This story supposedly happened to the sister of a friend of mine. The names have been changed to protect the identities of the parties involved.

Jennifer attended Ohio State University in Columbus back in the early 1980s—before AIDS, before the drinking age was raised to 21, and before “Just say no.” Sexual, alcoholic, and chemical excess were very much in fashion and 18 year olds, newly liberated from their parents’ supervision, were even wilder than newly liberated 18 year olds today.

One Saturday night in October, after the football game, Jennifer and her friends from the dorm, Lisa and Karen, headed up to the High Street bars to drink, dance, and try to hook up with some guys.

They started out at the notorious Papa Joe's, a bar/pizza place/disco/meat market that served beer in galvanized buckets and boasted some of the nastiest rest rooms in the state. Karen knew one of the pizza guys and he let them sneak in through the kitchen so they didn't have to stand in line out front. The girls drank and danced an hour or so until someone in the balcony spilled or dumped a bucket of beer/urine/vomit on them. This was a pretty frequent occurrence there. By midnight on a Saturday, everything and everyone would be soaked.

Jennifer's friend Lisa wanted to go back to Stradley and change so they left but ended up going across the street to the Oar House instead. They drank for a couple more hours and started flirting with some guys.

Sometime after midnight, Jenny and her girlfriends left with the guys to go to a house party the boys knew about somewhere down on 9th. Someone was joining the army or getting out of the army or something and his pals were sending him off or welcoming him back. Something like that. At the party, Jennifer moved from beer to hard liquor and smoked some pot. A skinny creep with a moustache and a head like a light bulb started hitting on her and wouldn't take "No" for an answer. The guy from the Oar House chased him away.

Grateful to her rescuer, Jenny started getting friendly with him and they decided to head back to his place, somewhere in an old house off of Chittenden. Or maybe it was Eleventh. It was dark, she was drunk, and she didn't know the neighborhood anyway so she wasn't real sure. His roommates and their friends were still up when they arrived so the couple drank some more. What happened next, she doesn’t remember but she's pretty sure they screwed.

It was in the wee hours of the morning—it must have been after 4—Jennifer woke up. Someone was snoring loud enough to wake the dead.

She tried to collect her senses and take inventory. It was cold. It was dark. Her head was telegraphing that a hangover was on the way. Jenny stank of cigarettes, stale beer, marijuana smoke, and maybe a hint of vomit. She felt filthy and disgusting. Her back ached from sleeping on the hard floor.

She was lying sprawled on the living room floor of the guy's apartment. Jennifer vaguely recollected the sequence of events that brought her there. The light from a streetlamp outside was shining in through the curtains, palely illuminating a shabbily furnished room: beat-up old couch, TV with a coat hanger antenna, a couple posters and a stolen beer sign on the wall, a trunk doubling as a coffee table, cups and bottles everywhere, a rocking chair by the window. Around her were various sleeping figures. A guy on the couch was making all the noise.

Except for her shoes, Jennifer was stark naked and didn’t have any idea where the rest of her clothes had gotten to. She didn’t even remember taking them off. Jennifer recoiled at the idea of what kind of show she must have put on. All the sleepers in the room seemed to be men. Oh, God...not again...

Beside her lay a guy wearing a Rolling Stones concert T-shirt and no pants. She presumed this must’ve been the guy she went home with. In the cold light of sobriety she studied him. Doughy, beer gut, hairy, no chin. He was sleeping with his mouth open and drool was running out the corner. What a fucking doofus!, she thought, I must’ve have been soooo drunk! Why do I keep doing this?

Slowly Jennifer became aware of another person in the room. She felt someone watching her. Jennifer and her sex friend were laying on the floor in front of the sofa. Across the room, between the front window and the door, was a rocking chair. She could have sworn that a minute ago it had been empty but when she looked again there was a figure seated there.

The room was dimly lit by the streetlamp. Despite this, Jennifer could somehow see the figure in the rocker in great detail. It was a man. The stranger looked a little old to be a student. He looked like some kind of a hippie, some relic from 1969. The stranger wore love beads, a fringed suede jacket, a floppy hat like that one Dennis Hopper wore in Easy Rider, and bell bottom jeans with mismatched patches. He had long, stringy, dirty blond hair. He could've walked right out of Woodstock. He certainly hadn’t been at the house earlier or she would have noticed him.

