Drinking Belgian Beer (with the Dead)

belgium_roof-tops-and-chimneys

What would you do with a hundred thousand dollars and a three-month sabbatical from work?

I would contact the owner of an ancient townhouse in a small Belgian town. The town itself is nowhere, and although the house is over three centuries old, it is unnotable in every way except one: I lived there for three years. I would offer whatever inflated rent it took to get three months in that house. Summer would do, winter would be better. These are the seasons where the haunting is most active. Banging sounds, physical manifestation of blood, apparitions, and repeated visitations by malevolent entities are all part of my experience living there. My room was in the original structure, not the refurbished bit, and supernatural activity was constant. Sounds, unexplained lights, and sudden cold often awakened me. Terror and dread permeate my memory of this house.

Yet, should I come into an obscene surfeit of money, that is where I would go. I would sleep in my old room. It has a single, narrow window overlooking the side of a war-blasted and rebuilt church, and is just down the hall from the door to an open-raftered attic full of the sounds of sparrows and spectral men playing cards. I would stay in the room where my sister and I huddled together on a bare mattress, staring at the ceiling where it sounded like someone was hatcheting the old beams. I would stay because I remember, because I know.

Some number of years after my family moved out, my sister had an opportunity to spend a weekend in the home. She brought her new husband with her and I don’t think they managed even one full night. He saw blue eyes in the bathroom mirror, watching him through the steam. That bathroom is why I still shampoo my hair with my eyes open.  I’m starting to question my use of that 100k…

Image Courtesy Linnaea Mallette, Public Domain Pictures

 

PS I wrote this while sipping a Belgian-style Tripel, outside, on an unseasonably warm winter’s day. I will not be able to do that in Belgium in February.  Summer’s sounding better for my haunted holiday, isn’t it?

 

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