A Ghost Story
I first became aware of ghosts as more than white-sheeted trick-or-treaters when I was 14. My uncle had died about six weeks prior, which may or may not have had anything to do with what occurred.
I was living with my mother in a garden apartment in North Miami, Florida. It was the late ‘60’s. A bit about that apartment: it was single-storied. There were neighbors on either side, and once in awhile you could hear them through the walls. It was a one-bedroom, with the bedroom in the back, and a door in its rear wall leading to the communal back yard.
It started with someone knocking on the back door. I looked out the window next to it, and didn’t see anyone. But I unlocked it anyway and opened it. There was no one there.
This started happening with some frequency, usually in the afternoon, when I was alone in the apartment. Sometimes the knocking would come from the back wall, not the common walls we shared with our neighbors. The knocking would sometimes start on the door, then go up to its top, over onto the wall, and across it. It was usually two raps, followed by another two.
One day my mother happened to be in the apartment when the knocking began. We tried to figure out what it was. Finally, unsure of what else to do, we called in an exterminator. He confirmed that:
- The knocking was not coming from any type of insect or animal
- It was not coming from any construction; there was none nearby
- When it came from the floor, there was no one under there, as there are no basements in Florida, and the foundation settling wouldn’t cause a noise like that
“What do you think it is?” my mother asked.
The exterminator shook his head. “No idea,” he said.
Sometimes The Knocker (for that is what we dubbed him; we also called it a “him” even though we didn’t know its sex, or if it even had one) would rap out more complicated rhythms. This prompted Mother to get the encyclopedia and look up Morse code.
“Maybe he’s trying to tell us something,” she said, holding the book on her lap as she sat in a chair on one side of the room. I sat on the bed. We waited. Soon it began. Mother started asking questions. The knocking grew louder when we inquired as to its identity.
“What are your initials?” Mother asked.
We figured out the dots and dashes, and followed along with the rapid-fire striking on the wall.
“KW!” Mother exclaimed triumphantly. Those were the initials of my uncle’s first and middle names. He never did come up with the last one, though.
We told our neighbors about the Knocker, but they refused to believe it. Finally, the younger daughter and her friend, both a couple years older than I, came into the bedroom and sat on the bed. I remained standing in the middle of the room.
“Hello?” I said. “Are you there?”
One of the girls giggled.
“If you’re here, could you let us know?”
Suddenly, erupting from the ground and causing the floor to shake, came a pounding rap-rap, rap-rap.
The girls got up and fled.
“Wait, he’s friendly,” I called after them, but they had already left and gone back home. They refused to discuss the subject afterwards.
The Knocker made his appearances exclusively in my bedroom, until I went away to school. When I was alone in the dorm, I would sometimes hear a knock-knock on the wall. But it seemed to be fading, and after about a year and a half, it disappeared altogether.
I seldom talked about The Knocker. I never really thought of him as a ghost. Just some disembodied spirit that liked to make his presence felt. (Well, duh, what’s a ghost, anyway??)
After a time, I forgot about him.