Beverly E. Dyer-Groves, a native of Jamaica West Indies, has gathered these folklore stories from older relatives and friends. Most of the stories are told from immediate family members.
The Knock on the Door and Other Spooky Stories from the Island are true stories, but the writer uses some alias names for safeguard and protection.
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SPOOKY NIGHTS ON THE ISLAND
By Beverly E. Dyer-Groves
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Beverly E. Dyer-Groves, Illustrated by Shanna M. Groves
All right reserved.
Chapter OneRESTLESS NIGHTS
I heard a bushel of corn pouring out of a container to the top of the roof in the middle of the night. I awoke my best friend and told him to listen to the sounds on the house top and the cow by the side of the tank. It was mooing, stamping its feet, and breathing heavily as if disturbed by something. As he listened, he couldn't hear a sound. I was the only one who heard it all. The sounds were strange and scary. My heart started to beat faster and faster. I got out of bed on tip-toes, turned on the light, and soon after, the spooky sounds stopped. The experience I had that night reminded me of real evil spirits I had learned about.
After the sounds disappeared, I thought to myself, those sounds could be some wandering, restless spirits that presented themselves to drive someone away from the new house that was recently built. In the back of my mind, I remembered that my parents always told us that, when some people vacate this world and their spirits never find a resting place, their spirits linger or sneak around because they are restless. Our parents further told us that evil spirits hang around people who are vulnerable and are less likely to defend themselves. It is said that they like to hang around babies, young children, or even teenagers.
From what I was taught and experienced about spirits, I tend to believe that they exist. The place I lived for about five years after marriage, it seemed to be a haunted spot. Prior to the time I lived at the new place, that family had a college student, Marcia, who hanged herself on the property. The spot where the tragedy took place was a block and a half from the house where I used to live, and the rest is like a mystery.
Based on Marcia's story, it is said that she got pregnant while she was attending college in the capital of the island, Kingston. Unfortunately, she was four months pregnant, but she was afraid to tell her parents. The reason was, in that time period, it was disgraceful and disappointing to the family and society if a girl got pregnant in school and had to give up schooling because of pregnancy. Marcia's older brother usually drove from the country area into the city, and she would generally come home for the weekend in her brother's truck.
One weekend, while she was on her way home with her brother, Marcia told him that their dad needed a piece of rope to tie one of the cows in the pasture. Leonard stopped at a merchandise store, and she bought the rope. She arrived home and everything was all right, but no one could tell that Marcia had a plan that she did not share with anyone. She must have slept quietly until the early Saturday morning when everyone was still asleep. She must have fixed the rope the way she wanted it, crept quietly to the orange grove, and hanged herself on one of the trees.
The elementary school I attended was very close to where she killed herself. On that particular Monday at school, students were able to go and view the body, downstairs. It's a huge building that still stands there. People from all over the community and adjacent communities came to witness the awful horror.
I believe that her spirit lives on to this day. I think spirits exist, but I do not let myself get carried away by the idea.
It was around Christmas Eve, December twenty-fourth, close to midnight, when my Aunt Mary heard the singing and drumming coming towards her house. During that period of time, Floretta, my cousin, said that her father also heard the beating of the drum and the singing of songs echoing along the road until they passed his house and his neighbor Imogene's house. The crowd of them was on its way to the Square Plaza, Cedars, where all the friends usually meet to celebrate the festive season. My cousin, Florry, said that the music was a part of what they called rolling calf which is evil spirit.
The first time my Aunt Mary heard them that night was when she went to the outside bathroom. She then hid inside the bathroom and waited until they were gone far away from her house before she returned to her house because she was scared to death. The following day, my uncle shared his experience of the music and the singing he had heard with his sister. My aunt further told everyone in the district about the drama that had taken place that night. It is said that older people who have passed away a long time ago come back in another form, rejoicing and celebrating Christmas holidays as they used to do when they were alive. My cousin said that it was a true story that was told to most of the family members.
Most Jamaicans believe that, when some people die, they return in some form or other and do things that they usually do in their own ways. Everyone is left to his/her own belief.
Conroy is there in spirit, but not as someone you can see with eyesight. He was a well-behaved, mannerly and humble child at age seven. He was one of the most pleasant and most promising children. You would always want to be around him all the time.
I did live with the Green family for three months after returning from one of my visits out of the country. The family of four, including Conroy's sister, was a very loving and caring one. Lisa was only five years old then.
