townhouse built in 1984. It's basically an 80s bachelor pad, complete with wet bar in the living room. I suspect these houses were originally designed with airline employees in mind, as it's very close to the major airport and there are two master bedrooms in separate parts of the house instead of the more usual family cluster of bedrooms, so it seems like it was designed for adult roommates instead of a family. So, yeah, not really the kind of place you expect to be haunted. I just can't imagine a place with a wet bar in the living room having a ghost.

And yet ... I live alone and there's almost never anyone else in my house. I have the only key to the place. But things always seem to be moving around or disappearing. CDs in particular seem to vanish for long stretches of time, only to reappear in random places. And there's that curse on my romantic life. I've realized that I've never had a relationship last beyond two dates since I bought my house. I've met a number of people who seemed promising, but they utterly vanished without a trace after two dates, in spite of talking about things that we could do in the future. Hmmm ...

I've decided that my house is haunted by the ghost of an airline pilot named Stan. He was a real ladies' man bachelor type, and when he was in town, he was always having wild, swinging parties, making good use of that wet bar. He never had a relationship last more than two dates because he was always moving on to the next chick. But then he fell in love and even considered making a commitment. He tragically died in a crash while showing off in a single-engine plane to his girlfriend who watched from the ground. Instead of pining for her lost love, though, she figured she made a lucky escape from a guy who was stupid enough to kill himself while trying to do stunts to impress her, and she found a great guy and married him not long afterward. Now Stan haunts his old bachelor abode, trying to relive his party days. My CDs move around either because he's borrowing them or because he's disgusted with how staid my musical taste is. And he's put a curse on my love life (though he thinks he's doing me a favor because it was wanting to have a lasting relationship that killed him). If I have to share my house with a deceased airline pilot, I'd like him to be really cute, but I keep imagining Stan as having a bushy Magnum PI mustache, which I don't find at all attractive, and he insists on wearing his pilot's cap in the house.

Now, I know that instead of my woes being the fault of Stan the pilot, it's more likely that I lose or misplace things because I'm not very organized, I'm the world's worst housekeeper, and I frequently suffer from Book Brain. I quite often pick something up to put it away or do something with it, get sidetracked along the way, then I put it down in whatever random place where I was when I had the new thought, and then later I don't remember moving it. My love life wasn't wildly successful before I moved into this house. All that happened was I got older, which affected my odds.

But then there was Friday night.

I settled down to read a little before going to sleep. While I read, I was distracted by this skritch, skritch, skritch sound. I had the ceiling fan on, and there was a piece of paper that had been blown off my nightstand, and now the fan was blowing it so that it rubbed back and forth against the nightstand. I moved the piece of paper back where it belonged, where it wasn't rubbing anything, and went back to my book.

Skritch. Skritch. Skritch.

It was a creepy little sound that sent chills down my spine. It distracted me from my reading, and I knew I couldn't sleep with that noise in my room. It sounded like it was coming from my nightstand, so I checked the drawers, made sure nothing was rubbing anything and made sure the scratchy sound wasn't static coming from my clock radio. The sound went away while I was looking, so I figured I'd found whatever it was and taken care of it. I went back to my book.

Skritch. Skritch. Skritch-skritch-skritchhhh. Skritch.

Now I was really annoyed. I looked around some more for whatever must be making that sound. I noticed that there was a wrapper in my bedside wastebasket made from that quasi-plastic/quasi-foil stuff, where you can crumple it up, and it will gradually uncrumple itself while making irritating noises. Ah, mystery solved. I got up, took the wastebasket to the kitchen and emptied it into the kitchen trash can. My room was blessedly quiet again, so I went back to reading.

Skritch. Skritch. Thump-thump. Skritchhhhhh. Skritchskritchskritch.

That was the point when I almost called out to Stan to cut it out. Something other than me was living in the house, and while Stan is mostly a joke (and a good scapegoat for my own messiness), I was starting to wonder. I got out of bed to look around. While I was kneeling on the floor behind my bed, I noticed that a tissue box had been shoved underneath, back against the wall, where I wouldn't have seen it with the bedside wastebasket in the way (the very spot where Katie hid Owen's box o' magic stuff in Don't Hex With Texas). It must have been a remnant of my bout with the flu, when I was going through tissues too fast to be able to fit the empty boxes in the wastebasket. And the sound was coming from inside that box, I was pretty sure. I figured it was one of the geckos that lurk on my doorstep and dash into my house whenever I open the door. I used to try to chase them out, but then I learned they're harmless and eat bugs, so as long as they don't try to sell me car insurance, I just co-exist with them and let them out when they lurk near the inside of the door. The poor thing must have fallen into the box and then couldn't get past that plastic dispenser slit on the top. So I pulled out the box, looked inside, and then screamed.

Instead of a cute little gecko, I found myself looking into the beady, malevolent eyes of this thing. I think it was maybe some sort of bug -- huge, with a hard shell, wings, long legs and long antennae. I didn't look at it long enough to study it, but I hadn't seen anything quite like it. It's entirely possible that it was an armored advance scout of an alien invasion force. If that's the case, you can thank me for convincing them that this planet is far too hostile to be a good invasion target. And to think, I always thought the monsters under the bed were a childish phobia. But they're real!

I think I'd rather have the ghost of a sexist, playboy airline pilot living with me, even if he does try to watch me in the shower. I guess I'll have to make up a story about the monsters that live under my bed.

Now I need to pack to head home from my parents' house. And no, I didn't run here to stay away from the evil alien things living under my bed. It's a belated birthday celebration.

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