As Jennifer stared at the stranger in the chair, he turned his head and stared at her. She remembered she was naked and tried to cover herself with her hands while casting a sour look at the old hippie to express her contempt. Damned ogler! Fucking pervert! Undeterred, the hippie kept staring.

Jennifer was giving him the finger when she noticed something wrong with the hippie. She could see through him! She could see the chair and wall behind the stranger through his body! At first she didn’t believe it and rubbed her eyes to see if she was seeing things. She wasn’t. She could see right through the stranger! As she realized this, the hippie took note of her discovery. His mouth curled into a sinister sort of smile, full of unsavory possibilities.

Terrified, she tried to scream but could only grunt as the figure started to lean forward in his chair, shifting his weight to his feet like he was about to rise.

Jennifer bolted. Stumbling over the sleeping partiers, she ran from the room, into the kitchen, out the back door, and into the night.

Jennifer says to this day, nearly thirty years later, she’s never known that kind of fear. It was a blind animal panic that made her run from the apartment. Whatever was in that chair wasn't right. It didn't belong in this world. She knew that if she didn't get out of there right away, something terrible was going to happen. She ran as fast as she’d ever run in high school track, thinking of nothing but escaping that creature in the chair. She didn’t even realize she was running down the city streets naked until a carload of high school guys honked at her and called out as she was racing down High Street.

When Jennifer got back to her dorm room she turned on all the lights, the TV, and the radio, woke up her roommates and made them sit up with her until dawn saying prayers. It was Sunday morning so as soon as the sun rose she dressed and drove straight to the Methodist Church she hadn’t attended since she was fifteen. Morning worship didn’t start till 9:30 so she sat there in the parking lot and listened to a gospel station on the radio for the next couple hours.

After church, Jennifer way-laid the pastor and made him listen to a G-rated version of her tale. He assured her there was nothing to it and that there were no such things as ghosts before he rushed off to do a wedding. Jennifer went back to her dorm and, exhausted, collapsed in her bed. She slept like a stone all afternoon and night and didn’t rise till the middle of the next morning, missing her Business Law II class.

As the weeks passed and she returned to her routine of school, studies, work, and partying, she put the ghost more and more to the back of her mind. On those rare occasions when she thought about it, she was inclined to think that she had just misperceived something. She felt silly for having panicked and made such a big deal about it. Her friends still teased her about streaking though.

One warm afternoon in early May, Jennifer was sitting out on the South Oval, sunning her legs, when someone called out to her. It took her a minute to recognize him. It was the guy she had been with that night at the house on Chittenden. He sat down and they started making small talk. He told her he still had her clothes and she could stop over and get them any time she wanted. She apologized for bolting and was about to tell her story when he interrupted, “You saw the hippie didn’t you?”

The guy told her that while he had never seen the ghost himself, two of his roommates had. One had seen a long-haired man in hippie clothes standing in front of the window one day and gone out to chase him away. When he got outside the guy was nowhere to be found. His other roommate had come downstairs one morning and seen a long-haired man in hippie clothes going into the kitchen. When he got to the kitchen no one was there. A check of the house showed all the doors were locked so that nobody could have been in the apartment who shouldn’t have been. Jennifer’s one-night stand told of being driven from the apartment one winter afternoon by the overpowering reek of cheap incense. He couldn’t tell her anything else about the specter because he didn’t know anything else.

Today, Jennifer is a wife and mother of two teenagers, living in an upper middle class suburb of Cincinnati, and working as a CPA for a bank. She almost never tells the story of the phantom hippie. It belongs to another lifetime she says. On a few occasions, when she has been persuaded to tell the tale, Jennifer has added an enigmatic coda.

Jennifer says that she saw the ghost twice more before she graduated from Ohio State. Nobody--not her sister, not even her husband--has ever been able to get her to part with a single detail about her other two encounters with the specter.