No One Ever Died Here

This is a true story. A few summers ago we bought an old house in Brooklyn from the estate of a woman who had passed. She had a Polish caretaker who was in the house when we visited a few times and she noticed that my wife was Polish and so they struck up a few conversations. One morning, as we were getting ready to sign the contract, the told us, adamantly and in Polish, that “No one ever died in this house.”

Fair enough, we thought, but it was pretty creepy but we paid it no mind. There were a lot of cool old things in the house including a huge piano in the basement that they left for us. It was a mess and barely playable, but it was made in about 1896 according to the markings in the lid and it seemed like something we could repair.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve of that year. I found out that our basement was leaking and while my wife was at work I went down there to check things out. Water was pouring through the rear wall and when I looked out the back window I noticed that there was a huge pool of water under a raised patio behind the house. I decided to go under there and check it out. It was easily six inches deep and ice cold. I was soaked in ice-cold water and I finally found the drain, rammed my arm down into it, and pulled out decades worth of dead leaves. I literally cursed the old woman who lived there for not taking care of her drains better. I was, needless to say, pretty upset and not very rational, but I unstuck the drain and the water stopped pouring out.

Christmas came and went and then, around New Year’s, I started waking up at 3am every night to the sound of people downstairs. Sometimes it was just voices and other times is was a party with tinkling glasses and someone playing a piano. My dog woke with me every night and every night – 3am sharp – I’d go downstairs to check things out. It would be dead quiet.

Night after night – 3am – voices – party. I was going crazy. Sometimes it wouldn’t wake me and I’d sleep through it but the dog was always anxious.

Now I never believed in ghosts but I could tell someone – a female – was in the house. She didn’t like me (probably because I cursed her out) and she was situated around the piano. We found some old photos of folks at a party in our house, sitting on a couch with drinks in their hands under some lamps that were still on the wall in our living room. It was as if she were reliving some good times in the house at my expense. It was also clear that the piano had been upstairs before because of some painting on the walls when we pulled down the old wallpaper.

That summer we wanted to get rid of the piano and we posted it on Craigslist. It took three hours and four hearty men to haul this huge thing out of the house and into the yard. We redid the basement and I put my office down there and the 3am parties seemed to stop.

Then, one afternoon, I was in my basement office and the dog started barking. For a second I felt the same feeling of “something else” being in the room and then it was gone. Clearly she was ready to go now that the piano was gone and made a last visit before going. I said good bye.

Happy Halloween!

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