November 30, 2003
Catching up with old haunts....
This morning I drove to Newark, then took the train to New York where I ate lunch and saw the El Greco exhibit at the Met.
I have a very strange personal experience with El Greco which I doubt most people would believe, but what the hell; it's late Sunday night and I might as well share it.
This may or may not be a ghost story.
My house was built in 1919 by a reclusive, eccentric authoress who wanted no visitors. There is but one bedroom, and most of the house consists of a huge, eerie hall with giant timber trusses supporting the roof. Long slit windows toward the roof (of the type used to shoot arrows at invaders) are the only windows facing the street.
Too eccentric to be formally listed in a normal sale, title to the property has simply drifted from one fated "admirer" to another. The previous owner warned me that the place was haunted and that all prior owners had confirmed this. For reasons unknown, the ghost appeared to focus its energy on an old El Greco print of a man with a Van Dyke beard which hangs seventeen feet up on the wall in the large main room. I thought the story was laughable and paid little attention at the time. But one morning I was reading the paper over coffee, and one outrage or other particularly annoyed me. I raised my right hand and swung it angrily through the air for emphasis, while screaming useless imprecations at the world.
My arm swept in the direction of that El Greco print, which was about twenty feet away. Just as my hand reached its point of midair impact, the print literally jumped right out of its frame and toward the center of the room, where it hit the floor. Even more bizarre than the timing was the way it appeared to leap away from the wall instead of following the laws of gravity and dropping straight down. (This was witnessed by my lover at the time, who couldn't believe what he had seen, and told his mother about it.)
Still skeptical, I got an extension ladder and went up with the print, assuming I could just position it back in what was obviously a defective frame. But that frame was securely nailed together, and the print could not be reinstalled without prying the whole frame apart. I did that, re-hung it, and it has behaved since. (Knock on wood.)
There has to be a rational explanation, but just the same, I leave that El Greco alone. It earned the right to be there, and I'll just pass the story along to whoever is fated to be next in line as caretaker.
Here's my old friend.
posted by Eric on 11.30.03 at 11:59 PM
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