Thursday, August 18, 2011
He was handsome with a boyish charm and appeared to be in his early to mid-twenties. His hair was sandy blonde in color, thick and slightly wavy, and hung just above his shoulder. He wore faded jeans and a white tee. I was startled when he presented himself. He just stood looking at me, as if he belonged there. And, when I inhaled sharply at the sight of him, the fear likely showing on my face he disappeared, just vanished into thin air.
My husband and I had only lived in the apartment for a few weeks. We had recently relocated from North Carolina to the Seattle area. He was in the Army and was away on maneuvers when the spirit of the young man, likely close to my age when he died, first appeared on that rainy summer night. I had never seen a ghost before, and it frightened me. Not that the man seemed threatening in any way, but the idea of a ghost living in my home scared me. I wondered if that would be his only manifestation or if more were to come.
I got the answer the next night, when he showed up again in the bedroom, positioned at the foot of my bed, gazing my direction. I was reading at the time, and I didn’t know what to do, so I just stared back. But, after a minute I asked, “What do you want? Why are you here?”
He didn’t reply, although I think I half expected him to. He was just watching me. I soon grew frightened, and wondered if he would hurt me, could he hurt me. And, again just as my fear began to climb, he disappeared. I think I saw him smile at me, a kind smile, before he left.
The next morning I decided to head to the library. I wanted to look through old newspaper obituaries to see if I could locate his name and when he may have died. Based upon the cut of his jeans and style of hair, I didn’t think he had been dead more than five or ten years.
Using the library computers, I began to scan local deaths, starting with the most recent and working back. By afternoon, I had only gone back a few years. It seemed a lot of people died in the Seattle area, so I planned to return the next day. When I arrived home, a neighbor, an older woman was about to enter the unit next to ours.
“Excuse me, my name is Paige and my husband and I recently began living in unit C, right next door,” I was walking slowly toward the woman, and I turned and pointed toward our front door.
After introductions were completed and pleasantries exchanged, I asked her, “Do you know if a young man, about my age once lived there?”
“Well, I’ve only lived here five years, but I do remember a young man and woman that resided there several years ago. Very cute couple,” she had replied.
“Did the man have light colored hair, about this length?” and I had brought my hand along the top of my shirt collar.
“It was slightly darker in color than yours and I recollect it wasn’t very long.”
“Do you recall his name or know if anything happened to him?”
“I never met him, really. About four years ago an older woman and some movers came by and packed up the place. Not long after, a middle aged gentleman moved in and he only recently left. You know dear, you look very familiar,” she had pondered while looking intently at my face.
I had thanked her for her time and then headed back to our apartment.
If this was the man that visited me, I now had the approximate year of his departure. I was excited and couldn’t wait to get back to the library the next morning.
It was almost midnight and I was about to crawl into bed when he once again appeared. This time I didn’t get scared. I think learning a little about him from the woman next door had actually helped to lessen my fear. While I was not certain that this was the same man as the one she described, I felt it pointed in the right direction. After all, why would an older woman have been handling the transfer of his belongings if he had been alive and well at the time. I also contemplated about the girl that had lived with him and whether she had died, too.
I sat down on the bed and crossed my legs, one elbow resting on my right knee and my hand resting under my chin. Looking at him I said, “I’m trying to find out who you are.”
A minute later he disappeared.
The next day I located his name.
‘Chad Haines, 24, died April 1, 2002 after his motorcycle careened into a guardrail…’
Wow, I thought, he died on April Fools' Day. Wanting to know more, I searched for the article that detailed the accident. It turned out he was carrying his girlfriend Jessica Thompson on the back of his Hayabusa when it began raining. They were travelling in excess of eighty miles per hour when he lost control and hit the rail. He died instantly, and she was transported to a trauma center. I searched the obituaries for her name hoping to not find her listed. Disappointed, I found she had died several days later.
But, what jumped out at me was the photo included with her obituary. She looked like me. Her hair was long, straight, and blonde like mine, her features too were angled, and she appeared to be tall with a slender build like me. When I first saw the picture, for a few seconds, I actually thought I was looking at a picture of myself. This explained the look the older woman had given me. How uncanny, I thought, that I would be living in the same residence as a girl that had died who just happened to look exactly like me. I shivered.
