We had never
owned a house of our own; we were just renters so I looked at those
grand old ladies on Wayne and Cherry streets with a covetous eye.
One day, I promised myself, I’d own a house with some history.
Maybe a creepy old one that people said was haunted. It
wouldn’t really be haunted of course, because I couldn’t stand
that, but it would be okay if there were some kind of haint tale to
go along with it. Either that or there was a story about some
sort of hidden treasure inside. Any one of the two would do for
As we branched out from our 4- 6 block dog walking routine I made my way to the Cracker William’s park Area and found that a lady I knew from church lived in that area. She first rented a small apartment across from the pool, but then moved a couple blocks away near the school in a large Victorian. It was a beautiful white two story with a wide columned front porch and pretty red shutters and two red doors in the front. Her husband was an immaculate landscaper and he always kept the yard in pristine condition. It could have been on the cover of a southern living magazine. One day she saw me walking by as she was sitting on the front porch and she called out to me.
“I’ve seen you at my Church.” She said as she bounced down the front steps. “I’m Vicky. You’re new in town, right?”
I told her we were and when I told her we were originally from Alabama she beamed a huge smile at me.
“I’m from Alabama too. Slocomb- it’s down near Dothan.”
I had a faint recollection of Dothan from our first road trip to Panama City Beach. I couldn’t find it on a map but I did remember that it was in the vicinity of the Big Peach water tower. Everybody loved the Big Peach- people stopped and took pictures of it. Not because a town having a water tower shaped like a peach is such an unusual thing but because if you looked at it from the right spot on the interstate, it sort of resembled a butt and a crack.
Finally she asked us up to sit a spell on her porch and get out of the heat. That was how our friendship started. We were new in town and we didn’t know many people and we started talking. I told her that I lived on Mahogany. I didn’t realize that Mahogany was a street and a lane. Mahogany Street was one street over. We lived on Mahogany Lane. I just said Mahogany and left it at that assuming that she lived in Jesup longer than us, she would know the area.
One day I commented on how much I admired her house.
“It’s just a rental. She confessed. “The lady that owned it was a widow and she used to rent it out to single teachers. We needed a bigger house because my husband’s family often comes to visit and we need room for them.”
I told her it was a beautiful house and how much I loved old houses.
“It is an old house. Old houses do funny things. They make weird noises. Sometimes it sounds like footsteps upstairs when there’s no one there. You can’t live in an old house if you’re too easily scared. There are too many strange noises.”
I cut my eyes at her and grinned. “Are you saying your house is haunted?” I teased.
She laughed. “No. Not mine. You live by the haunted house.”
I looked at her suspiciously. She had gotten my attention. “Which one?”
“The one on the Lane behind your street.”
There wasn’t a lane behind my street. I lived on the lane. The street behind mine was Palm.
“Mahogany Lane?” I asked.
She nodded. “Over close to the school.”
My heart seemed to skip a beat. “The brick one.” I finished for her, sure that was the one she was talking about. It looked haunted.
“No, the little blue one.”
I felt like someone had just poured ice water all over my body.
“The little blue one with the white shutters? Little crackerbox house with a postage stamp front yard?” I asked just to be sure.
“You know it!” She cried happily.
Yep. I knew it. I knew it well. I lived in it.