My parents’ house was actually a farm-house that’d been moved into the small town I grew up in sometime in the 40s. There was a spookiness to it I could never put my finger on. I even once saw something as a teen I couldn’t explain.
One time over dinner as adults we went around the table and shared stories like that. Small things that happened that seemed odd but weren’t worth mentioning at the time.
Now the story: My mom was home alone in their bedroom upstairs sewing. The house creaked a lot, so odd noises weren’t new, but my mom distinctly heard the rhythm of footsteps going down the staircase.
She assumed it was my dad or maybe the cat, but it the rhythm seemed odd to her. Thunk thunk thunk thunk thunk thunk.
Soon after she needed to go downstairs so she walked down the hall, turned the corner, and saw hung on the wall at the top of the staircase a picture of Elvis. An uninteresting, airbrushed, and honestly kind of creepy looking picture of Elvis.
The thing about it was: there had never been a picture of Elvis on that wall or in our house ever. My mom didn’t even like Elvis. My dad did about as much as anyone who grew up hearing him as a kid. Neither of them would hang a picture of Elvis in the house, much less that spot.
When we had moved out my parents took over our bedrooms and redecorated the rest of the house a little bit.
My mom’s favorite band was The Beatles by far. She had all their albums and would play songs for us when we were kids and we’d dance around the living room.
A picture of them is what my mom hung in that spot (now occupied by Elvis) when we moved out. It was a landscape photo of them from their later years as a band. Much longer hair. Mustaches. Each looking in a completely different direction and nobody smiling. Serious Beatles.
The other thing my parents started doing when we moved out is traveling to the coast with friends. They’d spend a weekend as tourists in towns like Morro Bay or Cayucos. These are towns with streets lined with second-hand shops and craft stores that they were using to redecorate the house.
That’s where she found the picture of The Beatles, brought it home, and hung it at the top of the stairs. And that’s where it hung for about a year until that day it was suddenly replaced with spooky Elvis.
Thinking my dad had hung it up she decided to go downstairs to ask him about it.
Except he wasn’t there. He had gone someplace earlier in the day and hadn’t been back since.
For the next few hours my mom became more and more freaked out about Elvis. Had someone snuck in the house, replaced the painting, and left?? Had it been there for weeks and she just didn’t notice???
Finally my dad came home and my mom told him everything. They went upstairs and examined the Elvis picture. There was nothing special about it. It was cheap and uninteresting. Hung on the very nail the Beatles picture has been. They took it down (because it was so creepy looking) and started looking for the original picture.
Walking back down the stairs my dad noticed at the bottom, behind some boxes they’d been meaning to take up, the picture of The Beatles tucked behind those boxes and against the wall. Suddenly it all made sense.
When my mom had found the picture in the second-hand store it was among a stack of pictures of other bands and singers. The picture of Elvis fit neatly inside the back of the Beatles‘ frame. It snapped in perfectly.
She bought it and hung it like that. The whole time Elvis was tucked behind until that day when the top picture frame popped off and cartwheeled down the stairs and rolled to a stop behind some boxes.