Strange noises in the night are a regular occurrence at my house. I should have grown used to them after over 20 years of living here, but I haven’t. I doubt that I ever will.

There is a huge pecan tree on the northwest side of the house which, at regular intervals, drops limbs on the roof as big as cross ties making it sound as if I were being attacked by rocket-propelled grenades. I dream that I’m somewhere north of Baghdad.

Cows bawling in the fields somewhere north of Vine Street sound as if they are in my backyard. At one time, I considered putting out bales of hay for them. Then, in the middle of the night, freight trains regularly rumble through — between my house and my neighbor’s, whistling for the crossings that are not there.

There is a two-story house on one side which may account in part for the strange reverberations in the night. It is hard to determine where the night sounds are coming from. Pickup trucks pulling trailers hit the large chug hole on Austin Avenue which has been repaired 18 times, but is still there, and sounds like the wreck of the Hesperus.

My house, probably built sometime in the ‘30s, is probably haunted (as most are by something). I have no idea who might have lived here, or who might have died here, scared to death by freight trains, bawling cattle, rocket-propelled grenades and pickup trucks hitting the same chug hole which was here 50 years ago.

I won’t even mention the steady firing of heavy artillery guns through the night — which I found out recently was actually teenagers (all of whom are totally deaf) passing by on Austin with 5,000 watt boom boxes in their cars and with the windows down so everybody within a mile radius can hear them.

At least, neither the living nor the dead back in the ’30s had to listen to it, but unfortunately, I do. Nobody, as far as I can determine should live longer than the house they live in. It is only then that things go bad with strange noises haunting us in the dead of night.

I’m not a believer in ghosts and yet I’m sure I have a few prowling around in the attic at night, occasionally engaged in bowling or touch football. It gets pretty rowdy up there at times

My Chihuahua dog, Bitsy, has only lived here for a year, but, having far more acute hearing than I do, has the ability to discriminate sounds and know where they’re coming from. She, being smarter than I am, ignores them completely. She knows there are no cows in the backyard or freight trains in the driveway. But when she jumps up in bed with her ears straight up, I turn on all the lights, grab my gun and prepare for an attack by ghosts with rocket-propelled grenades — while she crawls back under the cover and goes back to sleep.

I soon join her and listen to the cows bawling in the backyard and the freight trains whistling in the driveway and the bowling in the attic.

A man has to do what a man has to do.

Harry Marlin’s column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletin’s Viewpoint page. E-mail him at This column was originally published in November 2003.