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Exnzpat's US Reno Story - only

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  • Exnzpat's US Reno Story - only

    This thread is reserved for Ex's story only please.
    If you want to comment refer to the thread at

    While all this scintillating Property Talk (pun intended) has been going on I have been looking at foreclosed properties here in the States. Just two weeks ago I finally purchased a property. 30 year fixed at 5.5% (Conventional Loan) not as good as I had hoped but I got such an incredible deal on the home. Almost 80% below market value and at least 20% less than other similar foreclosed homes! I couldn’t believe my luck! Even the seasoned investors in the area missed this one. The house is in another town from the one I currently live in (about one hundred miles away). Many years ago I lived in this town as a newly-wed so I know the area pretty well.

    The home was constructed in the seventies – 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, brick; Ranch style. About 1800 square feet – only needs some simple cosmetic work. The most expensive part will be the kitchen: new cabinets, appliances etc. The house may need a new roof – but I’ll look at that in more detail when I get there. I can probably do all the work for under $6000 (excluding the roof). I’ll do most of the work myself over the next two weeks (I have vacation).

    This is a great little project that I have decided to share with you. Over the next 14 days I’ll be working on this thing so I thought it would be nice to give you a blow-by-blow account of the “action” so to speak.

    Even though the market is down you can still make money from real estate!

    So, here the numbers:

    Purchase Price: $45,000

    Monthly Mortgage: $255.51

    Monthly Insurance and Tax: $160.00

    Current Market Value: $170,000 (or thereabouts)

    Now, this house is an exception. Normally, I would do a quick rehab and have it on the market the moment I got it into “showable” condition. But, because the market has taken such a dive I believe that this area will not even begin modest value-regain for at least five years. So, as much as I hate to do it – I’m going to have to get renters in for the next few years until things begin moving again. And with the price I purchased this place for – I can’t lose. But then this is real estate investing – anything can happen – and probably will!
    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx

  • #2
    Day 1 Well, I got up early and drove the hundred or so miles to the house. I signed for it last week and received the keys in the mail a couple of days ago. In my truck I packed all the tools and equipment that I should need for the job. I have a camp bed and sleeping bag, radio, Lap Top, at least a week’s worth of groceries, and my trusty lab mix, Lincoln.

    It’s the summer holidays here and my kids will be in various camps over the next week and the wife will do the running about town with them etc. That leaves me to work on this new project by myself. I work faster this way – no distractions – you understand.

    I’ve always disliked the term “flipping” but Mrs. Exnzpat and I have done it for years. Our first home became a rental as did our second. We kept moving on to bigger and better homes for ourselves about every two years. We really didn’t realize what we were doing at the time. Some houses we rented and some we just sold outright. We fixed them up while we lived in them -- we thought that’s what everyone did!

    The show “Flip this House” is a little contrived. Too much money is getting wasted on stupid stuff, like ripping out the drywall or smoothing out textured ceilings, also, way too much drama – contractors yelling at each other and such -- not very realistic. If I write this right, then over the next two weeks, you will see that the key to doing a property like this is organization and a little hard work.

    My biggest beef, and probably the source of my negativity towards some of you on PropertyTalk, comes from Posters who view real-estate investment as some frivolous game that any idiot can play – just front up the dollars and you are in. It is not that simple. It is hard work – and some people just refuse to accept it!

    I have to admit I’m not sure what it will rent for. Rent in the States is calculated on a monthly basis so my best bet right now is realistically around $700 per month. The house does not have a garage, only a carport; and that is a big negative in this Country during winter. My plan is to build a garage sometime over the next five years. But, at the moment, as a rental I’ll take a hit – my best bet to improve on the rent is to do a real nice job on this rehab.

    The purchase price on this house is not unusual for this area. But, for this much of a home, it is. This is the third contract I’ve put on a house in this town in the last year and a half. I’ve been looking for a long time. We haggled with the bank for two months on this deal. We fronted up a deposit of 20% which is normal – but get this – in the end they offered to finance our deposit! No wonder the banks are in trouble! Banks can be quite fussy when you buy from them, and quite impersonal. It was not easy because they wanted to sell on their terms not mine. Apparently I have a very good credit rating and this is why they offered to finance the deposit. The $9000 I “saved” from the deposit is what I’m spending on doing the rehab. You might say that’s a good deal -- but not me. The banks goal is to maximize the interest portion of a mortgage over time, and borrower’s goal is to minimize his principal portion over time. Either way, the borrower is stuck with the interest; this is how, in a nutshell, why a bank wins the day every day.

    All I really know about this home is that it belonged to a “newbie” landlord who got over his head. Basically, what happens to guys like this (especially over the last six years) is that they buy a rental (or a Flip) and then draw a huge line of equity on the place. Instead of putting the money back into the house – they live off it! Bad move -- very dumb – life has a way of catching up with people like that. And so here I am!

    I arrived at the house at 10am and unpacked. Lincoln bolted from the car and began sniffing about – looking for rat’s maybe?

    I set up the coffee machine, microwave, laptop etc. I’ve decided to start work in the Master bedroom first so I set up camp in the dining room. The only appointment today is the servicing of the Furnace and Air-conditioner. That’s at 1pm. So, I drove over to the local rental store and rented a wall-paper stripper and went to work in the Master bedroom. At lunchtime I cleaned out the very suspect refrigerator and for good measure; cleaned the gas stove – very nasty. I fed Lincoln, and left him to continue to familiarize himself with the house and the yard.

    The Furnace and Air-conditioning man didn’t show – so I called and bitched-them-out. They promised that someone would be around first thing in the morning.

    I have removed all the wallpaper in the Master bedroom and am now working on the removing the glue etc. Unpleasant work, but monotonous and soothing, all at the same time.

    Well, I worked until 11pm. I finished the wall clean-up in the Master bedroom and couldn’t stop myself. I put the undercoat paint on the walls and painted the ceiling; a very satisfying first day. It looks like Lincoln is ready for bed – and so am I. Goodnight.
    Erewhon is still erehwon, I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx


    • #3
      Day 2 Woke up early this morning, through the fog of sleep; it sounded like a woman was screaming. It was so loud it sounded like it was coming from inside the house, but must have been coming from the house next door. Perhaps, the old neighborhood was not what I remember! It was still dark outside so I called the cops – just in case – but they never showed up. Hmmm… looks like I’ll need to keep an eye on those neighbors!

      Over a hot cup of coffee I used the early morning to watch my neighbors going to work. They all seemed pretty normal. About 7am a man and a teenage boy emerged from the house next door. On the pretense of getting a tool from the truck I went over and said “hello.” The boy petted Lincoln who (of course) enjoyed the attention. The man’s name is Jim and he works at the local car dealership as a mechanic. His son’s name was Michael and the two lived together. The mother, it seemed, lived across town. Jim was divorced. I mentioned the scream from last night. Before his father could answer the boy interrupted and said that he was going to be late for his camp. They got into their car and drove slowly down the driveway out onto the street.

      I wonder what they are hiding in there. I thought, looking at their house.

      That was enough snooping for the day. Jim’s house has pretty much the same floor plan as mine. If they are hiding something then it should be more obvious. These are not big houses.

      My eyes and ears are what I use to absorb my world. I record it thus. Though, I will admit, that the idea of a camera has crossed my mind. But, some pictures are not worth a thousand words. Diary form is all I have. I’ll do my best but let me ask you, isn’t a poem just an efficient and succinct version of a short story? And isn’t a short story just a more efficient and succinct version of a novel? But no matter the story -- there are some that -- just when you think you know the ending – can surprise you. Before and after shots are all good and well but this is just a simple rehab of a little home, that in a few weeks will need renters. But like they say: “it’s not over until the fat lady sings” and there’s still a long way to go yet.

