Recalling some of my past neighbors brought many memories about the homes we lived in Fresno, our first a rental. The first was out in the boonies. It was on 10 acres of cotton that was farmed out, leaving a small section for us to have a garden.
There were fruit trees, adding to the allure of this three-bedroom house. Before we moved in, the owners told us something funny. The house, they told us, was haunted. I didn’t laugh because of something that had happened just across the street where a friend of my husband Van lived. We’d found out about the house we rented from a neighbor, Marcie an older widow who was an old friend of Van’s.
While we were there that first day, she asked Van if he would help with her horses, trimming her hooves and tails. At the same time, my son Doug was visiting us. He and I went with Van into the corral and offered to help. Van had forgotten a brush and asked Doug to go into the house and get one. This necessitated his going out of a side gate and in between two barns.
One was a wooden barn, the other concrete. Doug returned with a strange look on his face. Later, when we were alone, he told me that he’d experienced something strange. He said that while walking between those two buildings, even in the heat of Fresno it was freezing cold. He felt some terrible evil as the hair stood up on the back of his neck. Of course I laughed.
I had to get something from our car. By now the inside of that corral was muddy so I went out the side gate and walked between those same buildings. Go and laugh, but by the time I got to the end of that passage I was almost hysterical. Never had I ever felt anything so horrible. When I had to return to Doug and Van working with the horses.
Considering what I’d just experienced, I was only too glad to walk through the mud rather than between those buildings. Doug and I hadn’t told Van of our events. I thought he’d laugh. Of course, then it happened. Van had to walk between those two buildings. When he returned his face was white as a sheet. Van told us what he too had experienced, confirming ours. We stayed in that house for about a year.
However, that house had other problems so we decided to move closer to town, where we worked, finding a really nice three-bedroom house. The last thing we were told about our new abode, was that if we had trouble with the doctors next door — where they had a huge pool — was just to knock on their door and tell them to quiet down. If only we had been told that earlier.
What ensued was a nightmare that never seemed to end. Our bedroom was at the back of the house, a beautiful room with windows on three sides. The second weekend after we moved in the problems began. Both of us were tired from finally getting our possessions in place. It was a Saturday night. Exhausted, we hit that bed at 11 p.m. Not five minutes later it began.
Someone yelled — “the last one in is a dirty jerk” — or something like that. Looking out Van said there were six people, the three young doctor neighbors and their girlfriends. Much screaming and splashing and finally loud music and lights filled the night air.
Looking back I cannot imagine why the other neighbors hadn’t done anything about this problem, but we went into calling the police again and again.
Just as soon as a police car came around the corner everything would be dark and quiet. This happened about every other weekend. Nine months was more than enough. We found a beautiful house on an acre out in the country and put a down payment. There were three months due on our years lease but we moved out anyway. Van called the owners.
He said that under the circumstances we’d fight if they tried to collect those last three months rent. We never heard another word. I will never forget how wonderful it was to go to bed in our new home that first night. The only noise was the sound of a bird singing at six the next morning. At peace, we were finally home.
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org