A Moan in the Night
by Howard Vogl
Walking down the cobblestone driveway, Josh and Brenda Stevens knew they had found their dream house. Now, all they needed to do was sell the small cottage they had bought two years ago. They told the real estate agent about the desirability of the neighborhood and all the improvements they had made, but what they didn’t mention was that their house was haunted.
“Don’t worry, Bren. I’m sure we can work around a small problem like this. Home inspectors find worse things all the time. Look at Ben and Marion. When they tried to sell their house they found—”
“They found mold, Josh, not a spirit. You can remediate mold, you can’t remediate sounds in the night.”
When they bought the cottage there was no sign of anything wrong until the moans and groans started. At first, they thought it was the plumbing. Then, Josh was afraid it was a sinkhole, but when an engineering inspection failed to turn up anything, they realized the problem went deeper. It was still a matter of debate whether their resident spirit had always been there or had arrived after they moved in but, if anything, it had a schedule. Moans at night, and groans during the day.
“Maybe we can reason with it until the house is sold,” Josh said.
“How do you reason with something you can’t see? If we don’t sell this house soon, we can kiss our dream home goodbye.”
“Well, Bren, my dad always said if you want something fixed you go to the person with the knowhow.”
* * *
They pulled into the parking lot and walked along the tree-lined path to the rectory. Josh rang the bell and, a few moments later, a tall thin figure with graying hair opened the door.
“Please, come in and sit down,” Monsignor Joseph said, motioning them to a couch. “How wonderful to see a young couple interested in the church.”
“That’s not why we’re here, to tell you the truth. We have a problem,” Brenda said.
“I’m sure we can discuss it.”
“Good, it’s our house. It’s haunted, and we need to get whatever it is out.”
“These are modern times, my dear, things like that don’t exist.”
“Tell that to the guy who’s moaning upstairs at night,” Josh said.
“I’m sorry, I can’t help you. Could this possibly be a substance abuse problem? I’ve come across a lot of that recently. I could recommend a counselling facility—”
“I don’t think that’s going to work. Thanks, Father.” Brenda got up and walked out the door with Josh in tow.
“Bren, maybe we shouldn’t have been so direct. You know, go to mass a couple of times, throw something in the collection basket. That kind of stuff.”
“We need to sell our home before the deal falls through. There isn’t time for niceties, we need to do something pronto.”
* * *
That night on schedule, their resident spirit started moaning.
“Shut up!” Brenda screamed, but that only made the moaning worse.
Next morning, while Josh stared at the grounds in the bottom of his coffee cup, Brenda searched for anyone or anything to help with the problem.
“Josh, look at this,” she said handing over her iPad.
Does your home have strange noises? We can help.
Call 865 NO NOISE (666-6473)
“Bren, I don’t think their services include exorcisms.”
She punched in the number and a gravelly two-pack a day voice came on the line: “Any Noise. You hear it, we silence it.”
“We’ve got a noise in our house. I can’t quite describe it. We think it’s from some kind of... of something that isn’t related to anything physical.”
“You mean a spirit noise?” the voice on the phone said.
“Yeah, we deal with that all the time. Is this an older home?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Yeah, it isn’t uncommon for spirits to be in older homes. Back then, record-keeping wasn’t so good, and sometimes they’d build a house over something they shouldn’t have. I can stop by this afternoon. Give me your address.”
* * *
When the doorbell rang, Brenda looked out the window and saw a hunched figure standing on the porch. She thought if Hell needed someone to guard its gates, this guy would be a shoo-in for the job. Brenda wasn’t sure whether to open the door, or to start confessing her sins in the faint hope of redemption when she saw NO NOISE, GEORGE, embroidered on his shirt. When she let him in, he set down a bag of what looked like tools and started right in.
“First thing I gotta do, lady, is check out the basement and the attic. They always hang out there. Can’t figure out why.” George grabbed his toolbox and disappeared downstairs.
A few minutes later he came back up and said, “Nothing down there. Must be in the attic.”
“How do you know?”
“There’s always a place in the dust where you can see their tracks. No tracks in the basement, must be in the attic. Which way, lady?”
A few minutes later George came back from his truck with a small ladder and climbed into the attic.
“Yup, it’s up there.”
“So now what do you do?”
“First I gotta ask you some questions. These things got a pattern, and the best way to figure it out is with the help of the homeowner,” George said, chewing on his unlit cigar. “How long have you and your husband lived here?”
