Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Sean Paul Murphy, Writer
Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 9, My Tale, Pt. 2

Yours Truly, circa 1975

My upcoming novel Chapel Street was inspired by my experiences growing up in a "haunted" house at 21 St. Helens Avenue* in the Northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Lauraville. This series of blogs will examine the actual haunting that inspired the book. In the previous entry, I discussed my own paranormal experiences in the house in a narrative form. This blog, and the ensuing one, consist of my mother, Clara, and my niece, Natalie, interviewing me. I had already interviewed both of them, so my words would not affect their interviews.

Here's a video clip of the interview:



The interview has been edited for clarity, and to make it look like I don't say "uh, like, you know, um," every other sentence.

CLARA: It's November 30th, 2019. This is an interview with Sean Paul Murphy by his mother Clara, and his niece Natalie Murphy. We have a few questions, Sean, to ask you.

SEAN: Okay. And I know I am being videotaped.

CLARA: Yes. Do you need a lawyer present?

SEAN: No.

CLARA: What is your goal after all of us have come forward and put our stories out?

SEAN: What's the goal? That's a very complicated question. This will probably be a very long answer. Well, the first thing, I just want to give my background before any of this happened, when I had that near death experience before I wrote my first book, I really decided that I was way too private. I had a lot of stories and a lot of secrets. And I'm like, I'm going to let it all hang out.

So in that book, I pretty much dealt with everything, except the haunting. I dealt with Laurie's death in the book to a degree, but I didn't really deal with Mark's death in detail. And I really think that, me personally, and I think as a family, we're still living in the shadow of those events. The fact that we never talked about the haunting is a sign that we're afraid to talk about it, and if you're afraid of something, if you're afraid to act because of something, then it's sort of like that's your master, you fear it. And I want to be liberated from it.

But actually, you (Clara) started this whole process when you asked me whether I thought that the thing in the house could have been partially responsible for Laurie and Mark's death**. And that's when I wrote the book. And sort of like when I wrote my first book, before I wrote the book, I did a video of my life. It looked like I was going to die for a while and Debbie's like, well, no one would do a tribute video. So I dragged myself downstairs and I essentially touched on all of the elements that were in my book in that video. Because I felt if I could make that video and show it to people, then I could tell the whole -- I could tell the story of my life, too, because I'd already broken the ice.


But the odd thing is, the video was the prelude to me writing the book. In this case me writing Chapel Street, which dealt with a lot of these issues indirectly in an exaggerated way. Chapel Street was the prelude to writing this series of blogs. Because Chapel Street let me deal with it and see whether I was capable of dealing with it in a book.

There's been a lot of coincidences since we started doing this. And interestingly, once the book was done, I kind of thought I was done until Jeanne said we should get together and talk about all of this. So, in a sense, Jeanne started me on this thing to really talk about the entity directly even. Because if you read my thing, I was hesitant to actually write about it directly on the blog. So that -- that's why we're doing it.

So what is the purpose of this? That's sort of the background of how this came as far as it has. What's the purpose, I really think that, you know --

CLARA: As a catharsis?

SEAN: Yeah, it's a catharsis, I think, is going to work for all of us. That's why I'm hoping that we all come out, we all come out publicly. Because I know one thing, there were a lot of things in my first book that bothered me a lot, but once I wrote about them and once I put out the book, those things aren't even at top of consciousness anymore. And I talked to a number of people who had also wrote memoirs, and the same thing happened. People have, like, really traumatic childhood sex abuse that really haunted them, but when they wrote their books it really diminished the power that those events had over them.

So I really -- so one of the main goals is to diminish the power that this thing -- because we really do -- we really -- I like to say we're still in its shadow. It's not directly influencing us anymore, but we're, like, lingering in its shadow. And it is a shadow creature. It's amazing, the more -- that's the image that people who see it see it as. It's a shadow. And I -- you know, what do you do to get rid of a shadow. You shine light on it. So --

CLARA: Well, don't you think it will always be a part of our lives because we lived it for so long? It's not like just by talking about your childhood that your childhood automatically becomes --

SEAN: I think this will be a long process to doing it. Because you got to remember, one of our kind of rules is we don't talk about it. So by talking -- just talking about it is breaking its power.

CLARA: Its power?

SEAN: I do think -- yeah, breaking its power over us, not necessarily its power as an entity. You know, and that may be another goal -- I would not be surprised if this ended up with at least me dealing with it directly at some time in the future. You know, because things seem to be working in that direction. Though we'll see whether I will or not.

CLARA: Will you be writing another novel based --

SEAN: I would not write a novel about it. Debbie was very concerned about supernatural blowback from the entity, even though she had never experienced it herself. But she heard enough stories from us. So she called our pastor over, and my pastor heard the story and he thought that this would be excellent for me to write a companion piece to the book about the real haunting and how people should deal with it.

But part of it is --

CLARA: Well, we didn't know how to deal with it.

SEAN: Exactly. So that's why it could be helpful for us. And it's sort of like, why is it on the blog, why are we doing this publicly? Because doing this publicly gives us the opportunity to help other people. I think it's important, and I would like to help some other people because I think there may be other people in danger. So I'd like to do that.

But that is just part of the thing. This is a two-step process, but the first step is dealing directly with the haunting. The second part is dealing with the deaths of my siblings. Because I think at the initial time, we were in such a state of shock that we didn't really look into it. You think I'm right? Do you think we really investigated it in a very sound way and really looked at all the circumstances leading up to it?

CLARA: I don't think we knew any of the circumstances leading up to it.

SEAN: Well, that's what I mean. I think there's a lot of information out there that we --

CLARA: I think for us it pretty much came out of the blue.

SEAN: Yes. 

CLARA: Whereas with Mark, it was easy to see what happened with him, you know, as it was happening, that eventually something like that was going to happen.

SEAN: Yeah, Mark was a train running down the track.

CLARA: Right, exactly. 

SEAN: But we still don't even know necessarily all of the details. I mean, we heard what we heard.

CLARA: No, we don't. But we -- 

SEAN: Yeah, I'm going to look at that. I'm going to hire a researcher to do it. I'm going to get the police reports on both of the deaths. I'd already gotten the autopsy and toxicology for Laurie, but I want the full police reports. I work with people working for ID.***  So I'm going to have one of those researchers look into this. 

And I also want to know the immediate circumstances. And I honestly think -- when I look at the people's stories, and we don't have all the stories yet, there were a lot of suicide related things. Or there's things I call suicide, like when you're willfully doing this, and there's something I've been calling -- a term, I don't know if I invented it, called suicide events, where for instance, if things would have happened, it would have appeared to be suicide. But, you know, they were not willful events. Like you, the brakes in your car, and me on the roof, and -- 

CLARA: John. 

SEAN: And John had an incident. And Jeanne alluded to stuff, but she didn't give any details. So that's why I think it's essential. 

And I do really believe we should go public or we're not going to help anyone else. And I think we'll help neutral people that will never even know us and all. Because I think this is more honest. I was talking to a priest yesterday about getting -- not just a normal priest, you know, but a serious priest who is a -- 

CLARA: Exorcist? 

