The Forgotten Ghost

Bryce Faulkner Anderson’s life ended in prison a few days after his 42nd birthday. Incarcerated for forgery, he received an extreme sentence on account of his countless other crimes. Guilty of no less than five murders, theft and swindling, it was lack of evidence that prevented his conviction for them.

 

Prison wasn’t good to Anderson who lost in a fatal prison fight. “I’d rather kill than share my loot,” he said obstinately while even the warden witnessed his brutal end.  He died without friend or relative and the world soon forgot him . . .

 

 

The evening was warm as a breeze wafted through the open window, trailed by the sounds of a drowsing city. In her living room at 112 First Avenue, Joselyn watched the evening news.  Her lower-level apartment was part of a century-old house that had been broken up over time into small units.

 

As the anchorman recounted the day’s events, a sound arose from behind the sofa. It was a shuffling noise, as if someone was trying to grasp something they couldn’t reach.

 

Joselyn muted the TV and stopped to listen. The shuffling ceased but was replaced by scratching once she unmuted the TV.  Puzzled, she muted again and this time was able to catch the noise in action.

 

“Scraaaatch. Scratch, scratch. Scraaaatch.”

 

“What the heck is that?” she exclaimed, jumping off the couch and pulling it away from the wall.

 

There was no electrical outlet and the other side of the wall was a hallway. Maybe someone in the hall was causing the noise. She tiptoed to the front door, paused a second to listen, then jerked it open quickly to catch whoever or whatever was out there. To her surprise, the hall was empty.

 

Curious, but slightly annoyed, she returned to the living room, clicked off the TV and rolled off to bed. It was possible something had crawled inside the wall because it was an old house.

 

The next day, Joselyn put in a call to her landlord, requesting an exterminator pay a visit to isolate and eradicate the pest. The bug man arrived that afternoon and after inspecting her apartment, the entry hall and outside of the house, declared he could find no evidence of any pests that could be causing that particular noise.

 

Disconcerted, Joselyn let the man out and headed to the kitchen for a cup of tea. Over a steaming mug, she pondered the noise again, but a few minutes later, the scratching resumed.

 

An angry Joselyn slammed down her coffee cup and ran to the source and cried,  “There has to be a reason for this!”

 

She pulled out the sofa and initiate a frantic rearranging of the space. Half an hour later, the room was reversed and the offending wall was exposed.

 

“There!” she said in a satisfied tone. “At least I can see the next time it starts.”

 

As if in response to her sentiments, the scratching began again, only this time it was much louder and more urgent, as if someone was trying desperately to get her attention. She clamped her hands over her ears to block it out. Eventually, silence prevailed and she headed for the bedroom, away from the dreaded noise.

 

 

Days passed and Joselyn continued to be plagued by the noise that went off reliably whenever she was near. It was unnerving and Joselyn was losing sleep. None of her attempts to resolve the situation had worked and her nerves were wearing thin.

 

“I need to get out of here for a while,” she said, grabbing her purse and heading out of the house.

 

The afternoon passed quickly and the last stop on her errand list was the neighborhood library. A good book would keep her mind off the problem and she could read in her bedroom.

 

Passing through the library on the way to the fiction section, her attention was captured by a curious book laid out on the center table. Its pages were yellowed and filled with pictures. The image that caught her eye looked just like her apartment house and she couldn’t resist reading the accompanying story.

 

The book contained articles on local history and individual neighborhoods in her community. This particular entry was called B. F.  Anderson’s House, home of convicted swindler and suspect in no less than five murders. Joselyn sunk into the chair and lost herself in the story.

 

Apparently the house was built by a doctor who was a European immigrant. When he died, the doctor’s wife sold the place to a B. F. Anderson, a business man of unknown means. A few years after his acquisition of the property, the house was abandoned as Anderson was sent to prison. It fell into disrepair and was eventually absorbed by the city who sold it to a new owner who converted it to apartments.

 

Rumors circulated that Anderson left behind a fortune in stolen cash, yet authorities never found it.

 

“I’d rather kill than share my loot!” the author quoted Anderson as saying.

 

“Wow!” said Joselyn. “I wonder if I’m being haunted and the money’s still there?” She closed the book and headed to the section on parapsychology, determined to find a solution. “If nothing normal will work, maybe it’s time to pursue the paranormal.”

 

 

That night over dinner, she picked up the book and began browsing. Two days later, she put what she’d learned to use.

 

“Bryce Faulkner Anderson! If you’re here, make yourself known,” she commanded to the empty room.

 

“I repeat, Bryce Faulkner Anderson. If you’re here, give me a sign of your presence.”

 

After a long moment, the silence was broken by a scratching more violent than ever.

 

“That’s good Mr. Anderson. I’m hearing you,” she said, feeling silly. She had no idea if it was working or merely coincidence, but had the uncanny feeling she was getting a true response.

 

The sound of dropping coins flooded the room and she approached the wall, listening intently. Tapping the wall in places to see if she could detect anything unusual, it sounded hollow everywhere except in one small place that felt solid. Since the area above it sounded hollow, it couldn’t be a stud.

 

She retreated to the kitchen and retrieved a large knife, then returned to the wall. Using her shoe has a makeshift hammer, she pounded the knife into the wall just above the solid area she’d detected earlier. Scoring the wall with the knife and using the shoe to pound out the center, a chunk of sheetrock dropped to the floor.

 

Reaching inside, Joselyn pulled out an old metal box that had seen plenty of use. She opened the lid and looked inside. Much to her amazement, it was loaded with old bill — over $200,000! What had just happened was unbelievable . She’d made contact with a spirit and had found the missing box of loot!

 

Getting up, she crossed the living room and entered the kitchen for something cold to drink. She needed to think. But just inside the kitchen door, she slipped. Her head crashed down on the corner of the sharp cabinet and she collapsed face first onto the floor. Lying there, blood trickling from her lips, her eyes glazed and then set.

 

As Joselyn breathed her last breath, she knew she really did contact BF Anderson and that he’d rather kill than share his loot with anyone.

 

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