There was a huge ten room house that sat on the outskirts of the small town of Richmond, Maine. It stood high on the edge of a hill overlooking apple orchards and a hay field that stretched across the valley. It had been vacant for quite some time. A few families had lived there over the years, but no one seemed to live there for very long. The last owner was there for only one month before he placed a “For Sale” sign on it. Rumors began to circulate about the house being haunted and the owner kept dropping the sale price, lower and lower, with no takers. None, that is, until my Uncle Roy happened upon it.
Uncle Roy and Aunt Maxine hadn’t been married for all that long, and the thought of owning a place like this was something of a dream. There was lots of land for hay fields and woods for selling lumber. The two apple orchards were just icing on the cake. The cherry on top of it all was the selling price which was rock bottom cheap. Hardly a deal they could walk away from, so they bought it.
They moved in and went on with their daily lives of running the homestead. My Uncle Ken and Uncle Jr moved in to help out, and things were coming along nicely. It meant a little more work for Aunt Maxine, though, as she had more mouths to feed and spent quite a lot of time in the kitchen preparing meals. Back then biscuits were made fresh every day, usually morning and night, to go with whatever else could be scrounged up for a meal. Dishwashers at that time stood on two legs, had aching backs, and dishpan hands.
On one particular day, the dishwasher, Aunt Maxine, was standing at the sink soaking her hands in dishwashing liquid, when suddenly she heard the sound of something heavy rolling on the roof. As she lifted her eyes and looked out the kitchen window she saw what looked like a burning log rolling off the roof and tumbling down over the steep banking behind the house. She started yelling for Uncle Roy and screaming, “The house is on fire! The house is on fire! Come quick!” They all dashed out the kitchen door and ran around the house to find—nothing. No log. No fire. Everyone just looked at each other, then at Aunt Maxine, who promptly defended herself and what she had just seen. No one dared to call her crazy, but all could see even she was thinking maybe she was. She shook her head and walked back around the house and they all could hear her voice trail off as she said muttering to herself, “I don’t have time for this bullsh…” The door slammed behind her, cutting off her words. No one questioned her anymore about it that day. It was later discovered that it wasn’t only because they feared her wrath, but because they, too, had experienced a touch of the unexplained. All three of them were certain they had smelled smoke where there was no fire. No one dared to mention it at the time, for fear of being ridiculed or called, might as well say it, crazy.
Time went by and the daily chores went on as usual. During their off time they spent hours at the kitchen table playing cards. They weren’t fortunate enough yet to afford a television set. Truth be known, even if they had one they’d still be playing cards. This one night, Duke, Uncle Roy’s number one hunting dog, lay sleeping in the dining room in front of a built-in china cabinet with glass doors. Aunt Maxine kept all her finest china and prized possessions in that little nook. She didn’t much like having the dog in the house, she was cat person, but since the doors of the cabinet were closed she didn’t mind old Duke taking a nap beside it. Besides, she was in an extraordinary good mood, having won the last three hands of Gin Rummy. Each time she’d win she’d slap her cards down on the table and her cackle of laughter would fill the kitchen.
Just as the others were getting hopeful of winning a hand, Aunt Maxine called out, “Gin!”
“Not again,” Uncle Roy said shaking his head, “I think we should play Go Fish or Old Maids.”
That struck everyone funny and they all started laughing. In the midst of their uproar, a loud crashing sound could be heard coming from the dining room. It sounded like every dish in the china cupboard had come crashing out onto the hardwood floor. Their laughter stopped as if all the air had been sucked out of their lungs, leaving them startled as to what had just happened. They sat there for what seemed like minutes with their mouths agape, even though they knew it was only seconds, then Aunt Maxine yelled, “Roy, that dog has broken all of my dishes!”
Everyone jumped up from the table and ran into the dining room. They all came to a skidding halt, for there on the floor laid Duke; still sound asleep and not one dish was broken. The doors of the china cabinet remained closed, and they all just stood and stared at it and then at each other, not saying a word. They all knew what they heard; the breaking of glass, and plates and saucers rattling as they warbled and spun around on the floor before crashing into other dishes and breaking into pieces. No, they weren’t saying a word. They all just turned and went back out into the kitchen, sat at the table, and Aunt Maxine poured them a cup of coffee. There was no more laughter that night.
*** This is the first of many stories to come about Uncle Roy’s house.
Please check back later for more strange, but true, tales of the unknown. ***