The Man in the Doorway

Years before I moved to Paris, or was even born, there lived a man on Hearon Street. His tiny two bedroom house was nearing one hundred years old, and it looked every bit of it. His wife was gone, and with her, his life, much like the house, went into disrepair.

He coped for as long as he could, but living life without her wore away at his very soul until he couldn’t do it any longer. He was found in the tub of his little white house and with a shotgun on his chest.

The house lay vacant for a time until it was given to a young couple with a baby.


10pm, midnight, that baby, now a toddler, would wake to the sounds of angry voices in another room. Her parents fought, but once everything was quiet and before falling back to sleep, she would notice him. The man in the doorway. She thought it was Daddy, making sure she wasn’t getting into mischief. Those nights she would fall asleep feeling safer than she had before she woke.

Brother and sister shared the room with her, but they never talked about the man in the doorway. By her reckoning, she was the only one to see it.

He was there when Mom & Dad fought.

He was there when Dad was home really late.

He was there when that drive by shooting occurred on the street.

He rarely moved. He just stood there, and any night she woke, he was watching over.

She thought nothing of it. Not until years later when she had moved with her family to a new house.

She mentioned him with Mom and sister and brother present. The man who kept her feeling safe.

“What did you say?” her mother asked, face pale.

“The man. There was a man in the doorway of our room on Hearon Street.”

Brother and sister both nodded and agreed.

“Describe him.”

The trio explained him as best they could. He was tall. Too tall for the door, so he slouched against the doorframe. His head faced the ground, and atop it, he wore a baseball cap. He was skinny, but his face and the rest of him was always in shadow.

I was that girl, and what I didn’t know at the time was that we had all three described a man we never met or discussed. He was our Pepaw. We’d never seen a picture of him or known his cause of death. No. We had just seen him nearly every night of our childhood, watching us as we dreamed.

I’m not superstitious. I never thought I was, that is. But of this, I am certain. That man in the doorway wasn’t some trick of light. He was real enough for me even if I didn’t realize it at the time.

Everything in me screams that ghosts can’t be real, because what of heaven and hell? I know they exist. They have to if I’m to keep my belief system. Yet, I have no other explanation for this tale. They must be real, and I confess I don’t want to think anything otherwise now.



Featured photo is a Google Earth (c) shot of the house I grew up in.


18 thoughts on “The Man in the Doorway

  1. How interesting! He was like your guardian angel! I’m not superstitious either, but I once caught my toddler saying my deceased grandmother’s name. Children can probably see spirits!


  2. I love that this is non-fiction! Of course, we have guardians looking out for us, how arrogant for us to dismiss what we don’t understand, right? Was the man in the tub your grandfather?


  3. I like the way you decided to tell your story; the change up of pronouns. Interesting idea. The paragraph where the narrator describes the man in the doorway is my favorite part, instantly brought him “alive”, if you excuse the pun.


    1. Thanks, Amy! I’m glad the experiment worked. Only some stories benefit from a third person view when they are nonfiction and I think this is one I could get away with. The image of him slouching stays with me even now.


    1. Thanks, Meg! Yes. It was my great grandfather who killed himself. The house actually went to my grandparents who just gave it to my parents after I was born. It’s so nice to know we all believe a little 😀


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