SEAN: Yeah, an exorcist, let's say an exorcist. But I also want to get a Protestant guy in as well to look. I want them to read all of these reports and tell us what they think. But I don't think we know the full capabilities of what we were dealing yet until we get all the stories. So that's why I think it's essential to get all the stories and I want to get some third party stories, people that were not in the family as well. But I really planned for it to essentially be a two part thing, the haunting and the suicides. 

And you know, when I've been interviewing people, I've only been dealing with the haunting now, because I think it's too much to deal with both of them at the same time. 

NATALIE: So what prevented you from seeking this out while we were still living there and would have had more ability to actually do anything about it? 

SEAN: Well, okay, that's a very good question, and this is one of the things I really feel bad about. It's because you know, I always say there wasn't one haunting, there were seven hauntings at the house. People were experiencing different things at different times, and it's very rare, like when we all heard that knocking on the door on my last day there.

CLARA: Mmhm. 

SEAN: But as I think all of us know, most of what happened at the house happened to one person at one time. And even if other people were there, they didn't necessarily hear it, which makes you wonder sometimes whether it was actually really making the noise or if it was just making you hear something that wasn't really there. And I do want to investigate the physics of this as well. 

CLARA: Well, there was physical stuff also that happened that could not be denied, like the water turning on.

SEAN: Yeah, things like that. Like the light turning on in my story. 

CLARA: Right, right. Light bulbs, you couldn't keep a light bulb in that house. 

SEAN: So there was physical stuff. But it's sort of like it was dealing with us individually. And I think, you know, I -- in fact, I know a number of people -- and I'm not going to put words in anyone's mouth, but I know a number of us feel guilty that we didn't act individually or act with others. And I definitely look at that in my case. If you read my book Chapel Street, you'll see that it really is dealing with one brother's guilt about not really doing enough for his brother.

Mark
And I'm looking at this like: did I miss this entirely? Did I miss the effect that this was having on Mark or Laurie? I don't think that this would necessarily have stopped what happened, but did we miss this? But it's not only that. There's other people feeling guilt. 

And the other thing I feel guilty about is when I prayed and basically locked it out of my room. It never bothered me again. So, up until -- literally it was probably like 1988 to when I left in, I guess was it '94 or '96, it didn't really bother me again in my room. So I didn't do anything. I didn't make any effort. I didn't get together with you or anyone else to say, "Look, you know, Father Callahan doesn't want to come here, you know, this guy won't come here. Well, let's find someone who will come here." 

We did at the end because you wanted us to try to find an exorcist right before you sold the house, and we were talking to that Pentecostal guy. But he had just done one of these and he said it almost killed him, and he said it was going to take him about two months to get ready, to get all prayed up to do it. And then he wanted everybody to get baptized and everybody to do this and everybody to do that. We're like, “Dude, we're selling the house in three weeks.” We don't have this amount of time.

CLARA: Do you have answers why none of us ever actually saw entity itself? I mean, we saw at night maybe a shadow person, but we never actually saw what it was. 

SEAN: A full figured apparition? 

CLARA: Right, right. 

SEAN: Well, Natalie, you saw a face. 

NATALIE: I saw a face but it wasn't necessarily a -- 

CLARA: The demonic face. 

NATALIE: -- distinct face. 

CLARA: Oh, yeah. 

NATALIE: But I think to answer your question, it's because I don't think what was in that house was ever bodily, you know. 

CLARA: Never had a body. 

NATALIE: It never had a body. I think it was more demonic, so therefore it wouldn't have a body necessarily. 

CLARA: Right. 

SEAN: Not like a corporeal body. 

CLARA: Yeah, none of us were -- you know, you see a lot of that stuff where there is a demonic presence and people are scratched or something. We never had that kind of thing.

NATALIE: That we know of. 

SEAN: We never had any scratching. We had plenty of physical things moving, but we never had scratching. 

CLARA: We had touching. I mean, people -- 

SEAN: Well, I don't know. I -- no. Wait until you hear John's story. You're being -- 

CLARA: Okay. 

SEAN: I never saw it. I can say that I never saw the thing, and it never spoke to me in the way that it spoke to either of you. One thing I do know, if you spoke to it, it knew what you were saying and it could react. 

CLARA: Actually, maybe I did see it as that cat that time. 

SEAN: But that's not a human being. 

CLARA: No. 

NATALIE: No. 

SEAN: And I tell you one thing, I know that Jeanne saw it as a cat-like creature. She saw it like a leopard. Which is odd, if you remember, because in my story I have the leopard. So Jeanne saw a cat-like creature as well. So this is something we wouldn't know unless we were doing this. You know, so -- so what was the question again? 

So why I feel guilty -- why we didn't do it at the house is because I didn't push because once it stopped bothering me, and because we weren't talking about it, I didn't know it was still active. I didn't know how active it was before the Ouija board thing. I lived in that house for ten years before the first thing happened to me that I knew for sure was something. 

CLARA: Yeah, you always said that it didn't bother or that you -- "I don't know what you're talking about" kind of.

Decorating the Christmas tree with my brother John in 1986

SEAN: Yeah. Literally all I remember, and I can't even say who it was, Jeanne or Laurie, is them saying that the organ**** would play, that they would hear the organ play. And I think I heard it once, but I don't know whether it was really the organ. You know, I'm up in the third floor. I could tell you exactly what I heard. I heard like one note, like mmmmmmmmm. And if I went through a scale, I could probably tell you what note it was, because it's clear enough in my mind that I remember the sound. 

CLARA: Well, when did you -- 

SEAN: But I didn't know whether it was someone down there playing it. 

CLARA: When did you start hearing the pitter-patter of little feet on your -- 

SEAN: That was probably -- that was around the time of the Ouija board because I know Jeanne was already back. It's hard to remember the time scale. 

CLARA: Exactly. 

SEAN: But it was around the Ouija board time, it was probably -- 

CLARA: Because I remember asking you. 

SEAN: It was about three weeks at least before the meeting. It was a number of -- no, it might have been months, like three months before we had that meeting. Because I know I didn't really freak out for sure until I ended up on the roof, because that's what really freaked me out.

CLARA: Yeah. 

SEAN: But the pitter-patter of feet, that's the small starting of it for me.

CLARA: Right. 

SEAN: You know, and I think -- 

CLARA: But I remember asking you did you find anything strange happening, and you were, "No".

SEAN: For ten years I did not hear anything. I did not experience anything. But I felt when I started experiencing, I started experiencing a lot. But I do really feel guilty because once it stopped bothering me, it's like I didn't care, you know what I mean? I really feel guilty that I didn't take more of an effort to get to the bottom of it and get it out at the time. It's like, it's not bothering me, so it's like it's over. But it wasn't over. And I'm thinking, had it -- would it have had an effect on Mark? 

