Archive for Saturdays

THE MOORISH HOUSE ON CHARLOTTE STREET

Posted in Afterlife, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Paranormal, Saturdays, St. Augustine, Stories with tags , , , , , , on September 15, 2012 by Dave Lapham

Night descended on the Moorish house on Charlotte Street. Sara stood on the cobblestones in front of the loggia, the recessed portico common in Mediterranean-style homes, absorbing the three-plus centuries of this house. She felt happy in spite of the descending evening and the ominous feeling cast by the huge, old oak bearded with Spanish moss swaying in the cold, January breeze. Empty and forbidding the house might seem to others. To Sara it was the fulfillment of a dream. She and Matt were closing on it in the morning. It would finally be theirs—well, theirs and the bank’s. A gust of icy breeze tousled her hair and she pulled the collar of her coat up higher, wrapping her arms around herself.

She stood admiring the Moorish-style architecture, the horseshoe arches, the geometric and arabesque shapes, the complex designs of the tile borders, the intricate, latticed privacy screen covering the balcony above the loggia. It reminded her of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. She imagined the exotic eyes of Arab harem beauties gazing down upon her.

Suddenly, she saw movement. A face in the window to the left of the balcony? Maybe she was imagining things. It was deathly quiet. When the sun went down, St. Augustine rolled up its streets. No one was about, especially in this residential area south of the Plaza on this cold evening.

There it was again. Movement in the second floor window. Just a glimpse. Less than half a second. But she did see something—or someone. She shivered and turned to leave, but just as quickly froze.

Music, the sound of a classical guitar, came from inside the house. It sounded like someone playing in the main room just inside the loggia. Whoever the guitarist, he played exquisitely. She tried to remember the piece; it was vaguely familiar. Baroque, perhaps Molino? Whatever. It was melancholy, haunting, beautiful, and she knew she had heard it before. She hesitantly walked to the loggia and peered in the window. The room was empty. Not one piece of furniture. Nothing—and no one. She turned and hurried out to the street, climbed into her Miata, and drove home, the music still in her head.

When Matt arrived from the hospital a little after eight, Sara was sitting on the couch plucking the strings of her guitar. He parked himself beside her and leaned back.

She stopped playing and smiled. “How was your day, sweetheart? Anything hot in the ER?”

“Kinda slow, actually. No major emergencies. How about you? What’s that you’re playing?”

Sara began strumming her guitar again. “I don’t really know. I’m trying to remember something.”

Matt watched as she played. She was enthralling, he thought. He loved her passion for the guitar and for medicine. He loved her black hair, her brown eyes. She was the most beautiful woman he’d ever known. They had grown up together, been high school sweethearts, gone to college and medical school together. He had never considered marrying anyone else. Now they were doctors, working together in the Flagler Hospital Emergency Room. Matt couldn’t have been more content. He listened to her play for several minutes and finally sat up. “Hey, let’s have some supper, Mrs. Segovia,” and he walked into the kitchen.

Precisely at ten the next morning, Sara and Matt stepped out of their apartment to go to the closing. They purposely hadn’t scheduled any other appointments for the day so they could focus on the house. The closing went quickly. The last occupants, an English couple, had left it to a son who had never even seen the place. Apparently, he just wanted to get rid of it. And both her dad and her Uncle Bill had helped them with a healthy down payment. By eleven-thirty, keys in hand, they were hurrying down Charlotte Street!

Sara had been steeped in the lore of St. Augustine and of her family by her father, a history professor at Flagler College. She knew everything about the house. One of her ancestors, Gabriel Zamora, had come from a Moorish background in Granada. He had been driven out of Spain in 1612 by the Spanish Inquisition and had sailed to St. Augustine, where he had become a successful rancher. When the British wrested Florida from Spain in 1763, Zamora’s heirs remained, and Antonio Zamora built this house in 1793. To be continued…