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Blame the Diabolical Possession

After removing all possible causes, the eerie rattling sound still echoed.

Leaving one possible explanation:

Charlie’s bathroom was haunted.

Sherlock Holmes would have concluded so. “When you have eliminated the impossible,” the detective said, “whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

We were well beyond the impossible.

The unsettling morning began with my wife coming into my office and jabbing the home phone into my side. My wild gestures indicating “Hello! Trying to work here!” were apparently too subtle.

“It’s Charlie!” she whispered.

Which means I had to answer.

My own father died twenty years ago. When I moved to Westchase in 1998, Charlie ably stepped into his place. We go out to lunch. We mutter at election returns together. He calls to ask if I caught a particular column in the morning paper. And when I get around to calling him back two days later, we have a typical Irish Catholic father-son exchange:

Me: Hey, Charlie. You called to ask me something?

Charlie: Yeah, I did.

Me: Well?

Charlie: “Well, if you actually called me back the same day I called you, I’d actually remember the very important thing I needed to ask you.”

Charlie was educated by the same nuns who honed my mother’s shaming skills.

Charlie’s also a true gentleman, hailing from a generation that understood that if you’re going to curse like a brother trucker, you do it exclusively around other disreputable guys. And you look around very carefully and then whisper it so your wife doesn’t scold you.

Charlie and I share tools and advice. I consult him about landscaping. And because I once accidentally fixed a toilet, he consults me about plumbing.

Which is why a frazzled Charlie called that eerie morning. “There’s a rattling sound like a machine gun going on in my master bath. Could you give it a look?”

In the middle of magazine production, I internally groaned. Whenever I undertake the simplest plumbing repair, I generally lose a long weekend.

But when a good friend calls and announces his master bathroom is shooting at him, a real man goes over, studies the situation, gives his head a sympathetic shake and hands over his plumber’s number.

Moments later I was standing in Charlie’s shower (alone, clothes on) studying the shower caddie and the shower head, which were rattling like all of hell’s demons were shaking the pipes behind the bathroom tile.

“It started right after Evelyn finished her shower!” Charlie said. “It just keeps going!”

He carefully looked around. “Strangest da** thing I’ve ever seen,” he whispered.

I touched pipe between the tile and the showerhead. It was madly vibrating yet no water was flowing.

“Let’s turn the water off to the house and see if it stops.”

So we cranked the shut-off valve in the garage, but couldn’t turn it entirely.

Back in the bathroom the eerie rattling still echoed.

I turned the shower on. Water trickled out and the rattling continued. I reached up to remove the shower head but then thought better of it.

Clearly the valve in the garage wasn’t working.

I looked at my phone and checked the time.

Then I nodded sympathetically and gave Charlie my plumber’s phone number.

Back in my office, the Irish Catholic guilt quickly consumed me.
If the pipe was rattling, there was a leak somewhere I couldn’t see. Probably inside the wall. So when the bathroom wall exploded and drowned Charlie and Evelyn, it would be on my head.

I called Charlie. “Did you call the plumber?”

“He can’t come for three hours.”

Five minutes later, I was kneeling at the curb under the blazing sun, staring into the water meter box, filled with ghastly looking rainwater.

A couple of moldy old frogs looked up at me. And a handful of lizards. And two or three spiders, one of which looked deadly.

Oh, and probably a cobra.

I sucked a deep breathe, plunged my quivering pliers in and torqued the water main shut off.

“It’s still running!” Charlie hollered from the laundry room.

I cursed and plunged again.

“It’s off!” he cried.

Which meant no possible vibration.

We dashed into the master bath. The shower pipe was rattling like a skeleton’s knees in a blizzard.

“The air conditioner’s on this side of the house, isn’t it?!”

Charlie rushed out to poke the thermostat while I ran outside to check that the unit stopped.

The ghastly rattling continued.

“Kill all the power! If that doesn’t stop it, then we’ll know…”

My words drifted off. I had no clue what we’d know.

Charlie looked worried. “Evelyn will have to reset the clocks.”

I pointed at the rattling pipe.

Charlie screwed up his courage and went into the kitchen to ask permission.

Moments later, I threw the main breaker in the house. The TV went off. The ceiling fans died. The garbage disposal went silent.

A lone dog barked in the distance.

Back in the bathroom, the shower pipe still rattled.

Charlie cursed.

“Your house is haunted,” I announced. “Or diabolically possessed, which I’m fairly sure is a violation of Westchase’s deed restrictions.”

Charlie raised a doubting eyebrow. “The devil possesses showerheads?”

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

With one nagging exception. With the water completely off, I simply had to pull off the showerhead and listen inside the pipe like a lunatic. I pulled off the shower caddie and reached up to unscrew the showerhead.

The shower caddie was madly vibrating in my hand.

I nearly screamed in fright, then realized it was highly unlikely the devil was passing from the showerhead into me.

I looked at the possessed caddie.

And handed Evelyn’s rotating facial exfoliator to Charlie.

“Evelyn!” he cried.

Two hours after my wife’s phone jabbing, Evelyn walked into the bathroom. She eyed the exfoliator, her face contorting as she struggled to concoct a believable way to place the blame squarely on her husband.

Failing, she just eyed me.

“You are not going to write about this.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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