Originally published December, 2011
A Ghost Near the Lighthouse
By Maureen J Andrade
When I was twelve years old, my mom, my twin sister Patty, and I drove from the Portland area to Mendocino, CA to visit my Aunt Katie and her family. It was a long drive, but Mom expected we could make it in a day. Save for one major detour, when she drove to Yreka instead of Eureka, we made good time. After twelve hours, we were exhausted, but the end was in sight. Winding down a country road to the starlit bluff of Pt. Castillo, we saw a row of nineteenth century Victorian houses and a lighthouse transposed against the Pacific Ocean. The middle house was where my aunt and her family lived while her husband was stationed in northern California. The property aptly belonged to the Coast Guard.
Aunt Katie was welcoming as my mother, Patty, and I pulled our aching bodies from the car. My cousins were sleeping and my uncle was out at sea. I was sad not to see them right away. Inside, Katie asked us how our drive went while she fed us cookies and milk; before it was time to turn in. Immediately, there was an issue: the house was exceptionally creepy to my mom, sister and me, and one person had to sleep downstairs, alone. The other two got to bunk upstairs with my aunt and cousins. I was the beta twin, so despite my protest, I was made to sleep on the couch in the living room.
The living room flooded with light from the lighthouse every seven minutes. I knew this because I kept track of it with the clock on the VCR. With an old flannel and goose down quilt wrapped around me, I tried to sleep despite it. While I stared at the back of the couch, I said many “Hail Marys” and hoped for sleep. Unconsciousness was not coming, as I tended towards sleeplessness anyway. I tried to daydream, but it was night. I wanted night-dreams, not daydreams. Eventually, I must have nodded off.
At one, I was awake again. Almost against my will, my eyes were drawn to bright lights coming from the dining room, which was just across a short hallway. Thinking Katie was up getting a late night snack, I decided to see if it was her. In the dining room, I found no light source, but a glowing coming from the kitchen. I followed it, calling, “Katie?”
The source of the light was an electrical box at the back of the kitchen, near the backdoor. Like a roman candle, light erupted from the panel. I knew it wasn’t normal light. It wasn’t fire. It wasn’t electrical spark. I knew that. Running as fast as my legs would carry me; I plunged into the quilt on the couch, and nearly suffocated myself with a pillow to avoid seeing that awful light.
In the morning, I asked my auntie about the lights in the kitchen and she said, at first, that she didn’t know what I was talking about. Then she thought for a minute, and giggled.
“Well, the lady that manages the property said one of the tenants accidentally electrocuted himself in the kitchen, at that electrical panel. They replaced the panel, though,” she said.
She thought for a moment longer and continued, “She said she saw a man standing in the vestibule when she drove up to check on the house a few months before we moved in. But no one was living here at the time. When she let herself in, the man was gone. She believes the place is haunted.”
“Do you?” I asked her.
“Oh no, Mo. That’s just imagination.”
Of course, Mom and Patty refused to sleep downstairs for the next three nights. While on that blessed couch, I saw white orbs coming in and out of the room. I saw a white light streaming up the staircase; and when I followed it, the light disappeared. Everyone else was sleeping. On the last night of our stay, I refused to sleep downstairs, so Mom said, “Fine. I’ll sleep there. You are so neurotic!”
Later, Mom admitted there was a ghost downstairs, but she said it didn’t scare her. I was just too sensitive.
At a family gathering recently, I saw Uncle Bob, Aunt Katie, and my younger cousin Joan. I asked them if they had any weird experiences when they lived in the house near the lighthouse, and they said resoundingly, “Yes!” Though he never saw anything out of the ordinary, Uncle Bob confirmed he heard strange noises frequently. Cousin Joan said she watched shutters open and close on their own and the windows shake in their frames on windless days. Bob said the story that a man was killed at the electrical box in the house was true; he added it had been less than ten years before they lived there that the untimely death had occurred.
The house at Pt. Castillo was a hot bed for paranormal activity, before the term “paranormal activity” was popular. I wonder if it’s still haunted now... after all these years.
About the Author
Maureen Andrade lives and works in Vancouver, WA, where she is a professional artist and writer. In 1997 she graduated from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR, with a major in history. She is also an avid coffee drinker, which enables her to parent her rambunctious sons and keep up with their Yorkie they call Kya.