Hillside Avenue Apartment - 2nd floor right window was my bedroom.

My First Encounter with a Ghost…

This, without question is the main instigation behind my choice to create a ghost hunter comic. While this happened many years before I was influenced to investigate the paranormal or to draw it, you’ll see why it had such a dramatic impact on my spiritual journey.

I want to preface this with my state of mind when I had this encounter.

I grew up in a hundred year old farmhouse in New Hampshire. I ran wild through house and the barn that was connected to it, through all the collections of former owners and inhabitants, through the dark cobwebbed cellar, unafraid.  I slept soundly there, never ever having a paranormal experience, never ever being afraid of a boogeyman in the closet. I spent numerous overnights at both my grandparents’ antique homes. Never once did I encounter anything remotely supernatural, unless you want to count Grammy White’s tuna casserole…

Even as a small urchin, I questioned everything. Mom told me about God, Jesus, Mary and the usual stories. She informed me that we must believe all this if we are to get to heaven. I learned early not to ask too many questions, but that didn’t stop me from internally asking… What about the people who were brought up to believe DIFFERENT stories? What about babies who die without hearing about Jesus? What about the people in the jungles? Am I really going to Hell for beating up my little brother? It didn’t make sense that God would leave anybody out. It also occurred to me that it would be really easy to make a “sacred cow” out of my green plasticine clay and call it a God and start up my own movement for the hell of it. So, how do we REALLY know whose story is real? How do we know there is a God and if there is a heaven?

With that jewel in the corner of my thought processes, I went to the University of Hartford Art School. I elected to take philosophy (which is an addictive drug for an analyzer of life such as myself). I wound up with an undeclared minor. I also wound up debunking not only God, but existence altogether. There is absolutely no way you can prove ANY of this is REAL. It was here, after cleaning my slate beyond all the chalk dust, that I began my spiritual journey. The universe saw fit to offer up some interesting experiences…

My roommates and I were the first to move into an apartment in a newly renovated turn of the century home on the South side of Hartford, Ct.  The gas stove was likely original, mostly rusty, and the pilot lights blew out when you walked by. Lighting the oven required a long match and a brave soul to endure the minor explosion on ignition. All the lights and outlets were wired to one circuit breaker, including the basement light. This meant that the making of toast and coffee simultaneously resulted in the need to go into the eerie, dirt-floored, VERY dark basement with a fistful of birthday candles (former college students can’t afford and are too lazy to purchase substantial candles or flashlights). The cabinets had large holes in the back allowing raccoons in to do their business. All in all, it was a cool apartment!

We were not there long when I began to have weird sensations of being held down in my bed and whispered to. I dismissed it as a possible dream state (could have been sleep paralysis or astral catalepsy as some folks call it). Then my roommate, Keith, casually announced one day, “We have ghosts.”

“NO WAY!” I said. “That’s just great.” As far as my world experience went, even after being a former addict of the TV show In Search Of, there were no such things as ghosts and I was not keen to come to the decision they existed in my own home! My other roommate had the right idea. She just retreated to her room and never came out except for meals and TV.

Keith told me he had actually seen the alleged haunters walking through the hallway. One was a man in his 40s, wearing a suit, waving a knife and fork like he was conducting. He was subsequently followed by an older woman, probably his mother. I was really thrilled to discover we not only had ghosts, but one of them wielded a knife! I knew we were “forked”…

My nights were no better. I was pestered constantly. My bed shook. I was touched. I was really wigged out! I said nothing to anybody. It was all I could do to wrap myself around it. I actually worked out of my bedroom as I was a freelance graphic artist, so I spent an inordinate amount of time there. However, I never truly felt in danger or that I was watched or threatened. So, it never occurred to me to leave.

The evening harassment began to get old. I finally had it and, one morning, blew a gasket. I put my hands on my hips and did my best impersonation of my mother at the height of true annoyance. “LOOK HERE! THIS PLACE WAS A COMPLETE DISASTER WHEN I MOVED IN! IT WAS TOTALLY GROSS! RACCOON POOP IN THE CABINETS… I CLEANED THIS PLACE UP! I MOW THE LAWNS! I EVEN FOUND SOME OF YOUR KNICKKNACKS IN THE BASEMENT, CLEANED THEM UP AND PUT THEM HERE ON THE SHELF! THE LEAST YOU COULD DO IS HELP OUT AROUND HERE! BUT, LET ME MAKE MYSELF CLEAR – I DON’T EVER, EVER, EVER WANT TO SEE YOU! GOT THAT?!”

