You are always mindful to keep delicate objects away from the edges of coffee tables and countertops, lest they fall mysteriously to the floor. You hear strange, disembodied voices in the attic. They say, “whoops!”

You have a clumsy ghost.

Your home’s previous owner died a tragic but avoidable and seemingly far-fetched death:

“Why was this beautiful home so inexpensive?”

“The real estate agent said something about a loose floorboard, and a candelabrum, and the previous owner’s stereo not being grounded right.”

This is a typical conversation in a house with a clumsy ghost.


Your husband is working the late shift. Your children are asleep in their bedrooms down the hall. So where is that soft, spectral sniffling coming from? You find yourself woken in the night by the sound of a phlegmy cough, followed by an embarrassed and spooky “Excuse me.” You have a sick ghost.

You go through more Kleenex than seems possible for a mortal family of four. You’ve already punished your screw-up fourteen-year-old son twice for drinking all the Robitussin while everyone is asleep. Only after you’ve sent Brad to detox and the cough syrup disappearances continue does it occur to you that the answer to this mystery can only be found beyond the grave… and under the weather.


You notice it first during a Buster Keaton feature on Bravo: a faint, chilling giggle here, a soft, spine-tingling chuckle there. There is someone—or something—there with you in your studio apartment. And it likes slapstick. The spirit reveals its more sophisticated tastes as you read Without Feathers on the toilet. You feel a presence over your shoulder. At first you think you are being watched, and your blood runs cold. Then it begins to feel more like the presence is reading along. You are still uncomfortable with the idea.

Weeks later, you and your girlfriend are making out on the couch, pretending to watch Dr. Strangelove. As you begin to move your hand up her back, under her shirt, the mood is suddenly shattered by a supernatural guffaw coming from the other end of the sofa. She bites your lip in surprise. You look at each other for a moment, then at the other end of the sofa, then get back to kissing. Twenty minutes later, as you remove each other’s clothing the same way you always do, it feels a little kinky.


You’ve heard of things that go “bump” in the night. This thing doesn’t necessarily go “bump” just in the night, but it usually does so near a doorframe. Then it goes, “ow.”

The hallway floor is piled deep with thick but tasteful cream carpeting. One night, as you walk from the den to the bathroom, you hear the floorboards creak. You stop. The creaking stops. You continue to walk, and the creaking resumes. You stop again, quickly, and so does the creaking, but not as quickly as you. For a few moments the only sound in the hallway is the pounding of your pulse. Then, as you stand stock-still, the creaking begins again. You take a deep breath, and very slowly, very dramatically, you turn around. Advancing toward you is something noisy and invisible. In the carpet it leaves impressions of two larger-than-average human feet. Chillingly, they are proportionate to someone—or something—tall. The sight of the ample footprints sends you screaming from the house.

As you stand in the driveway, waiting for your parents to return from their monthly dinner out, you consider the basketball hoop hanging above the garage door. You wonder if the poor, tormented soul haunting your home can dunk.