For Anthony and Miranda and Christopher and Cynthia
This is not a Delaware County ghost story, but a Chester County one and involves an historic 19th century farmhouse north of Downingtown.
We heard it nearly three decades ago from the home’s owners during a Christmas week festivity featuring a crackling fire, fancy cheeses and much Beaujolais Nouveau at the subject house.
“I exist because of a ghost,” the wife said.
“Actually, a monster,” said her husband who knew what was coming.
“The house is haunted,” said the wife. “It was built by my great grandfather and has been in the family since.”
“But your monster has only appeared once,” said the husband.
“It was a ghost,” she said.
“OK, tell the story,” he said.
“It was a dark and stormy night,” she said ignoring the chuckles from her husband and, confessedly, myself. “Grandfather was courting Grandmother and things were not going well. He had been visiting with his friend . . .”
“It had been a Christmas party just like this one don’t forget to say,” said her husband.
“Yes, it had been a Christmas party and there had been a row and Grandfather and his friend were leaving with Grandfather swearing he never wanted to see her again. They walked around back to where his buggy was and saw a figure in an upstairs window. They walked closer for a better look and saw that it was grotesque. It had the body of a man and head of a bird. It opened the window and started gesturing making perverse, undecipherable noises.
“The men immediately ran back to the party to warn the occupants. The house was searched and nothing found. After the initial panic, Grandmother thought it funny and rather sweet what Grandfather did. Things warmed up and here I am.”
Her brother, who had joined us for the story, smirked.
“That’s not the only ghost story here,” he said.
“Oh, you’re not going to bring up Darren, are you?” she snorted. “That was drug induced.”
“Oh, bring Darren up,” said her husband.
“Darren was my college roommate,” said her brother. “He was a bit of a lost soul. I let him spend a Christmas break here. And no, he didn’t do drugs”
“He had a green mohawk,” said the wife.
“And safety pins in his checks, don’t forget that,” said her husband.
“And safety pins in his checks,” said the wife.
“He still didn’t do drugs,” said her brother. “At least not here, anyway.”
The brother explained that they were sharing his old bedroom which was around back, when Darren woke him up.
“Dude,” he said, “I had a weird dream.”
“Sure you did,” mumbled the brother. “It was about two guys with umbrellas.” The brother noted he just being sarcastic and said the first thing that popped in his head. He merely wanted Darren to shut up and go back to sleep.
Unfortunately, it did not have that affect.
“Yes!” Darren said. “YES!! Dude, it was about two guys with umbrellas.”
Darren started pacing the floor. As Darren slept naked, this in itself was troubling, the brother said. Darren then, however, walked to the window.
“DUDE,” Darren shouted. “There they are. The two guys with umbrellas.”
The brother said he buried his head beneath his pillow and prayed Darren wouldn’t wake his parents.
He then heard Darren open the window.
The brother reminded us that this was a December night. He was not happy. When he looked up he was even less so.
Darren was leaning halfway out the window waving his arms frantically.
“DUDES,” he was shouting. “DUDES!!! WHOA DUDES!!!”
After a bit, Darren stopped. “Whoa, that was intense,” he said, then went back to bed.
“This meant I had to get out of bed to shut the stupid window,” the brother said. “No, I didn’t see anybody outside with umbrellas.”
“It was drugs,” the wife said.
I left thinking that a circle got completed and the wife owed Darren a thank you.
Chester County Monster 2014