I never did see them. And, yes, they did help me out! I had taken an outside freelance job that required me to be up at 5:00am in order to arrive in Massachusetts by 7:00am. I was notorious for mis-setting my alarm clock or forgetting to set it altogether. I was never late for work… I was paranormally wakened by my bed gently shaking at exactly 5:00am each time. While unnerving, it was extremely helpful. I took to thanking my haunting new friends.

One afternoon, I returned from a weekend visit with my boyfriend, Rob – now my husband, in New York, to the lamp being on. My roomies were away and left it on to ward off any potential miscreant invaders. I walked in with an arm load of stuff, noticed the lamp, and said aloud (yes, I talk to myself frequently), “I better turn that light off.” I proceeded upstairs with my load. Upon returning, the lamp was off… I checked and re-checked it. It’s a 3-way lamp, so it takes a couple shots to effect a turn-off. I have these lamps today, and they’ve never done that since. Once again, I thanked my unseen roommates.

Another occasion, I returned from New York with a “love letter” from my boyfriend (we would exchange letters when we parted to read later on – not bad for an anti-romantic!). I would always read these in bed and leave them on my night stand before I went to sleep. The next morning, I awoke to find the letter on top of the jewelry box Rob had made me. It was as if the spirits were asking if that was the same guy who made the box. “Yes, that was him,” I answered tentatively. I figured it was worth a shot to answer a possible inquiry…

I received some otherworldly assistance in putting together a drawing table one day. I tend not to read instructions since they’re usually screwy and I have better luck figuring it out on my own. There were only a few parts involved. On the floor were a couple of bolts, washers and two wingnuts. My assembly was nearly complete when I looked down to discover one of the wingnuts went AWOL. I looked everywhere. There really wasn’t anyplace it could go – no rugs, no furniture to hide under. The floor was clear. I was really ticked to think I had to head back to Caldor to complain or possibly purchase another wingnut. In the midst of my minor tirade, I noticed I had the legs crossed the wrong way. I dutifully rectified the situation and looked down to discover my wingnut had returned… “Thank you!” I answered. What else was I supposed to say?

The final bit of excitement was provided while on the phone with Rob one night. I was sitting on my bed chatting away when my bed suddenly shook like the San Francisco earthquake! It was as if someone grabbed it by the posts and shook it as hard as they could! I leapt off the bed like a cat – I can still feel the backward arcing motion of my body going airborne, the phone still to my ear as I screamed at Rob, “YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT’S HAPPENING!…” I ran downstairs to ask Keith if he felt it. He did not. The shelf below my bedroom that normally rattled and tipped over knickknacks when you walked by was unaffected. There were no earthquakes in Hartford that day. No explanation. Rob, thus far, didn’t quite believe what was happening to me in the house. He felt really creeped out when he was there, but he wasn’t persuaded to believe it was haunted. My ghostly buddies thought they would provide some definitive proof. Worked for me! Sheesh!

The historical facts came to light upon visiting our neighbors. Apparently a school bus driver named Earl and his mother lived in the home. He was an alcoholic who used to drive the kids to school while drunk… Fortunately, it never became an issue for him or the kids. However, he had a few too many one night and died of a drunken stupor in MY BEDROOM! Fun!

That certainly explained things. Earl had no clue he was dead. He couldn’t understand why there was a woman living in his bedroom! His mother must have been following him around trying to get him to realize he was toast and cross over.

Knowing what I know now, I would have liked to help him move on. I’m sure he’s made it by now. I would also like to thank him for the spiritual awakening he led me to. It had quite an impact on my life. I’ve grown immeasurably since and even discovered some latent psychic abilities.

God bless Earl and take him home. I’ll check in with him later when I get back! Meanwhile, I have a job to do… draw comics.

*2010 Entities-R-Us, Paranormal Humor for the Ghost Hunter’s Soul, by Terri J. Garofalo.