I know that a lot of people, maybe most, lose socks for reasons they can’t explain, and that from time to time they misplace TV remotes, keys, sunglasses, and other things despite having designated places to leave them. With three children growing up in our family, we certainly have had our share of all of that. We still do, for that matter; never mind that the children are now all in their twenties. One is still living at home, and the other two are still around a lot. Which we like, of course—don’t get me wrong.
But we also seem to have a lot of other types of things turn up missing. Someone’s favorite t-shirt. A book half read. A refrigerator storage canister. A can opener. Even a serving dish. And what seems like scores of flashlights. We simply can’t keep them around. With batteries we do okay. My wife keeps a stock of them. But batteries don’t help you see in the dark if you don’t have a flashlight to put them in.
Early on, when we asked who took the coat hangers out of the laundry room or who picked up the newspaper from the driveway in the morning then misplaced it, and we got a chorus of “it wasn’t me” answers, we chalked those up to typical kids’ denials and their tendency to put the blame on a sibling, or even a parent.
Finally one day, strictly as a way of dealing with the frustration of it all, either my wife or I—I don’t remember which—said, “Well, then I guess Vicki must have done it.” From that day on, we’ve had a fourth child. We never hear her and we never see her. But nearly every week or two, or so it seems, we have evidence of her in the disappearance, usually permanent, of some common tool or other household item. It’s never anything of any real value, but it’s always something needed at that particular moment and generally handy to have around any time.
Despite the things that have gone missing, Vicki has proven to be both a good way to deflect irritation over temporary inconveniences and a lot of fun to joke about. Until recently, that is. For example, we’re finding she’s not quite as good a way to explain a door left open, or one that is closed after we know we left it open.
I got to thinking even more about all of this when a friend—a man with a background in architecture and building things—told me a hair-raising tale about cartons of books being moved around after dark in the old house he had recently bought and in which he lived alone. Or so he thought.
Then I learned that New York State has a popular “Haunted History Trail” that advertises itself as “a ghost lovers’ dream come true!” It has a brochure, website, and everything, and a lot of its stops are in our neck of the woods (see https://hauntedhistorytrail.com/). I’m told that it’s a heap of fun if you like your history and your ghosts served up together.
If all of that were not enough, two of our of kids, including the one still living at home, have taken a liking to paranormal documentaries on television.
Suddenly, Vicki, whose name we still invoke when something goes mysteriously missing, isn’t quite as amusing and stress relieving as she used to be.
Did I mention that our property backs up to a cemetery?
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