The Laughing Man

The Laughing Man

There was a piano in the living room of this house I used to live in. I rented a small bedroom in the basement of a house in a town called Broomfield, and honestly, this was the first time I had actually been in a basement. I’ve lived in California all of my life and this was the first time out of the state, but I only had to be in this town for three months because of an internship I had gotten.

The family that lived in this house was strange, they never really seemed to talk to each other, though one time the mom asked me to take her son to a wrestling event. Another time, they tricked me into going to a “party” by a lake that turned out to be a church event.

They seemed normal overall, but they had a habit of being too quiet. No television, no radio, no talking. I really only heard them when they got home around 9pm every week night, and that was because the wooden floors creaked. I could hear the son crinkling bags of fast food, and the sound of the shower being turned on upstairs, and sometimes the microwave.

One afternoon, I had gotten home early from my internship because I was not feeling well and got to the house in the middle of the day. There was nothing particularly interesting about the city, and I was alone most of the time. I just remember searching for bookstores and coffee shops to hang out in, but that got old pretty fast.

I had picked up some Subway on my way to the house. I went to the kitchen to grab a bottle of water from the fridge, but noticed that the refrigerator light didn’t turn on. The water was still cold, though.

I went downstairs, and sure enough, the basement light didn’t turn on. Fortunately, my room had a window at the top that faced a small garden area above me. It was weird for me thinking that I was basically in a hole in the ground. I figured that if I really needed to charge my phone, I could just go to the car and charge it there. I didn’t need much else. I ate my sandwich and I promptly fell asleep. I woke up to the sound of footsteps upstairs followed by an odd melody on the piano.

This would have been completely normal had it not been one in the morning. But the melody stopped, and I went back to sleep.

In the morning, I went to the kitchen to make my coffee, but the coffeemaker wouldn’t work, and without power, the microwave would not work either.

That was when the house started giving me a strange feeling, and in retrospect, many things were pointing that something was off.

That evening, I got back to the house and the power wasn’t working. I tried calling the lady’s phone, but it kept going to voicemail. I had been in that place for about three weeks already, and I didn’t know what to do. I was 19 at the time, and so I called my parents to ask them what I should be doing. My dad said he was going to call the lady (they had a friend in common), and that he would get back to me.

He called back to tell me that the phone wasn’t working, and that I should probably begin searching for another place to move to, since being without hot water or electricity was probably not a very safe place to live in.

I wish I had known that the electricity not working would be the least of my problems.

That night, I kept thinking about what I could do, since I didn’t know anybody in the area and the thought of moving again really stressed me out, but eventually I started dozing off when suddenly the footsteps woke me up again.

Then came the same melody on the piano.

I figured it would be my chance to go upstairs and ask to see what I should do about the whole situation, so I put on my shoes and started to head upstairs. But as the living room came into view, I noticed that there was nobody sitting at the piano.

Then, it stopped.

This was the first time anything creepy like this happened to me, and I normally imagined myself walking up to investigate, but instead I ran back down steps following the light from my phone and bolted to my room, and shut the door.

I heard some laughter upstairs, and then complete silence.

The next day while washing my hands in the kitchen sink, the water started burping and then the flow of water stopped. As I was looking for a towel to dry off my hands, I noticed the moldy bread in the breadbox on the dining room table. Nobody else had been in the house besides me in the last few days.

Trying not to think too much of the situation, I went out for dinner at a Burger King and figured I would just stay out until I got tired before going back to the empty house.

Around 10pm I went back home, creaked open the door, went for the basement, and the straight to my room. I changed in the dark, I ate in the dark, and before the water went out, I showered in the dark. Now I even had to figure out how to get the toilet to flush.

Things seem obvious to me now, but back then I was just a kid, and didn’t know much of renter/landlord obligations. I listened to some music on my phone, set my alarm, and went to sleep.

At around 1am, like clockwork, I heard the steps. Then I heard the piano. But this time, I heard more footsteps.

Footsteps down the stairs.

Footsteps approaching my room.

Then, silence.

The thing about hearing something paranormal is that you begin doubting your judgement right away. You don’t know if you imagined it, but really want to believe that you did.

I tried to stay awake under my bed sheets but I woke up again to the sound of thunder. Then the piano.

As soon as I saw the sky turning purple in the morning, I started to gather my things. I stuffed my clothes in my backpack, and realized that no matter how hard I tried to carry everything, I wouldn’t make it to the car in just one trip.

Eventually summoned up the courage to head upstairs, walk past the piano, and straight to my car. I then went straight back to the house, down to the dark basement, grabbed a box, another smaller backpack, my bottle of water. As I started to make my way upstairs, I thought I heard the piano keys, but the door was open and I decided to go for it and slammed the door behind me once as I was out for good as I clearly heard laughter from inside the house.

I moved the next day after the footsteps incident. First to a Motel 6 for two nights, and then I found another place from one of the other students that worked with me.

Thinking back on this, I still remember how creeped out I was by the whole thing. Much later, I found out that the couple was going through a divorce, which explained why I never saw the kid’s father.

It turns out that I had forgotten my passport and my social security card inside one of the drawers and the lady called me to ask me to go pick them up from their new place. That’s where I found out about some details and also that the mom and the kids had gone to live with the mom’s sister for a while. Her phone had gotten replaced and she lost my contact information.

I casually mentioned that there were some weird noises in the house, when her son peeked at us from the kitchen and asked me, almost in a panic,

“The laughing man?”

“It must have been the laughing man,” I replied.

Then he walked over to me, his lips trembling, and managed to ask, “does he play the piano?”

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