The Strange Case of the Haunted Garage
The story I am about to relate was something I witnessed when I was young boy. Although that was many years ago, the memory of it is still clear, clearer than most of my childhood memories. Perhaps it is because I have repeated the story often over the years.
I am tempted get inside the mind of the character in the tale, to surmise his thoughts as the unexplainable events occurred. Perhaps he felt his very sanity was to be questioned, or maybe he was one who believed in the supernatural and blamed some spirit for his predicament. Maybe he just felt himself to be a victim of circumstance, as we are all from time to time. But as was merely an observer of the events that occurred, I shall simply tell what I saw and let the reader imagine what was going on in this man’s mind as the story progresses.
The story begins with a man who drove to his daughter’s house to check on things while she and her daughter were on vacation. Perhaps he was there to do some minor repair for them, I can only speculate. He appeared to be at the upper end of his fifties, with gray hair, a white t-shirt, and arms that no longer carried the muscle of a younger man’s. Unlocking the door to the house he entered and vanished from sight. After some minutes in the house, he walked back outside and, for some reason, felt the need to check on the garage. He hit the button for the garage door opener that was on the inside wall of the house and the door slowly opened. He walked into the garage, looked around (for what, I do not know), then went back to the house and hit the button to close the door. All was well until the door got to the bottom, at which point it went up again.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? “No problem,” he thought, “I’ll…” Pardon me, I am putting thoughts into his head when I have no way of knowing what he was thinking. As I have stated before, I was merely an observer to his experience and will stick to reporting only what I have seen with my own eyes.
The man was either retired with a lot of time on his hands or else he led a rather uneventful life, because this event to him appeared as a challenge. He checked the concrete along where the bottom of the door would ordinarily meet, making sure there was no obstruction. He checked the tracks, rubbing his finger on the inside to feel out any potential cause for this occurrence. This being before the days of electronic eyes, he didn’t have that issue to worry about.Discovering nothing, he went back to the house and hit the button again. Again the door went down until it reached the bottom, and again it raised back up. Not having any other recourse, the man hit the button again, with the same result. The process was repeated several more times until the door finally stayed down. For a second. Then up again it went. The relief that briefly flowered upon the man’s face quickly turned to increased frustration. The look appeared more and more desperate with each successive attempt. Each try made the door stay down a little longer: two seconds, three seconds, 5 seconds. Each attempt brought a faint look of satisfaction to the man’s face, only to increase his look of perplexity as the door again made its ascent. But he was undeterred. He appeared blessed with an unusual amount of patience as he went through the process over and over again, checking the door, the tracks, and everything else he could think to check. Lesser men would have detached the door from the opener and left the problem for his son-in-law. But whether it was from kindness or boredom, he was willing to stick it out far longer than the average guy.
In time, just as things were beginning to look hopeless for the man, just when it seemed he could take no more, the door closed and stayed closed. Not just a few seconds this time, but for well over a minute. He stood at the window of his daughter’s house and stared at the door as if expecting it to rise at any moment. When at last he was satisfied that it would stay down he breathed a visible sigh of relief, he finally locked the door of the house and shut it. It was but a fraction of a second from when the house door shut that the garage door open. The man pulled the house keys from his pocket, opened the door, and began the trying process again.
Moments passed, moments of alternating hope and frustration for my neighbor’s father. It was warm that day but I have to believe the sweat on his brow was caused by more than just the heat. Perhaps fifteen minutes later, he began to once again believe that the damned door was not going to budge. Again he waited, this time for a couple of minutes. Again he locked and shut the door to the house.
The garage door stayed down.
There was no relief on the man’s face this time, just a look of bewilderment. He had won the battle, but it was apparent in his body language that he felt no triumph. And just when he got into his car, started it, and put it into reverse…frustration etched itself into every feature of his face.
How could this be happening? Surely there was some malevolent force toying with him.
He eventually made it home that day. God knows what made him come back the next. God knows what prompted him to open the garage door and begin the process all over again. He should have known not to mess with it, should have known when he was beat.
So far I have reported to you all that I witnessed of the man’s ordeal. Now let us draw the curtain back a little further. Let us, as Paul Harvey would say, tell the rest of the story.
My neighbors were going on vacation for two weeks. My parents being trustworthy friends, our neighbors left them the keys to their house in case of emergency. Oh, and the remote control for their garage door opener. I don’t know why they felt the need to do so, but they did. So when my friend Shane and I were sitting around my house one day and my neighbor’s father came to check on the house, an idea occurred to me.
Honestly, I don’t know how the man didn’t hear the squeals of childish laughter as he wondered what was happening with the garage door. I know it was cruel but his stubbornness was such that we could have played him out further if we’d wanted to. At some point pity took over.
Oh, and the next night? Well, I was so pleased with my performance I felt it necessary to make confession to my parents. They tried to behave in a scolding manner, but I could tell they were almost as amused by it as I was. So much so that when my neighbor’s father came over the next day I asked them if I could do it again. Their reply was something along the lines of “Well, okay, but just once.” I did it a few times, but my parents had at least a little better sense than I did.
The moral to the story-if there is one-is this: there is usually a perfectly good explanation to the most unusual experiences, but sometimes it’s just best to walk away from situations such as this.