      The Furnace and Air-conditioning man hasn’t shown up yet. Already, two hours late. I called the shop and they said they were now having difficulty finding someone. They called me back and promised that someone would be there around 4pm.

      I went back to work. I inspected my work from last night and decided that the Master bedroom would need another coat on the wall. It only took an hour. Then something strange happened. As I was cleaning up my rollers and brushes in the kitchen I swear I heard a child sobbing. Lincoln heard it too. His ears picked-up and he followed the sound out of the kitchen and into the hallway that led to the three bedrooms. I followed Lincoln. Though, he stopped short of the hallway and would go no further. The sound was coming from the back bedroom; the smallest of the three. I walked around Lincoln who just stared up at me with that worried Lab look in his eyes. As I approached the bedroom door the sound stopped. “Who’s there?” I shouted. Nothing. The bedroom was empty. Very odd, and I might add; creepy.

      The Furnace and Air-conditioning man still hasn’t shown. However, the owner of the company promised me that he would be over first thing in the morning and do the work himself. Hmmm… See, its unexpected annoyances like this that can throw you off. The furnace and air conditioner are fairly new and are probably in good shape, and while they seem to be working fine – they need to be serviced – and these local-yokels have already delayed my schedule by two days! Ahrrrr…

      I spent the evening tearing out the carpet in the Master bedroom and used high gloss white paint on the baseboards. I dumped the old carpet, along with the rest of my growing pile of garbage, in the carport next to the truck. In a few days time I’m having a dumpster delivered and that will take the place of my “pile.”

      So far the Master bedroom looks pretty good. The hardwood beneath the carpet was new, probably only a few years old (something I checked before buying the house) is in good shape and will only need a very light sanding and a quick polyurethane coat. I’ll try and do it tonight before bed.
      Erewhon is still erehwon, I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

      "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx


      • #4
        Day 3 I got a good night sleep last night – no noisy neighbors. Perhaps yesterday’s introduction to my neighbor Jim put him on notice.

        See – no ghosts. Perhaps the scream I heard the night before was Matt Gilligan, seeing the Sponge Bay thread back up atop the pile – you never know.


        I had a slight headache but that was probably due to the polyurethane coat I put on the Master bedroom floor last night -- dust and chemical -- a recipe for pain.

        The Master Bedroom is complete except for the final coat of paint. Mrs. Exnzpat and the kids will be up on Saturday and will decide on the colors for the house interior. So, I’ll continue sleeping in the dining room for now.

        Wallpaper is a curious substance. Why do people use it? Who was the first guy to say, “I think this red rum swizzle of a floral arrangement is going to look real good plastered onto all four walls of this room.” It’s sticky and is a difficult to remove once up. I wonder; do people have regrets after putting it up? Some people like wallpaper, others do not. I am definitely in the latter camp. So, because of the cost for the rental of the wall-paper remover (approx $30USD a day which if I remember correctly, in New Zealand, when I did a house down there was approx $30NZD per day) I decided to do nothing but strip wallpaper -- until it’s all off.

        At 9am the Furnace and Air-conditioning man showed up! Thank goodness. He seemed a little skittish but apparently ten years ago he had actually installed the unit himself. I followed him down into the basement where the furnace and water heater is. He went to work removing panels and cleaning. He was not very talkative but I offered him some coffee and he seemed grateful for the offer so I turned to go back upstairs to the kitchen and he said something very strange. “You’re not going to leave me are you?”

        “I’m just going to make the coffee.” He seemed to ponder this and then said “I had hoped you would wait until I was done down here – I’ll only be a few minutes.”


        He took about twenty minutes. Finally, after looking over the gas hot water heater, which he said would need to be replaced in less than two years; we went upstairs into the kitchen. While I made the coffee he went out the backdoor and began the inspection of the air-conditioning unit. I took his coffee out to him. In the light of the day he became quite chatty.

        “Sorry, I acted a little weird down in the basement just now. But, I had a bad experience at this house when I originally installed the unit ten or so years back.” He paused. “You know about the murders, right?”


        “You’re kidding? You bought this place and don’t know about the murders?” He said it a little too incredulously.

        “About thirty years ago. A few years after this place, and this whole neighborhood was built, the guy who owned this place went crazy and took an axe and killed his wife and kid here. Everyone knows about it.”

        Apparently, everyone but me.

        “Is that’s why you couldn’t get anyone over here for the last few days?” I asked.

        “Yeah, this place creeps most people out – none of my guys wanted to come here. Man, I bet you got a good price on this place.”

        He went on. “Yeah, the last time I was here I had to go up into the attic to work on some ducting up there and I swear to God that as I was climbing down from the ceiling access I felt something grab my ankle and a voice yelled “Oh, no you don’t!” at me. There was no one there, of course. It scared the crap out of me and I’ve never been back…well, until now.” He said this last part reflectively looking up at the back-side of the house.

        He finished his coffee and handed me his cup. “Thanks for the coffee I’ll send you the bill.” He made his way out to the street through the side yard. I sat down on the deck and rubbed Lincoln’s ears and thought about what he said. All of a sudden the house took on a different look, a bias if you like. Isn’t that an odd thing – how a house can almost have a personality. Damn!

        I spent the rest of the day stripping wallpaper. I finished late. I’m too tired to worry about superstitious Furnace and Air-conditioning men and disembodied voices!

        Well, what do you think? What advice can one give to someone who may have just purchased a blighted house? I did not say haunted. That was BlueKiwi. I don’t believe in all that nonsense. But, I do believe in “history” and the way people “talk.” A house is merely a house – sticks and stones; where are the bones? It’s people who put the bones in them. A story of a haunting has the very practical nature of lowering the equity and value of my house (investment). This is about money -- not the gabbing of silly Furnace and Air Conditioning Men.
        "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx


        • #5
          Day 4

          I got a good night sleep last night and was up by 8am. I took the wallpaper remover back to the rental place and spent the rest of the morning washing and cleaning the walls. Wallpaper glue is a bitch!

          Just before lunch, as I was coming out of the hallway bathroom, I eyed the crawlspace access panel into the attic. The access panel was just outside the Master bedroom. I couldn’t help but think of the Furnace mans story. What a load of nonsense. I went and got the small wooden step ladder, the one I use for indoor work, and set it up under the panel.

          One of the things I like doing during in a rehab job is to add extra lighting. Lighting is an easy accessory. Buyers and renters will pay a lot more for a home that has good lighting! Two sconces placed either side of where the Master bed would be would be a nice touch.

          You may be wondering how I know how to do all this stuff. Well, it came about, not by not being able to afford to have work done by licensed electricians or plumbers and the like, but by the shear frustration of waiting for them to arrive! Anyone who has ever needed simple things done about their house such as a hanging a new light or fixing a leaky faucet knows exactly what I’m talking about. I only do simple stuff and over the years have gotten quite good at electrical, plumbing, woodworking, dry wall, flooring and painting. I don’t touch big stuff like electrical panels (other than simple circuit breakers) or run new water piping. But, I don’t hesitate to tackle simple things, and it is the simple things that run up your costs during a rehab. For example: while the cowardly Furnace and Air Conditioning Man worked on my furnace I was watching him very closely. And while I may not have picked up the nuances of his work, I did see what and how he did it. With the furnace he simply unscrewed the front cover and removed an array of small metal nozzles. These nozzles he cleaned with a wire brush. I have a wire brush– ergo, I can do his job – and I won’t spend a couple days waiting for him to show up, and my time is free! Over the years I’ve saved literally thousands of dollars by knowing how to do this stuff. Plus I enjoy it.