“About two years.”
“Did the sounds start right away?”
“Well, yes, I guess a few months after we moved in.”
“Is there any particular place the sounds emanate from?”
“Upstairs at night.”
“What about time of day?”
“Moans later at night, about ten to twelve, and groans once in a while in the morning.”
“No, not every day. Two or three times a week.”
“Interesting. Moans at night, a few times a week, groans in the morning. Where are you and your husband when you hear the sounds?”
“Usually in bed.”
George made a few notes and turned the page on his clipboard.
“How often do you and your husband have sex?”
“It’s none of your damn business! What’s that got to do with anything, anyway?”
“Maybe nothing, maybe a lot, lady.”
Avoiding eye contact, she said, “About three times a week, I guess.”
“That’s the same frequency as the sounds, right?”
“Well lady, I think you got a scoptophilic spirit in your attic.”
“Scoptophiliac. A voyeuristic spirit who moans and groans based on your sex life. The thing we need to determine now is if it’s an on or an off.”
On or off?”
“Yeah. Does it moan when you guys do it or when you guys don’t?”
“Lady, I gotta know.”
“Look, I need to check with my husband. I’ll get back to you.”
Brenda looked down at the business card as she watched George get in his truck and drive away.
“What did we get ourselves into?” she thought.
“So, this guy from Any Noise thinks our spirit is aroused by lovemaking,” Josh said laughing.
“Come on, Josh. We need to take this seriously if we’re going to sell the house.”
* * *
When they got into bed that night, Josh looked over and saw the notebook on the nightstand. “What’s that for, Bren?”
“I’m taking notes for George.”
“Hopefully, not in too much detail.”
Needless to say, the next few nights were quiet, but eventually nature took its course.
“Josh, did you hear that?”
“Josh, what the hell are you doing?”
“I’m pulling the covers up. I don’t want him to see us.”
“We don’t even know it’s a him, and how don’t you know he, she, or it, can’t see right through the sheets?”
Josh rolled over and buried his face in the pillow.
“Time is short, Josh. We have to find out,” Brenda said as she ripped off the covers and jumped on top of him.
Research completed, the following afternoon George was in their living room presenting the options.
“So, it sounds like your moaner’s an On,” George said with a chuckle. “Sorry, just a little industry joke. Well, I gotta tell you these guys are difficult to remove. They like where they’re at. The ‘Off’ ones are easy, you just do it until they get fed up and leave, but the on ones... Well, I think you get the picture.”
“So, what’s the bottom line here?” Josh asked.
“Guaranteed removal, five thousand dollars. That is, I guarantee to come back if there’s a reoccurrence.”
“Like I said, they like where they’re at.”
“Is there anything else we can do? We want to sell the house.”
“Well, if you’re selling, you could take a chance and pass the problem on to the new owner.”
“Wouldn’t that be illegal?” Josh asked.
“No, not really. Although, a few years ago there was a family in Albany who sued the previous owners for an alleged haunting, but it was related to property values because everyone in the neighborhood knew about it.”
Rubbing the stubble on his chin, George added, “I do have a friend in the real estate business who might know someone interested in buying your house. His name is Al Simmons. Of course, he’ll want a discount because of the problem, but at least it’ll be off your hands. Let me know.”
After George’s truck pulled out of the driveway, there was a silence that seemed to last forever.
Finally, Brenda spoke up and said, “Josh, we can’t put the house up for sale the way things are now.”
“Maybe, we should take George up on his offer.”
* * *
A week later the offer came. Brenda and Josh said goodbye to their home and its resident spirit.
“Too bad we didn’t get full price,” Brenda said.
“I don’t care, it’s off our hands,“ Josh said.
On the other side of town, Al Simmons sat down with the new owner.
“Congratulations, George. You bought the house for well under market value. You seem to have a knack for finding bargains. What are you going to do with it?”
“Clean it up and then find an interested buyer. I think the house would be perfect for a young couple.”
“I’m sure I can find a buyer for you. Let me know when it’s ready.”
“How about a drink to celebrate?”
As their glasses touched, Al said, “Come on, George, tell me how you do it?”
“Sorry, trade secret.” George looked down at his bourbon and smiled. “Let’s just say good houses are easy to come by, but good spirits are hard to find.”
Copyright © 2019 by Howard Vogl