“Oh, Al! There it is, just what we wanted, a big old Victorian house with a tower and wrap-around porch and 10-foot ceilings, and a gazebo!” My wife Mary was ecstatic and a bit incoherent as well. “Stained glass on the front door and the windows and a big attic with dormers. Oh honey, do you think we can afford it?”
We discovered it was very affordable, indeed. It was just on the edge of a small Indiana town which had seen more prosperous days back in the 20’s. More recently, the factory closing had caused many people to leave. Frankly, if you didn’t have a retirement income as we did, you probably couldn’t make it here.
For us it seemed perfect. A retired college professor, I had my doctorate in history from Honolulu University and an MBA from St. Charles University.
We purchased the house for $16,000 after talking them down from $20,000. It had come on the market almost two years ago. The former owner, George Halverson, was a tall, gaunt man, quiet and secretive. He had lived in this old farm house for 40 years. He had died just two years before. Nobody liked him and he kept to himself.
We began to settle in. The people were very friendly. We attended the big Baptist Church on the square and enjoyed exploring the back roads. It was only 35 miles to Indianapolis for serious shopping.
After we had been there three weeks, we came home with our groceries to discover a couple of kitchen cabinet doors standing open.
“Al Adler!” Mary exclaimed. “What is going on here?”
“What indeed? The house was locked'”no sign of forced entry, nothing taken. We mulled it over for two or three days, came up with the usual stupid explanations, faulty catches, underground water, earthquakes … None of them made the least sense. Then, two days later, I came home to discover the cabinet doors in the study standing open. Nothing taken, etc. What was going on? This continued for weeks. Mary was getting very jittery, didn’t want to be alone.
Finally, we talked with the realtor. “What do you know about this house? Is it supposed to be haunted? Craig Carson was 72. He had lived here all his life.
“Now, calm down, Mr. Adler. No, it’s not supposed to be haunted. Really! All I can tell you is that fellow, Halverson, lived there for 40 years. He wasn’t from around here. Somewhere out East, I guess. Came into the area about two years before. Worked on some houses in the area, roofing, light carpentry. Came back a year later, made a down payment, and moved in. A little later he came into some money, claimed his uncle back East left it to him. Apparently he invested it well and lived off his earnings. Nobody never knew much about him. Personally, I think he got it illegally someway. I sure couldn’t prove anything about it, though.”
“Would anybody else know anything about this?” I asked.
“I don’t think so. He had no friends, no confidantes. Sorry I can’t help you more.”
I dug through newspaper files going back 40 years and more, and talked with the local historical society. In one word, “zilch.” Incidents occurred more often, now in the middle of the night, apparently around 3:00 A.M.
One night we hid behind a heavy drapery in the living room close to a cabinet that had frequently been open. We stood there for hours. I felt it probably was a ridiculous waste of time. But desperate people do desperate things. Just as I had about convinced myself I was a complete idiot, I looked to see the back of a short squat man opening the cabinet.
“Ah hah! I’ve got you!” It was a burglar, after all!
I placed my hand on his back and turned him around. His face was deathly white and seemed to be crumbling with decay. His burning, red eyes and snarling lip weren’t half so disconcerting as the fact that his throat had been slit from ear to ear. Mary screamed and fainted. Women are so emotional!,, I turned in her direction to catch her as she fell. When I looked in his direction again, he was gone, the cabinet door was still open.
I revived Mary on the couch. As soon as she was able, she dragged me up the stairs, packed two bags hurriedly, practically forced me into the car, and headed for the nearest motel.
“Oh, Al!” It was horrible! Horrible! Maybe we can have someone remove our belongings.”
“I think I have finally got the picture here,” I told Mary. “Some years before Halverson arrived, two fellows held up a nearby bank. They got over $100,000. Apparently, one bank robber killed his partner and hid the money. He was later killed in a shootout with the police. I think this is his buddy looking for the money which Halverson found.”
“Maybe so. I am never going to set foot in that house again,” she said.
“Actually, it wasn’t so bad.” I said. “After all, old Halverson put up with it for 40 years.” She beaned me with a heavy shoe. Ah, women! Picky, picky, picky!