My oldest sister, Chrissy, seemed to experience the wrath from the house the most. One night, she saw an uninvited visitor standing in the upstairs hallway while she lay in her bed. It was not a specter or some figment of her imagination. Rather it was a man, notorious in our parts, who wandered in from somewhere on Cincy’s west side. He was real flesh and blood, too real.
For years Cincinnati’s west side was bedeviled by a person who for some inexplicable reason painted himself white, wore white clothes, white gloves, white shoes, and a white stocking cap that he pulled down over his face. In the news he was known very unimaginatively as the WHITE MAN.
The unwelcome intruder Chrissy saw was the White Man; she heard his labored and lustful breathing. She shivered violently yet remained motionless protected by a hand quilted bedspread made by someone more loving. The White Man didn’t see her for she lived to tell about it. However, she never forgot this brush with almost certain death or worse. Later she had ‘nightmares’ and experiences that frightened us just hearing about them. She was family, however, so we listened.
Most people can’t remember dreams, but Chrissy could. She told of one where my father broke off my second older sister Della’s arm and beat my mother to death with it. The worst dream was a simple one --- about eating chuck roast. Not long after, her husband, Charles (Chuck) died in a horrific high speed car accident.
When Chrissy was NOT sleeping she often saw faces in the bathroom mirror that were not her own. Strangers peeped through the shower windows and curtains from behind her. She saw their faces all too clearly --- scars on their foreheads, cracked lips, a missing or broken tooth. The reflection in the mirror showed the window pane fogging up from their heavy breathing. She saw their eyes; blue, brown, hazel; one person had a different color in each eye. They were all filled with an unhealthy desire for a young woman living alone. One such visitor winked at her as if she had flirted with him. These were not dreams. She heard people walking on the roof of her house and her front door knob was sometimes rattled violently. I saw that happen. She and her current husband, Bill, an ex-convict, now work at a crematory - burning dead people for a living. Chrissy’s life has been filled with ‘what should have beens’. Perhaps it was the house’s influence, if I believed that sort of thing.