As cost of living increases and the devaluation of the currency got incredible, the Green family migrated to Brooklyn, New York. They had hoped to fulfill the American dream and enjoy a better way of life economically. After they arrived, the parents found themselves jobs, and they started working again.
At age seventeen, when Conroy was looking forward to beginning his college education, he suddenly got caught up in the wrong crowd. He then started to do street drugs with his friends. Conroy's parents had been educators in the school system before they came to America. During all this time, the family and I lost contact with each other through work and traveling.
After I had lived in the United States for a while, and when I returned home to visit family and friends, I heard of the tragic death of Conroy. He was shot to death for things he was not supposed to be involved in doing. Then I finally got in touch with Con's mom, who is a cousin of my friend. When I spoke to Michelle last spring, after twenty years of no communication, we were excited to be in touch again. She told me that, since she lost her eldest son, life has never been the same for her and the family.
Michelle further expressed to me that she can still feel his presence around her. The hug he always gave her continues, and even the smell of his favorite cologne is there sometimes. She told me that sometimes she says, "Con, I know that you are here. Just leave me now, okay?" Michelle even told me that, sometimes when she is driving in her car, the smell of his cologne is strongly there. I asked her if she ever felt afraid, and she said no.
I am convinced that spirits exist, and I will always remember Con as one of the most pleasant and most kindhearted young men I have ever met in my lifetime.
RON'S FIRST TIME SEEING A SPIRIT
I tend to believe that some people are just known to see or hear or feel some kinds of spirit around them. When John, one of my eldest brothers, was a little boy, at about five years old, he saw a ghost for the first time. He said he and our mother were in the kitchen when it was getting dark, and she was cooking dinner for the family. The kitchen was separated from the house, maybe about thirty feet away. John said he saw a tall lady pass by just below the kitchen. He said he asked mother, "Mom who is this tall woman who just walked by?" And my mom replied, "That's my mom; don't worry about it."
John said he never bothered to ask her anything else. During that time, John's grandma was alive, but she was not visiting us, and she was living far away. When we were growing up, children never tried to ask a lot of questions because somehow we never got the correct answers we wanted all the time. John told me he just kept quiet, and he never asked her any more questions that night.
MY FATHER'S DREAM
My father once told my siblings and me that one night he dreamt that he saw his mother, Elvina. In his dream, my dad recognized that my grandmother was dead. So he asked her, "Ma, how do you get your meals whenever you are hungry?" His mom replied that, when everyone is gone to bed at night that is when she prepares her meals, so she is never hungry.
Some Caribbean people believe that, after life, the spirit from the dead stays on, and it has the power to transform itself into anything it wants to. It can also go to anywhere it wants to go, even if it has never gone there before. This kind of free-flowing spirit seems to have connections to loved ones, close family members, and great friends as it roams the world.
FLORRY SAW A GHOST
One night, at about seven o'clock, my cousin saw a ghost. Florry shared her experience with me about seeing the spirit. She told me that she saw a ghost when she followed her grandma to fetch water from her dad's tank. That incident took place about six decades ago. As the night became darker and gloomier, and just as Grandma and Florry left the tank, Grandma Elvina turned left towards her house, and Florry turned right towards hers. That was when she turned around quickly, and her eyes came in contact with the ghost. She said that she saw a tall man dressed in a suit of khaki coming behind her. That was close to where they drew the water from the tank. Florry said she hurriedly went inside her house and told Uncle Alfred that she had seen a tall ghost. She said that, at first, she was not scared, but a little frightened. She further said that the image didn't have any head on him, and it seemed to appear like a headless man.
After Florry told her strange story to her dad, he said that the description of the man's height and dress was exactly of his mother's brother, Bradford, who used to visit her when he was alive. As my cousin shared her spooky story with me, she said that she could picture the ghost just as if the incident were happening at present. She let me know that that was the only time in her life she had ever seen a ghost.
Whether it is in ancient times or modern times, ghosts exist. That is my belief. It happens that some people can see them easily, while others can't. Some people can see them and hear them, while others can only hear them. Thank goodness that some people cannot see them or hear them or they would be frightened out of their wits.
"Love is the medicine of all moral evil. By it the world is to be cured of sin."
