I just came from my sister's house to tend to her papillions while she is enjoying time at some lake somewhere with her in-laws. As I sat on her deck with her pups I watched her neighbors tend to their soon to be garden. It was Wheelghair Ghost's house. Who's Wheelchair Ghost? Well, let me tell you!
I originally wrote the following as a Facebook note in April of 2011, when Wheelchair Ghost first captured my imagination:
Next door to Cori and Derek's house is some jalopy that was most likely used for a crack den the better part of the late-2000's. It's kind of sad that this house was left in such poor condition since it is one of those Anoka homes that dates back to the 1880's. It could be a beautiful historic home if someone had cared enough to, ya know, lock the doors, mow the lawn and keep the general riff-raff out. When Co and D first moved into their home the house next door was a bit of a novelty. They learned from their nosy neighbor that it had been sitting empty for a while because the owner had died, and his adult children didn't want anything to do with it. The home, which at this point was converted into a duplex, sat empty. One day my ever-vigilant sister noticed that there was a child's bike leaning on the back of the house. She did not care for this one bit. Being a Law and Order watcher, she knew that this could very well be some sort of child molesting shenanigans. So, she sent Derek over there to check out the situations, shirtless, and armed with a can of half full Coke. Derek went up the outside stairs that led to the upstairs apartment. The door was unlocked, he poked around and saw no one. In the meantime, Cori had called the police to come over and make sure nothing was a-foot. A few minutes later Cori and Derek watched from there front step as a police officer did in fact show up, look around, and decided to enter the premise, weapon drawn. Upon seeing the police officer brandish her gun Derek only then realized how inadequate his half full soda can would have been. Long story short, the weapon being drawn was merely precautionary, and someone probably just stole that bike and decided "Hey, I'll just dump this at that dumpy dump of a house on 7th Avenue."
Derek did learned something that day, however. That door upstairs ain't locked. So, when we all came over the next time we deiced to check out the house and pretend to be toughies for entering a house that maybe onetime housed drug-types. Needless to say, the house was something to be desired.
Again, Cori, a concerned citizen, was tired of this shanty driving down her property taxes and wrote the city of Anoka asking about what they planned to do with that eyesore. Within months of Cori not getting a response from the city, the home was purchased by a nice carpenter named Jason who bought the property for around $70,000.
Last weekend, I went to visit the Sebesta's when Jason happened to be outside, eager to show-off what he had done to the place. Being game Derek and I went over there to check it out (Cori was too busy breastfeeding at the time to come over, tsk.) Jason had done a wonderful job making a mess, as far as I could tell. I am not one to visualize a project, so I'm sure when he's done it's going to look amazing but now it's just a pile of....well, a pile. He was able to convert it back into a single family home and rip out some horrid flooring. He added a ton of square footage to the place, and couldn't have been prouder of the headway he was making. He showed us the upstairs, the main floor, the converted bathrooms and enlarged living room. He did not show us the basement.
Jason would have shown us the basement. We even walked by it and I said, "Hey, you even have a basement!" as I poked my head around the corner and looked down the stairs. "Yeah!" he said, "It's really creepy down there! I'll show you it if you want!" Having been employed in Anoka on and off for the last ten years I have seen my share of creepy Anoka basements. "Oh, are they shooting the next Saw movie here? It's sure damp and scary enough!" I politely declined. And thank the heavens above I did!!!
We entered the kitchen and Jason prefaced his next statement as such, "Okay, don't think I'm crazy or anything..." Uh, okay...at this point I think I had just noticed the handgun he keeps on the kitchen counter and resisted the urge to pick it up and say, "Oh my god, is this a real handgun?!" "But, this place is haunted." Jason finished. Okay, that's not so crazy. Lots of places in Anoka are haunted, that's what you get with an old town. Derek and I nodded, keen to hear his ghost story. "I was in the basement when we first bought this place and I was taking pictures with my camera, and I took a picture and I looked at it, and I noticed this guy in a wheelchair. So, you know, I took another picture. And he was closer." At this point I resisted the urge to pick up the handgun and start shooting into the basement. HOLY CRAP! I told Jason I would be out the door in seconds. Jason, being the brave house flipper he was said, "No. So I went upstairs and I said 'Look ghosts, this is my house now, and if you haunt me you can haunt an empty lot for all I care, I'll burn this place to the ground!'" Good threat. Not sure if the ghosts will buy it. If you sank 70 grand into a house would you be willing to put a match to it because a poor old guy in a wheelchair is stuck in a basement for all eternity due to the lack of handicapped accessibility?
Derek and I stayed for a little while longer pretending not to be fucking terrified and then went merrily back to the blissful new construction of Cori and Derek's house. Before we got in the door, Derek asked, "Hey, Jason! Do you have those pictures of the wheelchair ghost?" He shouted back that his ex in West Virginia had them, but he would get them from her and show us.
And now, because of this story, Cori can't look at this house in the middle of the night.
This particular house has actually been sold by Jason and a nice new family moved in next door to Cori and Derek. We had a snowstorm here in Minnesota last week and Derek went over there to snowblow them out. He failed to mention the tale of Wheelchair Ghost.
Addendum: Cori was up in the middle of the night a few weeks ago and she looked at her neighbors house, and the light in the basement was on. Cori was hoping it was accidentally left on....