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The House on Pitman Street

While house hunting in Massachusetts I came across an empty house for sale. I walked around it and peaked in the windows to see if it would be worth my time to call the Realtor for an inside look. It didn't look too bad, but what really intrigued me was what I saw when I looked into the basement window. It had a finished basement, complete with a large mirrored wall and a country and western style bar. It looked straight out of "Gunsmoke." Not that I am the bar type, but it was so unusual I just had to get an up-close look. So I called the Realtor and got an appointment to see inside of the house the very next day.

My daughter, husband, and brother came with me. We got there a little early and I showed them the view through the basement window. We joked about how much fun it would be to have it as a music room. My brother and I liked to sing county and western songs and we thought this would really set the stage.

On my prior visit I hadn't bothered to walk up to the front door to look inside. The door had very small windows that were a little high up to be looking into, but on this day after everyone else had taken a peak, I decided to as well. I walked up the steps and got on my tippy toes and looked in. I heard my brother say, “Not bad, huh, Sis? The living room is small, but it looks like they replaced the carpet.”

Without a second thought I answered matter-of-fact, “They had to. They couldn't get the blood out.”

What! What did I just say and where did that come from? I didn’t think my brother even heard me. The revelation surprised me so much that I shut my mouth after that and just waited for the Realtor.

She came not too long after that and opened the door for us to go in. I lagged back from everyone else, taking it all in, and tried to get my mind off the living room floor and all that blood. I finally was able to pull myself away from the living room and catch up to the others who were now getting the tour of the kitchen. I was trying to pay attention and be patient while awaiting the trip down to the basement. After she gave her sales pitch about the kitchen and its newly installed track lighting, she led us to the basement door. We followed her down the stairs and around to the left. She started talking about the mirrored wall on our right, the bar straight ahead, and how the owner had really gone all out creating a fun recreation room. She walked us to the left past the bar and into a small storage room that housed the furnace and hot water heater—and something else.

I walked straight into the room and stood in the center. I said nothing to the others, but my mind was in turmoil with what I was feeling in that room. I felt there had been a struggle in there. It seemed the conflict started at the end of the bar, with a couple of guys, one each side of a young man. The argument escalated and they dragged him into the small room. They beat him up and threatened him. This ‘feeling’ I was having, was almost like a distant memory, with flashes of movement, sounds of scuffles, and muffled voices. The echoes of days gone by muted the Realtor's voice as she finished her spiel and led us out of the little room and across the basement to a huge bedroom on the far end of the house.

When we first walked through the bedroom doorway we looked to the right and saw a closet that ran the whole length of that side of the room. It was weird the way it was made. There was only one door on the end near the bedroom entrance and the closet was so narrow there seemed hardly enough room for the clothes to hang. Made you wonder how you ever got in and out of it. I peaked in. I felt sick. It was filled with depression.

My daughter looked in next. She stuck her head in and backed right out, shaking her head like she had just smelled something she didn't like. I said nothing and neither did she.

We all went back upstairs and the Realtor now led us to the attached garage. She said to my husband, “I know this is what you've been waiting to see.” We stepped out into the garage and it was huge. I could hear the lady again reciting her sales pitch about there being lots of room for 2 cars and a work shop, but somehow her voice seemed far away. All of my attention was being pulled toward the walls and what was written there. It looked somewhat like graffiti, yet had the feel that it was written by someone very oppressed and perhaps into Satan worship. I couldn't be sure, but that was the feeling I got.

My husband started talking about the yard and how he wondered it there would be enough room to park our boat, so the Realtor led him and the others out the back door to have another look. This was my chance. I had to go back downstairs. I waited until they were all nearly outside, then I turned and hurried down the basement steps. I walked past the mirrored wall talking out loud to myself, “What is it about this place? What happened here? What?” I asked over and over, and finding no answers I went back upstairs.

They were all just coming back in and my husband started talking to the Realtor. He made an unusually low offer on the house. Any other time I would have been so embarrassed that he was being insulting to bid so low, but this time I was relieved. Still, I said nothing about what I was feeling about the place. The Realtor said she’d convey our offer to the owner, but really doubted he would come down much, if any, on the price.

The next day, my daughter had just come home from school and as we sat watching our opera the phone rang. It was the realtor. I listened to what she had to tell me then thanked her and hung up the phone.

“Who was that, Mom?” my daughter asked.

“Oh, it was the realtor from that house we went to look at yesterday. She said the owner didn’t accept our offer.”

“Oh, well that’s probably just as well, because I got a funny feeling about that place,” she said.

“You did?”

“Yeah, it didn’t feel like a happy house. And when I looked into that closet, it felt like someone had hung themselves in there.”

I was stunned. She felt the same things I did at that place! She was right. It was not a happy house. I have spent countless hours since then trying to find out what, if anything, ever happened there, but have found nothing. That doesn’t surprise me, though. Somehow I felt from the very beginning that there was something about that house that the authorities never knew and that something, someone was trying to tell me.

It’s been several years and I’ve never forgotten that experience. Since then, I have looked at the house via google earth and as near as I can tell, it looks occupied. Perhaps the owner finally came down on his asking price. And if so, I have to wonder if the people still feel that they got a good deal. Do they ever feel what my daughter and I felt that day? Did our perceptions sooth that soul’s desire to be heard? Or is that desperate soul still there, waiting for someone that can hear their cry?

Soon after our trip to the house on Pitman Street, we found another house for sale just a couple of blocks from the Pitman house. We went to check it out and as I was following my daughter down the stairs to the basement, I leaned ahead and whispered to her, “What do you think about this house?”

She whispered back to me, “I don’t feel anything, Mom. It’s a happy house.”

We bought it.

Copyright © by Kaelin C. Murphy 2014--- Written for blog

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