To properly tell this story, I have to go back to summer of 2004.
For a vacation with our extended family, we rented a large house in Barnstable, Cape Cod for a week in late August. In attendance were my parents, my sister, her husband, her two boys, my husband, and me with my one year old daughter (daughter #2 was not yet born.) Not necessarily related to this story is the fact that in the first walk around the house to check out the rooms, my brother-in-law asked “Who’s golden retriever is that in the living room?” There was no dog and to this day I’m not sure if he is keeping up with the longest running joke in history just to mess with me because, after repeatedly asking him about this ghost dog sighting in the past twelve years, his unwavering response is that he absolutely saw that dog in the living room. (Ghost dog? WTF?)
This beautiful house was set on a private piece of land with the closest neighboring house being at least 500 yards away (I’m terrible with measurements, but I will say you could see the house in the distance through some trees.) The backyard abutted against a small pond and there were other homes further across the water.
While enjoying the late summer weather in the back yard, a small, ridiculously blond boy came wandering through the cat-o-nine tails and other growth by the water’s edge. He was maybe five or six years old and we asked him where he lived. He said his name was Rory, and pointed at the neighboring house as he told us he was staying there with his family. We were all curious as to why no one was watching him, wondering where he was, hoping he wasn’t drowning in the water he was walking along to get to our yard. If we were good people, we would have walked him home to make sure he arrived safely and stayed there, but we’re all awful so we just entertained him for a bit in our yard and let him use some butterfly nets to not catch any butterflies with my one year old daughter (I’ve never seen anybody catch one damn thing in a butterfly net.) He came by a few times during the week and when he did leave we didn’t hear any splashing or gurgling, so that was our way of confirming he made it back without drowning. Plus there were no reports of missing towheaded children on the local news, so we’re somewhat responsible citizens. Go, us!
During the entire week we were there, we never witnessed any noise – voices, music, laughter – from Rory’s house. The only indication that anyone was staying there was this “Village of the Damned”-looking boy who would wander into our yard every now and then. We left having never witnessed any other living being at that house. Of course, since then Rory has become our scapegoat for missing items (Rory took it), reason not to go into the basement alone (Rory’s hiding down there with an axe), and any strange noise we hear (Rory’s butchering goats in the attic). Oh, Rory. Silly, silly Rory.
Last August we rented an unbelievably beautiful house in Dennisport. Again, it was my sister with her husband and their two sons plus their sons’ girlfriends, our brother, my husband and me, and our daughters (two of them now). We had other people joining us for a day or two throughout the week – our parents included. The house was right on the water and we had an incredible week. On our last night we had a bonfire on the beach. We were very much enjoying ourselves to the point where a passing wayward stranger stopped to join us. It was a young man walking by himself with a back pack on a private beach in Dennisport on a Friday night in August. Alone. (Um, where are your friends?) His name was Connor. He was very cheery and we were beer friendly so he hung out for a while. The fire was dying down so he said he’d collect some firewood. Like one of the seven dwarfs (we’ll call him “Chippy” — I don’t know why, it just seems to fit — he may have even been whistling, because that would be a very Connor thing to do, a very Chippy thing to do) he came bounding back dragging an enormous tree branch. We have no idea where it could possibly have come from as we had been all around the property and surrounding areas throughout the week and there were no trees nearby that seemed to be in the process of losing entire massive limbs. At this point all I remember is laughing because we were sure that this was grown up Rory ghost boy. The similarities were undeniable — late August, family vacation, he’s alone, meets up with us walking along the water, hangs out for a bit. Even his age would make sense. In the process of explaining to my eight- and ten-year-old daughters what’s so funny at the prospect of ghost Rory coming back in the form of ghost Connor and this time we’re done for, one of them casually asks “Mom, is Connor going to kill us?” I answer the way any responsible, caring, nurturing mother would — by laughing until my face hurts and I have to change my pants. Connor hung out until it was late (or early, depending on how you look at it) and we had to as politely as possible decline his request to come back to the house with us. Because isn’t that how a good number of horror movies start — the really good, creepy, gratuitously bloody, yet frighteningly believable ones? I’m sure Stephen King has one in his collection.
We don’t have any pictures of Rory and/or Connor because they’re ghosts. I do however, have this picture of us on the beach before Connor showed up. I blurred out the faces because I thought it looked cool in a “The Ring” kind of way because we’re pretty sure Connor will eventually kill us all. (Also, I was too lazy to get everyone’s approval to post this picture.) We’ve got another vacation in Chatham planned for the last week in August. It’ll be all the usual suspects and the house is right on the water. We’re ready, Rory/Connor/Chippy. We’re ready…