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My Haunted House, Featuring the Little Indian Boy
January 14, 2014 - Diane Laney Fitzpatrick
I've lived in lots of different kinds of houses - nearly everything except a trailer and a castle - but I bet you didn't know that I lived in a haunted house, too.
I don't actually believe it was haunted, but it had the reputation in the neighborhood. So we got all the benefits of living in a haunted house (popularity, cool factor among middle-schoolers, potential reality show) without actually being scared out of our wits by an actual ghost.
Shortly after we moved into our house in Cary, Illinois, in a neighborhood "out a ways" on a street that ended at the Fox River, we went to a party and our neighbors told us that our house was haunted.
"Your house is the house with the Little Indian Boy," we were told. Apparently, the previous owners of our house would sometimes see a little boy dressed in native American dress hanging around the upstairs bedrooms, lurking on the staircase and just generally hanging out in dark rooms. As soon as the lights were turned on, he would vanish.
All of our neighbors, who all believed in ghosts, were adamant about it. The Little Indian Boy was seen, by someone, so he was real.
"I think your house is on some kind of ancient Indian burial ground," one of the neighbors said. But I'm pretty sure they were just making shit up at that point.
I told them I didn't believe in ghosts, so I wasn't at all worried about any haunting situations. With a 14-month-old, a 3-year-old, and an 8-year-old, not to mention a husband, a dog, and a septic tank, I had bigger worries. Like where are my damn keys and who drank the juice boxes that were designated Travel Only. A little Indian boy was going to have to help me clean up the basement or run into the drug store if he was going to get any recognition from me.
I once believed in the Little Indian Boy for about 45 seconds. It was the night before our big Halloween party and we had spent the entire day in the basement setting up an awesome haunted house. My son and his friend Brian had done a tremendous job of setting up a mad scientist's laboratory, a table set for four people eating brains and guts, spider webs everywhere, and a table of cheerful crafts for the little ones. The star of the haunted house, though, was the dead body we lay at the foot of the stairs. We stuffed some old clothes and shoes, pulled the hood up and slapped a mask on him. He looked a lot like a real person, especially under the dim, orange lightbulbs.
"We need blood," my son said.
Brian went upstairs to get the ketchup and the bloodletting began. This guy was in seriously bad shape. I'm not sure a real human body would have that much blood in it. You try telling two third-graders that there's such thing as too much of a good thing.
The haunted house was complete and was so scary, Brian was afraid to go through a test run.
"But Brian, you set it up yourself. You know there's nothing to be afraid of," I told him. It was no use. He was scared witless. He sat at the top of the basement steps and wouldn't go down there. I would never outwardly make fun of a little kid, but inside I was saying, "Oh puh-leez."
Brian went home and the kids went to bed and I decided to go down to the basement to our little computer room. I was sitting there doing whatever we did back in 1994 at our computers (meet new friends in an AOL chatroom? laboriously chart recipes with hand-coded tsp's and TBS's?) when I suddenly heard a noise in the pitch-black main basement behind me, the haunted house. It was a slushy sound. Squishy. Something was squishing and squirming in the haunted house.
For a little while I believed in the Little Indian Boy.
I sat there imagining that the Little Indian Boy had just climbed out of the river and was walking through our haunted house with his wet moccasins. It took me a while to get up and walk into that dark room.
And there I found our dog licking the ketchup off the dead guy. After my heart dropped back into its place in my chest cavity I made a mental note to not be so judgmental of my ghost-believing neighbors. And to feed the dog.
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Diane Laney Fitzpatrick is the author of Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves. Her Just Humor Me column runs here and on her website at www.DianeLaneyFitzpatrick.com.
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