          Adding the sconces will take only a few minutes.

          Taking my measuring tape I roughed out an estimate for the locations of the sconces. I went down into the basement and shutoff the main power. I still had not mapped the circuit panel and did not want to take any chances. I selected the tools that I would need for the job and cut three lengths at 15 feet each of standard house wire.

          The attic was what you would expect in a ranch-style house. The roof above me was too low to stand beneath but I could crouch at least. A couple of sheets of cheap pine board had been set down to create some storage space. Neither board was nailed in place. Good; I can use one of them to scoot across the rafters and use as a platform to work from. Until you have fallen through a ceiling you can’t appreciate this concept -- and I’ve fallen through plenty of ceilings – much to the annoyance of Mrs. Exnzpat! No pity – just annoyance.

          With flashlight in hand I looked about the attic. Over a bed of pink insulation snaked power and telephone lines. On one of the pine boards sat a crumpled dusty cardboard box. I peered in – just an assortment of old toys and tied stacks of papers. Some little metal cars and bits and pieces of a Lego set etc. Junk. One of the bundles of papers looked to be letters and it caught my eye just as I was about to push the box away. The letters were old and dusty, and quite hard to read in the dim light of my flashlight; the country on the return address of the top letter was New Zealand. Hey! Talk about coincidence! I’ll have to get this box down later and go through it when I have more time. But for now I closed it up and went to work.

          After a little dithering about I managed to get the board slid against what is the bedroom wall. With my handy-dandy battery charged drill I popped three holes into the cross piece and pushed my three wires down the three holes to about six feet or so. I looked for and found a wire that was running (to what I presumed was the power outlet in the hallway) and spliced in my three wires I enclosed the lot in a metal housing and screwed it onto the closest cross-piece. And that’s it – done. It only took about fifteen minutes.

          I gathered up my tools and looked down through the panel into the hallway below.

          “Hi Lincoln” I said. Lincoln was standing by the Master bedroom door next to the ladder. And then, when he saw me he began to growl; low at first and then…

          “Hey, Lincoln it’s just me.” I said.

          But, Lincoln’s growl turned vicious. His teeth bared and the hackles on the back of his neck picked up. His growl turned into a full-scale-attack warning.


          Lincoln was a Lab mix. He is a big powerful dog, his other half, Bull Terrier, is not his better half. And right at that moment that Terrier was really showing, square jaw, flat head. A violent growl interspersed with sharp dangerous barks. And big, big yellowed teeth. With his hackles up he looked twice the size.

          Not exactly sure how to handle this; I stared down at him and thought about my options. I sure as hell wasn’t going down there, not at least until he calmed down. But, at the same time, I couldn’t spend all day up here – I had work to do!

          But, then I noticed something about Lincoln. It all happened so fast. He wasn’t looking at me. He was looking past me. Oh my God! Do you know what the feeling is like when someone is standing behind you? Watching you! Do you? That’s exactly what I felt. Someone was behind me! And that was why Lincoln was going ballistic!

          Every hair on my body pricked up. Every nerve ending tingled and my body stiffened with fear. I wanted to turn and look but couldn’t bring myself to do it. All the while Lincoln, at the bottom of ladder, was trying his best to defend me! I dragged myself out of the crawlspace and practically threw myself down the ladder. When I reached the floor I looked up.

          There was something, what, I’m not sure. But, a wisp of gossamer, a trick of the light maybe; I’m not sure but I do know that my nerves were definitely frazzled. In all my life I have never been so scared. When I hit the floor Lincoln’s demeanor changed. He was shaken himself. But, like a good dog he came to me and wouldn’t stop licking me. I dumped my tools where I sat and the both of us went outside for some much needed fresh air.

          Time for an assessment:

          First, I don’t believe in Ghosts. Second, I really did not have time for a haunted house. But, it does appear, on the face of it, that I do have some sort of supernatural problem. Over the years, with many houses under my belt, I have owned some houses that have definitely given me the creeps. But, this was different. Dare I say it – almost physical. I once owned a hundred and fifty year old home in a three hundred year old neighborhood that, when night fell, was just positively spooky. But, that was it, a little restlessness before sleep finally came, but other than that – nothing. So, why should this forty year old ranch house be different?

          As for whitt’s expectations of photos and an address -- that is now completely out of the question. I had considered it, but now it is best to keep this private and local. It is one thing for the local townspeople to know of my predicament -- it is a whole other thing for it to become public knowledge. The last thing I need is for my investment to fall flat on its face before it has even begun! Therefore, I hope you will forgive me if we keep it this way.

          I sat on the front porch rubbing Lincoln’s ears and chin, while I considered the situation.

          After about an hour, and after Lincoln had wondered off into the yard to sniff at something, I went back into the house. Basically, I decided, that ghost or no ghost I needed to finish the rehab and get this place rented. It was that simple.

          I cleaned up the hallway of my fallen tools and after closing the access panel (I did peek back up into the attic – no spooks) and put the ladder away. I turned back on the power and went into the kitchen and made some lunch and put some fresh water out for Lincoln. After some food I felt better and decided to spend the rest of the day in the yard. Mrs. Exnzpat would be here tomorrow night with the kids, and a cut lawn, and trimmed bushes and hedges would be just the touch the place needed to give the impression that our money had been well spent.

          I worked outside until about 7pm. It was hot hard work, but satisfying. By the time I finished I had gathered a large pile of yard waste which I dumped unceremoniously on the drive way. The house had, instead of a garage, a car port attached to its side. Not unusual in this climate, but rare. Then I realized my mistake. My truck was still under the car port and my pile of weeds, leaves, branches and grass cuttings were blocking my exit. Damn! I spent an extra half-hour moving the pile onto my newly cut and trimmed lawn and then moved the truck out onto the street. Tomorrow morning (Friday) the dumpster, or “skip” as you call them in New Zealand, is supposed to be delivered. Just like in New Zealand, when someone brings a dumpster into a neighborhood, the neighbors begin using it for themselves. So the plan was to have the dumpster delivery guy offload the thing as high up onto my driveway as he could get it. This way, if the neighbors got any ideas, they would have to come up onto the property to do their business. Little deterrents like that come from experience.

          After diner I took Lincoln for a walk; which he thoroughly enjoyed. When we returned to the house I noticed Jim, my neighbor, sitting on his front porch. He beckoned for me to come over.

          “Sorry, I cut you off short the other day. Would you like a coffee?” He said.

          “A little late – but if you have a decaff – I’d be interested.” Jim went inside and I made myself comfortable on a cushioned chair on his front porch.”

          After a few minutes Jim returned with a metal tray and two cups, and a carafe of coffee. “Do you want some cream and sugar?”


          Jim handed me a cup and we chatted amiably about the weather. Eventually, he came around to what amounted to an apology for his son Michael cutting him off the other day when I brought up the “scream.”

          It seems that Michael had been friends with a boy who had lived in the house the previous year and had had a bad experience in the house. The boy and his family had moved out and Michael refused to go near the house again. Michael said the house was haunted. And basically, anything to do with my house just freaked him out.

          I asked Jim what he thought.

          “Well, I’ve heard some odd noises coming from the house. But, nothing that would make me believe that the house was haunted – not that I’d know what a haunted house sounded like.”

