Army living has its perks.  Getting stationed in a haunted house isn’t one of them.  Arguello Boulevard.  The Presidio.  San Francisco.  1979.  Truth be told, we never saw the ghost, perhaps because our dog slept where prior tenants reported seeing the uniformed apparition.  Not that I was anxious to meet anyone from the Great Beyond – not at thirteen.  Twenty years and eight homes later, I received another chance.

My wife and I moved to Lake Tahoe in the mid-90s.  The house is built on a mountain, with its lower level half underground.  My recording studio – this was the second incarnation of “The Resort” – was setup in a spare bedroom on the ground floor.

Upon settling in, we began experiencing strange things.  Computers would fail.  Other electronics would mysteriously quit.  We had the electrical systems checked but discovered nothing unusual.

Eventually, I asked a neighbor, “Is there anything strange I should know about our house?”  The answer was unexpected.  Apparently, the prior owner, a high-profile attorney, built the home and was later involved in an affair that ended in murder.  A double-homicide, in fact.  Committed realists, we dismissed any notion of poltergeists and even made a gag of it, blaming our recurring electrical woes on the “silly ghosts.”  [Cue nervous laughter.]

Technically speaking, the murders happened after the house was built.  Nonetheless, evidence of a haunting continued.  Linda and I shared regular experiences of someone standing or walking behind us when the house was otherwise empty.  Less frequently, a shadow would move in the corner of a dark room.  And then there was that awful feeling again – something I had only ever experienced as a child, at Arguello.

Eventually, we came to realize that our fears centered around the furnace room.  And when my wife suggested “the ghost of a Native American woman,” my heart jumped.  I had been thinking the same thing for years.

Lake Tahoe's Washoe Indians, ca. 1866. Unknown source. Please contact me with copyright info or to request removal.
Lake Tahoe’s Washoe Indians, ca. 1866

A few paces from the furnace room stood the doorway to the recording studio.  For two decades, my musical projects were relegated to the late evening hours, thanks to a day job and family obligations. During this time, our ghost made it quite clear that she had no patience for harsh music, even when isolated to the headphones.  The louder and more obnoxious the audio project, the worse things got.  Unidentifiable distractions could be heard in the headphones.  The room would get cold.  I could sense somebody watching over my shoulder.

On one occasion, I heard somebody walk down the stairs and towards the studio door.  I turned, expecting to see my wife, and yes, at first, there was somebody moving towards me in the darkness, but before my eyes could adjust, she was gone.  This happened several times.  Again and again, I would see and hear things that would cause me to spin abruptly in my chair.  I turned some lights on and returned to the studio.  Finally, I turned back to my desk and all the faders on the mixing console slammed to -∞ (off).  I yelled, “Alright already, I’m done!” and more-or-less ran upstairs.

‘Round about this time, I met a gentleman who claimed to be a prior neighbor.  “You’ll never guess what I found here,” he said, and proceeded to describe a collection of Native American artifacts he dug up in the yard.  The next day, he showed a couple of them to me – a mortar and pestle.  It begs the question, what else is buried here?  Or, who?

He offered to sell the objects but the price was excessive, especially for something I would repatriate to the earth.

Since then, I’ve had a chat or two with our unseen friend and things seem to have quieted down.  The studio was rebuilt upstairs.  It’s quiet as a church.

Happy Halloween.

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