A True Ghost Story

---The Obscure Penguin---

The Obscure Penguin
Some of you believe in ghosts. Some of you do not. The story I am about to tell you is absolutely true. I’ve discovered over the years once the mind is made up over the supernatural folks usually won’t be persuaded either way even when faced with evidence. I personally like to keep an open mind about the unexplained because I also believe that what we believe can influence what we see.
About twenty years ago I was visiting my mother who lived in a house in Castroville, Texas. Castroville was founded in 1844 by a man who’d brought a number of European families to the new republic, mainly from an area around what’s now the border between France and Germany. That region was called Alsace. Castroville, near San Antonio, is referred to as the Little Alsace of Texas. By coincidence, when I was a kid and Dad was in the Air Force, stationed in Zweibrucken, in that very area, we lived in a house that still had bullet holes in the stone exterior from the Second World War. We would hear footsteps above us although no one lived in the apartment upstairs. Once, the broom, hanging from the wall, literally lifted itself off the hook and fell to the floor. They dug up an exploded bomb from the war in our backyard. There were many ghosts in that area but that’s not what this story is about.
The house in Castroville was an original from the 19th century. Very old. There were two floors. It was stucco on the outside, painted a sky blue, and it sat on the corner of the narrow streets of a small neighborhood of similar old houses just off the Medina River. At the time my mother, Vivis, worked at the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio. She had, in fact, been featured in a book, "Spirits of San Antonio and South Texas," which tells the story of when she saw the ghost of a man who, unbeknownst to her, had died the previous day. The incident has been well documented. But that’s not what this story is about.
There were a lot of antiques in the house, very old furniture. I was struck by an old pantry where Mom said folks would put pies. I joked it would be hard to keep the bugs out. She turned my attention to the discoloration at the legs. She said the legs would be placed on saucers of water so if bugs would try to crawl up the pantry they’d be drowned. Ingenious, I thought. Mom pointed to a rocking chair and said she could see it rocking sometimes without anyone in it. I noticed a lot of shadows seemed to move in that old house. One night after dinner we were relaxing in the sitting room listening to music and drinking a Shiner. I was rocking in the rocking chair, wondering if I’d be compelled to rock without wanting to rock. The music came from a boom box that sat on a table, along with a lamp, on a tablecloth. That’s where I had put the Shiner bottle. I was rocking in the chair, along with the music, and we were talking about ghosts potentially connected in some way to antiques. Then I noticed the Shiner bottle I’d placed on the table began to rock with the music.
I stopped rocking and looked at Mom to see if she was seeing the same thing. She was. We were dumbstruck. I remember being fixated on the rocking bottle and then continually glancing at Mom to try to understand what was happening. I asked her, “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” She said, “Yes!” We both followed the rocking Shiner bottle as if it were a metronome for ZZ Top’s "Legs," which pounded from the boom box. I decided to take action and I picked up the bottle and set it down again. And it began to rock again!
You have to understand, hearing ghost stories your entire life is not the same thing as actually witnessing a paranormal event. There I was, stunned by the incontrovertible truth of spectral evidence, which was apparently quite moved by ZZ Top. I picked up the bottle once more and then I noticed something odd. The tablecloth itself seemed to be moving. I slowly, cautiously lifted the tablecloth and discovered to my horror… a massive water bug. The bug had crawled between the table and the tablecloth, and then, quite accidentally happened to be on the spot where I had placed the beer bottle…twice. No doubt that bug felt relieved I took a supernatural weight off its back as it scurried off into the shadows.