Thursday, April 21, 2016


I met Robert through a roommate shortly after I bought my first house in Los Angeles. I always got home from work before Paul, and one evening, the instant I stepped in the front door, I knew I was not alone. I didn’t just know it, I KNEW it. Afraid that the house was being burglarized, and calling out “who’s there?” several times, I cautiously made my way from room to room. The feeling was almost overpowering as I approached the front bedroom, but when I finally gathered the courage to enter, no one was there.

As soon as Paul came home, I told him of the incident. He laughed and said: “Don’t worry about it: it’s just Robert.” Robert, he told me, was a ghost who had lived at Paul’s former apartment with him and three of his roommates. He was totally harmless but had a habit of playing tricks, his most favorite being hiding things. And he was, I learned over time particularly fond of bedrooms and classical music. Though I was frequently aware of his presence, it was never the least bit frightening. In fact, I grew to be very fond of him.

Paul told me of the time one of his roommates had come home from grocery shopping with a carton of cigarettes. Setting the bags on the kitchen table, he made a quick trip to the restroom, and when he returned, the carton of cigarettes was gone from the bag. He was the only one in the apartment at the time. Three weeks later, when another of the roommates set out to do some minor repair on his car, the carton of cigarettes showed up at the bottom of his tool chest.

Though I never learned Robert’s history, he did travel back and forth between my house and Paul’s former apartment. When one of Paul’s former roommates came for a visit, Robert would go home with him and return on the next roommate visit.

When my mother came to visit for Christmas shortly after my father died, we were sitting in the living room on my sofa, talking. The sofa sat toward the center of the room and faced a huge front window, and I could easily see the living room, part of the kitchen, and the entry/dining room, where the Christmas tree had been set up reflected in it.

I was telling my mother about Robert. As I did so, I saw Paul, who had been in the back of the house, enter the living room from the kitchen and walk behind the sofa and into the dining area. He was wearing a bright blue bathrobe I’d recently bought, and when I turned to ask him why, the dining area was empty. When I called out to him, he answered from the back of the house. He was not wearing my robe.

“I don’t believe in ghosts,” my mother said, and at that moment, three ornaments fell off the tree.

Mother apparently changed her mind.

The next morning she told me that she had awakened in the night, knowing that someone was in the room with her. I asked if she’d been frightened, and she said, “Not at all. I just said: ‘Go away, Robert,’ and he did.”

When Paul moved out, Robert all but disappeared from my life, though there have been a few times since Los Angeles that I have been aware of him. I do wish he’d show up more often. I miss him.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/

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