Because you know, from my experiences at the Charismatic Pentecostal prayer group at Saint Dominic's, there were some people there who were kind of mentally unbalanced. And when the people would like start praying in tongues, this one woman in particular would start saying all this really weird satanic stuff. So on one hand, she was just bipolar/schizophrenic, but when people go into that kind of prayer, she would start saying the satanic stuff. I was just standing there with my mouth open, like what the... I'm not one of these people that believes mental illness is all demonic possession, but I think if you're mentally -- 

CLARA: It's easier for -- 

SEAN: It's easier for them to get in. 

CLARA: Yeah, through your mind. 

SEAN: So that's why I'm saying, I'm not one of these guys that says my siblings weren't responsible for their deaths, but what I'm wondering is, had this not been a mitigating factor -- 

CLARA: Right, exactly. 

SEAN: -- would it have happened? 

CLARA: Right. 

SEAN: I can tell you, I didn't do enough to stop this thing. So this is still kind of an answer to question one -- 

NATALIE: Mmhm. 

SEAN: -- as it is to question two. But it does answer why. I think it's true of everyone that we never made a concentrated effort as a family to exorcize this thing. 

CLARA: I made an effort to exorcize it. 

SEAN: I know you did. I think that was good, and I think you were successful for a while. But then again, like you said in your interview, sometimes it would go away for a while anyway. 

CLARA: Right. 

SEAN: You know, and maybe it can't be cast out. There's always a possibility of that. Because it's different than a person. 

CLARA: Right. 

SEAN: Because in a way, you'd have to figure out -- like one thing people would ask me is, do you find that it's associated with an object? But I don't think so. It's not the piano because we didn't have anything in Hamlet Ave, and it's not the organ. Mark thought it was the organ, that it was connected to the organ, but it wasn't the organ because we didn't have the organ in the beginning. And both Laurie and Jeanne had stuff happening. 

CLARA: Yes, but it was more subdued at that point. 

SEAN: Yeah. 

CLARA: I think over the years, it just gained power. 

SEAN: Yeah. 

CLARA: Because of energy from the people. 

SEAN: Yeah, well, they do say like poltergeist activity feeds off of young people. But here's the thing: our silence about it didn't weaken it either. 

CLARA: No. 

SEAN: You know, I think that's something that people got to take into account. The fact -- it was growing stronger even when we weren't talking about it. When no one was talking about it, it was growing stronger. But I'm not saying talking about it made it any weaker either, on the other hand. You know, it may have made you a target, but you know, I'm willing to take that risk, at least now. Debbie less so. He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. 

NATALIE: Amen to that. 

SEAN: We are battling the principalities and powers of the air.

Mark during the 1995 renovation of the house.
Notes:

*21 St. Helens Avenue was the original address of the house when it was built. The street name and number changed over time, but I use the original address to protect the privacy of the current owners.

**My sister Laura Lee Murphy Valenti took her own life on 15 February 1994. My brother Mark Brendan Murphy took his life on 14 September 1999.

***Investigation Discovery.  I work as a contractor worker for various networks at Discovery.

****My mother purchased an antique church pump organ. My brother Mark would eventually drag it out into the driveway and chop it up with an ax because he thought it was haunted.

Additional blogs about the haunting:


Below you will find some uncorrected sample chapters of the book. I can't guarantee how long the publisher will allow me to keep them posted.


Chapters:


Learn more about the book, click Here.

Follow me on Twitter: SeanPaulMurphy
Follow me on Instagram: Sean Paul Murphy

WGAW Foreign Levies Program


You gotta love the Writers Guild of America, West. Through the Foreign Levies Program, they're looking out for all American screenwriters, whether or not they are members of the guild.

Here's how they describe the program:

The funds distributed through the foreign levies program are levies paid under foreign copyright law to the authors of audio-visual works. The WGAW collects and distributes these levies to writers of U.S. work under agreements with foreign collection societies in a number of countries. The levies are payable to the writers of such works, regardless of whether they are members of the WGAW or have worked under a WGAW agreement.

Cool, eh?

A couple of months ago I was surprised to get an email from a guild representative. He had been looking for me because they had money payable to me for my work on Marriage Retreat and Black Rider: Revelation Road. (Two films which, according to the production company, have not reached profitability yet.) I clicked on the attached link and found another one of my films, Sarah's Choice, listed. (Sarah's Choice is now in profit.)

As the statement below indicates, it was not a large amount of money, but it was certainly more welcome than a sharp stick in the eye. And, as of now, they only list three of my twelve produced features. Hopefully the others, some of which were much more popular, will show up soon.

This is another reason to love the guild. I am not currently a member, and I truly regret it. From first hand experience, I know how easy it is for screenwriters to fall victim to unscrupulous producers and dishonest production companies and distributors without the protection of the WGAW. Right now I have a film about to go into production early next year. If it doesn't fall apart, it will finally earn me my union card. 

I have no desire to make another feature outside of the protection of the guild.

Zero.

None.

I include a clause indicating that the film must be made in accordance with the WGAW's basic agreement in every option agreement I sign now. 

You should, too.

And, if you wrote an independent film that has been distributed abroad, you should check out this link: WGAW Foreign Levies Program

Who knows? You might find your film.

General Filmmaking Blogs:

WGAW Foreign Levies Program

While you're waiting for your check, check out these sample chapters of my upcoming novel Chapel Street.


Chapters:
Prologue - My Mother
Chapter 1 - RestingPlace.com
Chapter 2 - Elisabetta
Chapter 3 - The Upload
Chapter 4 - The Kobayashi Maru
Chapter 5 - Gina
Chapter 6 - Tombstone Teri
Chapter 7 - The Holy Redeemer Lonely Hearts Club
Chapter 8 - A Mourner
Chapter 9 - War Is Declared
Chapter 10 - The Motorcycle
Chapter 11 - Suspended
Chapter 12 - The Harbor
Chapter 13 - Bad News Betty

Learn more about the book, click Here.

Follow me on Twitter:  SeanPaulMurphy
Follow me on Instagram: Sean Paul Murphy

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 8, My Tale, Pt. 1

Yours Truly, circa our arrival at 21 St. Helens Avenue
My upcoming novel Chapel Street was inspired by my experiences growing up in a "haunted" house at 21 St. Helens Avenue* in the Northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Lauraville. This series of blogs will examine the actual haunting that inspired the book. In this entry, I will detail my own paranormal experiences at the house.

According to the methodology I discussed earlier, I was planning to post my younger sister Jeanne's story next since she was the first surviving person in our family to experience any paranormal activity at the 21 St. Helens Avenue. However, she does not feel comfortable publicly sharing her story now, and I am sympathetic to her feelings. I will not press her to do so. Her tale is very personal and harrowing, and her unwillingness to share it in detail, even with members of the family, shows just how far the shadow of the beast extends into our current lives. Perhaps she will share something later. That is her choice.

So I guess it is my turn. Rather than wait to do an interview, I decided to simply write down my experiences. That said, I definitely want one of my siblings interview me so that we have video documentation of my experience. And, who knows, they might ask me a question I never considered that adds insight to the experience. But for now, here's my story.

