It can now be stated with the utmost certainty. I officially live in a haunted house.
I know this for two reasons. First, from what happened to me last night, around midnight, as I was lying in bed in the pitch darkness.
And second, the fact that a friend and colleague here at Freeline Media witnessed the ghost in action with me, in broad daylight.
Ghosts at night, ghosts in the day – what more proof do you want?
For a long time, I didn’t believe the house I live at in Orlando’s Colonialtown neighborhood was haunted. For one thing, this is the second time I’ve lived in a haunted house, and in the first one, there was such a constant stream of odd occurrences that I even kept a ghostly diary of every incident.
That house was in Swansea, Massachusetts, had been built in the 1880s, and was right across the street from a graveyard.
It was an extremely spooky two-floor home.
My current house is smaller, with just one floor, and is not, by Massachusetts standards, an “old house.” It dates back to the 1940s – although I suppose that qualifies as “old” by Florida’s recent standards of rapid development.
In any case, I’ve been in this house for a decade now, and for the most part, I rarely noticed anything odd happening in here – until recently, that is.
What Spooky Things Have Happened Here?
They say Florida can often times be “Crazy Florida.” This state definitely lives up to that.
And so does my house.
It was a friend who first suggested there was something eerie about my beloved home.
“Your house is haunted,” he stated rather bluntly.
My friend had spent a couple of nights at my home while I was away, house sitting, and he told me afterwards that at night, things got a bit odd. He heard strange noises that couldn’t be explained, in a house where he was completely alone.
He’s a night bird, who doesn’t get to sleep until close to dawn. Maybe it’s because I have the exact opposite sleeping schedule, and fall asleep rather early, that I’d never noticed anything peculiar before.
But on the nights he was not only in my home, but wide awake, he insisted that he heard things, and no one else was there.
I suggested it could have been one of my cats, but he shrugged off that notion. The cats could be found quietly asleep on a chair when the sounds were coming from another room, he said.
Then one afternoon recently, my buddy and I were sitting outside on my lanai. It was a mild day following a heavy rainstorm, and we had the windows of the house open.
And that was when, as we were both sitting there talking, we heard it: the loud crash from my computer room.
We both froze, then looked over at the window leading into that room. Then we looked at one another, exchanging puzzled glances.
The crash was so loud that we knew something had been knocked over.
My friend’s first instinct was that maybe someone had come into the house – a robber? We bolted inside, dashed into that empty house, and then went straight into that computer room. And that was when we found it: the binder that holds the blinds for the window.
Somehow, mysteriously, it had been removed from the slots that hold the binder securely in place, and landed right next to the sofa by the window – only it was not lying flat on the floor, but leaning up against the sofa.
It looked like someone had strategically placed it there.
Okay, we both said it out loud to one another – This is weird.
What Was Behind Those Weird Noises?
Again, our first instinct was that it could have been done by my cat — although how exactly a cat manages to climb up a window with no curtains on it, then dislodge the binder at the top of the window, wasn’t immediately clear.
And that’s when something else occurred to me. I went to the front door, opened it, and looked out onto my front porch – and sure enough, there was my precocious kitty Squeaky, relaxing in the afternoon sun.
When my friend saw that the cat had been locked outside when the crashed happened, he smirked.
“Your house is haunted,” he said.
A few nights later, when we had dinner guests over, my friend vividly described the eerie way it all happened, and why it convinced him that it could only be one thing: a ghost.
If a tough guy like him is ready to believe my home is haunted, well … so am I.
But the plot thickens.
What Is The Peculiar Memorial On the Lanai?
While I was away, my friend had noticed something else, which had mysteriously bypassed me for the past few years: a memorial dedication that had been engraved in the cement deck of my pool.
It read: “Dedicated to the Loving Memory of our beloved Angel,” and the name of the child and his date of birth — April 5, 1994 — and date of death, which was July 13, 1994. A three-month-old boy had died here years ago.
My house had been built around 1945, so obviously quite a few families have lived here for the past 70-plus years. Still, that memorial was eerie just the same.
And then … last night.
I was alone in my house, fast asleep, when I suddenly woke up. I’m not sure why, but I opened my eyes to a pitch dark bedroom. I glanced over at the clock on my nightstand. It was a little past midnight.
I laid there in bed for a few minutes, waiting to drift back to sleep … when I first noticed it, very faintly.
I heard voices.
I heard it again, more clearly this time. Someone was talking. The voice wasn’t loud enough that I could make out what was being said, but I didn’t care — I was suddenly in a near-panic.
I went flinging out of my warm, secure bed and raced down the hallway. I moved nervously down the hall, flicking on every light switch I could find.
As light flooded my home, it was instantly clear: folks, I was alone. A solitary man at the moment. My house was empty, save for me and, as my friend had noted, a cat named Squeaky that I found fast asleep on a chair. The voices hadn’t bothered her.
I heard the voices again. It sounded like it was coming from outside.
I live in a very quiet neighborood at night. There are no other sounds — cars driving by, music from nearby houses, barking dogs — to obscure any noise within the house.
I went to a window and opened it, then glanced out, fully expecting to find some neighbors outside, chatting.
But I didn’t. Everywhere I looked, I saw empty streets, and peace and quiet.
Except for inside that house, where, in a dark room or a well lit one, I could still make out the soft voice of someone speaking …. somewhere.
My friend was right.
For the second time, I had chosen a house that was haunted.
Maybe I’ll sleep with the lights on from now on.
Are the Ghost Hunters still on the air?
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Of Cats And Wolves.” Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.