In July of 2014, three friends and I were frantically looking for a place to live with our four cats. We’d announced we were moving out on first of the month and people were already lined up to take over our bedrooms. We had spent weeks combing through Kijiji, scrolling past the too expensive and the non-pet friendly, when an ad for the perfect house suddenly popped up.
A two-story on Fleming Street with a spacious basement (for the litter) and big bedrooms, plus all the trimmings: chandeliers, hardwood floors, and fireplaces. There was even a muddy little backyard with the stink of the brewery hanging over it for the cats to frolic in.
We arranged a viewing and the four of us showed up at dusk, giddily hopeful. On the tour we became enchanted with the house, dragging our hands across the puckered wallpaper and marvelling at the cast-iron, claw-foot tub.
We couldn’t believe the size of the basement; there was a series of small rooms connected by narrow hallways covered in layers of peeling wallpaper from the sixties. Just when we thought we’d come to the end, the landlord would push open another door and tug a grubby string, illuminating another bare bulb.
In typical St. John’s fashion, soon after signing the lease we learned we knew past tenants. And also in typical St. John’s fashion, they warned the place was haunted. I relished the news, what kind of majestic downtown house doesn’t have a ghost to its name?
At the time I was working at restaurant known for its toutons and club sandwiches. A day or two before the big move, I was sweeping up the dinning room while my manager counted the cash. I was bragging about the new place describing the high ceilings and huge windows.
Turned out my manager grew up on Fleming and she knew all about the ghost – who she described as an unmarried woman who lived with her sister (classic) and died in house’s front porch.
We moved on a Saturday. According to the radio, it was the hottest August day on record for St. John’s. The move took all day, we drove from one end of the city to the other picking up furniture and garbage bags of clothes and bedding.
We finished after dark and drank some beer on the couch amidst a sea of cardboard boxes. We were full of jokes about Mrs. Hunt; someone pointed out a stain on the hardwood that seemed to have a reddish tint to it, a séance was proposed but everyone was exhausted.
The next day a friend popped by for a tour, which we finished in the basement. We were in a room tentatively named the ‘Dance Dungeon’ (in anticipation of future parties) when he started jumping on the floor, testing a weak board.
I fake-scolded, “Watch out, that might be where Mrs. Hunt is buried.” Just as I was saying it, my sweaty hand swatted an uncovered light switch and a jolt of electricity burned its way up my arm. The shock bounced me away from the wall and I screamed, holding my tingling elbow.
There were more creepy occurrences in the weeks that followed; strange sounds, bedroom doors popping open, the radio suddenly blaring on in the middle of the night. On two occasions, pieces of clothing were found inexplicably soaking wet in the middle of the floor.
The Ouija Board got broken out on the regular and more than one drunken séance was held in the basement. I never took part – I learned my lesson, if you have the pleasure of sharing your house with a notorious ghost, she’ll get in touch with you when she feels like it.
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