First, I want to say that I never felt I had experienced any paranormal activity prior to arriving at 21 St. Helens Avenue. To me, it seemed to start after the Ouija board incident my mother discussed in her interview. However, after finally discussing the haunting in detail with my mother and siblings, I have begun to wonder exactly when the entity in the house began to work on me.

I had an intense but private very religious conversion in the winter of 1977, about three years after my arrival at St. Helens Avenue. As a result of that experience, I began to hear the voice of God on a regular basis. I guess, in evangelical circles, the phenomenon would be called "words of knowledge," but it wasn't quite that. I discuss the phenomenon in great detail in my memoir The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God. I considered this phenomenon  an extremely rare blessing, which I did not discuss in any great detail with anyone at the time, aside from some veiled remarks I made occasionally to my first girlfriend Kathy Gardiner.**

Needless to say, I was quite surprised when my sister Jeanne told me, in our first meeting about the haunting, that she received a form of clairvoyance after her first encounter with the entity living in the house. Then my mother reveals that an angelic visitor warned her of impending deaths. Wow. Although the circumstances were quite different in these three cases, three members of our family had supernatural, prophetic experiences.

It makes you wonder. And I did wonder.

My book, which I do not have the space here to recount in full, dealt predominately with one word of prophecy I received in 1977: That I would marry the aforementioned Kathy Gardiner, whom I started dating two years later in 1979. My theology demands that any true prophecy would come true, but I didn't marry her and therefore I began doubt everything regarding everything I believed. In my anger and disappointed, I put God to the test, prepared to take my life in the living room of the house if he did not perform the demanded miracle. I was deadly serious. I was conscious of my decision, and, sadly, the repercussions my family would feel. Thankfully, the demanded miracle was delivered and my life was spared. Two of my siblings would later take their lives, but I was the first one of us to step out onto that precipice. Sadly, I was the only one to walk back.

I never told anyone about this incident until decades later. You can read about it here: Chapter 15 - Quarter To Midnight.

In the months after my close call, I still doubted my beliefs. Was God really talking to me, or was it all a delusion? Was I crazy? Ultimately, I concluded that I wasn't. There were just too many circumstances and coincidences in my life that wouldn't be explained without supernatural intervention.

Then again, perhaps it was supernatural intervention of another kind.

Once the entity made its presence known in an undeniable manner, I had to wonder if any of the actions I credited to God were perhaps demonic counterfeits. I had to consider that possibility again once I heard about my mother and sister's experiences. My sister's clairvoyance in particular seemed directly inspired by the entity. However, I rejected that possibility. Although I have mistakenly underestimated the power of the thing in the house in the past, I do not believe it had the power (or patience) to perform the acts God performed in my life. And, most importantly, I survived the suicide attempt. Had the entity been the main mover and shaker in my life, I would have died that night in the house.

However, that doesn't mean that the entity didn't play a hand in that event.

Yours Truly with Kathy, blurred for her privacy
When I was writing my memoir, I spent a long time trying to figure out why I found myself on the verge of suicide in May of 1984. If I were going to kill myself over my break-up with Kathy, I should have done so the previous September. Things were actually getting better between us. Much better. In fact, I had just had the happiest weekend of my life with her at her college. We weren't necessarily altar bound anymore, but we were definitely friends. And there were benefits. However, when I got home I nonetheless suffered a complete emotional and spiritual collapse. It was inexplicable. Now, after hearing the stories of my other family members, I believe it was the entity. It saw my weakness and attacked. And, as you'll see, it would try again.

I only consciously became aware of the entity itself after my mother and her friend Ted used the Ouija board in the Hell Room. My bedroom was across the hall from the Hell Room, on the third floor of the house.

My haunting began as most hauntings do, I suppose, with noises. I started being awakened by scurrying on the roof. It sounded like something small, like a squirrel. There was a tall oak tree on the other side of our driveway taller than the house. Nowadays, there is considerable debate whether the branches actually extended over to the roof. (A subsequent owner of the house took down the tree.) However, at the time, I reasoned that a squirrel must gotten on the roof from the tree. No problem, right?

But something was wrong.

The scurrying would stop anytime I opened my eyes.  I would just lie there waiting, but it remained still -- until I closed my eyes. Then it would start again. From the sound, I could literally follow its movements, but it would always stop when I opened my eyes. It was maddening. Sometimes I would jump out of bed and go the opening to the small crawlspace between my ceiling and the roof and shine a light in, hoping to see something, but there was never anything to see. I would be up for hours a night playing this game of hide and seek.

The really scary thing was that only way it could know when I opened my eyes was that it could see me.

That meant it was looking at me, and it was intentionally screwing with me.

That showed both intelligence and intent.

This would go on for days or maybe weeks at a time. Sometimes it would stop, but it would always start up again.

Then it got worse. Instead of the scurrying of a little animal, I began hearing footsteps -- human-style footsteps -- on the roof. Once again, my mind tried to rationalize what I was hearing. There had to be someone up there -- a person -- but there couldn't be. There were no low branches on the oak tree. It was essentially unclimbable. The only safe way to access the top roof of the house was through the window of my own bedroom. The roof of the sunporch was right below my window. When we were new to the house, my friends and I often hung out the sunporch roof on a lazy summer afternoon. However, none of us climbed from there to the top roof. Even us foolhardy kids recognized that the top roof was too high and too dangerous to play on. There was no one on the roof. Yet I could hear him. (I don't mean to be sexist or patriarchal, but the entity always felt more male than female to me.)

And, yes, of course, the footsteps stopped anytime I opened my eyes.

And I wasn't asleep. I would lie in bed awake listening to it walking, mentally following its movements.

It was bad enough when it was on the roof. Then it came inside.

I had a single bed with an old wooden frame, a wooden box spring and a thin mattress. I would be sleeping only to awakened by something moving inside the mattress. Something really big. Imagine a fifteen-foot python trapped inside a thin mattress. That's what it felt like. I never saw it, but it was definitely snake-like in its shape and movements. When it moved, it moved me, too. I shifted in bed, to the right or the left to accommodate it.

That really scared me. I tried to be as quiet and motionless as possible when it was in the mattress. Afterwards, either that night or the next morning I would pull the mattress off the bed and look for holes to see how it got in. Of course, that was totally irrational. Nothing that big could have gotten into the mattress without utterly destroying it. Not only that, how could something that big even get into my room without me seeing it?

Now you see why we never talked about any of this. It was insane.

There was no rational explanation for this phenomenon, except perhaps nightmares or mental illness. Unable to discuss this with anyone, I grew more isolated. Especially at night.

Let me say one thing: This was not sleep paralysis. I never experienced that. I could always move in bed. Nor was it night terrors. I never woke up screaming. I don't think it ever made me scream.

Sometimes the bed or the mattress would just shake. Like in the movie The Exorcist, but not quite that extreme. This confounded me even more. If the bed was moving in the dead of night like that, how come no one heard it downstairs? When we finally started talking about the haunting, we were all shocked that the others hadn't heard the things we experienced. It was extremely rare for more than one person at a time to see or hear an event.

