Appalachia Ghosts - Haints - Spooky

The Attic Visitor

Today’s guestpost was written by Keith Jones.

 

Ghost story about lady in long dress

The Attic Visitor By Keith Jones (FaceBook/MountainStoryteller)

Robert Jiles was the most unimaginative man I ever met. He was unflappable, phlegmatic, and plainspoken. He was so literal-minded that when anyone’s answering machine message came over the phone, his first words were always, “Are you there? Are you there?”

Rob had a meticulous, unimaginative job—health inspector for the county. He did a thorough job, and local folks learned to check for his signature at the bottom of the health certificates in local eateries. It didn’t matter if the restaurant looked good. If he gave it less than a 90, you didn’t want to eat there. And even if it looked like a hole in the wall, if Rob had graded a ‘greasy spoon’ at 95 or above, you might not like the food, but it was safe to eat.

He was the last person you’d expect to encounter a ghost, much less admit to it.

Mr. Jiles had reached his mid-30s, and had settled into a quiet life. A bachelor who wouldn’t marry for a few years yet, he lived with his widowed mother in an old story-and-a-half frame house on a pioneer era road that had been bypassed by the four-lane running from Atlanta to Athens. As a boy, Rob and his older twin brothers Clayton and Coy shared a bedroom upstairs under the eaves. With the brothers having married and moved away, the bedroom was now Rob’s alone.

Strange things used to happen in that house. If Rob and his mother were having supper, they’d hear what sounded like footsteps in the guest bedroom upstairs, across the tiny hall from Rob’s room, and as far away from the kitchen table as it was possible to be in the house. Sometimes Rob would secure the front and back doors, peek into his Mom’s bedroom to see that she was asleep, and trudge up the narrow stairs to his bedroom, only to have either the front or back door bang open. “It’s the ghost, again!” his Mom would say sleepily. She’d also been raised in the house since her family moved there during her girlhood, and always claimed the old structure had a spectral resident.

“Mom, you know there’s no such thing as ghosts!” Rob would say. “Or maybe I just didn’t fasten the latch.” He’d throw off the covers that hadn’t yet had a chance to warm up at all, clomp back down the stairs, fasten the latch securely, and stomp back up the stairs. Usually that took care of things, but one stormy night he had to climb the stairs to refasten the back latch, only to awaken an hour later to the sounds of howling wind and rain blowing across the front porch and into the now-open front door.

“Robbie, it’s the ghost for sure!” called his mother.

“Just a bad storm, Mom. Just the wind. You know this old house creaks and sways in the wind. It’s a wonder it doesn’t fall down.”

It was an ongoing, semi-nagging argument between the mother and son. One of those things you kind of get used to talking about over and over. Mrs. Jiles stubbornly argued for the ghost, and Robert argued twice as stubbornly against it.

“Don’t you remember when you, Clayton, and Coy went through that cubbyhole in your bedroom wall into the attic over the kitchen? You know y’all found old rags with rusty brown stains, and that old bloodstained quilt, and that broken Navy colt pistol. Why won’t you admit there’s a ghost in this house?”

“Mom, I know all about that stuff in the attic. You remember I took it to my history prof at UGA, and he told me there was a cavalry skirmish right out the road from us. Probably the Union or Confederates used our house for a hospital. There were several wounded in that little battle. That doesn’t mean there’s anything such as a ghost!”

The disagreement went on and on, neither mother nor son giving an inch.

One bright fall afternoon, Robert had a particularly hard day, but managed to finish an hour early. He got home to an empty house, because it was his Mom’s day to attend the women’s group at church. Hanging his jacket on the peg at the foot of the stairs, Rob climbed the steps to his bedroom, anticipating a quick afternoon nap.

As he opened the door, to his surprise a young man in raggedy gray and khaki clothes was standing by his bed, right in front of the room’s only window. His back was to Rob, and he was looking longingly out the window.

Shocked to find someone standing so boldly in his own personal space, Robert blurted out, “What do YOU want?!?”

Slowly the young man turned. His face was smudged with black at the corner of his mouth, and there was a scrape along his right cheekbone. Robert noticed for the first time not only how ragged the clothes were, but that the pants were held up by a length of rope, and both the pants and jacket seemed too big. The young man was even younger than Rob had first thought, perhaps only a young teenager.

