/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
year, in any city, where Those from The Other Side cross paths with The Living:
handle of his taxi, raising his eyebrows in the timeworn expression of, “Where
closed the door he edged the cab away from the curb.
Street – but along Greenwood Avenue, not
Highway 99,” I requested.
looking for my wallet, when the driver began his cabbie shtick. “Big party?”
A retirement party. I work
The company paid, right?”
morning and the direct busses back to Greenwood don’t run this late . . . I
don’t think,” I said, my voice trailing off.
But what I was actually thinking was ‘Seattle
busses run 24/7 and everyone knows
making a bus transfer on a Friday night?” He had me pegged.
Land” back when this rather unsettling experience took place. And the busses coming into my Greenwood
neighborhood from downtown ran along Highway 99. The city had posted signs on the utility
poles declaring the highway corridor closest to my Greenwood cottage a SOAP
Zone (Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution).
Vice squad officers would sit in their cruisers with clip boards and jot
down the license plate numbers of cars who pulled over to talk to the
‘girls’. Funny to think that just three
blocks west of this tawdry zone was a quiet little community of turn of the
century cottages within walking distance of one of the most popular
destinations in Seattle – Green Lake Park.
Highway 99 and I don’t want trouble, you know?”
girls. I don’t want trouble.” It seemed like I was trying to convince him
of one of Seattle’s hottest crime zones.
head. “You’ll have more trouble with
ghosts chasing us, considering your preference for driving up Greenwood Avenue,
than you’ll have with drugs, girls, and pimps along the highway,”
You don’t know?”
tacky Highway 99. Either route would
work fine bringing me home from downtown.
But as close to midnight as it was, I wanted to walk through my
neighborhood from the stylish boutiques and trendy restaurants along Greenwood
Avenue – and not from gritty, run-down Highway 99. One would easily agree that walking through
the neighborhood of rose-trellised garden cottages representative of Seattle’s
Greenwood neighborhood felt safer than walking along the highway, particularly
my Greenwood cottage, but this was the first time I’d heard a public acknowledgement that any
hauntings extended beyond my own little cottage.
things. It must be a rare occasion that
you stay out late is all I can say.” At
this point we were approaching the Aurora Bridge. At 46th Street we veered west to
Phinney Avenue, which would become Greenwood Avenue thanks to the dogleg at 60th
increase. “Do you take Visa?” I asked
My machine’s broken.”
His machine’s broken – if he
ever had a credit card terminal. I needed to watch the meter and stretch the
thirteen dollars I had left from my revelry in order to get as close to my
house as my cash could take me. How much
should I ‘back out’ for a tip?
I think you need to pull over. I’m a bit
short of cash,” I admitted.
heard this line a million times. “Got it.”
meter flashed into the cab, $5.96, and ticked upward as we crossed the Aurora
Bridge. I thought for a moment about the
Aurora Bridge and all of the souls that must be gathering at midnight on the
bridge – or just under the bridge – fifty-one meters down. In 1998 a bus went airborne from the Aurora
Bridge after a passenger shot the bus driver.
Three people died – the bus driver, the shooter, and one passenger. Thirty-four survivors successfully held on
for dear life as the bus plunged down fifty feet to the banks of the cut
leading to Lake Union. Thank goodness,
everyone survived. The bus, with its
busted windows and twisted metal, didn’t land in the water. Think of how many people could have drowned
if it had! If ever there were a place
where ghosts would have expected it was the Aurora Bridge – the suicide bridge
– and not Greenwood Avenue. But then, I
didn’t know the full story of Greenwood Avenue – its history.
turned back to the cabbie’s story.
Greenwood Avenue some nights.”
is blowing and leaves are swirling in the air.”
Well, a little community theater maybe goes a long way,” he said.
couldn’t. I peered out the window of the
cab and located the moon. A waxing
gibbous. “I guess I’m safe, the moon is waxing,” I reassured myself aloud.
fallen – it’s November. So. . . tell me.