Then things got really bad, and this is what inspired the key plot point in my upcoming novel Chapel Street.

One night, I woke up finding myself crawling out of my bedroom window. The window, as I said early, opened to the roof of the sunporch. But there was an extremely long drop off that roof to the stone patio below, or, worse yet, the metal stairs down from back porch. I still shudder to think what it would feel like to fall onto that. I would have definitely died. No question about it in my mind.

I don't know what stopped me, but I woke up suddenly. I was shocked. As I got back into bed, I looked over at my alarm clock. It was 3:00am exactly.

That would have been the time of my death.

The next night the same thing happened again. I hit my head or something while I was crawling out of the window. I looked at the clock again. It was 3:00am. Despite the fact that I had never previously walked in my sleep, I tried to convince myself that this was just some sort of weird coincidence. Until it happened the next night. At 3:00am again.

Once is an anomaly. Twice could be a strange coincidence. Three times was definitely design. Something was trying to kill me. I was sure of that.

That was what I now call a suicide event. If I had sleepwalked off the roof, I am sure everyone I knew would have considered my death a suicide. Although I had never told anyone about my intentional suicide attempt two years earlier, everyone knew I had wrestled with depression since my break-up with Kathy. That would have been the perfectly reasonable explanation for my actions.

I can't remember who initiated the first family meeting about the haunting, but I think it might have been me right after these suicide events. I was finally desperate enough to speak up. I can't remember the month, but it was definitely in 1986 because my sister Jeanne was pregnant with her daughter Marion at the time. She and her then husband Jon were living in the master bedroom -- you know, the room with the closets where the entity seemed to live. Not the best place to sleep.

I know Jeanne, Jon and my mother were definitely at this first meeting. Somehow I think my late sister Laurie was there, too, but I am not sure. I know we discussed it with her later. My older brother Doug was not present. Neither was Mark. The meeting took place in the dining room. My father was in the living room watching TV. I went in and asked him if he wanted to talk about the haunting with us. He just looked at me like I was crazy.

But I wasn't crazy. And I wasn't alone either anymore. Everyone admitted to some private terror, and was questioning their sanity. It was a relief to finally talk about it. However, I don't know how honest everyone was. I, for one, was willing to talk about the bed and the footsteps, but I never mentioned crawling out of the window. That would be going too far. I didn't want to be fitted for a straight jacket. We decided that night not to mention anything to my kid brother John. We didn't want to scare him. (We didn't take into account that the entity was perfectly capable of scaring him on its own. It didn't cut him any slack because of his youth.) Our policy of silence also, over time, extended to my nieces.

The situation actually got worse rather than better in the immediate aftermath of the meeting. As far as I was concerned, this was the height of the paranormal activity in the house. Our daily reports revealed one thing: It only seemed to bother one person a night. It was always easy to figure out who that person was. You would find them sleeping on the sofa in the living room the next morning. The entity seemed content simply to drive people out of their bedrooms. It was agreed by all of us that the Hell Room, the front bedroom on the third floor, was the center of the activity at the time. We credited the Ouija board session to its strength in that room.

It was a really strange period. I was working at the advertising agency Smith Burke & Azzam and I loved it. Great people. Interesting work. Very exciting. My social life was active, too. I had my old neighborhood friends, college friends and new work friends. I went out practically every night to either dinner or a movie or both. However, no matter how much fun I had, a sense of dread would fill me when I headed home because I knew the thing would be waiting for me. It was unbelievable. During the day, I lived the life of a happy-go-lucky, rational, 20th century man, but at night I found myself buffeted by an ancient, nameless demonic entity that wanted to harm me.

Yours Truly as The Young Ad Man
I remember when an account executive at the agency asked me to house sit at her place while she and her husband went away for a long weekend. I found her house very strange. It took me a day to figure out why. It was clean. It didn't have the unseen but tangible spirit of oppression and dread I felt at 21 St. Helens Avenue. It was a vacation from the darkness.

Strangely, despite crawling out of the window and nightly terrors visited upon us, I still considered the entity was more of a nuisance than a physical threat. Then a friend of mine, Tim Ratajczak, lent me the book The Demonologist by Ed and Lorraine Warren. The activity in our house seemed to follow a distinct pattern in their book. In fact, it indicated that our haunting had reached a critically dangerous level were people start to die by either murder or suicide. Something had to be done.

While my mother worked with her priest friends, I also took offensive action against the entity on my own. Although I had previously resorted to prayer at some of the worst moments, I never tried to cast out the entity. Ad-libbing my own prayers, I managed to cast the demon out of my room in the name of Christ. I really felt its anger then. Although it could no longer enter my room, some nights it would completely surround it as if it were coated on the outer walls. I could feel its seething malevolence, but it couldn't physically get to me.

The malevolence -- the pure hatred -- that it directed at me showed me that the entity was capable of emotion. That was another sign of moral agency in the entity.

Later, I tried casting it out of the entire house, but God told me: "It's not yours to cast out." (Remember, I said God would talk to me periodically.) Still, the entity could no longer bother me directly as it had done in the past, although I was still susceptible to the oppressive spirit one felt in its shadow. But I was not completely safe. Once my curiosity almost got the best of me. I remember one night, standing in the hallway outside of the darkened Hell Room, wondering about the entity. It hadn't been active in a while, and, when it wasn't active, it was easy to convince yourself that it was all just your imagination. I remember saying out loud: "There's nothing here. If there was, it would turn on that light."

And it did.

I never tested it or tried to communicate with it again. However, that little show of force of its part proved to me that the entity wasn't just a force or random energy. It was an independent intelligence that understood human language. It could interact with you if it chose to do so.

Later still, after hearing about some new activity, I asked God why he didn't cast it out. He replied: "You don't want it gone. You want to write about it."

I hadn't knowingly considered that possibility at the time, but I then resolved never to write about the entity. And I stayed true to that resolution until my mother recently asked me whether I thought the entity was responsible, in part, for the deaths of my two siblings. I wrote my novel Chapel Street to explore that possibility.

And now, of course, these blogs....

Am I being disobedient now? No, I don't think so. Remember God didn't say I couldn't or shouldn't write about it. He was just questioning my motivations.

One final story. I finally bought my own home in 1996. While I was upstairs in my room getting ready for the move after my final night at the house, it began banging on the door at the bottom of the stairway to the third floor. It sounded like someone was hitting it was a sledgehammer, but really fast. Both my mother and my niece Natalie were on the second floor and they were terrified. So was I. But then it stopped, and that was that. I guess the banging was its way of saying, "Goodbye, hope to kill you later."

The timing of that manifestation, which seemed to be directed at me, tells me that the entity was consciously aware of our activities in the house. It knew I was leaving and wanted to send me a message.

I frequently returned to 21 St. Helens Avenue for holidays and family events. However, I don't recall ever going back up onto the second or third floors again. Not until the auction.

