The Haunting of Utica Ave by Jymie Darling
Everyone has that one thing that begins a life obsession with something obscure. When asked “why do you investigate hauntings?” I have never really thought of why.
When asked “what made you become a demonologist?” I have never really thought of why.
When asked “what is your obsession with demons that you would dedicate your life to investigating, working and understanding such entities?” I have never really thought of why.
Why do I? Every obsession has a story line, a beginning. Especially demons. This is mine….
When I was young, must have been around 12 years old (give or take a year…remember…I have a damn brain injury from the military and I cannot remember exact dates…usually off by a year), I went to a summer camp with the local park in Whittier, CA called Mayberry. I grew up around the corner from there. When I returned, my mom had moved in a boyfriend that I had never met. Yaaay! Not yaay at that time…I was shit to him but he is my dad now for more than 35 years and I love him deeply.
He had not moved in completely. So one evening it was dusk and summer, my mom told me to go help him grab some more of his stuff from his old house. His house was on Utica and not far from us…maybe 7 minutes. I rolled my eyes and said “if I hafta”. I had to.
We pull up to the house.
This is actually been rebuilt. They built a new house but left the foundation.
The house is whatever. I look across the street and I recognize a school friend from St Gregory the Great (my catholic grade school), Janine Carver. I run over and say HEY. Her mom comes out and says hello. Asks what I was doing there. I said…ah..new boyfriend in the house and helping him grab stuff. There is an old man on the corner out watering his yard. Everyone calls him Penguin. He waddles. He has the nicest yard on the block. Just astounding green. Loretta laughs and says that he loves that lawn more than God.
Pop yells at me to come help. Loretta stops me and says that her cat is having kittens, do I want one? I find this my moment to play the new guy. I scream over….when her cat is done, can I have one of the kittens? PLEASE??? He says of course! I say bye and run over to the house.
I enter the house. No one is there. It smells bad. Really bad. Each few steps is a new and more horrible smell. I ask “Something die?” He shakes his head and keeps walking back to his room. A few more steps and the house goes cold in that spot. A few more steps and it is hot again. Each step a smell of death and rotten something…eggs? Food? Dead rats? My mind goes..awesome and he is moving in with us. Each few steps is a cold spot that makes me shiver. I cannot understand this. Even as a kid, I had a very logical mind…a very scientific mind and a math based understanding of things. That did not make me very popular at all but being a volleyball team 1st string player helped.
None of this makes any sense to me. I look for the venting system. None. I shrug and move on to his room. He is at his closet grabbing things. Down the hall is another room with a padlock on it. I notice his had a padlock too. Roommate? He said we were there alone. That he lived alone.
He turns and asks me if I want to see a neat trick. I shrug. Sure. He takes his watch which he states is his dad’s watch and places it on the top shelf. Near the edge at the front. He closes the door. Smiles at me and says “Get the watch.” I sigh and walk over, I reach up..the watch is gone. He lifts me up. The watch is at the very back of the shelf. I ask him how he does that and he smiles. Sets me down and closes the door. Opens it immediately. The watch is back at the front but to the left. He lifts me back up. I check for strings. It is wood. I move the watch by my hand…sliding it. It makes a sound on the wood. I push on the shelf. It does not move. He sets me down and chuckles.
In the corner a bottle catches my eyes. It is a sparkletts water bottle. The big 5 gallon ones. At this time, they are glass. Now why does it catch me eye? The nuns had just showed me a physics trick of pressure breakage. Theirs was with an egg and a cup. One cup with an egg on it and one without. Each hit on the side with a small hammer. One broke outwards. One broke inwards. Pressure explosion. His bottle was also broken out on the side. Only his broke outwards and there was not a seal on top for pressure. I asked him “What happened?” He says “Oh. No idea. Everyday it breaks a little more. Why?” I say “There is no seal tho.” He shrugs and continues packing.
The glass is perfectly lined on the outside of the bottle. Exactly 1 inch in width and exactly 1 inch from the bottle. Lined perfect. I place my hand inside the bottle and wipe the bottom…nothing but dust. Makes zero sense to what I had just learned that day. I turn to argue the impossibility of the physics when a machete leaning against the wall catches my eye and my attention. Now the following happens and I have a ZERO recall of it but overheard him later telling this to my mom:
“She went over to the machete. Picked it up. Asked me if it was sharp. I told her it really was not all that sharp. Pretty dull actually. Toby, her face changed and she said in a voice that was not hers…I did not ask you if you could slice your wrists with it, I asked you if I swung it hard enough would it cut your head off. Toby, I told her that I guess so and she shrieked at me to get it the FUCK OUT OF THIS HOUSE.”
I remember seeing the machete. I remember that suddenly I was putting it back against the wall and he was diving to snatch it up. I could not understand his problem. He looked pale. He said he had packed enough and it was time to leave. We left the room and he padlocked it. In the hallway, I walked over to the other room. Again…no memory. Only what I overheard him telling my mom later:
“She walked over to the other room. Put her hands on it. Looked at me and screamed WHY ARE YOU HERE? RUN! OH I AM DEAD! RUN!”
I remember walking to the hallway and turning on a light. There was a black velvet oil painting of some 70’s rocker playing a guitar. Eric Clapton, I believe. May not have been. All I know is that something about that picture scared the living hell out of me. I turned to him and begged to leave now. He said…yes.
We started to move through the living room. I became frozen in my spot. I looked back at the painting. He left the house.
The door slammed shut. I screamed. He had hanging candles…I know…so 1970. They began to swing wildly. The curtains were violently swinging. I am screaming but frozen in spot. The house smells like sweet but death. It is cold. So cold. I can hear him screaming outside “NO! OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR! NO!!! LEAVE HER ALONE!! GODDAMMIT!! LEAVE HER ALONE!!”
Suddenly, everything stops swinging. The door opens. I run towards him. I grab the back of his levi’s and tear the pocket off pulling him with me. Takes hours to calm me down. HOURS.
My family never again speaks of this night….but it does not end there….stay tuned for part 2.