There is a house in Demoss Hollow, just off River Road, west of town that is tucked so far back away that you can’t see it from the road. It has the twin chimneys and the low slung porch that say that it was built a while ago. It has, at least, been there as long as anyone can remember.
It also has, for the most part, been empty.
“It wasn’t the kind of place that seemed bad right away,” one of the neighbors told me. “It was on my uncle’s neighbor’s land and we used to go there all the time, stay there when we were hunting, hang out there when we should have been at school. It was up the hill a little way, so you could see out over everything. Beautiful view.
“So, we’re sitting on the porch one day and we hear this voice, a gal’s voice, and she says, plain as day, ‘John, I will kill you.’”
“Were any of you named John?” I asked.
“Now, don’t take this wrong, but I wished there was. Then at least we would have known it was one of our girlfriends or something. But no, none of us was John.”
They looked around to see if they could find anyone, but they never did.
“Do you know Bub Dozier?” the neighbor man asked me.
“No,” I admitted.
“His family goes way back here. Anyway, he married a gal from White Bluff and brought her back there until he could get them a house built up by his folks. And she hated that place. Said you’d be just about to sleep in the bedroom and you could hear someone in the kitchen, sounded like they were doing dishes.
“And one night, she was woke up by all the noise in the kitchen and she gets up and sets off down the hall and she swears there’s no one in the kitchen, but the water glass that was in the sink is on a towel upside down, drying.”
“Well, it’d be nice to have a ghost to do your dishes, I think,” I said.
“You’re kind of an idiot, aren’t you? You think it’s fun not knowing in your own house that you can put something down and come back to find it in the same place? That ain’t fun. It’s horrible.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. We sat in silence for a while.
“Aw, hell, it’s just that if you haven’t seen it, you don’t know. And if you have seen it, you can’t get no comfort because everyone thinks you’re nuts.”
“You’ve seen it?”
“Bub got real sick one Fall,” he said. “He wasn’t going to go to the doctor, of course, but his wife called me up and begged me to make him.” He drummed his finger into the table to punctuate his point. “She begged me.” He took a long drink of coffee. “Doctor said that he’d been poisoned. Called the police over it, too. Well, of course, they thought his wife had done it. Hell, I thought his wife had done it.
“So they set bail, but no one would get her out. I said I’d stay with Bub.
“And I start to notice weird things. Like I’d go into the bathroom and the closet door would be open, even though I’d know neither of us had been in there. Hell, I wasn’t doing their god damn laundry and Bub wasn’t on his feet. Or you’d find coffee cups right by the coffee maker in the morning, all by themselves.
“And that…” he looked over his shoulder, like he was trying to decide whether to say something. “… I think that’s how she did it. A couple of times, there was something in the bottom of the cup, some white stuff, looked like a fine dusting of sugar. You might not have even noticed it, if you hadn’t realized already that the cups were strange. But I pick one up and I’m looking in it and I see that powdery stuff on the bottom.
“Now, I knew it wasn’t me. It couldn’t have been Bub, and his wife was sitting in jail. So, finally, I yell, ‘who the hell are you?’ and…”
“I don’t hear nothing. So, I shout, ‘Are you the one looking to kill John?’ and I swear, right as I said ‘John,’ that coffee cup just tore up out of my hands and slammed against the ceiling and broke into pieces.
“‘Bub,’ I said, ‘There’s something wrong with this place. We got to get you out of here and burn it to the ground.’ So, I get under him and I’m lifting him up and I hear this low voice, like a whisper, but a little louder, a man’s voice, ‘Wait.’ ‘What’d you say, Bub?’ but he didn’t say nothing. I stand real still, with Bub kind of draped over my shoulder, and I whisper back, ‘What?’ and I swear, I hear, ‘Don’t burn it. Don’t let her loose.’”
“What did you think that meant?”
“Hell if I know. You’re supposed to be the one who can make sense of this stuff.” Again, it was quiet for a long time.
“That house is still there,” he finally said. “But we don’t let nobody live in it.”