December 29th 2000--We drove on the strip of Lapalco. The part that ends on Citrus. It was late, around eleven PM. I pointed over to this beat up shack that was half torn down. "That looks sort of creepy huh?" I commented. It was one of the last things I could see from the fading street lamps that ended about a few hundred feet back.
"Hush up", she snapped sitting there frozen as we crept onward cruising with nothing but headlights. Moments later, we approached well-lit roads again and that is when she told me that the section we just passed through was supposedly haunted.
New Orleans has a lot of places like this--quick pull out your MasterCard, and hit your local travel site, 'cause this place ain't takin' American Express.
. . . . .
True story--One of the first times I was visiting Elizabeth in New Orleans, she brought me to this place down in the French Quarters, a friend's store. It was a neighborhood grocery store. She knew the owners for she worked there for many years. They did fairly well--location--it was even en route during the Mardi Gras parades. Alike many of the buildings in the area, it had a very historic facade, unlike the inside--clean enough, but not as well kept. Century old moldings encircled the extra-high ceilings spotted in a few places with dust-filled cobwebs. Rental-white painted walls even covered an old fireplace that sat near the corner.
Feeling the post-digestive juices flowing, like I usually do, I asked where the restroom was. Elizabeth asked me if I really had to go. I confirmed, then reconfirmed again.
She brought me to the back of the store, opened up a large heavyset door, and we climbed up a set of rickety old stairs. "Up here", she mentioned, " was really used for storage of over-stocked inventories. Nothing much else though."
The upstairs was never renovated, just left in its original state. There was a lining of dust an inch thick over some of the rotted furniture and faded walls. Unlike the downstairs, no one had cleaned. No one had replaced anything. Some of the floorboards were breaking away. This was evident as they creaked with every step. It wasn't as dark as I would have imagined it either. Half-boarded up windows allowed some light to enter. As we walked up the middle hallway, I noticed how everything was segregated into separate rooms, and then it occurred to me that this place was actually an old house. "Yeah", she said, "It actually was a house, back a long time ago. This building is pretty famous, for its many stories. Some good er some not so good."
She seemed a little preoccupied as she pointed to the restroom, then turned and started heading back. I entered the room and closed the door. As soon as I heard her walk away, she started walking back towards me--possibly to make sure everything was okay. The footsteps approached and ended at the door. "I'm alright", I called out, "There's enough toilet paper." Funny. She didn't laugh back. She just stood there.
I waited for her to say something, but she just kept standing there not mentioning a word. Perhaps she just wanted to wait for me and just didn't hear me--I though to myself. But that wouldn't be true cause I heard her footprints when she approached. I called out to her a few more times, but still no answer. A couple of times, I could hear her shift her weight from one foot to the other as the floorboards creaked slightly. Needless to say, I felt slightly self-conscious. There was not really any ceiling fan to mask the nice post-digestive sounds, so I had to be a little more cautious. I thought about turning on the water in the sink, but it was across the room and too far out of reach. She just stood there.
I cautiously finished my business, strolled over to the sink and rapidly cleaned up. Still she just stood outside the door waiting for me.
I figured that one good joke deserved another and the thought of scaring her when I rushed opened the door entered my mind. Quietly as I could, I looked at the floorboards, seeing which ones would not creak beneath my feet, I crept back to the door. Reaching upward with my right hand, I little by little, unhooked the lock. Holding the hook between my fingers, I gradually let it down as not to let it swing wildly making a pinging sound. With my other hand, I held onto the doorknob. In one single motion, twisting the knob and swinging the door open, "A-ha!"
There was no one there. No one.
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