Henry Ward Beecher
ZELPHA HEARD HER MOM
She came to the door and talked to me, but I couldn't understand as she grumbled. Then she walked down the stairs to the kitchen. Zelpha said she heard the stirring of the plates and other utensils. That was about in the middle of the night. Then she told me that she could hear her slippers flipping and flapping when she was leaving. That same night, Zelpha's mom's spirit went to her only sister in the early morning. The sister's name was Lois. She then appeared in the form of a cat. The cat jumped on her bed; then Lois shouted to her son and asked him why did he let the cat, Bunty, in the house that night. The son replied, no, he didn't let the cat inside the house. When Zelpha's cousin went to check on both cats, Bunty and Tommy were fast asleep in their box-bed.
When Zelpha met her aunt and they shared their experiences about what they had seen and heard, they were alarmed, and they thought that her sister, who had passed away, had come back in the form of a cat.
"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."
~ Marie Curie
My sister, Jean, was about thirteen years old, when our parents sent her to the shop. It was about seven o'clock in the evening, and it was getting dark. Jean said that she did not want to go to the store that night, but during that time in our lives, we couldn't say no to our parents because no was not the answer to tell our parents. They were very strict and controlling, and all the siblings had to help with the work on the farm. So Jean went back into the house, which was built on a steep hill. The house has glass windows around it, so one could look easily at the foundation of the house. Jean said that, as she looked down through the glass window, she saw her brother who had recently died at age ten. He was walking quickly around the house as if he were hiding from someone. My sister said that she was so frightened that she yelled to her brother, Linton, and said, "There is Neville. See him there!" And just then, my sister said her head felt very big, and she could hardly speak. Jean said that her deceased brother was looking like a real person when she saw him. Although my sister had that terrible experience that night, she and her brother had to walk to the store to get some groceries for the family the next day.
I believe spirits exist. When one dies, the body wastes away, but the spirit lingers around loved ones all the time. Some people can see them, while others cannot. Personally, I do not wish to see any spirits for the rest of my life.
LIZA SAW HER DAUGHTER
Liza said that she saw her daughter about fifteen years ago. Liza was sitting on her bed at about noon time when it happened. Her daughter was wearing a yellow-oranged ress, and her long brown hair was nicely combed in a pony tail with a bow holding it together. She said she even saw her white teeth. Her daughter walked sideways out of the house. Then she went through the main door. Liza's four children were there with her. She sat with her hands over her forehead. Then her daughter who was deceased came along, pulled her hands away from her forehead, and kissed her on her mouth. Then she disappeared. Immediately Liza yelled, "Lord, my God, a ghost just kissed me on my lips." When Liza explained, to her children, what had happened, they all laughed because they thought it was just a joke.
The same night Tye, her eldest son, went to bed and dreamt that he saw his departed sister. She said to him, "I have been looking for you all the time and I just found you." The following morning he shared his dream with the family, and they all thought that spirits really exist.
I believe there are friendly spirits that are guardian angels, who keep close watch over special love ones
I remember it as if it is happening now. It is after dinner as the kerosene light grows dimmer, my siblings and I gather around the table to hear the ghost stories. Our father tells us stories in his usual dialect. One of them is about a white chicken his father witnesses. The headless chicken perches on the kitchen roof top at twilight. When his father creeps outside to view it, there isn't a thing to vision, and everywhere is as silent as the grave. At the end of the story, I hold on tightly to my older sister as we wait nervously for the next one.
My father lights a cigar and, as soon as he is ready to continue his poltergeist stories, a huge black bat, from God knows where, comes flying around in circles. Then my father said, "This must be my mother who is here to visit with me." The bat lodges on the windowsill, in the dining room, and stays there for the day until it flies away. When my father states these words, we hurriedly go to bed, and soon afterwards we are sound asleep.
Excerpted from SPOOKY NIGHTS ON THE ISLAND by Beverly E. Dyer-Groves Copyright © 2011 by Beverly E. Dyer-Groves, Illustrated by Shanna M. Groves. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Ron's First Time Seeing a Spirit....................9
My Father's Dream....................11
Florry Saw A Ghost....................13
Zelpha Heard Her Mom....................17
Liza Saw Her Daughter....................21
The Knock On The Door....................26
Another Terrifying Moment....................29
The Singing Bird....................31
The Old Man And The Lizard....................33
The Incredible Touch....................37
My Brother's Fright....................41
Some Myths Caribbean People Believe....................43