The neighborhood was atwitter to learn someone was actually moving in to the haunted Malvyrn House. It was so infamously haunted it had sat vacant on the market for years. Prior to that it had been inhabited for very short periods of time by various families, after all it was a very nice looking victorian house, but usually the occupants would abruptly move out. Sometimes they'd make various excuses, sometimes, such as the case with the most recent previous occupant, they made no secret that they were terrified and convinced the place was haunted. Previous to these short term inhabitants it's shrouded in local legend. There was a suicide? Or a murder?
When the new owner finally showed up, neighborhood children watched him arrive and unpack. The stared across the overgrown paddock, through the hedge down the lane, more terrified of being seen by the house than the man. Like wildfire they spread their observations to their parents and the local community. It was just one man, by himself, in that great big house? Soon after, he began to be seen about the small country community, a grizzled-looking middle-aged man with perhaps a slight limp. A veteran from the wars they said. Mary at the post office got up the courage to ask him if it was really just him alone in the house.
"Well, me and my dog" he said, patting the hound. Does he even know? wondered Mary.
"Isn't it.... a bit big?" she asked, not quite sure how to broach the subject.
"Got it for a great price, fully furnished!" he said with a wink and turned to exit the post office. Mary was left very unsure.
Later on, Ethan got to talking to him in the general store and asked him point blank, albeit wrapped in the guise of possibly a joke, "so you're in the old Malvyrn House... you know they say it's haunted haha."
"Yeah, they say that" the man, whose name was learned to be Gordon, said in a slow sort of inscrutable way.
"...you're not afraid?" asked Ethan, who may have already had a beer or two that day and was going to get to the bottom of this.
"Are you?" asked Gordon, prompting Ethan into a retreat of nervous laughing and explanations that of course HE didn't believe it.
About a week after moving in, Gordon was sitting in the armchair by the fire idly smoking his clay pipe while lost in thought when the dog started whining again and looking frantically at the doorway behind Gordon. But Gordon was a very rational sort and couldn't think of anything that could be in that direction -- he would definitely hear an actual intruder in this creaky house, so he just commanded the dog to calm down and continued to thoughtfully puff the pipe. The dog had frequently been spooked in this house but hopefully he would soon get used to it. As he looked up from the dog his eye caught upon the blank spot on the wall where he had taken a painting down. He had been happy to keep most of the house's furnishings just as he'd found them but he had taken this painting, a supposedly heroic depiction of red coated soldiers in battle, off the wall and put it away out of sight. The blank spot on the wall still triggered unpleasant memories though: his friend Craig screaming as he died from a gunshot wound to the head, trying in vein to cover the rip in his skull with his hands, his blood all over Gordon, and the sergeant yelling at him to keep moving forward; Johnnie looking stupified with his arm blown off; the innocent surprise on the face of a young enemy soldier Gordon had killed himself... He shook himself back to reality, the sober Victorian study, the cozy fire, the dog still whining nervously. He scratched it behind the ears. I should put a picture of a sailboat in that spot he thought to himself.
Later when Gordon got up to go to the bathroom down the hall he thought he saw a figure out of the corner of his eye, but this kind of thing had often happened to him since the war and he had put a lot of effort into not flinching at these things, so he didn't react.
It was when he was walking down the long dark upstairs hallway to his bedroom around midnight that he clearly saw, pale and translucent, the figure of a girl in the hallway in front of him. He stopped walking. The dog bristled and growled. The figure came towards him with a wild look in its eyes. After a moment's hesitation Gordon continued walking toward the ghost. The ghost came at him with a crazed expression, and as it got closer Gordon noted it looked like maybe she had been strangled. He kept walking towards it and when they were about to meet it kind of reared up and seemed almost confused.
"Hi," said Gordon, putting out his hand. The girl looked at his hand and then at him. Her lip quivered. He thought of all the ghosts in his head, whom he couldn't actually meet again. "would you like to talk about something?" he said in a conversational tone.
This is kind of the kernal of a story idea I had (hey I worked 12 hours today and have a house guest), of "what if someone wasn't afraid of a ghost." Yeah this has been done in comedy/childrens stories but what about in a serious manner? What if the protagonist is busy battling their own more figurative ghosts?