And, I wondered if he realized I was not the same girl, not Jessica. Surely, he would know we weren’t one and the same, wouldn’t he? I wondered if he even understood she was dead, or for that matter that he was dead. Maybe he was looking for her and this is why he came back to their old apartment each night.
It saddened me that a moment of recklessness had claimed these two lives. And, I hoped that his soul was not lost, stuck here, earthbound. I asked myself, would he be able to move toward God, toward goodness.
I searched the library for books that discussed ghosts and what you should do if you had one dwelling in your home, but I discovered little that offered assistance. I remembered my aunt had quietly participated in mystic studies at one time. Her daughter, my younger cousin by four years and my best friend had worried about her mom’s endeavors and talked with me often about her concerns. I decided that I would telephone Aunt Kate the next day.
That night I actually got into bed early, with a book, waiting for Chad’s arrival. It was around ten when I looked up from reading and saw him. “I know how you died,” I told him. “Do you realize you are dead?”
No answer. He just looked at me.
“Jessica died, too,” I said just before he ebbed away.
“Aunt Kate, this is Paige,” I started. I hadn’t really believed in ghosts, at least not before I had one in my bedroom. I felt awkward even making the call and asking how to get rid of the one that visited my home each night.
She asked me when he had first appeared, what actions he displayed, and I shared the details I had learned about him and Jessica. She promised me the materials and instructions she would be sending overnight would be simple to perform.
I had expressed to her my concern about doing anything that went against my Catholic upbringing; I was really hinting that I didn’t believe in some of what she possibly practiced. She comprehended what I was getting at, and laughed. She told me that nothing she was forwarding would make me uncomfortable, it would be suited to my faith. She also instructed me to visit my church and obtain some holy water.
That night, I waited for his arrival. When he emerged, I simply said, “I’m getting some information that may help you. It should be here tomorrow. I’m hoping to help you progress to the next level.”
Chad faded away.
Attending mass always brought a sense of comfort and peace to me. Since I planned to get the holy water the next morning, I decided that I would attend the weekday mass, too. I was anxious about the arriving package, apprehensive about what would possibly be required of me. And, I wondered how he would react. I was afraid that he might get angry and try to lash out, even though Aunt Kate had assured me ghosts rarely caused harm. It seemed poltergeist were the ones that liked to cause a ‘big ruckus’ by throwing things.
When I returned home with the holy water, I began to clean the house as I awaited the delivery. It was a cool day and I opened the windows to allow the breeze to circulate throughout the apartment. When the doorbell sounded, I rushed to answer and saw the postman walking back toward his truck, the parcel lay on the door mat.
I brought it into the house, my hands shaking slightly as I began to tear it open. I pulled out a plastic bag filled with white crystals and labeled ‘sea salt’, a bag with a few sticks of incense labeled ‘frankincense’, seven small white candles, a bell, and a letter.
The items included in this packet represent the following: Salt has been used for centuries to purify. As you know from Catholic funeral masses incense was used to honor the deceased as well as being a symbol of prayers rising heavenward, and bells signify the soul’s transition from this world to the next.
I knew that holy water was a sign of our being one with Christ, and I often misted this around my home in order to bless all that entered. The letter continued,
Knowing you, your bedroom is already in perfect order, so I won’t tell you to clean first. If possible, open a window in the room (just a crack will be sufficient). Mist the area with holy water and then light one stick of incense. Now you will make a circle around the room by sprinkling the salt. Leave an area open by the window (think of it as a doorway, a way for Chad to exit). Light one candle and place it near where you have seen his spirit.
Gently say to him, “Chad, you’re dead and it’s time for you to move toward the light. You will be welcomed and helped if you will just go to the light. It is now time for you to leave this world.’
With confidence and love ring the bell and say to him, ‘You will be safe, they welcome you, move to the light.’ Repeat this two more times ringing the bell each time first. Ask the blessed mother Mary and her angels to be with him and guide him on his journey. End by stating the ‘Hail Mary’ prayer.
