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In the Valley of Shadows

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In the Valley of Shadows

House of dark shadows

...suicide is painless, it brings on many changes, and you can take or leave it... as you please.” - Johnny Mandel, The theme from M*A*S*H

Now that autumn is here, it’s the time of year I equate with the start of the “haunting” season that extends through Christmas; gloomy, rainy days or a low angle, stark sun casting long, dark shadows amid the reds and yellows of the dying trees.

A house built in the ‘20s on Lake Street in Sandpoint became haunted probably sometime during the 1960s when either a murder or suicide occurred. Whichever, it reportedly happened in the alley behind the house.The victim’s identity is not talked about, nor the possible murderer’s identity. While known by rumor, it is spoken of in hushed tones by the older residents of town, that it was a member of a well-known local family. Unfortunately, while the party(ies) involved have been mentioned to this author, I do not have the full and hard details so will not mention names.

The focus is the current goings-on in the house.

The young family I am acquainted with moved into the house about ten years ago and lived there for eight years before moving to Ponderay.

In their twenties with two young children, things got off to an unusual start as one afternoon, during their first week there, the young girl called to her father while watching cartoons.

When he arrived from the back of the house the girl asked her father the identity of the old man in the TV. Glancing at the screen, the father saw only the yellow sponge character from the show she was watching and was about to reassure his daughter that it must be her imagination or something in the show... when he saw it, too. Looking at the screen during his reassurance, he stopped in mid word when, for a split second, the face of a haggard old man with stringy white hair glared menacingly at them.

The cartoon flashed back on with a scene of the talking sponge running helter skelter. The young man was at a loss as to what to tell his daughter.

Other nights, the family would be sititng in the living room watching TV when the mother, who could see into the kitchen from the couch, would in a few flickers from the TV see an older lady in either a white dress or pajamas with long, white hair, standing in front of the kitchen sink.

Getting up, to the surprise of her family, the young mother hurried into the kitchen, flicked on the lights, only to find nothing but a puddle of water in the doorway and the figure of the woman gone. Other times, there would be wet spots on the walls where there were no pipes to account for them.

One cold, fall night, in ‘03, the parents had several guests over to play cards in the dining room. As the night wore thin, they were playing Liverpool Rummy. Suddenly the lights flickered and then went out. Just before then, everyone had three cards left or one card in their hand. Suddenly the lights came back on and one person went down with three sixes. Everyone else had only sixes in their hands.

Getting more and more spooked, the family uncharacteristically locked their doors one night when they went to bed. The next morning they woke up to a foul odor and called 9-1-1. The smell turned out to be methane gas at toxic levels from an unknown source. The family had never locked their doors before, but that night, they would have died or become seriously ill if they hadn’t. What told them to do so and thus saved their lives?

In later incidents, their CD player turned itself on in the basement, which the father was cleaning out one day. When going to shut it off, he found it was already off and there was no CD in it.

At that point the young man suddenly had an urge to clean out a drainage hole for the washer and found an ancient-looking, rusty, homemade knife or shank lodged deep in the drain.

On their final night in the house the young parents were anticipating their move into more modern... more normal... surroundings, when suddenly the nightstand radio came on. The dial strip began rapidly moving all over the bands between the stations, but it played only the same music, music of the early 60s. The music of the Rat Pack, of Dean and Sammy and Frank.

Having had enough, the young father yanked the power cord out of the wall only to have the room suddenly go freezing cold... in August.

But then, of course, this ghostly event had a silver lining. What do a healthy young couple do in bed when it gets cold?

Next month, a story of witches... in the Shadows.


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Author info

Lawrence Fury Lawrence Fury is an inveterate letter-to-the-editor writer, and a conservative conscience for this area of North Idaho. He's also an expert on local ghost stories, and is compiling a group of them for future book publication. You can read more about him in a Love Notes feature for the River Journal

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