          That, I thought was a good point. What exactly does a haunted house sound like? Does anyone know? Is it chains rattling in the hallways, grabbing hands, screaming in the night? It makes you think doesn’t it? I once read that physiologists considered people who experienced hallucinations, like haunting, and visions as suffering from mini seizures in the temporal lobe portion of their brains -- and the experience can actually be induced in a laboratory by scientists. It makes you think doesn’t it, and true or not, the very idea demonstrates the mechanized nature of our bodies and the mechanization of our universe. All things can be explained, and while I couldn’t explain what had happened up in the attic today, it gave me good measure, that somewhere out there an explanation was waiting.

          I liked Jim and decided that I was lucky to have him as a neighbor. His practicality gave me strength to bid him goodnight and head back into the house for a shower and bed.
          "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx


          • #6
            Day 5 I got another good sleep last night and woke relatively refreshed.

            Today was the day I measured for the new kitchen. Pretty much everything was going to be trashed, so I needed to get it measured up and the new stuff ordered. I had some breakfast, and spent about fifteen minutes measuring things out. I tidied up and sat with coffee and Lincoln out on the front porch waiting for the Dumpster to arrive. Around 9am it arrived and with much bumping and clanking the thing sat squarely in the driveway -- just daring the neighbors to put their crap in it!

            I dumped in the old Master bedroom carpet and other accumulated junk that I stacked under the carport and yesterday’s yard waste. Before leaving the house I went into the basement and fired off three “Foggers” to kill the bugs. The “Fogger” spreads a fine mist of bug poison up and through the house. I had noticed there was a whole bunch of spiders and other creepy-crawlies down there and hopefully this would do the trick.

            I loaded Lincoln and myself into the truck and headed for the hardware store.

            I purchased an array of pre-built pine cabinets. It sounds cheap, but with two coats of high gloss white paint - these things would look sharp. For the kitchens floor I choose a blond wood grained Pergo – a very hardy and tough product. I also purchased a cream colored refrigerator, a cream colored gas stove and a cream colored dishwasher. I made arrangements to have the appliances delivered and installed on Monday morning, and then headed back for home. The Pergo and the cabinets were loaded into the truck.

            Once back at the house I parked the truck up the driveway as far as I could get it; because of the dumpster. I unloaded the new cabinets and carried them up under the carport. Once there I set up a makeshift paint stand and began work priming the cabinets. One by one I primed them and set each one aside when done.

            I went inside and rustled up some lunch. Lincoln nosed at my sandwich. He was a good dog and I gave him a piece of luncheon meat; at which he seemed delighted. I leant against the sink eating my sandwich, my back turned to Lincoln. I poured a glass of water and drank. Turning around I noticed that Lincoln had left the kitchen and had gone, I presumed, into the dining room. I continued eating my sandwich and noticed that no sound was coming from the dining room where Lincoln had gone. Hmmm... I decided to investigate. When I turned the corner I stopped up short and starred in a stunned amazement. Sitting in at the entrance of the hallway in the living room was Lincoln. He was sitting quietly while a small dark haired boy about five or six petted him quietly. I took a step forward; Lincoln turned and looked at me. A quizzical concerned, but unafraid, look came from those lab eyes of his as if to say, “look what I found.”

            Slowly, very slowly the boy followed Lincolns gaze and turned and saw me. I must have looked a sight, sandwich in hand, mouth open, starring; silent; surreal.

            The boys face was much like the face of any young boy. He could be any boy; his most striking feature was his dark hair -- black, black like night. His face, on seeing me, went from the calm of a placid lake to the torment of a rising river. Fear, naked and palatable sprang to his face. He quickly withdrew his hand from Lincolns’ head and took a step backwards. Before I could react the boy turned and ran. He ran down the hallway towards the back bedroom. Lincoln whined as he looked after him. I didn’t run after him, I simply strode over to Lincoln and looked down the hallway. Lincoln looked up at me. I think he was as confused as I was. Where had the boy come from?

            I searched the bedrooms but found nothing. In the small bedroom at the end of the hallway I checked the closet. Nothing. But as I walked in I sensed that cold-dread feeling you get sometimes late at night when all is still. In the bedrooms closet I noticed something I had not been aware of before. Just above a roughly built-in bookcase was another trapdoor into the ceiling. Looking closely at the bookcase I determined that yes, it could be used as a ladder. I brought my own ladder into the room and peered up into the space above. No boy. A few loose pieces of board ran crosswise across the rafters – but nothing more. A hiding place if nothing else…

            Hiding from what?

            I stayed outside for the rest of the day working on the kitchen cabinets.

            In 1531 Juan Diago, a native American living in what is now Mexico City, saw a strangely dressed lady on a hill. The Lady gave him a message to take to the local Bishop. The message was that she wanted a temple be built. Juan Diago complied with the Lady’s wishes but the Bishop told him he needed proof of the Lady. Three more times Juan Diago saw the Lady on the hilltop. He explained the Bishops’ reluctance and disbelieve. Finally the Lady told him to gather flowers from the hilltop, and because it was December even Juan Diago was skeptical. But, there on the hilltop amongst the Lady were flowers, Roses of many different varieties. Even varieties that Juan Diago, had himself, never seen. He cut the flowers and returned them to the Lady. The Lady took Juan Diagos’ coat, arranged the flowers and then wrapped them carefully in the coat. “Take these”, She said, “to the Bishop, here is his proof.”

            Four times Juan Diago saw and spoke with Lady. Did Juan Diago suffer from Temporal Lobe Seizures? Well, did he? Was something akin to this happening to me or am I just simply hallucinating?

            When the Bishop opened Juan Diagos’ coat the flowers fell to the ground and an instant image of the Lady appeared on the coat. This was witnessed by more than just the two of them. Not, only is this documented by the witnesses present but in microscopic images of the image of the Lady’s eyes on the coat, is the reflection of the people standing next to the Bishop when he opened the coat.

            Is that it? Is that the difference between hallucination and Miracle; witnesses? Juan Diago had the Bishop and his entourage. Me; all I have is a Lab/Terrier mix named Lincoln. Am I losing my mind?

            The Lady got her temple built. You can visit it yourself, if you’re interested, and you can see the image of the Lady as well. The image is known as “Our Lady of Guadalupe” and hangs in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico.

            If I’m to quantify my experience at all then all I have are those experiences that have been declared Miracles, “Our Lady of Guadalupe” is but only one of many. So then I ask you what is my alternative explanation if not miraculous -- the ravings of a lunatic? Please, Lord let it not be the latter.

            It’s getting late. I’m going to try and sleep now.
            "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx


            • #7
              Day 6
              I woke up with another headache; those damn Foggers (the bug spray) most probably.

              I went into the kitchen and made coffee. It helped clear my head some and I planned out my morning. Mrs. Exnpat and the kids will arrive around 2pm. So, I started to clean-up my camp bed and personal stuff in the dining room so I could work in there. With the wallpaper gone and walls cleaned all that was left to do was little patching and then an undercoat. One of the things that had drawn me to the house in the first place was the quality of the walls, which apart from the wall paper, were in excellent shape. The ceilings on the other hand... It always amazes the things that find their way up on to a ceiling.

              The ceilings in this house were stained and tired. An easy fix, but hard work; I always end up with a sore neck.

              With spackling drying on the walls I moved my sleeping gear into the Master bedroom and then got to the drudgery of painting the dining room ceiling. I find that once I start something it’s hard to stop so I moved into the living room and did that ceiling as well. I broke for lunch and checked PropertyTalk.com for the latest. After lunch I cleaned up my tarps and paint and then went to work on the kitchen. The kitchen is one of the best features of the house. None of the plumbing or electrical needed to be moved so this in itself made this Redo financially viable and easy work for me.