“I just want to go home,” said the figure by the window.

Still filled with surprise and consternation, Robert Jiles said the first thing that came into his unimaginative head: “Well, go home, then!”

“The thing you’ve got to understand,” Robert told me some years later, “the thing that’s really hard for me to believe to this day, is that up to that moment, the young fellow was just as solid as you or me. He was nothing like the white sheets you see at Halloween or some spirit you can see through. It was just a person standing there. I thought he was maybe a burglar. But when I told him to go home, his eyebrows went up… and he smiled a little wistful half-smile… and then he faded away right where he stood, in maybe five or ten seconds. And from then to now, there’s been no strange footsteps at our house, and the doors stay shut when we close them.”

————————

I hope you enjoyed Keith’s spooky tale as much as I did! If I couldn’t go home I might take to haunting people or at least take to making a lot of racket to show my frustration and despair.

Blind Pig Reader Eva Nell Mull Wike will be sharing a presentation for authors at the Pulic Library in Andrews NC this Friday October 28 from 1:00 p.m. – 4 p.m. She will have copies of her book Fiddle of the Mountains: Attuned to the Life and Times of Johnny Mull for sale as well.

Tipper

 

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Kay Paul
    October 30, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    My great grandfather used to tell me and my cousins a ghost story about a little white dog that he sometimes saw sitting on a hill behind his house. He said there was once an old road up there that led to the cabin of a Confederate soldier who had been killed in the war. Grandpa said the little dog could be seen at certain times in the late afternoon sitting there at the top of the hill waiting on his master to return home. He would take us out on the back porch just before sundown and point up the hill whispering, “Can you see him? Keep looking…..he’s always there waiting”. Grandpa would always end the story with a soft chuckle. He was a master storyteller.
    The white dog story used to scare the bejeezus out of this little 5-year-old girl. That’s been almost 60 years ago, but I still believe that dog is still sitting in that hill.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    October 27, 2016 at 5:22 am

    I wrote a response much earlier, yesterday, but somehow my e-mail decided to konk-out before I could get it posted. So here goes again! Keith Jones is my son, and even though someone commented that his “sesquipedalian” words almost required a glossary, I want to say that son, like father and mother, is a word-lover. He played word games before he was “knee-high to a grasshopper,” and he’s always loved to read and write, even before going to school! So he sort of comes naturally to words and using them. I had heard him tell the story orally, but his is the first time I’ve seen it in written form! I sort of like the attic visitor, either way!
    And how did he and Eva Nell get into the same Blind Pig Blog! I had the happy privilege of editing Eva Nell’s wonderful book: “Fiddler of the Mountains: The Life and Times of Johnny Mull.” I wish I were close enough to go to Andrews to hear her at her present and sign session. And I wish I could go to one of the Pressley Girls’ venues to hear them. Living away down in Middle Georgia is sort of unhandy to all the mountain events and places and people I miss. But y’all come right on down to Milledgeville. We have a “haunted tour” here at Halloween! It will make your hair stand up, if you have any on your head!
    Love this blind pig blog!

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    October 26, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    Tipper, I am really enjoying all the spooky tales. It reminds me of my childhood and all the Halloween fun we had as kids. Being from Tennessee we would always have fun with tales of the Bell Witch and the man looking for his head in Chapel Hill on the railroad tracks. Happy Halloween!

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    October 26, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    We grew up in an old haunted house. The first thing I remember that was odd, other than the sound of mice scurrying through the old walls which one kind of got use to, kind of, was some nights we’d hear the sound of someone wearing heavy boots or shoes dragging something across the attic floor above us. I remember one of us telling our Dad, and he said it was squirrels. I said, “Then those squirrels are wearing boots!” And we all laughed, but we kids knew it wasn’t squirrels wearing boots or heavy shoes at all.
    Our attic was reached by a square cut in the ceiling of my bedroom which had a flap that slid down into a square channel about 18″ deep that ran between my ceiling and the floor of the attic. Some days you’d go in that bedroom, and that darn door would be half open when gravity should have kept it firmly in place. We told Dad about that too, and he said the wind probably sucked it back up the channel, as if… But I did notice decades later, when our sister moved into the house and her daughters slept in that bedroom, that they’d put 2 slide locks on that door to keep it from moving, so that’s something that must’ve went on for years and years, and might still be, although the house now belongs to others.
    I hope everyone’s having a wonderful week.
    God bless.
    RB
    <><

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 26, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    While you’re down in Spartanburg County you ought to get you some raw milk. You could put it in ice in an ice chest. Or leave it out and maybe it will be ready to churn when you get home. Have you had sour cream butter or buttermilk?