Leave the candle burning until you go to bed. Light another candle each night until all have been used. And Paige, while I know this will be a challenge for you do not vacuum the salt for one week.
I love you, and call me with any questions.
I felt relieved. This I could do, although in a bizarre kind of way I was beginning to look forward to his nightly visits.
He usually appeared between ten and midnight, so I began to prepare the area about a half hour before, and then I sat cross legged in the center of the bed anxiously waiting. One bedside lamp was all that lit the area and the candle flame softly flickered in the dimness. The smoke from the incense drifted toward the ceiling. It wasn’t long before he appeared.
I began to talk with him, repeating the words that Aunt Kate had forwarded, the words that I had rehearsed all afternoon. The bell toned deeply all three times, and as I prayed to Mary, he faded away.
For six more nights I lit the candles that were provided to me. When the last candle had been extinguished, I went to bed, and the following morning I cleared away the salt. I never saw Chad after the initial night of the ritual. Each Sunday at mass, I still light a candle for his soul. I pray his transition was peaceful.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
It was February 1977 and even in Florida the air blew cold. He strolled down the sidewalk slowly, but with a purpose. The long black jacket hung almost to his ankles, and the wind caused one side to flap open. His worn bell bottom jeans were frayed from catching under the heel of his cowboy boots. His hair was dark and dull with thick wavy bangs that fell over the top of his aviator styled sunglasses. In his hand he carried a large, black cassette recorder.
The knock upon the door was abrupt, and when Dave opened it he was surprised.
“Hey, Joey, what ya’ up to? Is John with you?”
“No man, it’s just me.”
“Oh, okay, you want to come in?”
When Joey stepped into the tiny apartment, he looked around, and smiled. Goose bumps rose on Amy’s arms, and she sensed it wasn’t due to the cold draft. She said a quick hello before excusing herself. She had only seen John’s younger brother once, and she had not liked him.
Little was said between the two men. Joey sat forward on the sofa with his long arms resting upon his knees. The tape recorder positioned next to him.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” asked Dave.
“Oh, well we were just getting ready to go to dinner with Mark and Jan.”
“Okay,” and with that Joey got up to leave. Before exiting, he took one more look around the small dwelling.
That was weird, the young couple thought as they headed to the pizza place. They had only been married a few months, and other than the couple they were meeting, they had not gotten around to sharing their new address.
That night, when they got into bed Amy began to feel anxious. She sensed a dark presence in the room with them and she worried that something terrible were about to happen. She made Dave promise to wake her early so that she could take him to work. She wanted the car because she was frightened to remain in the house alone. But, by six the next morning she told Dave it was probably just raging hormones due to the pregnancy. Reassured, he bent down and gave her a kiss before saying goodbye.
When she felt the bed sink behind her and then his hands rest against her back, her adrenalin soared with the need to take flight. She fought to remain frozen. Her breath caught in her throat and she was afraid to open her eyes. How did he get into the apartment, she asked herself, knowing it was a male presence. Amy could feel his breath against her left cheek, and then he was gone. She was listening carefully for any sound, but except for the heartbeat pounding in her ears, all was silent. She forced her eyes open, fearing he would be standing there looking at her. She saw no one, only the wall a few feet away. She carefully began to look around the room, nothing. I was not dreaming, she told herself. Someone is in here, and she lay there wanting to run but too terrified to move. From her location, she was able to observe a portion of the bathroom and the kitchen, but she could not see into the shower area or the place where the sofa was positioned.
With bare feet, she crossed the cold terrazzo flooring and when she got to the opening, she took a deep breath before peering around. Nothing. She then made her way to the bath and again while holding her breath, she looked into the shower. Relief poured over her.
Oh, my gosh what the heck is wrong with me, she thought. “I know I was not dreaming,” she exclaimed to the walls.
Still feeling uneasy, she decided to get dressed and walk to the library where she planned to spend the rest of the day, surrounded by people.
When Dave arrived home later that afternoon, he found her sitting on the cold front stoop.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“Something in the house makes me feel eerie. I don’t think I like our place anymore.”
“Well, we signed a lease, so we can’t afford to move for six more months. If you still don’t like it then, we’ll find a new place.”
