A neighbor is off to the Carolina’s for a week. Nothing eldritch or spooky about that. He asked me to bring his trash barrels into the backyard so they wouldn’t be out front all week: yup, nothing weirdly supernatural there except for the dog.

I know of the dog. My neighbor had the dog as a young man, a shepherd collie mix interested in playing with neighborhood kids and protecting the house. Unfortunately, the dog was dead years before I ever moved into this neighborhood. Yet the dog was growling and sniffing at me. So I put the barrels in place, said goodbye to the dog, and left the yard.

I’m not surprised when things like this happen to me. They’ve been happening all my life. But it’s not like I walk through a world populated by echoes of former pets, and it is mostly that. Just every once in a while, I’d see the other cat the Gray Menace was playing with, realize that there were no cats of that description in the neighborhood, and have the kitty disappear when I paid attention.

Like most kids, I learned early not to mention what I saw to my parents. I wouldn’t say anything when the family pets started playing with cats and dogs my parents couldn’t see. There was no sense in inviting trouble from my easy to anger father; it was easy to give him a pretext for a slap. I learned that he also saw some of this stuff many years later.

My cat, the Grey Menace, would lead a chase through the house with invisible playmates. He never liked my first wife and would deliberately lead the chase across her lap. When this happened, she’d sit up straight and exclaim with a shiver, ” Oh…someone just walked across my grave!”
One night listening to jazz, he jumped into her lap, curled up, and seconds later, a second cat joined him; she fled the house to visit her parents and didn’t come home that evening.

So the pets and I are alright with each other. They just go about whatever business they have, and that’s it. It’s the rare person that upsets me.

There was the house that we moved into just after our marriage. There was a furious young man in the basement who’d start screaming at you when you came down the stairs. After a while, I found reasons to avoid the cellar. The only time he stopped yelling at me was when I tripped and fell down the stairs. He stood there and looked at me with expectation on his face. We moved several weeks afterward.

Yeah. The animals I can take.

6 Replies to “Scream”

  1. I love this tale of ghost animals! I’ve always been drawn to investigating ghosts having grown up in a house with a mysterious presence attached. The idea of having a phantom dog and cat around is somehow comforting though isn’t it.

  2. I did tell my mother when I was 5. She told me stop or I’d be ostracized for life. Cute tale.

  3. When I was about 22 my dog died, I had got him when I was around 11. I grew up with him and when he died I was devastated. But a week later I woke up from a ‘dead sleep’ . I was curled up and had a cramp in my leg, when I streatched out my foot hit something at the end of my bed and when I looked down, it was my dog. I didn’t tell anyone because I know what I saw- I didn’t need to convince myself or anyone else that my best friend came back for a few moments to comfort me in my grief.

    1. There are many cultures that believe that the spirit remains here, near its loved ones for seven days or more before moving on. My father periodically visited me until my mother died then it seemed that they both moved on. There was a very strong thread of Christian mysticism in his family that seemed to come out of Catalonia and southern France.

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