Jersey’s untold ghost stories: Part five
This is part five of a five part series leading up to Halloween weekend. Each day we offer a true story as told to us by a NJ101.5 listener of things they cannot explain. They are in no way paid for their stories and they swear to be telling the truth.
Our final ghost story comes from a listener who wants to remain anonymous. Why? He does not believe in ghosts. He doesn't want to be ridiculed. Yet all his skepticism cannot explain something that happened to him back in the mid 1980's at an old colonial home in Westfield.
What's different about this story is it was not even this man's house. He was young then, in his early 20's. Asked to house sit for a couple he knew through work, he figured why not? He was living at home with his parents at the time. The thought of having a place to himself for three nights was appealing especially since they said he could have a friend over, just no big parties. He happily agreed. There was one caveat. The couple told him sometimes creepy noises were heard in the home. And sometimes things had a habit of turning up where you hadn't left them. Being a natural born skeptic and a total non-believer, he said he'd be just fine.
He only lasted one night.
He packed a small bag with the bare necessities and let himself in to the place on a Friday afternoon. A buddy was going to come over that night and have a couple of beers, so he took advantage of a guest bedroom to get a few hours sleep thinking he'd be up late. He woke up after about an hour to freezing cold air. Great, he thought. Mid January with snow on the ground and the heat was out. He made his way down the stairs to see the front door standing wide open, a very cold wind whipping through it. He would have to be more careful in a new house with making sure he properly shut the door all the way, he thought. He was certain he had bolt locked that door, but clearly he was wrong. Next he went through the house room by room just to make certain someone hadn't broken in. There was no one, and the heat was still on and would catch up eventually.
About 8:00 his friend arrived a half hour late. It had snowed the night before and six inches of it stood on the lawns. The roads probably had started icing over and slowed his buddy down. This was before cell phones so there was no quick text to ask, but he remembers he was about to ask when he opened the door. His friend stood in the doorway with a big smile on his face which vanished completely with one step inside.
"Oh my God! Is this place haunted or something?!" were the very first words out of this guy's mouth. The house sitter has never forgotten those words that came completely out of nowhere. He didn't believe in such things, and hadn't repeated the brief warning the home owners had given him. So he asked, "What the hell made you just say that?"
"I have no idea. I wasn't thinking anything like that and as soon as I stepped in...I don't know...it just hit me."
He remembers making some joke about him being crazy or high and forgot all about asking him how the roads were. His friend had brought a six pack of beer and some chips. One friend, just one six pack, no big party, nothing for the couple to balk about. They made their way to the kitchen and put the chips on the counter and the beer in the fridge except for two bottles which they snapped open and brought to the living room.
It was a nice place. Soft leather sofas, dark wood furniture with a fireplace at the far end of the room. The walls were painted a robin's egg blue. Nothing creepy at all, just a really nice place. So the house sitter was a bit annoyed when the friend brought it back up in saying how he felt like there was someone else there. He steered him away from such nonsense and they sat and drank a beer, talked about their jobs, talked about his friend's band and about a girl the house sitter had met. Halfway through their first beer his friend asked if he wanted those chips. They both put their beers on the coffee table right in front of them and stood up together and went into the kitchen together. They never left each other for single moment as his friend opened the bag and poured some in a big bowl and walked back out to the living room. They stopped dead in their tracks staring at an empty coffee table.
"What the -" his friend started. They looked farther out from the coffee table and there, at the far end of the room some thirty feet away, stood their two bottles of beer on either end of the mantelpiece over the fireplace. His friend dropped the bowl to the floor, chips flying everywhere across the hard wood. As the house sitter cleaned up the mess his shaken friend demanded to know what was going on. What sort of b.s. prank his buddy was playing on him. Who else was in the house. Etcetera.
They retrieved their beers placed so perfectly on flanking ends of the fireplace and moved to a different room to drink and talk. His friend ended up so unnerved from this he never stayed for a second beer. Left alone in the house he ended up using the couple's phone to call the girl he met. He figured it was a local call and they wouldn't mind. He didn't feel like drinking by himself but this girl couldn't come over as they had family visiting. He spent the rest of the evening reading a book he brought with him then called it an early night an went to bed back in the same guest room. He made certain before turning in to double check that the front door was shut tight and bolt locked.
At two o'clock in the morning he woke to the same freezing air. He remembers cursing out loud and remembers being uncharacteristically nervous for the first time. As he got out of bed he tripped on his own shoes that he left at the foot of the bed. Passing the bedroom door into the hallway he thought about the coat he hung there on its doorknob and how if this kept up he'd have to sleep wearing it. Descending the stairs he saw sure enough the front door stood wide open. As he got it closed once more and locked, his mind raced looking for answers. Did his friend somehow secretly know the house couple and did they give him a key and set up some elaborate prank? Was he suddenly sleep walking? Making his way back up the stairs he thought how even sleep walking would not explain the moving of the beers earlier in the night. His friend was never out of his sight when it happened and could not have been the one to do it either. Unable to sleep he turned on the light and read for about an hour.
Finally getting more tired than nervous he turned out the light and settled in. Before he could even close his eyes he heard a tremendous crash from downstairs. Then another. He cursed himself for being so stupid in not checking for a burglar the second time the door was found open. But even as he charged downstairs he thought how there hadn't been a single noise for the past hour he was reading. He flew room to room finding nothing. Nothing until he looked at the fireplace where the beers had been moved. Inside the fireplace was the large bowl the chips had been poured into that night. The problem was that bowl had been placed in the sink when he went to bed. The metal screen that stood before the fireplace didn't appear to have even been touched. It made no sense. Nothing did.
With the nerve of a rational skeptic he pulled back that screen and retrieved the bowl, got it back to the sink, washed soot of his hands and climbed the stairs back to the bedroom. For the first time he closed and locked the bedroom door behind him before getting back in bed, having to take his coat off the doorknob to do so. He threw the coat on top of his shoes and crawled back into bed. He left the light on. Sleep didn't come for two more hours but finally he found himself waking up in the morning. Morning light was in the room yet something seemed askew. Then he realized what it was.
The light was off.
He got out of bed and thought how he was going to first use the bathroom then put his shoes and coat on to go get a bagel from a deli. As he walked around the end of the bed the floor was empty. His shoes and coat gone. He remembers being more angry than scared at this point because none of this was making any sense. Someone had to be screwing with him. He began an hour's long search of the home to find his coat and shoes. They were nowhere. He even checked the unfinished basement, half expecting to find a group of his stupid friends down their blurting out that they'd been pranking him all night. Of course there was nothing. The only place he hadn't checked was the attic. He was now in the couple's master bedroom, having checked there a third time for his missing shoes and coat when he began thinking of going up to that attic. At that point he happened to gaze out the window in the backyard. There, in the middle of the yard, left in the untouched snow, was his coat. His shoes sat neatly beside. There was not a single footprint in the entire backyard surrounding his missing things.
His blood ran cold. He grabbed his things and raced outside in his socks locking the door behind him. He tore around the side of the house and trampled across that untouched snow to frantically retrieve his coat and shoes. Never looking back he raced to his car and drove away. He called the couple at their hotel and told them the deal was over. He never finished out his weekend. Looking back on it, he says he still doesn't know what to believe.