“What do you think?” my husband, Peter, asked about the link he’d sent me as we prepared to head home from the holidays.
“The funeral home?” I asked.
“Yeah that one.”
“I thought it was a joke.”
“No, it’s right on our way.”
“We’re going to spend the night in a funeral home?”
“It’s very inexpensive!”
I suddenly felt like I was in the opening scene of every horror film I’d ever watched.
Peter wanted us to spend the night in a historic funeral home on our way home. The funeral home had been converted into an Airbnb. It was both right on our way and suspiciously cheap.
Peter and I drive home on two-lane roads. The roads are slower, but the route is more direct. The problem is that the few motels on the way are very much the worse for wear. We’ve tried virtually every one and I can no longer keep them straight.
“We stayed there,” Peter will say as we drive by.
“Was that the one with the really loud heater?” I ask.
“No that was the one with the toilet that rocked—and not in a good way.”
If a person stayed in a bad funeral home, I figured, at least the experience would be memorable.
We pulled in about sunset. There was a bare weeping willow out front. The proprietor, a woman about my age named Cheryl, met us at the door. We’d been having trouble with our car battery, so we asked if we could plug a trickle charger into the unusually large garage.
“Boy!” Peter said, “This is a big garage.”
“They stored the coffins here until the hearse picked them up.”
“Huh,” Peter said.
We entered the house and noticed the front hallway was at an odd angle. I asked Cheryl why this was.
“There are three parlors, all with pocket doors to close them off and separate entrances,” Cheryl explained. “So, they could have three funerals at once!”
“Did they really have three funerals at the same time?” I asked. That seemed like a lot of simultaneous casualties in a town this size.
“I don’t know if they did, but they could!”
Cheryl had four cats. One was black and named “Old Scratch.”
“You know, that’s a nickname for the devil,” I told her—certain she already knew.
“No! I didn’t know. He used to have a sibling named ‘Sniff,’ who died years ago and now I just call him ‘Old Scratch.’”
There was a life-sized skeleton at the pump organ in one of the parlors and a figure in Victorian dress looking out the window. Our room upstairs was filled with antiques. There was also a skeleton in our closet, I discovered, when I put our luggage away.
Cheryl told us about the purported paranormal activities that had occurred in the house and the people who had stayed there, looking for them. There was, she told me, a persistent report of a woman on the back stairway.
“I don’t know if it’s haunted or not,” Cheryl concluded cheerfully. “If I hear something funny, I just say, ‘Oh! It’s the cats again!’” This seemed to me like a practical response.
I slept very well in the funeral home.
The house was quiet, and bed was comfortable, and I cannot tell you anything unusual that occurred during the night. Except this:
I had a particularly vivid dream. I was flying and felt fearless and full of joy and humor. I was learning new things and surrounded by friends.
If that’s what haunting feels like, I’ll take it.
Till next time,
Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.