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my house at 236 laurel

When I left my first husband, I lived for about a year in a house at 236 Laurel St. in Richmond with Shelly and Elliott. This house is right next door to St. Andrews Episcopal Church. There is a stone fence between the house and the front of the church and the back yard is up against the wall of a small chapel.

There is something really strange about this house. Almost from the beginning, we had complete strangers coming to our door looking for people or help or just to talk. It got so strange that we just went with it, posting a sign on the door that proclaimed the name of our establishment to be the "Haven and Hell" with services offered and rules listed. It was a haven for the confused and we had already deemed our kitchen as "Hell's Kitchen" having decorated it tastfully with devilish decorations, so the name seemed appropriate.

There were three bedrooms, but only one bath. The bathroom was in the back of the house, over top of the kitchen. To get to it, you had to go through Elliott's room which was directly over top of the living room. There was a floor vent into Elliott's room so that he could get some heat from the living room heater. This vent made it easy to hear into his room from below.

Elliott had a nice rocking chair in his room. We could clearly hear when he was sitting in it rocking. One afternoon, Shelly and I heard the rocking but we knew Elliott wasn't home. We went upstairs, and the chair was completely still.

Shortly after this, Shelly's friend, Rea, had been using the bathroom upstairs. She came racing back downstairs, almost squealing and ran into the living room. She said that she had felt something in the hall with her at the top of the stairs and that as she came down the stairs, it was like a ball of light was chasing her, doing circles around her.

The kicker for me was when I was in the back yard one day and this little kid walked by in the alley. She stopped and asked me if I lived in the house. I told her yes.

Then, she said, "My Grandmoma used to live in that house. She died in that back bedroom."

Written on 10/10/00.

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