              I moved my groceries, plates, utensils, microwave, and coffee machine into the Master bedroom with my other stuff and then shut off the water to the house. After about thirty minutes I had disconnected the water to the kitchen sink and the dishwasher. I capped off the pipes and disconnected the drains. I turned the water back on and checked for leaks. All was well.

              The arrival of the exnzpat family was heralded by Lincolns excited barking. He bounced up and down at the dining room window and then, decided that that wasn't going to get him any closer, tore past me in while I worked in the kitchen, and out the kitchen door. I put down my tools and followed him out.

              After hugs and kisses and a quick tour of the house, and the work I had done, it was time to put the family to work. I did not mention my “experiences” of these past few days.

              A house Redo for the exnzpat family is a family affair. We all pitch in. Mrs. Exnzpat chooses the colors and handles the budget. The oldest son, exnzpat1, at seventeen years old, helps me with the heavy lifting and anything to do with a sledge hammer. Number two child, exnzpat2, a female and fifteen, helps her mother with the paint colors, and of late, appears to be dressing for some sort of fashion parade that exists only in her mind. I told her that there was a boy about her age next door and only received a cold stare. The youngest, exnzpat3, a nine year old boy, spends most of his time exploring and playing with Lincoln. And so we went to work.

              One of the amazing things about Mrs. Exnzpat is that she is actually legally blind, and color blind on top of that. She can't drive at night and once on a clear day confused a cow for a man wearing a trench coat. But, boy can she pick colors. It's a rare skill and so far, has been a profitable one for us. She and our daughter wandered about the house with a pen and a notepad. The youngest headed outside with the dog to play. To the oldest, I handed a sledgehammer and together we went to work on the kitchen cabinets. After half an hour we pretty much demolished the place, all except the counter top which was a high quality oak butcher block. This we lifted carefully from the vanity beneath, and placed it outside under the carport next the primed cabinets. We went back inside, and careful not to damage the plumbing, went merrily back to ripping the place apart. Next, we conscripted exnzpat3 to help drag the debris to the dumpster. This took the rest of the afternoon.

              We let the youngest wander off to his play. The next phase for us consisted of installing the new vanity, and reinstalling the sink, taps and countertop -- fairly simple, but awkward. The hard work lay in prepping the walls behind the vanity. This meant scraping, cleaning and spackling. We had to remove part of the linoleum floor which exposed the sub-floor. Finally, we were able to lay down heavy black insulating plastic and set the three under cabinets in place. We manhandled the countertop back through the door, and once satisfied with the fit, screwed everything into place. We dropped the sink into place and I showed my son how to hook everything back together. I couldn't help smiling to myself once the water was back on. He's a good kid and this had been fun.

              While we did all this, the wife and daughter had already left and returned from the paint store, and after a quick stop at the Pizza Parlor, returned with paint and pizza. A most excellent combination!

              It had been a long day and after tossing the fridge, stove, and dishwasher into the dumpster it was definitely time for a break. We cleaned up and went inside. The girls had made a makeshift picnic in the middle of the dining room: pizza boxes, cokes in the middle, Lincoln outside. We chowed down.

              Well, around seven it was time to bid the family farewell. They were heading over to Mrs. Exnzpat’s sister (they had a pool and cats and fortunately for me; Lincoln was staying), a two hour drive from here. They would spend the next week there and be back here next Sunday and together we would drive back home. The Rehab would be finished by then (I hope).

              Because of my wife’s eyesight problems, and the fact that we still didn’t trust the oldest boy fully with driving yet they needed to leave before nightfall.

              I kissed them goodbye and gave my oldest a handshake – he did good work today. He made me proud.

              I watched the car until I could see it no more and then turned slowly and walked back into the house with Lincoln at my side.
              Last edited by muppet; 24-06-2009, 07:05 PM.
              "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx


              • #8
                Day 7 Thud, thud went the sledge hammer. Thud, thud, thud … I was dreaming.

                “OH MY GOD! WHAT ARE YOU DOING…” a woman’s voice. It trailed off into a bloodcurdling scream.

                I sat full up at attention in the camp bed. I had moved it back into the dining room. Don’t ask me why, maybe I was just used to being there…maybe I felt safer.

                It was the same scream I had heard on my first night.

                I sat stock-still in the bed my heart beating loudly. The house was now dead quiet. In the darkness of the room I could just make out Lincoln standing, sharp and alert staring across the living room towards the hallway and the bedrooms beyond.

                Other than a low guttural growl from Lincoln there was silence.

                It was too early to get up and too late to go back to sleep. I just lay there listening until I could stand it no more.

                My headache had returned and so, after a struggle, I dragged myself out of bed and into the kitchen. With no refrigerator, I had moved my perishables into one corner; I rustled through the assorted food stuffs and plastic bags and finding the milk and coffee and sugar brewed a pot of coffee. Lincoln joined me. He did not look happy. Poor guy wasn't getting any sleep either. I looked at my watch. It was 4am. Damn!
                This place is really beginning to piss me off!

                This time I did not call the police. But instead, decided that I would go to Church this morning.

                For those of you not familiar with the Catholic Church: normally, prior to Mass (or Communion) we Catholics are required to attend Reconciliation (better known as Confession). At least that’s the rule. But basically, these days, you can do it any time.

                Reconciliation today is nothing like what you see in the movies. The small confessional booth with the Priest behind a curtain etc. Don't get me wrong; we still have the booths. But, the modern version of Confession is normally held in the Priests' office and is a very casual affair. It's more of a chat than a confession.

                I hung about after Mass. I did not know the Priest. My wife and I had belonged to this Parish more than fifteen years ago before we moved south to the home we live in now. Our oldest had been baptized here.

                Catching the Priest alone was not easy. As the parishioners filed out almost every one of them stopped to talk with him; to the kids, he gave a “high-five” as they passed. Finally, I got a clear shot and introduced myself. I told him I needed to talk to him alone if possible. I guess I looked earnest enough, or maybe he confused my tired eyes and drawn face, for someone who may have just committed a mortal sin - and needed to confess it like-yesterday!

                He led me to his office in the Rectory, which was in the building next to the church. We sat and he asked me a little about myself and was there something else I needed to discuss?

                I told him my story.

                He seemed concerned, and while he was not familiar with that back-story of the house i.e. the murders, he asked me a myriad of questions about the scream. Everything, from what the disembodied voice said, to the tone and pitch, and even the feel of the thing. He seemed particularly interested in the time that the voice made itself heard. All I knew was that it was between 3am and 4am. But, then I had only heard the voice on two different occasions.

                I could tell that the appearance of the boy bothered him deeply and he was having difficulty categorizing the apparition into his field of priestly expertise.

                "Have you shared these experiences with anyone other than me?" He asked.


                I told him about you guys at PropertyTalk.com and how I began this thing as a simple diary of a rehabbed house.

                He pondered this information for a while, and then said "you know sometimes when it's late and I'm sitting at my computer," he paused and indicated to his computer on the far side of his desk, "I too can get that feeling. You know, like the one you described. It starts on the back of your arms - a tingling at first - and then the hairs pop up on your arms and then move to your spine and shiver their way up to the base of your skull. And you know - I want to turn around and look. You know what I mean - like someone is standing behind me."

                He stopped and looked at me as I nodded. "Yeah, that's the feeling."

                He went on. "Perhaps, when you post on this PropertyTalk thing your imagination just runs away from you?"

