Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The little ghost of Charleston, Mo.

The following real-life ghost story is a reader’s experience. It happened to Samuel J. Saladino, now of South Beloit, Ill., when he lived in Charleston, Mo., in the early 1990s. This is his story:

I was working the late shift, and at about 8 p.m. my now ex-wife woke me to ask if we could go to a restaurant. We were living with my sister and her husband and I asked my sister if she'd like to join us.

When we returned to the house, I sensed something wasn't right. We had Pomeranians we kept in the kitchen. Poms are yippie dogs, but tonight they were silent. I put my finger to my lips and my wife and sister looked at me. I put my finger to my ear and mouthed, "What do you hear?" They shrugged their shoulders and mouthed, "nothing." Then they realized the dogs weren't making any sound.

I motioned for them to stay where they were while I edged to the kitchen. The male Pom was sitting on the kitchen floor looking at something. I edged closer and saw a girl of about 11, bent over looking at the dogs.

She had pigtails hanging over each shoulder, dangling above the heads of the dogs. They seemed to be watching the girl and would from time to time wag their tails. She wore a white blouse, a dark blue jumper, stockings and black strap shoes. To me, it must be a girl who lived in the neighborhood, had heard the dogs and let herself in.

I stepped into the doorway and said, "hi." She looked up, our eyes met, and I have never seen such a look of terror in anyone's face before. Then the dogs started barking.

She turned to run, and I said, "wait." When she reached the door to the back yard she didn't stop and she ran through the solid door. I could see her running across the back yard, as if in full daylight, but this was 10 p.m. As she reached the end of the yard in front of some woods, the light started to swirl around her and everything disappeared into a dot and the darkness reclaimed the night.

I ran out to see if I could find where she had disappeared. There were two other dogs barking at the spot where she vanished. I can only assume they saw her, too.

My wife and sister caught up to me, screaming, "What's wrong?"

I turned and their faces went white and they said, "You look like you've seen a ghost."

How right they were.

There were no woods at the spot the little girl disappeared. The land had been cleared years before and was now a field.

"You saw her didn't you?" my sister asked. "The little girl, dressed in a dark jumper, pigtails, about 10 years old?"

She'd seen this girl since she’d moved into the house. She'd often see her peeking around the corner. At first she thought it was a neighbor girl, but she'd search and never find anyone.

Neighbors remembered an elderly lady who lived in the house years before my sister. They always saw her wearing her hair in pigtails, braided, one hanging over each shoulder. I often wonder if that elderly lady had passed on and simply returned to the place she loved most.

Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050, or jasonoffutt@hotmail.com. Include your name, address and telephone number. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason Offutt is a syndicated columnist, author and fan of all things Fortean. His book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri,” will soon be available at www.jasonoffutt.com and all major bookstores.

Copyright 2006 by Jason Offutt

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