That night and the next morning, Amy felt great. It must have been related to the pregnancy, she thought. As always, Dave had left early for work, she had slept in and then gotten up and made herself breakfast, finished reading a book, and dozed for a bit on the sofa. It was after ten when she went into the bathroom, closed and locked the door, and stepped into the hot shower. There was always a chill in the little apartment and the warm water felt good as it ran down her back and over her rounding belly. She ran her hands across her abdomen wondering if she carried a boy or a girl.
Her hair was fully lathered when the fist slammed onto the door. She jumped, startled. In silence she stood with the water still running down her back, her hands still positioned upon her head. As if the shower curtain could protect her, she timidly peaked around it, and the door vibrated as it was pounded again.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God,” she whispered.
It was then she saw the door knob turn one way and then the other. Tears filled her eyes. She needed to escape, but the bathroom window was too small for even her slight frame to pass through. She tried to slow her breathing, afraid she would soon hyperventilate. Her hearing heightened, she listened and heard nothing but the now cool water as it fell upon the tile. She hurriedly rinsed away the soap, exited the shower, and toweled her wet skin and dripping hair. When she finally turned off the water, she stood by the door noting any sounds. Silence. A half hour must have passed before she made her way into the bedroom, dressed, and then exited the front door, library bound.
As Dave approached the front of their place, she stood and declared, “Something is haunting this apartment. I’m not imagining it. This time, I was fully awake and in the shower when he visited.”
Dave put his arm around her waist and ushered her inside. “Okay, I believe you,” but he wondered if the pregnancy was making her crazy.
On Friday night, Amy and Dave visited her parents. They did not mention the events that had taken place earlier in the week, but Amy asked her mom if she could borrow some religious items. Once they returned home, she hung the picture of the blessed mother holding baby Jesus on a bedroom wall. On the dresser, she placed a crucifix.
While a mild uneasy feeling lingered within, the weekend passed without incidence.
During the week, Amy began rising early with Dave, getting dressed, driving him to work and then spending the day at the library until it was time to pick him back up. When they returned home one afternoon, Amy started dinner and Dave went to take a shower. When he noted the click, click, clicking sound he thought Amy had entered the space, but when he heard her loud cry from the bedroom he knew he was mistaken. Coming out of the shower, he observed the toilet paper unspooling onto the floor. His breath caught. When he opened the bathroom door he saw the picture of Jesus lay face down in the middle of the floor, fragments of glass scattered. He stood silent, stunned.
“I told you this place was haunted,” Amy cried.
It was then, the crucifix flipped face down upon the dresser. They both jumped. The air felt heavy and angry. At times they noted a shadow dancing across the walls. Images from The Exorcist kept popping into Dave’s mind. He heard the pot on the stove boiling over just before Amy ran to turn off the burner.
She came back into the room filled with a sense of calm and relief, this was not just happening to her. “Now do you believe me? I thought I was going insane.”
“Yeah, I believe you,” he didn’t bother to tell her he considered her sanity was in question at times, too.
“We have to move. For some reason, this thing is pissed at us.”
The tone in the room had stilled, the anger and tension had lifted, and the shadows no longer lingered. He got dressed and then got a broom and began to clean up the glass. Amy placed what was left of the frame and picture against the dresser mirror and repositioned the cross.
“I’ll call the landlord tomorrow and see if they will allow us to break our lease,” she said. “They’re an old couple and very nice. They don’t allow children so maybe if I tell them I’m pregnant they’ll let us out without penalty.”
“Yeah, okay. Regardless, we have to move,” he said.
“You know none of this started until Joey came to visit. I loved this place until then. I was even planning to talk the owners into letting us stay here with a baby.”
“I know. There’s something strange about him. Always has been.”
“This thing won’t follow us, will it?”
Dave shook his head in the negative, and thought to himself, I’ll kill that son of a bitch if he brings this shit to my house again.
Amy’s dad brought his truck over that Saturday and helped Dave and Mark with the move. Jan and Amy thoroughly cleaned each room as their limited furnishings were being loaded. Amy stood on the grass in front of the place waiting for Dave to lock up.