In 2005, after the death of my father, my mother sold the house for $289,000. A pretty good price, since she bought it for $25,000. The buyers did not ask whether the house was haunted, and she didn't volunteer the information. She came to believe, perhaps accurately, that the entity fed off the energy of young people. Since the couple didn't have any children, my mother assumed they were probably safe.

The house later came up for auction in 2013 with a starting price of a mere $10,000. I wanted to buy it. I felt if I owned the house, I could finally cast out the demon. My wife, showing characteristic wisdom, wouldn't hear of it. Still, we went to the auction anyway. I talked with many of the potential buyers, telling them that I was a former resident. When they'd ask me about the house, I told them it was haunted. They'd all say, "That's cool." I would say, "No, it isn't."

I don't think I spoke with the people who actually bought the house.

I hope they are faring better than we did.

Because I know the entity is still active.

To be continued....

Yours Truly in the Hell Room in 2013.

Notes:

*21 St. Helens Avenue was the original address of the house when it was built. The street name and number changed over time, but I use the original address to protect the privacy of the current owners.

**Not her real name.

Additional blogs about the haunting:


Below you will find some uncorrected sample chapters of the book. I can't guarantee how long the publisher will allow me to keep them posted.


Chapters:


Learn more about the book, click Here.

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Follow me on Instagram: Sean Paul Murphy

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 7, Clara's Tale, Pt. 2

Jeanne and Clara, circa our arrival at 21 St. Helens Avenue
My upcoming novel Chapel Street was inspired by my experiences growing up in a "haunted" house at 21 St. Helens Avenue* in the Northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Lauraville. This series of blogs will examine the actual haunting that inspired the book. This blog is a continuation of my interview with my mother Clara about her experiences at the house. You can read Part One Here.

Here's a brief clip from this part of the interview:


Below you will find the transcript of the second part of the interview. The transcription was made by my niece Emily Coe. It has been edited for clarity.

SEAN: Was there an increase in activity after the extension?**

CLARA: There was a lot of activity after the extension. But I think the activity really was the most when John was in high school. I think that's when, you know. And it was all his friends there all the time. And that music, you know, like Black Sabbath, and you know. I think a lot of that stuff played a role in -- that was conducive to a lot of the stuff that went on.

SEAN: What was the worst thing you remember from that house?

CLARA: Well, I think being upstairs in that Hell Hole was the worst thing. Although I could never sleep -- the other bedroom, the big bedroom was really, really bad. Like I say, at nighttime, things disappearing. Sharon and Doug gave me a computer, it was one of the Mac strawberries, and I had it on the cabinet at the bottom -- at the foot of my bed, there was a cabinet against the wall. I had it on there. That was on, I guess you call it a dressing table, it had a mirror in the background. And at nighttime, I would hear it, (whistles), it would kind of like whistle and turn on by itself. And then there would be something on there writing, and I'd be like, what does that say? And I'd grab my glasses, and as soon as I would go over to look at it, it would click off. And it did that, I don't know how many times. I don't know how many times it did that.

Natalie and Clara
I think one of the scariest things, and I really wanted to leave, was when Natalie was there getting ready for school that morning and the bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang on that door. You were there.

SEAN: I was there. That was literally my last morning at the house I lived there.

CLARA: Was it?

SEAN: Yeah. And to me, that was -- you know, I think Natalie knew what door it was banging on. It was banging on the door --

CLARA: It was banging on the door --

SEAN: -- to the attic.

CLARA: -- to the attic, yes. and I was like, "Natalie?" (holds ears shut).

SEAN: Yeah, and it was, like, really loud.

CLARA: It was so loud. I was getting dressed and Natalie had taken her shower and all, she was getting ready for school. She had to be -- we used to leave early because her school started at a quarter after 7:00. And it was that bang bang bang bang. And I was like, "Natalie, please stop that noise!" And she was like, "It's not me, Grandmom! I'm in the bedroom, it's not me." I was like, "Oh, my God." I mean... You know.

SEAN: That was a rare event, that a lot of people --

CLARA: You know, Natalie --

SEAN: Because usually, I think it kind of -- it would kind of control -- you know, it was psychological in the sense that it would usually attack one person at a time, and you would never know that it really happened.

CLARA: Right.

SEAN: So you were always afraid to talk about it.

CLARA: I remember Alex used to lay there and he would watch (looks up in the air and follows something with her head) something go by. You know, you could see him looking at something. And dogs, you know, it would be like, what's he looking at?

SEAN: Alex might have been high, because I remember Mark -- when Alex was sick, Mark would smoke pot and blow it into his mouth.

CLARA: No, no, no, he wasn't high. He used to look all the time. Ginger did, too. Ginger used to follow something.

SEAN: Mmhm.

CLARA: Used to look around and follow something. You know. I was going to tell -- oh, my first day after I lost my job, I was sitting up in my bedroom in that rocking chair reading. I was the only one in the house, and I heard the bathroom water. And I went in and both faucets were turned on full, you know, full blast. I turned them off and I went in and I sat back down, and about ten minutes later, I heard the water on. And I went back in and the water was turned on full blast.

Clara, Debbie, Sr., Jon Coe
I remember after Laurie died, and after everybody left and went back to their life, Debbie Sr.*** came down and she said, "So what's going on?" I said, "Oh, nothing." She said, "Well, who's here?" And I said, "Oh, nobody's here." And with that, we heard somebody walk across the floor upstairs and go into the bathroom and close the door. And she said, "I thought you said nobody's here?" I said, "Nobody is here. You want to go up and check it out?" And she's like, "No." I said, "Well, I think we should leave," and we both got our purse and just left.

But I think it got a lot more vocal, you know --

SEAN: Mmhm.

CLARA: -- than it did. It got braver, it got ballsier as time went by. That it was like, okay, now you know I'm here, you know, after a certain point in time, and so it didn't bother trying to -- maybe it just got stronger, I don't know, that it could do stuff. I remember when they were working on the -- when the workmen were working on the new house -- on the new kitchen, I went to a meeting, I had a class that I went to, a sewing class, and I left a note on this table for them that I'm not here, I won't be here today, I won't be home until about 2:30. This is where I'm at, if you have any questions or you need me, call this number. 

And then I came home and I was like, "Oh, wow, what's going on?" You know, they were like -- they asked me something. I said, "Well, I just got back." They were like, "What do you mean you just got back?" And I said, "Well, I've been gone all day." They said, "No, you haven't. We heard you upstairs with the dog. You were talking to the dog and the dog was barking." I was like, "No, I just walked in the door." You know, so...

And then they -- I heard it call my name. I heard it call other people's names, too. It got a lot worse -- it got a lot bolder, I think, as time went by, it really did.

SEAN: Now, did it always -- did it always mimic a known voice, a voice you knew?

CLARA: Yes, yes. It could mimic the voice. It didn't just -- wasn't a voice that you -- it was a voice you recognized, you know. And then your father, God only knows what...

SEAN: Someone -- now, I'll say concerning him, that it was probably around 1984, the Ouija board time, when things got really bad, we had a meeting. I definitely remember Jeanne, you, me, and Jon Coe, a decision was made not to talk to John, and Pops -- well, this was around this table, but it was in a different house.

