An Uncommon Home

Contributor: Troy Manning

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Tim’s house was fairly large and somewhat haunted. Most of the ghosts left him entirely alone and it is not good for a man to be that way. He would often try to talk to them but very seldom would he receive a reply.

Tim intentionally purchased a home near a cemetery so he might have company that he would neither have to provide for nor clean up after. The closest he ever came to that before were some sea monkeys he had as a child. They required nearly as little upkeep as the cactus he later was given as a housewarming gift.

The house in which Tim lived was a white North Carolinian manor. Just looking at it was enough to make one suspect it had ghosts. In the three years he lived there, Tim counted four of them. They were Kevin, Janet, Nancy, and Brad.

By far the tallest of the four was Nancy. She stretched to nearly eight feet. Tim knew this because he frequently heard the clinking of his chandelier that hung down six feet from a fourteen-foot ceiling. One could suppose she about stood five-feet tall and reached up the remaining distance with her arms, but Nancy didn’t have any arms. A pink sticker on her driver’s license said that any part of her body could be used in case of a medical emergency and those were the parts they used.

Coming in at just under five feet was Kevin. Compared with Nancy he was essentially a midget. Whenever he wanted to make the chandelier clink, he would have to use a stick or ask Nancy for assistance. Nancy was happy to oblige Kevin but when Tim would ask her to make some noise, the house would fall deathly silent.

Though only five foot three, Janet was easily the scariest of the bunch. Sometimes she would play with squeaky doors while at other times she would cause rotting flesh smells in different rooms of the house. Tim once asked her how she made those smells but she simply replied with a shrieking laughter that frightened him very much.

As for Brad, he was neither here nor there but sometimes everywhere all at once. Of the four, he was typically the most visible. Whereas the others were usually more effusive, Brad often took the form of a dense smoke. It brought Tim comfort, at times, to simply pull up a chair in the midst of him and reminisce about old flames.

Tim might never have known the names of his housemates if it weren’t for a friend that they all had in common. Cindy, one of those transient romances from Tim’s adolescence, reestablished contact with him through Facebook. He invited her to dinner and she, almost immediately, recognized the peculiar odor in the house as Janet. They often played together as children, Cindy explained, until Janet’s family moved away. Janet frequently suffered bouts of depression and burned her arms with cigarettes. As she seldom bathed, the sores would often putrify. Other than that, Janet was generally pleasant to be around.

Tim told her about his house’s other three inhabitants. By his descriptions, Cindy was able to put names to them as well. Recently, she had learned from a Tweet that Janet had been in a fatal car accident several years back while out on a double date. Janet, driving, lost control when Brad, her date, lit up a cigar then politely offered it to her. Nancy, an unusually tall girl who was keen on smaller guys, also succumbed in the crash, along with Kevin.

Though disturbed by this information, Tim took some comfort in knowing that those with whom he shared his home were practically his peers. Cindy soon joined the household through matrimony with Tim.

Becoming increasingly intrigued with things supernatural, Tim began attending a local seminary and was eventually ordained as an Episcopalian priest. While this made a few of the occupants uneasy, Father Tim assured them they could stay as long as there was no more smoking.

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Troy Manning is a graduate of Westminster Seminary California. He has recently been taking literature classes at Cal State University, San Marcos where his stories have been published in the creative writing program's Cat Ate My Chapbook, Fierce Notes 1 & 2, and the Spring & Fall, 2010 issues of Oh Cat.
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