                I thought about this for a moment and told him something that I have not shared with the PropetyTalk readers before. "Father, I don't think so. My dog Lincoln experiences the same stuff at the same time I do. But, I think I'm actually losing my memory - or at least parts of it. When I post on PropertyTalk I am making a reference to things I did the day before. Sometimes I don't remember doing most of the things I said I did. And it does seem that my memory loss is getting worse. PropertyTalk.com is my anchor to reality. Does that make sense?"

                An example of my memory loss was the kitchen cabinets that I had still not installed – the ones that were to go on the walls. They were still outside under the carport. After I had brought them home I had put a white wood primer on them. I noticed yesterday when working with exnzpat1 on the kitchen – that there was at least a first coat of high gloss white on them! I guess I must have done something after I had seen the apparition of the dark-haired boy. I must have done something because I'm pretty sure I did not go back into the house!

                The priest did not have an answer to that one. “Perhaps,” he suggested unhelpfully, “you should see a doctor,” And perhaps Lincoln should see a vet? I almost said it out loud. Almost, but I held my tongue. Instead I said I would think about it.

                I thanked the Priest for his help. He gave me a small bottle of Holy Water a Rosary and a couple of prayer cards. He blessed me, and then wished me luck.

                Before I left I asked him, "Father, do you think I'm going mad?"

                He looked thoughtful, "Son, stress and hard physical work and lack of a good nights’ sleep can wreak havoc on the human mind. Go in peace and come back and see me before the week is over -- we can talk some more.” He was gentle man, and kind too, and I did feel better after talking with him. I made my way back to the rental.

                It was about 1:30pm when I got back to the house. I had swung by the local bar and picked up a burger and fries and sat out on the front porch with Lincoln eating. Lincoln seemed more interested in my burger than ghosts. "Luck dog", I thought, "I wish I did."

                Did you know, a Crystal Radio has no battery or electrical input? This device is totally inert. It relies solely on the crystal itself, a bit of copper wire and the elements of earth and air. I bought one a few years back for my youngest child on his birthday and became quite fascinated by it. In a world that practically devours energy here we have a simple device that harnesses the natural world about us. Quite amazing!

                A house is divided into zones. This house is no different. The kitchen, the dining room, the living room, and the Master bedroom are safe places. The hallway, second bedroom and the Master bathroom have a definite feel of dread to them, but the third bedroom, and smallest bedroom, down at the end of the hallway, feels dangerous, dreadful and cold. The basement and the second smaller bathroom feel safe except the part that runs underneath the hallway. Now perhaps, just perhaps, much like the way a Crystal Radio does its thing could a certain alignment of materials in the house – surrounding the rear bedroom – create some sort of electrical attraction that stimulates the brain -- perhaps in the area of the Temporal Lobe?

                I thought about this as I splashed the Holy Water about the house. I placed the prayer cards and Rosary on the floor next to my camp bed. It may seem an odd thing to you, but the average Catholic understands the comfort this would bring me.

                I thought about the box up in the attic or more to the point, the bundle of letters in the box up in the attic. The return address on the top letter had piqued my curiosity. Should I go and get them? They were in easy reach. I could just swing up there and quickly haul them down before the thing… I don’t want to think about the thing -- other than that there is probably a logical and very human explanation for last week’s strange experience in the attic. Time and time again I went over it in my mind. Had I experienced it just for myself – that would have been one thing – but Lincoln experienced it too – and of that fact I was helpless to explain away as imagination or some kind temporal lobe seizure.

                AustroKiwI, I am surprised that you think my diary narrative of the daily events may be following some formulaic scary movie script. I can assure you that I have no idea what will happen from day to day, though I will admit, that if there is something dark and evil living in my attic then bringing down the box may take the calm of yesterday's story to, in your words: “… a full moon and ghostly storm clouds…” tomorrow...

                I decided to get the box. I rehearsed it in my mind before I did it. I set up the ladder, stepped back and took a deep breath. Then in one swift movement clambered up the ladder snapped open the trap door and leaned in as far as I could and grabbed one worn edge of the cardboard box and dragged it towards me. It only took a few seconds and I was safely back in the dining room -- I laughed out loud with relief of my effort – no ghosts! Ha! This is, after all, my house! Screw You! I shouted (perhaps a little too hysterically) at nobody.

                I made a space amongst my beddings and opened the box. Lincoln curled up beside me.

                For at least three hours I poured through the letters while sitting on the dining room floor, it was amazing. All I can say at this time is: WOW! If true – it changes everything!

                Mrs. Exnzpat would say I was wasting time – and she would be right. Time is money and I needed to get back to work. I put the letters carefully back in the box and not knowing what else to do with it decided that I it should go back up into the attic for safe keeping. The house was, after all, a work zone and the letters were very very old and very very valuable.

                The problem of course, was getting the box back into the attic. My earlier bravado had now faded, sobered no doubt by the contents of the letters, and as I approached the ladder that cold-dread feeling played across my body. I stopped up short. Lincoln felt it too. Lincoln’s ears were perked up and a low growl reverberated quietly from his belly. His hackles weren’t up yet.

                They say a dog’s senses are better than a humans – I think any dog owner would agree. And so for tens of thousands of years dogs have been mankind’s closet companions (cat owners may disagree). I watched Lincoln for clues.

                We must have looked a sight standing next to each other in the living room staring at a ladder. A dog and his master – afraid of a ladder – surely our primordial ancestors would have been appalled at our cowardice. Soon Lincoln’s muscles relaxed and his growl quieted. I felt it too – the coldness lifted -- very strange. But even so my confidence had been shaken and I decided to put the box in the only place I knew would be out of the way for now; on one of the shelves in the closet of the back bedroom. As much as I feared this room – I had already decided that this was the last room to be rehabbed and so the box and its contents would be safe there. I did it quickly. Hell, I practically ran there and back!

                I spent the rest of the afternoon installing the Kitchen cabinets. An easier job than you might think for one person. These cabinets are all the wall cabinets.

                What you do is, apart from measuring, is to screw or nail a 1 x 2 inch board onto the wall (make sure its level), find the studs, and then, when level, screw the cabinets into the wall. It's that simple. Just don't forget to remove the 1 x 2 inch board when you're done.

                Once everything was in place I surveyed the room and decided that I needed to get to work on the floor. That way, when the new appliances arrive tomorrow I'd have something to put them on.

                I spent the next hour tearing up the linoleum and exposing the sub-floor and then, from the truck, lugged the three long boxes of Pergo hardwood up to the house that I'd brought a couple of days earlier.

                In my own house I would never use Pergo for my floors, but rather, real wood. Pergo has its detractors, but for rental property I cannot speak more highly of this product. Pergo hard wood is incredibly resistant to the worst renters, waterproof, and actually looks pretty good. And over the years, Pergo has gotten more expensive because of these very attributes. It has, in some cases, become more expensive than some brands of real hard wood!

                As night came, I didn’t stop work. I broke for a quick diner and later took Lincoln for a short walk. But other than that – I worked – I think I’m beginning to fear sleep.
                "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx


                • #9
                  Day 8 My headache returned with a vengeance and I wondered if the house contained toxic mold. Surely, the bug spray from the Foggers had dissipated by now? I hadn’t observed any mold but that did not mean that it wasn’t there. It could easily be hiding behind the walls. It had been a restless night and for the second time now I thought I heard a child softly crying.

                  The previous night: I had finished putting down the Pergo. The kitchen looked great! Next, I went to work on painting. I got the final coats of paint onto the Dining room, Hallway, and bathroom. I fell into bed sometime around 2am.