CLARA: Right.

SEAN: And Pops was in watching TV in the living room, and we're like, should we tell him? I go, "I'll go in and ask him if he wants to sit in on this meeting." And I said, "Hey, we're talking -- we're having a meeting in there about the stuff that's been going on in the house." "What stuff?" "You know, all the stuff." And he -- he just looked at me like I was crazy.

CLARA: Yeah.

SEAN: So I assumed nothing was ever bothering him. But I recently heard from someone that he told them he could hear furniture moving in John's room. But there was more disturbing stuff than that, too, that Natalie said that she would hear him --

CLARA: Yeah, I heard him.

SEAN: -- go up into the Hell Hole and talk -- and have conversations up there with someone.

CLARA: He had conversations in the living room also, with -- he would argue with --

SEAN: This was opposed to, however, his normal alcoholic --

CLARA: Yeah.

SEAN: -- yelling at the TV type thing?

CLARA: Right, right. But you could never understand what he was saying. He was like, "No, that's not (indistinguishable yelling)," you know. Yes, no, he -- yes, no, I think at the end there, it got to him probably because he had himself so open with his alcoholism, you know. Where before, he wasn't home much.

SEAN: Yeah. So, would you --

CLARA: I mean, he wouldn't come home until, like, late at night. So he wasn't in the house like we were until he was retired, and then I think it started messing with him, too. I don't know how much he actually knew what it was or who knows. I think his mind was just all screwed up at that point. Yeah, and look at him. He had that aneurysm in that house on Christmas.**** You know, was that just an aneurysm, did the thing cause that? I don't know. You know. I know he was never right after that.

Christmas 1983
My father was not in this picture. We thought he
was one step behind us visiting the family, but he
was actually on the floor at home bleeding internally.
SEAN: Yeah. Yeah. He was sort of like a case study, in my opinion, of a skeptic in the house, whether it would affect a skeptic or whether it wouldn't affect those people that were more willing to engage.

CLARA: Yeah. I think probably he did not have as much intuition into it as some of us did.

SEAN: And I think definitely his alcoholic state opened him --

CLARA: Right.

SEAN: -- to it.

CLARA: Exactly. That's what I was trying to say, yeah, that he would be more up to it, you know.

SEAN: I consider him a victim, to a degree, of what was in the house.

CLARA: Well, I think we were all victims of what was in that house. And I'll tell you the truth, I was always afraid, because I knew it followed -- something followed me. The incubus would always follow me to Taylor's Island. I was always afraid it would follow me wherever I went. I was afraid it would follow me here.

SEAN: Do you think it followed you here?

CLARA: No. No.

SEAN: Do you think there's anything here?

CLARA: No. No, I think this house is very calm, there's nothing here that is going to hurt anybody. Yeah. No, this is a safe house. But that's why I would never go back to that house. If invited, I would never go back there, because I would be afraid it would recognize me and then would be like, oh. Maybe I snuck out without it, you know. Maybe it thought I was going to come back before I left completely. I don't know. I think I was lucky to get out the first time without it and I would not go back. Or maybe that's where it lives. I don't know. But I think whoever lives there, I think they're probably having experiences also, and probably still questioning.

SEAN: Do you think that this entity was in any way responsible for the deaths of either Laurie, Mark, or your husband?

Douglas Ernest Murphy, Sr.
CLARA: I don't think your father, no. I think he drank himself to death. I think he was just extremely depressed. See, and that's another thing. I think there was a lot of depression on his side. With Laurie and Mark, I'm really not sure. I think it may have messed with their minds. I wouldn't write it off as no, it didn't have anything to do with it. I don't think it was there at the moment of their death, if you know what I mean.

SEAN: I personally think it could have been.

CLARA: Well, maybe it could. I think it -- I think it screwed with them enough, that yeah, at least made them -- made their minds -- screwed up their mind. I think it had the possibility to do that. You know. I think Mark especially, yeah. I often wondered, had we not moved to that house, would they both be alive?

SEAN: I wondered about that too.

CLARA: You know, Mark was always a very quiet child when he was growing up. As a baby, he was probably the best baby I ever had. And, you know, I wonder all the stuff that he got into, I don't know what all drugs he took. I know he smoked pot, but I often wonder if a lot of that stuff would not have happened if we didn't live there.

SEAN: Well, I know I asked him one of those times when he was in a very lucid state, you know, when he was on his meds. After the Ouija board incident, he was no longer living at home, and I asked him, I said, "While you were living up in that room, did you experience anything supernatural?" And his response to me was, "When I was living in that room, I was so high all the time, I would never have known if it did or whether it was in my mind."

Mark, with Ginger, in the basement apartment he built
CLARA: But you know, I know when he built the basement, I know it got -- oh, man, that place. That basement. Wow. One time I -- I know he couldn't sleep in that bedroom that he built there because it was -- there was something in there. But I know the one time I went down there, it was the 4th of July and Ginger was afraid of the fireworks and I went down in there. That place was spookier than the upstairs. I mean, that place -- I couldn't stay down there. I had to leave. It just -- that basement was just terrible. I often felt bad, then, because we used to make Alex sleep in the basement. I didn't know it was that bad. The whole house was just -- that whole house was just bad.

SEAN: Yeah, well.

CLARA: The whole house was just bad. There wasn't any safe room. There wasn't any safe spot that you could be in. You couldn't go to the bathroom without thinking something was watching you. You know. And it's a shame because I always liked that -- I liked that house, the way -- you know, it was a beautiful house.

SEAN: It was a beautiful house.

CLARA: I wish you would talk to whatever we said is who claimed to have information on that house, because I would like to the know what happened in that house before we moved there. Was there something there before we moved there? And I think the fact that it was just so many teenagers, the energy, I think it really exacerbated whatever was already there.

SEAN: But here's the thing: As there were no teenagers left when Nat was, say, in college, when it was you, Nat, and John, John's in his late 20s, it was still active. It was woke up and it stayed awake.

CLARA: Well, because -- well, yeah, right. Right. I think once -- yeah, once it gained its strength, it was just a very strong entity.

SEAN: Do you think the Ouija board was the thing that triggered it?

CLARA: -- the trigger? I really don't. I think it just brought it more to the forefront of my knowledge, that it was there. I think it was always there, and I think it was messing with us before that. No, I don't think that that invited it in or anything like that. I think it was always there.

SEAN: I think you make a good point. I think it was always there. I think in some ways, at least for myself, I think it was stronger before I knew it was there. I think it was having more of an affect on me mentally before it really started to play its hands. Because once it started -- once it made itself known, then you knew something was there. It wasn't something in your mind. You weren't crazy, you know. 

CLARA: Right.

SEAN: But it's funny, no matter what, when I got home --

CLARA: You couldn't sleep.

SEAN: During the active period, I would be out, and then I'd be driving home and it was getting dark, and it's like, it's going to be there. You know, because it really -- it's like you say, at night.