Why don’t cabbies like to pick up fares along Greenwood Avenue some nights?”
ghosts that roam this neighborhood.”
neighborhood?” I think my voice squeaked.
at the meter.
Greenwood. At the turn of the century it
was Woodland Avenue. The Woodland
Cemetery was just over there – to the east.”
Well then, you know the land is mostly bog as the run-off empties into
Green Lake. For seventeen years the
Woodland Cemetery Association tried to turn this land into a thriving
graveyard.” He laughed.
continual Seattle rain and run off. The constant moisture seeped under the
coffins and, over time, the coffins pushed back up.” We caught each other’s look in the rear view
mirror. He nodded to affirm the
neighborhood folklore. I leaned forward
waiting for him to continue.
the newly turned graves and, in no time, the graves would have to be re-dug and
the coffins reburied.”
What the hell? Then what?”
its seams. The city needed land, pure
and simple . . . and, the forefathers were greedy, like always, eh?”
the Woodland Cemetery?”
got around that the dead wouldn’t stay buried!
And, with Seattle becoming a turn-of-the century boom town, land was needed
shook his head and scratched his head. “Am I explainin’ too fast for you?” he
home, it would cut into the five-dollar tip I originally had in mind for the
driver. We continued north.
disbanded. The investors promised the
Secretary of State that the graves would be moved to the Crown Hill Cemetery four miles away, or
so. Get it? ‘Hill’ – no bog, dry land for the dead. The coffins were dug up for
the last time and moved from the bog to the hill. And thirty days later dirt
was brought in by horse drawn cart so that houses could be built on this
land.” He swept his arm in a grand
gesture toward my neighborhood.
Word is that not all of the bodies – I mean caskets – were moved. Thirty days is not enough time to dig up
forty square acres of graves. Some of
the dead were left behind – houses built over the caskets!”
the meter flashed at $8.71 for the ride and
the gruesome history lesson. I handed over $13.00, which amounted to a $4.29
tip – nearly fifty per cent. It didn’t
seem fair. I had been grandiose in my
initial intentions. Now, I wanted him to
drop me closer to my house. I didn’t
want to walk though my neighborhood with this new impression so fresh in my
mind. I should have changed the subject,
but I also had my pride to consider. I
looked at the bills – two crisp fives and three crumpled one-dollar bills, from
my hand to his.
sidewalk and he was making a U-turn on Greenwood Avenue. He was speeding back downtown for another
fare. Or, perhaps like me, he felt spooked
and wanted to get out of this ghostly neighborhood.
looked up and down Greenwood Avenue. It looked charming with its small shops,
closed for the night, and bakeries that served great coffee. I could almost
hear the laughter and the morning’s chatter that would fill the air the next
morning. I turned toward home as an icy blast of wind hit me full force,
causing my eyes to tear up. I wrapped my
coat around me even more tightly and turned up the collar. I blinked and peered up and down Greenwood
Avenue. Not a soul in sight.
as one turns into the neighborhood from Greenwood Avenue, the land does go downhill into what – a hundred
years ago – could have been a bog. I headed east along 82nd Street
as the lights from Greenwood’s business district dimmed and ahead of me the
neighborhood grew dark and quiet. All
the while I was thinking ‘cemetery land’.
situated at every other block, 82nd
Street was pitch black. My high heels
clipped against the sidewalk, and the sound travelled and bounced between the
houses, revealing my whereabouts. I
started thinking about the stories I had heard from my neighbors over the
years, like the little girl who had lived next door to me. Her mother, Charlene, claimed that a child
ghost inhabited their house and taunted her and her daughter. Charlene had described a ghost that was
dressed in a turn-of-the-century smock and pinafore. Of course!
It made so much (more) sense now.
wasn’t carrying an umbrella. I had only
five blocks to walk from Greenwood Avenue to the east end of Fremont Avenue –
but they were five long city blocks.
houses, and a light was turned on. I
shrunk into my coat as a shadow appeared against the curtains. The curtain
shifted as though someone were peering out at me. I clutched my coat closer and scurried past
coming toward me, a rather mangy one, approaching from the direction of my
house, now four blocks ahead. As it grew
near I spoke to it. “Good ole dog,” I
said with as reassuring a voice as possible.