She looked down the street and saw him coming, his black coat flapping in the afternoon breeze and sunglasses shading his eyes. In his right hand he held the bulky black recorder.
“Dave, look, he’s coming down the street,” she said with panic in her voice. “Don’t tell him where we’re going. Don’t let anyone tell him where we’re going.”
Dave headed out to the street to cut him off.
“What do you want, Joey?” he harshly asked.
“Yeah, looks that way.”
“None of your business.”
“Where you moving to?”
“Again, none of your damned business.”
Joey smiled, turned, and headed back down the street, the coat fluttering after him.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Not yet two years old, her soul departed,
A fear that kept me from caring for my friend,
Instead, I sent flowers and a note,
My husband, my mother went to her,
Even my young daughter sat with her,
Longing to soothe her anguish,
While I sat at home, selfishly, in my favorite chair, rocking,
Yearning to ease my pain, my fear,
The fear that this could happen to me,
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
She stands on the threshold,
Where all things begin and end,
Afraid to step into the vast beyond,
Fearing the mystery,
The unveiled secrecy of all that lies ahead,
She arrived on this earth in a scream of protest,
Frightened to leave I AM,
And now, ahead in the darkness,
Radiance softly beckons,
Yet she clings,
To that which she once objected,
In the known,
Kindred spirits softly implore,
Holy Mary, with your angels bright,
Gently guide her way,
Fireflies soon flurry around her,
Childhood joy surges,
As she soars toward His brightness,
Her loved ones weep for their loss.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
But neither will the reckless fool.
The forced bet or "bring in" rarely occurs at an opportune moment,
And, there are times when one makes rash choice after rash choice,
The final chip is played,
And like a cat that has inadvertently fallen from a narrow ledge,
By the grace of God,
The toppled lands on both of his feet.
What should have been a final hand lost,
Becomes a win.
The fool of heart is given another chance for redemption,
An opportunity to forgo his reckless behavior.
And seizing this moment,
He instinctively knows when to fold or hold, call or raise.
The impetuous loser becomes the courageous,
Yet conservative winner,
And takes all.
And the one that was cocky, overly confident,
And counting the winnings not yet earned,
Realizes too late,
There are no certainties in life.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Secrets for others to chat about,
Never denied or confirmed,
The meat of the topic chewed upon, consumed,
Eventually becoming skeletal remains,
Hanging in a dark closet,
Enveloped in the spider’s web,
In the twenty-first century, the being airs all via Facebook or Twitter,
Like an electronic roadside billboard or TV ad,
The status changes by the second,
A new tweet appears,
Updating all on their latest drama, tantrum, or madness,
Nothing is too personal,
All is disclosed.
Nevertheless, they are astounded when they learn others are discussing their private affairs,
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The curtain rises…
Warm smoke saturates his lung tissue,
Swiftly whirling into the capillaries of his brain,
Euphoria ensues, pleasure overtakes him, Superman emerges,
“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive,”
The peddler had whispered, “Ice, Ice, Baby,”
Mimicking the Vanilla man’s rap,
Ice is the tower to your nirvana, he promised.
Pleasure soon awaits,
Adam gazes at Eva ,
She slithers sensually toward him, her smile bright, as she casts off her attire,
Hungrily, his sex replies,
As their fantasies engage,
Mentally, he thanks the hawker for his wares,
The last act….
His emaciated form shuffles across the dirty carpet that is littered with empty beer cans,
Vacant eyes are reflected in a distant mirror,
Lying on a stained sofa, she snores,
Mouth open, drool on her face, rotten teeth just visible,
As the flame licks at the glass pipe, the fog that swirls will scarcely dampen the despair,
Suspicion is preceded by slipping sanity.
He stands on a crumbling tower that led to unreality.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Darkened by the cloak of mortality,
The shroud of casualty and fate,
A taker of spirits,
Immature or aged,
Unspoiled or rotten,
He lingers, ever present, waiting,
For the murmur of imminent passing.
Her gasp clatters,
Uncouth her lungs rebel,
And when the final declaration is expended,
He lights, like a butterfly,
And whispers, “Your soul He takes,”
Unafraid, she smiles,
Gently enfolded within his cape,
Luminous, they wing heavenward.