                  After breakfast I ventured down the hallway and took a look into the two smaller bedrooms. Neither had had wallpaper so, other than a scrape down and clean-up, they were ready to paint.

                  The middle room felt fine but the back one - well that one just gave me the creeps. Both rooms and the hallway were getting new carpet, as was the living room. In the Master bedroom I had already exposed the hardwood and planned to do the same in the dining room. The Master bathroom, which was in the hallway, catty-corner to the living room and Master bedroom, was fine; tiled and old-fashioned but other than stripping the wallpaper off, and giving it a fresh coat of paint, the Master bathroom needed no other work. The other bathroom, down in the basement, was newer but consisted of only a toilet and a sink, I was fortunate because it needed no work at all.

                  Ripping up carpet is easy work. The hardest part is removing the tack board. It was about 7am and I thought, "what the hell - ghosts or no ghosts," and began tearing up the carpet. After about thirty minutes I had the carpet up in both rooms and dragged it out of the house and dumped it into the dumpster. It took several trips to get it all done. I saw Jim as he headed out to work, and waved - I guess I needed to return the favor and invite him over for coffee one evening.

                  With leather gloves and a mini wrecking-bar I went to work on the tack board. After about an hour I had finished in the hallway and the second bedroom and swept up my mess.

                  I had left the third bedroom for last. I sighed when I went in. This should have been an easy redo. This bedroom -- and this bedroom alone seemed to be the main focus of the haunting. The attic or at least that part of the attic at the beginning of the hallway seemed somehow different. It’s hard to explain.

                  “M is for Murder”, “Murder most foul”, redrum, redrum etc, etc, etc.

                  I worked quickly on the tack board and the assorted nails and staples that one tends to find in the floors of an older house. As I worked that cold dead feeling played across my body the whole time, tingling my nerve endings up and down, up and down. Just like the swinging of an axe, up and down, up and down. I kept telling myself I was having mini seizures in my temporal lobes and that the materials of the house crystallized and focused an electrical energy into my brain – fueling my seizures. Up and down, up and down they went. My headache returned.

                  The carpet had been laid in the closet and I had not pulled it up on my early sweep though the room. I opened the door, and on my knees pulled away the small square of carpet exposing the tack. At that moment the air changed and the cold-dread feeling notched itself up into overdrive. I froze. As difficult as it was I raised my head to look – and in absolute horror I saw, there on the third shelve up, was the cardboard box from the attic! Terrified I ran from the room.

                  Out under the carport I caught myself and lent against my primer stand. “How the hell did that box get there from the attic?” “Had one of the kids brought it down the other day when they were here?” “What is going on?” Maybe I had imagined it!

                  It took about fifteen minutes for my fear to subside. And then I just felt plain foolish standing outside my house. This is just crazy – I have work to do. I braced myself and then walked back through the house into the bedroom. Sure enough, there was the box. How did it get here? One of the kids must have brought it down – that was the only explanation. Except that they would have asked my permission before doing so. It just didn’t make sense and there is no way Mrs. Exnzpat would have climbed a ladder and retrieved this box.

                  I opened the box and looked inside. The contents had been moved around, of that I was sure. The bundles of letters had been neatly stacked on one side of the box and the toys and nick-knacks on the other side. Someone had definitely gone through the box’s contents since I had found it up in the attic last week. But, the big question remained: how did it get down here?

                  I stood stupidly looking at the box, expecting answers that weren’t forth coming and so with nothing better to do I simply went back to work. The mystery of the box would have to remain just that for now. I left the box where I found it.

                  Finished, I tidied up the mess. And as I did so I wondered if these headaches that I was having might have something to do with the unusual experiences I was having (that I am expressing here as a haunting -- for lack of a better word). If temporal lobe seizures and energy focus from the materials in a home did not explain my experiences then – what about toxic mold?

                  I'd had a friend who owned a house that had toxic mold. He and his family had constant health problems, headaches being one of them, memory loss, asthma and breathing problems another. Also, they had had a young puppy that had died within a few months of being in the house; it was the death of the puppy that had woken them up to the fact that there may actually be a problem with their house, and it was their vet that had suggested toxic mold. When the mold inspector arrived it took him about fifteen minutes to determine that they did indeed have a problem. The mold was black in color and was living quite merrily behind their walls. Poor ventilation, because of a type of inferior insulation in the walls, allowed for a thriving colony of the black fungus. Within an hour a sheriff’s deputy showed up and escorted my friend and his family off the property. They could take nothing with them and just like a fire - it was all gone. The house, the furniture, the lot was now tainted. The house was eventually torn down by the County at the behest of the bank and the insurance company who basically footed the bill for the whole thing.

                  It was a warm day and as I dumped the tack, nails and other trash into the dumpster. I decided to check the carpet from the room for mold. It was awkward clumping around in the dumpster but I was able to spread it out and make a fairly close inspection. Nothing. If there was mold it was not visible.

                  Around 11am two kids from the hardware store showed up with the new refrigerator, stove and dishwasher. I showed them where everything was to go and left them to it. It didn’t take them long. I signed the invoice, tipped them both and sent them on their way.

                  The kitchen was finished except for its final coat of paint. I picked out the pot of light daffodil-yellow paint that Mrs. Exnzpat had picked for the kitchen, and gathering the other tools I would need, stacked them on the kitchen floor and made a sandwich.

                  Sandwich in hand I sat down at my lap top and logged into PropertyTalk.com to see what was going on. Normally, my pattern of posts is set at regular intervals. I post at night before bed then in the morning just as you guys in New Zealand are going to bed I go over replies, comments, insults etc. Also, it gives me an opportunity to edit my earlier posts. You know spelling, punctuation and stuff.

                  Hmmm... Perry thinks an inline fuse would be a good idea. I don’t know what that is but it sounds as if the fuse popped I’d have to go up into the attic to reset it. The best place for a tripped circuit is the Main circuit board in my books. Let’s see, Perry states his interests as “Philosophy.” Note to self: don’t take a philosophers advice on electrical matters.

                  What else… Oh, I spelt “buddle” instead of “bundle,” bundle of what?

                  I stopped short. Sunday’s Post: Quote:
                  I decided to get the box.
                  This cannot be correct. I corrected the word “buddle,” logged out, and reread the entire Post to be sure. I moved the box? Not only that -- I opened the box and spent three hours going through its contents? This cannot be correct!

                  I remember none of it! Least of all reading the letters! Until now my memory lapses had been small. Things here and there, but you know, like most things – you just take some forgotten things for granted. Bigger things – now they make you think. Like the high gloss paint on the kitchen cabinets now that was pretty unusual but I chalked it up to stress like the Priest said. But, this -- this was astounding. How can three hours just simply slip away from my life with no recollection whatsoever? What else had I forgotten? What is wrong with me?

                  I need to get out of the house for a while. There were plenty of errands I could find -- the Laundromat was one.

                  I needed to wash my clothes anyway (it’s not standard for landlords to provide washers and dryers in rental homes in the US so after a week, the pile of clothing that I had dumped in a corner of the dining room, was really beginning to smell). I carefully put together a collection of coins from about the house and from the truck and stuffed my pile of dirty clothes into a large garbage bag and headed out to the local Laundromat. While my clothes were drying I decided this was as good a time as any to head over to the Town Hall and have a chat with the local police about my house and its history.

                  Like most small American towns the Town Hall, City Officers, Police Station and Fire Department are one big building in the town center.

                  The officer on duty was nonplused at my question.

                  “I called last week complaining about a woman’s scream – why was no one sent?”

