And long-leggety beasties,
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord deliver us.
- Old Scottish Prayer
Do you believe in ghosts and other strange things that go bump, or otherwise disrupt the night – or perhaps even the day, if they’re malicious or mischievous enough? I have to admit, I’m a pretty hardcore skeptic. I don’t believe in UFOs or ghosts or aliens who abduct innocent earthlings from their beds to poke and prod them. If there are aliens, and I’m sure there’s something else living out there somewhere, and there is probably a lot of intelligent life in the cosmos, but they surely have more pressing things to do than pick on us. However, that being said, I do have a history of strange experiences that lasts till this day, and I really can’t explain much of it away. Let me take you back to when it began – or at least when it became very noticeable.
In the summer of 1981, a year after my discharge from the Marine Corps, I enrolled at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Georgia. After four years in the Marines and a year spent working hard at a variety of jobs, there wasn’t a lot that I was afraid of. That was a good thing – a very good thing.
After commuting my first couple of quarters, I moved with three friends into an old house a couple of blocks from campus. Originally there were the four of us who'd agreed to split the rental cost of the house – Mike, Andy, T.K. and me – but soon Ron, a friend of Andy's, an English major transferring from the University of Georgia, moved in with us.
The house was a two-story white wood-frame, and the inside walls were plaster. The front door opened to a small entrance way which led to T.K.’s room on the left and the living room on the right. In the center, there was a large open room which we called “Central Receiving” because that’s where we put all our stuff while we were getting settled in. Central Receiving opened into the kitchen and into a very small square hallway leading into my room and Andy’s room, and a tiny cramped set of jury-rigged stairs leading to one big room with a bathroom and shower upstairs. My room was the smallest and had two doors, one leading to the kitchen the other to the small hallway.
The first time I recall noticing anything strange was one morning shortly after Ron moved in. His stuff, including a large box of books from literature courses, was sitting in Central Receiving, and I was in the kitchen cooking some sausage for my breakfast. There was a double sink that dripped constantly, and the faucet was over a glass of water in the right sink. The drip-drip-drip was annoying, so I pushed it over the center so it would drip silently on the metal . Since watching sausage fry is pretty boring, I walked to Central Receiving and began lifting Ron’s books out of the box one-by-one looking at titles. I went back to the stove to turn the sausage, and started to return to Central Receiving and noticed drip-drip-drip. The faucet was over the glass of water again. I pushed it back to center thinking I must have meant to move it and just thought I really had. I looked at a few more book titles before returning to the stove for my sausage. When I went to the cabinet for a plate I heard drip-drip-drip. This time I knew I had moved the faucet. It was tight and didn’t move freely; it would have taken a stiff push to place it back over the right sink to drip annoyingly in the glass of water. Odd, I thought… no, not odd – creepy!
Not long afterwards I came home from class and opened the door to my room. It was late afternoon and the room was dark – I had the window covered with a blanket, since we bachelors didn’t know much about putting up curtains. As I opened the door something came shooting out of the room and hit me square in the center of the chest. I saw the blur sailing toward me, but I didn’t have time to react. I picked the object up off the floor – a piece of hard candy, like a generic red Jolly Rancher. I flipped on the light and searched the tiny room. Nothing out of the ordinary – no hidden catapult or rigged strings. I mentioned it to my roommates, but they denied knowing anything about the candy and said they had never even seen a piece of candy like that.
A few weeks later something similar happened. I opened my door and, of all things, a potato came flying out of the room and hit me so hard that it left a red mark on my chest. This time my girlfriend was with me. Fortunately she was out of the way, but she saw it happen. We searched the room. Just like the previous time, there was nothing, but the potato had sailed out of the room like it had been hurled by a baseball pitcher.
Several other strange things happened over the next few months before I got married and moved out of the house. One evening while I was lying in bed reading, the light in the little hallway came on for a few seconds. I thought maybe Mike or Ron had returned – both of them were out of town for the weekend. I got up and ran up the cramped stairs; luckily I didn’t trip and break my neck. I checked everybody’s rooms. There was nobody there except me and… whatever.
Meanwhile, Andy had his baby grand piano moved down from Covington, Georgia, and set it up in Central Receiving. One night as I lay in bed trying to go to sleep a key struck – and sustained. I jumped up and ran out to see who was getting ready to play the piano at that hour. You guessed it. Nobody was there.Another evening, T.K. and I were the only two at home. He was in his room in a separate corner of the house, and I was in my little room. There came a loud sound like the crashing of a box of glasses. The sound came from Central Receiving. I ran into the room to see what had happened. T.K. came in a few seconds later. "Did you hear that , Jimbo?" he asked. I told him I had, and we both searched the room and the kitchen and the living room, but there was nothing disturbed anywhere. Everybody had begun to talk about my ghost, and T.K. just looked at me and said, "The ghost! " We laughed it off nervously and went back to our rooms.
Another phenomenon that I was experiencing at this time was that various outdoor lights would go out as I walked or drove by. I mentioned this to some of my friends, and some of them even experienced it with me. One evening I was walking with a girlfriend (not the one who witnessed the flying potato) across the campus. There were two lights that stood on either side of the steps to Atkinson Hall, the building where business administration classes were held. They were mounted on brick columns and covered with large spherical globes. As we walked by, the first light went out. The girl looked at me and said, “That was weird!” I said, “I’m used to it.” When I made the return trip across campus alone a few minutes later, as I walked by that same light, it came back on. I stopped for a second, took a deep breath, then continued walking.
I talked about these things with a good friend of mine who had an interest in strange phenomenon. His eyes got bigger as I relayed story after story. “It’s a poltergeist!” he exclaimed. “The house isn’t haunted; you are!” I dismissed the whole thing. “There’s got to be a logical, non-supernatural explanation for all of this,” I reminded myself. My two youngest sons are amazed that all of these things could have happened to me – and that we continue to experience strange phenomenon on a regular basis – and I can still be so skeptical. I still don’t believe in ghosts or the paranormal. I’m sure there are things that go on all the time that we simply don’t have the empirical foundation to explain, but I hold my ground on my disbelief. Nevertheless…I still get the creeps walking around this house in the dark. Why? That’s for part 2 of this story, which I’ll tell you soon.