Monday, 24 September 2012
By Mickey Rogers of This, That and the Other
It was a perfect Saturday in the middle of the summer of 1963. The sun was shining brightly through powder blue skies raising the temperature to a pleasing 85 degrees. Along with the “swoosh” of a mild breeze, one could hear the melodious sounds of the birds and the cracks of the bats - baseball bats, that is.
Like most Saturday mornings that summer, several neighborhood boys and I were playing baseball in a makeshift field that we had literally carved out of an overgrown vacant lot.
That day we played for about two hours until our strongest slugger sent a screaming blast to right field that knocked a metal pipe from the roof of a distant home.
My home was only a two-minute walk from our “ballpark.” After saying “hi” to Mom, I made a sandwich, pilfered a few homemade cookies and opened a can of pop.
While eating, my mind was on the most important topic in the world, at least for a 13-year-old boy. In just 20 minutes, the Baseball Game of the Week would be televised. I had just enough time to take a bath and put on some fresh clothing.
Our one and only bathroom was on the second floor at the top of the stairs. Down the hallway were two bedrooms; anyone or anything in either of those rooms would have to come past the bathroom door to go downstairs.
As I sat in the refreshingly warm, soapy water, my thoughts were focused on the upcoming game. My heroes, the powerful New York Yankees, would be throwing their ace, Whitey Ford, and my favorite player, Mickey Mantle, would be manning center field.
Then I heard a distinct “creaking” sound coming from my parents’ bedroom at the other end of the hallway. In their room was an ancient rocking chair that, when being used, could be heard throughout the house.
I knew that when I went to the bathroom, the only other person at home was my mother and that she was making soup in the kitchen. Therefore, I reasoned, one of my siblings must have returned recently. “Who’s out there?” I yelled.
The only response was a continuing “creak, creak, creak.”
For some reason (stupidity?), I was not afraid. How can one think of spooky things when he has baseball on his mind?
As the rocking noise continued I slowly arose from the bathtub. Wrapping a towel around myself, I tiptoed to the bathroom door. With my hand on the doorknob, I could still hear the rhythmic rocking noises. All I had to do was quickly throw open the door; there would be no time for the phantom rocker to get his/her (its?) posterior out of that chair, let alone make a dash to the stairwell.
After throwing open the door, I had a perfect view of the rocking chair. Somehow, in that split second between opening the door and looking down the hallway, the noise had abated; the chair was sitting perfectly still and it was vacant.
For some mysterious reason I was still not afraid. Closing the bedroom door, I looked under the bed, in the closet and even in Mom’s old cedar chest. There was no one there.
Thinking little of this odd situation, I went back to my nice warm bath. Within 30 seconds,the creaking sound began once again. This time fear hit me! Grabbing the towel I sprinted down the steps; I insisted that Mom sit at the top of the steps while I completed bathing.
My family thought I was crazy. One of my sisters, in particular, would roll her eyes each time I told my spooky tale. Soon, however, she and my other sister became believers.
They slept in a double bed. Next to that bed was an old, miniature rocking chair. One night, just a few days after my weird experience, my younger sister was awakened by a rocking sound. Looking across the bed, she saw what she described as a human shaped, grey, semi-transparent figure rocking in that chair!
She awakened our other sister. “Do you hear that?” she asked.
“Yes,” she replied. However, sister number two refused to look at the chair. Instead, both girls hid their heads under the covers until the strange sounds eventually faded away.
Unfortunately, as the youngest child, I was the first to be sent to bed. Being no dummy, I took protective measures. I positioned myself in the middle of the bed; that way, any kind of creature lurking under me would have to have mighty long arms indeed to grab this kid.
In addition, for the next six months I slept with my trusty ball bat. Throughout the years I had clobbered a few baseballs; if necessary I could smash a monster or two.
None of us ever again heard or saw anything strange in that house (unless you include my sister’s boyfriend). Evidently those ghostly figures had heard about my legendary power swing and didn’t want any part of it.
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