                  He asked me who I was, my address, and the approximate time of my call. He told me to take a seat. I idled through an assortment of magazines stacked on the table next to the chair. I watched the officer consult what I assumed to be a log book, he grinned and left the room, shortly he returned with another officer.

                  “So, you the guy who’s fixing up the place on Erehwon Street?” asked the new officer.

                  I told them I was.

                  “Well, we did send a car around but nobody stopped in. The truth is that we get quite a few calls about that house.” He consulted a sheet of paper, “fifteen in the last year alone.” He paused, and looked a little embarrassed. “ahh.. we, my officers, think the house is haunted. So…” Listening to himself he realized how dumb he sounded. He straightened up and asked, “what can we do for you sir?”

                  “I was told that about thirty years ago there had been a murder in the house, if you have time, I would like to know a little more about it.”

                  The two officers looked at each other. The more senior officer shrugged his shoulders and said “what the hell – it’s a slow day.”

                  A couple of hours later I pulled back into the driveway. Lincoln was glad to see me and he followed me happily into the kitchen. I dumped my clean clothes on my camp bed.

                  I unfolded the tarps, pulled the refrigerator out from the walls and went to work with the brush and roller. Within an hour I was done. Damn the kitchen looked good! Its new butter-colored walls practically gleamed.

                  I walked aimlessly about the house for a while, and then determinedly forced myself to the back bedroom. I tried not to think about what happened here. But, happen it did. I examined the rear wall where the bodies had been stuffed as one would stuff insulation. Yes, I could see that the wallboard was newer than the rest of the room. I just stood and stared. Soon my headache returned.

                  Perhaps, just perhaps, when the wall had been replaced the moisture of the blood and gore had not been cleaned up properly, and there behind the wall, a mold began to fester.

                  Thirty years ago a man had murdered his wife and son here. In an attempt to hide his crime he removed this wall and the insulation. He cut the bodies into more workable pieces and inserted them between the studs. After closing the wall back up with fresh wallboard, taping, mudding, and painting he packed his bags and headed for Florida. And because it was the dead of winter nobody was the wiser. As spring and summer came the smell began to seep from the house and out into the street and all across the neighborhood. When the cops showed up this wall had bowed outward under the pressure from the bloated gasses of the putrefied remains. So great was the pressure, that when one of the cops, curious as to why the wall bowed so, pressed lightly on it, it exploded outward. Much like the way a cartoon character opens a closet and is buried under its contents so it was for the cops in the room. Out came lungs, hearts, kidneys and several miles of stinking intestine. Blood, two heads, and gore flowed outwards -- filling the room.

                  I imagined it as I stood there. This house had never been the same since. And my head really really began to hurt.

                  I spent the rest of the day painting. The sooner I finished, and got the hell out of here the better!

                  I need to sleep.
                  "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx


                  • #10
                    Day 9 I stayed away from the room today.

                    I spent most of the day crawling about the floors painting the baseboards and the rest of the ceilings in the house. There was a little basic maintenance to do on the outside of the house. A little touch-up paint on the window sills, a downspout needed to be replaced and the gutters needed cleaning. It was also a good time to check the tiles on the roof.

                    You may think that this is all overkill for a simple rental property. But, basic maintenance is an investment for the long term care of the home. If it wasn’t for this horrible recession then I’d have this place on the market on the day I finish the redo (which can’t come quick enough). And, so here is the problem: I could resell this place today for probably $10,000 more than I paid for it – just with the work I have already done. It would only be a profit of maybe two or three thousand dollars at this point and could take months to sell. But, if I hold the house for just five to seven years as a rental I could easily sell it for more than $120,000 to $140,000 than I paid for it. The money to hold this thing was just too good to let it go over a haunting. I was committed. Anyway, by the end of the week I’d be out of here and it would be my renters’ problem, not mine!

                    Nice thought Austrokiwi, it would be nice to charge my current residents rent. But, who is the guest? They were, after all, the original owners. Perhaps the renter is me – the only problem though; I haven’t paid yet. And if I am to pay, how shall I pay them – and with what?

                    State law governs rents and unfortunately, for landlords in this State, even if a tenant skips out you are not allowed to keep their deposit. So the trick will be renting the house to someone with a poor credit rating; this should assure that I’m not sued for the return of their deposit. Cold, I know. But, at the end of the day, business is still business! The last thing I needed for the next five or six years are revolving-door tenants claiming that this haunting was some kind of infestation!

                    And again, I had to ask myself – is this a real haunting or is it just me? I would need to check for toxic mold to be sure because, this morning, I had jumped with surprise when I walked into the kitchen, “where the hell had these new appliances come from?” The steady drum beat of my writing marks the passage of time and therefore I’ve used it to see the path I’ve taken – and after my shock over the box -- my memory losses, I fear are becoming more and more pronounced.

                    I went to my computer and checked with PropertyTalk.com to see – and there – Yes – on Day 8 – yesterday for Christ Sake, they (the new appliances) had been installed. Why could I not remember that? Is my memory is playing tricks on me or is my memory loss, apparitions, screams etc. just symptoms of toxic mold? I’m a very practical person and I demand a practical answer – and this could be it.

                    They caught the man seven months after his crime. They extradited him from Florida back to this State. It was the late 1970’s and the liberalization of the legal system had already set in but because of the selfish and horrific nature of his crime the State sought the Death Penalty regardless. The State Prosecutor was confident of conviction but not confident that the court would award the maximum penalty. So in an unusual showmanship-like style he convinced the judge to allow the court to be brought to the house so the jury could see firsthand the innocuous and commonality of the home and contrast that against the hideous brutality of an abusive and murderous husband. It was a good idea except for the incident -- one of the bailiffs escorting the defendant screwed up – and screwed up big, real big. The jury lined the hallway, the judge and the court recorder in the second bedroom. As the defendant was escorted in he saw his chance. Just as they moved from the living room into the hallway he made his move.

                    In the United States a defendant is not a prisoner; rather he is a defendant until found guilty. So therefore in front of a jury manacling a defendant is a subtle signal that the defendant may actually be guilty and so, in fact, the defendant’s hands and feet remain free while in view of his or her peers, i.e. the jury. And while this is all good and well in a protected and defended court room surrounded by big, heavy and well armed men, it is a whole other thing to be out in the open in the real world. And so it was, as the defendant was led into the hallway, and because of the confines of the small space was pressed close against his two large escorting bailiffs -- he reached for the poorly secured his weapon of the bailiff on the left. Before anyone could stop him the deafening roar of a thirty eight special exploded into the brain of the defendant, and right before the horrified eyes of the judge and jury the defendant crumpled into a heap at the entrance of the hallway. But what they didn’t see was the black-angular and shallow soul of a monster creep up the wall and cower in the ceiling above. How could I know this last part?

                    I was lucky the roof was in good shape (it probably had another five or six years left). And because the house was only one story and the yard flat I had little difficulty cleaning the gutters. I actually did need a new downspout and Lincoln and I took a much needed break from the house. After picking up what I needed from the hardware store we stopped by a local park and for about an hour I let Lincoln run about off the leash doing what dogs do best – sniff, poop and pee.

                    When we got home I fixed diner for us both and called Mrs. Exnzpat and the kids. This made me feel quite a bit better. I still have not broached the ghostly situation with Mrs. Exnzpat. I’m actually not sure how to do it. She too is a very practical person and unless she experienced it for herself then I doubt she would believe a word it. Well, she and the kids would be here Saturday night – so we shall see shan’t we.

                    I spent the evening relaxing at the computer, doing a research on toxic mold, Lincoln at my feet.
                    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx