The Tale of the Haunted Hallway

Originally published on February 17th, 2016, at
Republished at on March 6th, 2017.
Added to on October 30th, 2017.

It wasn’t always like this.

When we first moved in, and the place was fresh-built and still smelled of paint, there was nothing scary about it. At least not within our unit.

But then the old coffee maker started leaking. And then we bought the new one.

It sits atop the granite, next to the stove, above the trash and recycling containers so neatly tucked away inside the plain, white cabinet. It’s black, burgundy and glass, and shiny. It doesn’t leak all over the granite. And it comes with a digital clock.

Our stove also has a built-in clock, as does the microwave above it, but those clocks misalign with the hallway, a good foot or two to the north, while the clock on the coffeemaker shines straight up its path.

It’s bright, too, with dark numbers against a lit background, while the other two are just the opposite; only their numbers are lit.

I used to walk to the bathroom – the far one, down the hall, away from my sleeping wife – through the fuzzy, dark, early morning, with my only urgency born in my bladder.

Now that dark isn’t dark as it was, but I don’t notice as I stiff-leg my way through it.

Then I get to the bathroom.

I turn to open the out-swinging door, and there, against the closet at the end of the hall, through the small foyer that leads the master suite, stands the shadow man.

He’s bigger than me, but less substantial, gray without showing his age. He’s male by default, because that’s how we see things.

And he’s neuter, too, but that perception may be only mine.

He startles me a bit before I see that I’m him.

I walk on into the bathroom, amused that I’m afraid of my own shadow.

I’ve read, somewhere, that caffeine can make you jumpy, but I’ve never been sure that was true.

I’m still not sure, as I suspect it makes me bold, like a nice French roast rolling over the tongue.

But one thing I’ll concede, having startled myself into certainty:

Mr. Coffee is bad feng shui.