I got that feeling you get when someone is staring at you – no, glaring at you – as I flipped on the light in the living room. While I was still looking at the switch, it flipped itself back off again.
That was my first encounter with the ghost in our apartment on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. It was 1993, and we had moved into a brownstone building erected in the 1930s, rather fancifully named Biscayne Towers.
The building. Those are my parents in front.
Me on the day I moved in.
I didn’t really believe in hauntings. I’d convinced myself that there was some explanation for a childhood Ouija board incident, and mostly, I never thought about ghosts at all. But in this apartment, I often got the feeling I wasn’t alone. One night, I was going into our tiny kitchen when I felt like someone else was in there and didn’t want me to come near. I thought to myself, Get out, and pulled the chain for the overhead light. The light bulb in the fixture exploded, leaving sparks and glass everywhere.
Less than a week later, when I stepped into the bathroom to wash my hands, I had that strange feeling of being watched again. The bathroom had two doors, one to the bedroom and one to the living room, both open. When I looked up into the mirror, both doors slammed shut in unison.
I was pissed. It wasn’t like this bitch was paying any rent.
When I complained to my husband about the incidents, he tried to think of plausible explanations, and pointed out that nothing like this had ever happened to him. “That’s because she likes you and not me,” I said. We had a CD player that held 50 CDs at a time. We always kept it filled with CDs and had it set to play songs at random. It began to play a song that he liked and I hated, and I said, “See? She’s playing that song for you.”
At the end of the song, the carousel thing inside spun around, and then the stereo played the same song again.
This happened fourteen times, until I turned it off and unplugged it. It never got stuck on a song like that before or again.
My husband may not have believed in our ghost, but when he was asleep, he talked to her. One night when I stayed up late, the bedroom door, which had been all the way shut, banged open. From the bedroom, I heard his sleepy voice: “Where’d she go?”
“I don’t know, honey,” I answered. “She just stormed out of there.” Another time when I went to bed after he was already alseep, I whispered good-night to him and he said, “I love you guys.”
“Me and who?” I demanded.
“Oh.” He still wasn’t quite awake. “I thought there was two of you.”
She pulled the light switch trick a few more times, and slammed more doors, but she only scared me once. I was home alone at night, reading, when something crashed in the next room. I thought someone had thrown a brick in the dining room window, but there wasn’t any shattered glass.
Two pots had been sitting on the stove in the kitchen. One of them had been flung up over the little half wall into the dining room, in an upward trajectory, to smash into the top of the window frame. At the same time, the other had shot in the opposite direction, leaving a dent at the top of the kitchen cabinets.
I checked the stove, and it was turned off. There wasn’t anything to explain flying pots. I didn’t really expect there to be.
We didn’t renew our lease.
Seven years later, Biscayne Towers and the brownstones next to it were torn down to make way for a McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant and new high-rise apartments. I don’t know what happens to a ghost when you destroy her house. Maybe she just moved into the fancy new digs.
Or maybe she was somehow destroyed along with the building. If that were the case, I would almost feel sorry for her, but not quite.