  • Reply
    Ken
    October 26, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Tipper,
    I called Donna Lynn this evening and asked her if she’d play “Nearer my God to Thee” by Paul Wilson and Pap. She said “I’d probably find that on Tipper’s Blog.” I said yes and it was number 44 under the Playlist. I usually request a nice Gospel Song by Chitter and Chatter…Ken

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 26, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    I expect it would be rather satisfying to do a spirit a good turn, like maybe telling them it is quite alright for them to go home. When my time comes, I’d like to know that myself, that there is nothing keeping me here.
    Reckon maybe they missed their spectral guest?

  • Reply
    Ken
    October 26, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Tipper,
    Keith is a good writer as well as a great storyteller. He makes me almost believe in Ghosts.
    Our friends in our sister-state will finally get to see and hear Our Pressley Girls tomorrow. They’re in for a real treat. Those twins may talk a little fast for me, but you forget about all that when they start singing. Chitter and Chatter: Be safe traveling to Wofford College. …Ken

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    October 26, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    GREAT STORY!!!
    THANKS FOR THE ANDREWS LIBRARY “FIDDLE EVENT” NOTE! JUST IN TIME!!!
    Tipper:
    I will be presenting “Fiddler of the Mountains” and will play the CD of Uncle Johnny’s music over at the Andrews Library on 10-28 (1:00 p.m. til 4:00 p.m.) and HOPEFULLY on 10-29 from 10:00 til 12:00!
    I WAS HOPING WE COULD ATTEND A PERFORMANCE OF YOUR GIRLS! It has been way too long since we have attended one of their shows!
    Kindly, Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 26, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Nice little hain’ted narrative although a bit sesquipedalian for the average reader. Perhaps a glossary is in order.
    I owned a .44 Colt Navy pistol some years ago. I built it from a kit. It was a pretty thing when it was finished. I “gave” it to my brother to occupy his time. When I asked about it, “Oh! I sold it.” “Why didn’t you give it back to me?” “Oh! I didn’t know you wanted it.” I give up!
    Recently I went looking for another kit to build. Guess what! They don’t make them any more. I could buy one already put together but what’s the fun in that.
    A question? If the apparition was standing at the window looking out and his back was toward Rob, how was Rob able to discern that he was looking “longingly?”

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    October 26, 2016 at 11:42 am

    I believe ghosts exist. I plan to be one someday!

  • Reply
    Melissa P (misplaced Southerner)
    October 26, 2016 at 11:07 am

    I will be sharing my own Georgia ghost story on Halloween. It’s an absolutely true story of what happened to me on my wedding day at a plantation home in Georgia that was spared by Sherman.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 26, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Tipper,
    The poor boy was probably severely wounded in the war and didn’t make it. His mindset at the time wasn’t to go AWOL even though he just wanted to go home before he passed away. Some commander should have let him know he was going home and it would be alright! A good ghost story, but sad as well!
    I know how Mom’s can be set in their ways, but you know, most of the time Mom is always right! ha
    Thanks Tipper
    and Keith for this haunted tale!
    PS…I was just in the bathroom and heard a loud “thump” on the roof and what sounded like the scattering of little feet! Startling!
    When I went for my coffee, before settling down to read your blog, I glanced out the kitchen window. The furry bushy tailed, gray critters were having a breakfast party! In the tree by the bird feeder, they jumped back and forth from the limb to limb, on the edge of the roof and up and down and then back to the feeder! The little gray devils! They ort not do that this time of year, early in the morning when it is still near dark! Skeers a old woman!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 26, 2016 at 8:28 am

    I love this story. It’s so simple. How many things do we struggle with in this life only to discover there is really one simple answer, go home!
    Thank you Keith and Tipper.

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