Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Not a Nightmare After All

The week before last, I reported on the so-called "nightmare house" in South Carolina. The house was placed on the market with a mysterious note stating that the upstairs unit "cannot be shown under any circumstances." The note added that the buyer would assume responsibility for the upstairs tenant, who had a lease but had never paid rent.

At the time, I said that despite the note, there probably was a more normal explanation than a ghost or a gateway to Hell or something out of a horror movie. And I was right. As reported by The State newspaper in South Carolina, the upstairs tenant is not a ghost or a demon. He's an artist and illustrator who's an old friend of the family that owns the house.

The State newspaper in South Carolina said the real reason is anything but a nightmare. The paper reports the upstairs apartment belongs to tenant Randall McKissick, a once world-renowned artist and illustrator. McKissick lives with his three cats, and is a father of two daughters and is a grandfather.

McKissick has been friends with the owner of the home since junior high school, according to The State. The artist fell on hard times and moved into the upstairs unit nearly 10 years ago. “He never asked for any money,” McKissick said. “He never mentioned money. I would like to pay him, but I don’t have any.”

The owner of the home said he wanted to rent the bottom floor for money, but it needs repairs he can’t afford. “We don’t really have much choice but to sell the house; my parents need to sell it,” the current owner said. “But it’s been in the family for so long, we don’t really want to. And we want Randy to be able to stay there.”

It just goes to show that usually there's a normal explanation. Phenomena like ghosts are paranormal precisely because they are rare. But it also is true that people are drawn to weirdness, and everybody loves a good mystery. That's probably why the house went viral in the first place. I know that's why I picked it up. It would have been more fun for me if it had turned out to be paranormal, but paranormal should never be the default position.

I hope that the situation with McKissick and the homeowner turns out for the best. If nothing else, the "nightmare house" article has drawn a lot of publicity and raised awareness of McKissick's work. You can't buy coverage like that, unless you have a lot to spend.

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