Back in 1991, i was 22 years old and moved into a house with 2 acquaintances. I didn’t know them extremely well, we were all in the same party/club scene in midtown Sacramento. One of the two, Jimmy, just a few years older than me, had recently lost 2 roommates and he couldn’t afford the house by himself. The other, Amy was a couple years younger. Right away, I wanted to meet with the home owner and make sure my name was on the rental agreement so that I was protected.
The house was great. Probably built between 1890-1910 and it was the predecessor to the California bungalow style. It was similar in the ’bones’ but there were some stylistic differences as it was post victorian. It had a deep front porch, a full basement and a roomy attic. When you walked into the front door there was a living room to the left and the first of the three bedrooms to the right. This was Jimmys room. If you were to continue straight, there was a dining room and beyond that a large kitchen. From Jimmys room you could walk through another door to the bathroom and continuing on you would be in Amys room. So it was a sort of jack and jill bath situation. You could get to my bedroom form a door in the kitchen and there was also an adjoining door between my room and Amys.
The ceilings were high and coved and the floors hardwood. My rent was $135 at the time. That was my 1/3 portion. Now, I will say that this wasn’t the best part of town. During that time, midtown wasn’t as “hip and sexy” as it is today. We were on the fringes of Alkali Flats which was a rather neglected area of run down victorians and liquor stores. It didn’t matter to us, we loved our house. It had character and soul.
As it turns out, our roommate Jimmy was a little crazy… In hind site, I think he may have been struggling with the beginnings of mental illness, which was probably being exacerbated by the use of street drugs. He fancied himself a practitioner of witchcraft and collected a number of strange items in his midnight wanderings. Sacramento is a town that boomed as a result of the Gold Rush and the original downtown area is on the river. The area was flooded enough that much of the city started to get built higher up and there is a whole underground city. Jimmy used to comb through these parts at night and bring home strange things. He would store them in a locked closet in his room. I got a glimpse one time in passing and saw a 3’ tall porcelain doll which gave me the creeps.
We had a young friend who used to stay over quite a lot, his name was Lem. He often slept on our couch or in one of our beds if one of us was out for the night. I remember getting home rather late one night and Amy and Lem were at the front door as soon as I came in. They were clutching each other and shaking. I asked them what was going on and they said there was a bell ringing in Jimmys closet. They were pretty shook up and although we could walk into Jimmys room, we couldn’t open the closet. The bell didn’t sound again that night and I never heard it. I believed that they heard it though.
Being in the house was a strange experience, because when Jimmy was there, he was often “casting spells” and burning herbs and talking about hidden meanings if a door were to close a certain way or if a breeze came through the window. He also became increasingly paranoid that Amy and I were plotting against him. AT one point he even told us to “get out of his house” I reminded him that Amy and I were on the rental agreement and had a legal right to be there.
There was another occasion when Lem was napping in Amys room. He came out flustered and horrified. He said he felt someone sitting on the bed and pulling up the covers to tuck him in and when he opened his eyes to thank whomever it was, nobody was there. We laughed at him and said it was probably a nice grandma ghost who was just tucking him in.
The last event that convinced Amy and I to leave that house was not funny. I was in bed sleeping, she was in her bed sleeping and I suddenly felt as though something was tapping lightly on my mouth. I opened my eyes and though I was totally awake, I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed. I could see in the corner at my ceiling soft flickering and it felt as though I was stuck for several minutes. When I could finally move, I bolted up and ran tp the door that adjoined my room to Amys and as soon as I opened it she was there. She threw her arms around me and was crying. She said something had climbed on her, it had pinned her down and was choking her and she couldn’t move and couldn’t fight it. in the midst of this, the phone started ringing. These were the days of land lines and loud rings. I picked it up and it was Jimmy. In a very savage voice he said “SOMEONE TOLD ME I DON’T LIVE THERE ANYMORE” . The line went dead and he never called back.
Amy and I made arrangements to move very quickly. I don’t know what was happening there. I don’t know if it was spirits or if it was conjuring. It may be utterly unrelated, but we were just one block away and a few years after the Dorothea Montalvo Puentes murders. It could be there were some unsettled spirits in the neighborhood. I also don’t know what happened to Jimmy. I have a feeling he may not have fared very well and Im sad for him. Ive told this story over the years, and Im not sure its as scary in the telling as it was in the living.