Softly…but, distinctly…in fact, almost urgently.June 6, 2011
My story also takes place in Lexington, KY.
Years ago, I worked as a bartender in a restaurant on Limestone Ave. It was an upscale Italian restaurant in an old restored House. I won’t say the name of the restaurant or the people who owned it. But, it was an Italian man and his American wife and their daughters.They had already been in business about twenty years, when I got the job. The house was a white four story house (if you include the basement).
The first and second floors were both used as dining areas. The third floor…I don’t remember what that was used for (I only had to go up on three once for something insignificant) An old back staircase went from the third floor, right down to the kitchen. Old dumbwaiters were installed, but hadn’t been used in years.
They had turned a small room to the left of the entry way into a little bar/waiting area. Right outside this room was the staircase that dominated the foyer. It was a grand old semi-circular staircase. Very pretty old gleaming bannisters which curved around to the upstairs landing.
I was told by the owner that the house was, at one point, used as a women’s dorm for UK. I’m not sure what time period that was…but, pre-1950’s. May have been a brothel at one point, as well–even earlier.
So, after I had been working there for about 2 weeks, I was use to the routine. I would get there about 3:45-50 in the afternoon (they weren’t open for lunch) and set up the bar. Carry ice, beer and wines up from the basement and cut up my fruit for garnishes.
That Friday, I’m walking from the kitchen through the entryway, towards the bar, when I hear from above me on the second floor landing, a woman’s voice. An older woman’s voice. Calling MY name. Like she is bending over the bannister and is right above me–slightly to the right. Softly…but, distinctly…in fact, almost urgently. By no means a whisper. I stopped in my tracks and turned right around (looking up) towards the voice. AGAIN, I hear my name. But, from the angle, I can’t see anything. So, I start up the staircase. In the back of my mind, I realize I don’t know who the voice belongs to. Who would know my name? It wasn’t the owner’s wife (who WAS an older woman and worked there). It wasn’t any of the three waitresses that also worked there. I had just come from the parking lot. The only cars in the lot were the owner’s, the chef’s and mine. The waitresses hadn’t gotten to work, yet. But, my name had been called twice. So, I started up the staircase answering: “Yes? Who’s there? Hello? Who’s up there?”
I got about halfway up the stairs before something made me stop. No one was there. Even though I had heard the lady’s voice from a certain spot on the landing where she would STILL HAVE to be.
I suddenly got a really strange sensation of cold where I was standing. My arms got gooseflesh…and I started to shiver. It wasn’t a breeze. It was just a cold spot. No A/C vent anywhere, or anything. I’m still standing there, by now a little pissed. “Hey, that’s not funny–who’s there?”–when the owner’s wife appears at the door of the bar (right below the foot of the stairs). She looks at me and then…before I can even tell her what happened, she looks past me towards the top of the staircase. Looks back at me, sighs loudly and asks me what I saw. Strange question. I go back down the stairs and follow her into the bar, telling her (as we are walking) about the old lady’s voice I just heard, calling my name. TWICE.
She has me sit down and explains that she didn’t want to have to tell me this–because it seems to “spook” the employees. They have trouble keeping workers, because such strange things are always happening. She NEVER mentions the word “haunted”.
She then tells me that before the house was used as a dorm, it was lived in by two elderly women. Sisters. One of the sisters had died and the remaining one sold the house to the University. I’m sitting there thinking: So? What the Hell does that have to do with this? When she says the one sister died ON THE STAIRCASE. She tripped or had a heart attack going up the stairs (I don’t remember which), when the other sister was out–and had died there, alone. Near the top of the stairs.
The boss’s wife asked me if I thought I was brave/level headed enough to keep working there, without getting all unnerved about it. They could use someone else unafraid working there, because most of the waitresses refused to go upstairs. They were having to turn down reservations and let the upstairs tables go unused. Apparently, only one waitress was willing to work upstairs. Neither the owner, nor his wife and daughters would go up there, alone–only that one waitress.
Evidently, upstairs was where the real action was. Tables would be set up. The waitress would go downstairs to get something. Come back. The tabletop would be rearranged. Things on the mantles would rearrange themselves, too. Sliding back and forth across without falling off. Left and Right. Not just one direction. Silly stuff. Silverward in odd places on the table. And footsteps creaking the floorboards. But, nothing sinister at all. Usually.
I was (and am still) pretty fearless. I would have ordinarily been really excited. Hey, cool! I work in a haunted house. But, that voice…saying my name…so desperately. It was creepy. Not plaintive. Ominuous. A few months after that…the owner had a mild heart attack and fell down the basement staircase. Afterwards…when he came back to work, he was a nervous wreck. Touchy. He got mad at me for something trivial and fired me. They were having financial troubles because of the hospital bills, I think. Who knows?
His wife took over the bartending duties. They never hired another bartender. Then, he had another heart attack…a more serious one and shut down the restaurant for good, a few months later.
I haven’t been to Lexington (down around the campus, at least) for many years. I don’t even know if the house is still there. But, I know what I heard and felt. And I can still remember that creepy old voice–which seemed to be leaning down towards the back of my neck. Calling my name…