I wanted the hound to know I meant no malice. The dog turned its face up to inspect me –
its one eye shining in the night. Had the other eye been lost in a neighborhood
dogfight? It limped along, and finally
passed me. I didn’t dare look back at
me. There was a street lamp one full
block behind me and one in the distance – a block ahead. I could hear the sound of footsteps. At first I thought the sound was the echo
from my own high heels, but I wasn’t sure.
I stopped. Behind me, I heard
three footsteps and then it sounded like someone dashed up a driveway. I turned, but it was too dark to see
anything. The night was perfectly still
except for the response of my footsteps – and theirs. I took a few more tentative steps. The echo, this time, came from in front of me. I strained my eyes to see into the distance
between the street lamp and me. I could
feel the rain landing softly on my head.
I could smell the musk that comes from over-soaked spongy earth. Was it the smell of turned earth? It certainly seemed so.
figuring that if someone were following me, or coming toward me out of the
darkness, it would be better to throw them off by not making a sound. I
continued on, walking in stocking feet.
My feet were cold and wet. Bad
idea to be walking without shoes in the freezing cold, I concluded, too
late. But I also realized that if I
slipped my heels back onto wet feet, I would probably ruin my shoes. I had made my bed by getting out of the taxi
too far away from my house, and now I was almost barefooted to boot!
arctic air hit me. I tightened my wind-whipped coat around me. I needed a Kleenex; my eyes were tearing, and
blurring my vision. I blinked again as I
stepped lightly. I was hoping to quickly
make it to the next street corner up – into the light of the street lamp. As I stared unwavering toward the light I saw
the most curious thing! An orb of light
moved across my path and maintained a steady distance, moving forward, about
two feet off the ground.
I needed to put the glow into a context with which I was familiar. Actually, even a few wisps of eerie fog would
have been more welcome than this orb – which stopped in front of me, just as it
crossed my path – maybe fifty feet straight ahead. I only had the taxi driver’s story on my mind
– nothing else.
turn of the 1900s, been a boggy cemetery.
I shivered from the effects of more than just cold weather.
the cold shadows, watching to see what the orb would do. It remained perfectly fixed and I was growing
colder, wanting to be home. I heard a
skittering noise behind me, not the sound a sleek cat might make, or a
lumbering raccoon. The sound was more
like a rat skittering its way up a retaining wall, a frantic scratching
noise. It was that sound that drove me
forward, in baby steps, toward the orb which waited for me near the lit
intersection. I heard the tinkling of
wind chimes just beyond the brightly lit shape. I placed one foot in front of
the other, ever closer to the sphere.
I took. Diffused and larger – as though
it were taking shape. It was, actually – taking shape. I stopped again and finger-combed my wet hair
back from my face. The shape of a woman
began to appear. She was dressed in a
long dress. That’s all I could see, a
milky white ‘presence’ of someone in a full-length turn-of-the-century
gown. I really didn’t have a feeling
other than fascination. She was moving
across my line of vision, proceeding on as I drew closer. She never looked at me – she stared straight
ahead as she moved. I would almost say,
“floated”. Yes, that was it. She stared
straight ahead as she floated past me.
The stationary orb was no longer waiting for me to move forward. In
front of me was an apparition, the spirit of a woman who had lived in this same
neighborhood – my neighborhood – going about her business, just as I was going
about mine – only she was on The
Other Side of the Great Divide.
Hill, author and ‘The
Ghost Chaser’s Daughter’ writes from personal experience about supernatural
occurrences. Her stories, from Beyond
The Grave, are also derived from historical accounts, newspaper archives, and
the stories whispered to her by acquaintances.
You’ll want to read the full accounting of Emily’s books on Amazon. Her most recent release, ‘The Ghost Chaser’s
Daughter’ is available in eBook and paperback format at