Every night Ralph heard the sounds from the kitchen – pots drawn out from cabinets and the doors softly closing – but when he got down the stairs there was no one. A pot or pan of soup would be steaming on the stove in the morning. It was a mystery. He even slept one night on the kitchen floor but it made no difference. In the morning there was a pan of butternut squash soup simmering on the stove top and all the dishes done and shining brightly in the rack by the sink. He knew he wasn’t sleep cooking as he couldn’t manage cooking anything more than toast while awake and he hadn’t washed a dish in the house since his wife died a month earlier.
Sleeping on the couch in the living room one night he heard the sound of a pot moving on the stove and footsteps on the kitchen floor. Water ran in the sink, filling something, and then the footsteps sounded again across the linoleum moving toward the stove. He had wanted to rise, to run out and seize whoever was there, but his legs would not move and his heart was beating so loudly he was sure they could hear it in the kitchen – whoever `they’ were. The next morning he found a pot of vegetable soup waiting for him on the front burner.
He took to sleeping in the attic where he couldn’t hear the sounds from the kitchen. When he came down the stairs in the morning, always, there was his pot of soup. It was beyond puzzling. He never bought any ingredients. After six months of this Ralph finally told his brother about the situation. “You ought to get out of there. The place sounds haunted.”
“I know,” Ralph said. “But free soup is free soup.”