Unexpected Guests at The Muse Café


A friend of mine owns a rather large, three story, yellow brick house on the top of a nearby hill. This house has raised two children, one adult, and a host of friends and neighbors. The owner, Donna, is a musician who teaches privately in her home, so there are always people coming and going.


One of the best features of the house is a rather grand wrap-around porch. It begins at the front door and extends around the side of the house to the entrance of the music room. It is that entrance where there are two tables and chairs to accommodate dinner guests and casual visitors. In the summertime, people come by, often unannounced; to sit at those tables, drink wine by candlelight, and share stories, art, and ultimately their lives. This gathering place has become known as the Muse Café.


The Muse Café is no ordinary gathering place. Graced with flowering plants, candles, wind chimes, and a great view of the moon, the Muse Café seems to enchant people when they enter. Total strangers have told their life stories, sharing intimate facts they would not have told otherwise. Music, poetry and art are shared freely, as are philosophies, and sometimes, just plain silliness. Other than a few regulars, the patrons of the Muse Café tend to wax and wane, depending on the weather and day of the week.


On many nights, several of us have discussed, among other things, the existence of spirits. Having grown up in an inhabited house, I am a firm believer that those who have gone before often come back to visit, for whatever purpose. Some others in the group have agreed and shared their own stories, while others were in disbelief or hadn’t had the opportunity to see actual proof of their existence. The owner is among the latter…one who believes but hasn’t had the opportunity to see any tangible proof.


One evening in the middle of summer, she and I were sitting at the Muse Café, talking. No one else had come that night, so it was just the two of us. As it was getting dark, we lit the candles to enjoy the evening. As an addition to our usual collection of pillars and tea lights, Donna had decided to add a hurricane lamp in the far corner of the porch. This lamp was one of a pair that stayed inside the house, had never been used in my tenure at the Muse Café, and from my understanding, was rarely lit.


After lighting the lamp, Donna returned to her chair, and we resumed our conversation. The lamp went out. There was no wind and the lamp contained plenty of oil. She adjusted the wick, lit the lamp again, replaced the glass globe into the metal-pronged holders, and sat down. The lamp went out again. Once again, the lamp was lit. We pondered over the reasons for the lamp going out. It was then that I saw something I’d never seen at the Muse Café before. Spirits. More accurately, a woman dressed in evening clothes, pacing back and forth. She seemed quite distressed. I told Donna about her, but she was unable to see anything, although she sometimes felt a presence. The woman kept staring at the lamp, and once again, blew it out. I laughed. “For some reason, she doesn’t want that lamp to stay lit.”


Just then, the top of the lamp lifted straight up and flew over the side of the porch, landing in the yard some eight feet below. Donna and I looked at each other in astonishment. Both of us had taken the glass globe off the lamp before. It was held in place securely by the metal prongs. There was absolutely no logical explanation for what we saw.  The only explanation was that the woman, who had been so distressed over the lamp, had tried to give us one more sign to leave it unlit.


Night had taken over, so I took a flashlight and walked down into the yard to find the glass globe. I expected it to be smashed to bits after taking such a flight. What I found was the globe, without so much as a nick or a scratch.


After showing Donna what I had found, I replaced the globe and returned to our table. We apologized to our guests for upsetting them and left the lamp unlit. Curiosity overtook me and I asked where the lamps had come from…if there was a story behind them. Donna explained that a friend bought them for her in an antique shop. There was no way of knowing where they came from before they ended up in the store. She asked if I saw anything else. I did. Along with the woman, I saw a man, who I presumed to be her husband, and a small boy. Our guests were a bit shy, staying in the corner of the porch. Finally, the boy, unable to overcome his curiosity, walked across the porch and stood next to Donna. She asked if they were still on the porch. I laughed and told her that if she moved so much as an inch to her right, she’d bump into the little boy.


After being in the presence of our guests for a while, Donna asked me if I was able to figure out their identity, what they were doing, and how the lamp was involved. I sat back and closed my eyes, hoping to gain some information. What I finally saw explained the whole scenario.


The spirits in attendance were most certainly a family. The woman, who had so insistently forbidden the use of the lamp, seemed to have good cause. I could see her, sitting in her living room at night, waiting for her husband to come home. He worked a distance from their home and oftentimes didn’t come home until very late. So every night, his wife would wait up as long as she could. If he hadn’t arrived by a certain hour, she would go to bed, leaving the lamp lit. Upon his arrival, he would turn out the lamp and go to bed.


One night, the weather was violently stormy. The wife was worried her husband would not be able to make it back to their remote home due to the storm. At long last, she went to bed, fearful of what had become of her husband. It was very late when he finally came home, having survived an awful trip to get back to his family.


It was because of those long, fretful nights that the wife hated to see the lamp lit. When the lamp was lit, it meant that her husband was not home and in possible danger. Therefore, the lamp must be turned out.


Another interesting fact was that the wife’s lamp sat on a small round covered table, almost identical to the one the lamp’s twin sat on in Donna’s house.


We saw or felt the spirits a few times after that, but we didn’t experience any more flying objects. This summer, when the Muse Café opens once again, I’ll be looking for them, in hopes of another story.