CLARA: Right.

SEAN: -- suddenly you're in this weird supernatural, superstition world.

CLARA: Right.

SEAN: So you're a normal, rational human being living a 20th century life during the day.

CLARA: Yeah, at a certain point in time, I know when I was working, I don't think I ever got a full night's sleep without being woken up, without feeling that thing climb in bed with you, without all of a sudden you couldn't move. I mean, every night it was something. The black shadow.

SEAN: I never saw it, I'll say that much.

CLARA: Well, it used to come out of that closet.

SEAN: Yeah.

CLARA: No matter what you did, you couldn't keep that door -- that door would open up in the middle of the night, you know. No matter what. No matter what. It always came out of there.

SEAN: Natalie said that when she was living in that room alone, she would actually lock it and it would still open.

CLARA: It would still open. You couldn't -- you couldn't lock it. I mean, it always opened. It was always something, the thing turning on, I think even lights turned on sometimes, you know, would wake you up. You -- I never had a full night's sleep in that house without being -- having something happen during the night to me or around me. You know. I mean, Mark seemed to think something was with that organ. Whether it was or not, I don't know. It was in there before that organ ever came into that house.

SEAN: Oh, yeah.

CLARA: You know, where that organ came from, I don't know. I mean, I know Mr. Kirk, but I mean, where it lived prior, I don't know. You know, where the piano lived prior to being in that house, I don't know either. You know. But no, I don't think we brought it. I think it was always there.

SEAN: I don't think it was anybody's behavior that brought it either.

CLARA: No. No. I know Jeanne blames me with the Ouija board thing, but like I say, that made me realize, yeah, it really is something here. But I don't think that that opened up any portal that wasn't already there. I think whatever was there was there, was always there, you know, came and go, would come and go by itself. Did it come and go? I don't know. There were periods of time when three months would go by and there really wasn't anything that happened, and then all of a sudden it was one thing after another after another. All the stuff that happened, it's hard to remember all of it, you know. But the furniture moving was, you know, one thing. You could hear people -- you could hear footsteps, that was another thing. You know, I mean, there was just a lot of stuff that went on there that...

SEAN: So what -- here's the question that everybody asks: Why did you stay?

CLARA: Why? Your father didn't believe in it. What was I going to do? I wasn't even making $10 an hour. What, I was going to pack up everybody and buy another house? People say that all the time, why don't you just move? Well, your father had the checkbook in his name only, so I couldn't really get any money out of it anyway. And he didn't believe in it, so... "Oh, yeah, we should move because you're scared to stay in this house." That wasn't going to happen. He didn't care. So. I could want to pick up and move. What could I do? You know.

SEAN: So what would you say are your final thoughts?

CLARA: My final thoughts. That I'm glad I'm out of there. You know,  I watch a lot of stuff on television and it's like, oh, yeah, we had that. Oh, yeah. You know. I remember that. Oh, yeah, that's... I try to forget a lot of it. It's so much more peaceful now, I don't like to think about it. 

And I would never go back there. I would never go back there. And like I say, I'm just glad that it did not follow me. And I know one time, you weren't serious I don't think, but you were considering buying that house when it was for sale, and definitely I would never have gone to visit you if you did because I would never go back there.

SEAN: Well, I was considering it because I felt I could cast it out if it belonged to me. That if the house was physically mine, I could cast it out of the house.

CLARA: No, I don't think you could. I think it would find a way to get itself back in there. I don't think anybody -- and I'm sure that it's there now.

SEAN: I'm sure that it's there now.

CLARA: We did not have a mass hallucination about the stuff that was happening in that house, because for many years, we didn't even talk about it to each other. We were all experiencing things on our own thinking, oh, this can't be happening. So I don't think you can get rid of it. I think somehow or other, as long as that house is there, it's going to be there. People perceive -- how much they perceive it is another story. Some people don't have any psychic ability and so maybe they wouldn't perceive it as much or there would be just quirky little things. I mean, maybe I didn't -- did I really hear that noise? Maybe it was outside, that wasn't in here.

SEAN: So do you feel bad that we didn't tell the next owner about it?

CLARA: It was up to them to ask. I kind of did. But then I thought, well, maybe they wouldn't experience it. Because they didn't have children. You know, I know when I started looking for a house afterwards, that was the first thing I asked when I went into a house. Are there any ghosts in here, do you have any psychic stuff going on in here? And if you ask, they have to tell you. And a couple places we went and the owner -- you know, there was no owner there or whatever, and I made sure to ask the real estate agent, "Make sure you find out because I'm not moving into another haunted house."

SEAN: Well, I will say that when I was at the auction for the house after the next owners were departed, I told the people, anyone who asked me, I told them that I had lived in the house, I was a resident. So they all wanted to talk about the house with me, you know, since I had lived there. And the first thing I told them was that it was haunted.

CLARA: Did you?

SEAN: Yes. Anyone who talked to me.

CLARA: And probably a lot of them didn't believe you.

SEAN: No, a lot of them were like, "Oh, wow, that's really cool."

CLARA: Yeah, yeah.

SEAN: And I'm like -- 

CLARA: No.

SEAN: I'm like, "No, it's not really cool. It's actually pretty bad."

CLARA: Yeah.

SEAN: You know, and --

CLARA: I always said, it's not Casper the Friendly Ghost.

SEAN: Yeah. It wasn't Joe Ghost either.

CLARA: And it wasn't Joe Ghost.

SEAN: Question: Did Laurie ever discuss anything, you know?

CLARA: Oh, I didn't talk about the red eyes. There were red eyes in that closet at night, too. When that closet door would open, a lot of times at night, you would look in and there would be red eyes in there.

SEAN: You saw them in the bedroom closet? You didn't see them up in the third floor closet

CLARA: No, I never tried -- I tried never to open that. I tried never to go near that closet. I was always looking over my shoulder, especially at night when I would be up there sewing. You know, when you went up into that room, you could hear the street sound when you first went up there, and it was like, if you were up there for a while, it was like you were in a vacuum or something. You never heard -- you couldn't hear anything outside it. It was just like you were enveloped in it. And all the outside noises and all just disappeared and it was just you and that room. And it was a pretty room. It's too bad it was...

SEAN: Too bad it was haunted as hell.

CLARA: It was a pretty house, you know. I really liked the house, I liked where it was located and everything. But on hindsight, if I knew 20 years after, later if I could go back, if I knew then what I know now, I never would have moved there.

21 St. Helens Avenue
Notes:

*21 St. Helens Avenue was the original address of the house when it was built. The street name and number changed over time, but I use the original address to protect the privacy of the current owners.

**My mother added an extension to the back of the house increasing the size of the kitchen and adding another room.

***Debbie Senior was the wife of my late uncle Brian Murphy. She had the word Senior attached to her name after I married a woman named Debbie, who is now called Debbie Junior to avoid confusion in the family.

****My father suffered a near fatal aneurysm on Christmas Day 1983. He was lucky to have survived, but he behavior changed as a result.