Paranormal events have played a role in my life since childhood. I have always accepted this alternate reality that many others do not experience or recognize. Their disbelief doesn’t dismiss my psychic experiences: dreams that come true, that I think of someone–and that person calls, and that I knew my sister was pregnant before she did. In the 1970’s while a psychology major at the University of Connecticut, I participated in telepathy/remote viewer experiments using the now famous J.B. Rhine Zener cards and other images. My “hit rate” as a receiver was statistically greater than chance occurrence.
Ghost hunters, like my friend Rosemary Ellen Guiley, will tell you the majority of hauntings are residual. Sort of like a video playing the same scene over and over, these phenomena are not interactive with living people. One of the most famous of these in America is Lincoln’s phantom train. Railroad workers saw the procession traveling nightly along the same route his funeral train took, long after Lincoln was buried. To this day, some people still report seeing it. Contrasted with these non-interactive phenomena, there are the highly interactive or even chatty ghosts that will do anything to get you to listen or see them. These spirits are unaware they are dead and will attempt to get the living’s attention because they have unfinished business, or simply don’t want to leave their last place of residence. I’ve experienced both types of hauntings, but the interactive spirits are the most interesting. Herewith are a few of my favorite ghost stories.
Treasures and Trash
My mother-in-law, Gertrude, may she rest in peace, was a New Yorker who traveled the world with her husband, The Doctor, collecting trinkets along the way. She was a real character, and I modeled a character after her in several of my books. Several years after she passed away at the age of 84, I decided it was time for me to clean out her battered Chinese jewelry box.
Going through the baubles and beads, I couldn’t help but marvel at the eclecticism of her tastes, ranging from the treasure of a delicate filigreed gold hamsa (hand) to the trash of necklaces made from two inch round white plastic globules strung together on fishing line.
A tattered sandwich bag containing orange beads came to hand and I extracted a broken necklace with care. The beads appeared to be plastic and were dirty and peeling in places.
“Trash,” I said out loud.
“Be careful with that, Sharon! It’s very valuable,” my long dead mother-in-law rasped in my ear.
I placed the beads in a new sandwich bag and took them to our jeweler for appraisal.
“Plastic,” she said, tapping a flaking bead on the glass counter.
“My mother-in-law told me they were valuable.”
“In your dreams. But, tell you what, I’ll take it in the back and look at it under a microscope.”
A few moments later, she returned with a bright red bauble in her hand, shaking her head.
“The beads are really dirty. They seem to be covered in layers and layers of hairspray. That’s the stuff that’s flakes off when you touch them. I’ve never seen anything like it and if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it. These beads are red coral and must be worth at least $3000.”
That night, I thanked Gertrude. She was laughing.
Just Passing Through
Almost ten years ago, a very good friend (S) died unexpectedly. He’d had quadruple bypass surgery after chest pain and had been discharged, in good shape, to the care of his 70+ mother and girlfriend. Within a week of his discharge, at age 54, he was in a coma and dead.
My husband was devastated. He and S had been close buddies. We live in Maryland full time and have a second home in Florida. S had sold us our Florida house and had been in the process of working with us to build a new home. Hubby and S had much in common: football, good food, wine, an eye for pretty women. So when he passed over, it was a major loss in our lives. His girlfriend never told us when the memorial service was, so we never had an opportunity to pay our last respects.
The week after he died, per my usual I went to the kitchen at six in the morning to get coffee. As soon as I entered the kitchen, the lights flickered madly and the alarm on my husband’s sports car went off. I played with the light switches and they stopped flickering. Then I ran outside to turn off the car alarm.
This scenario was repeated for a week.
The third time it happened, I said, “S, we miss you, too. Thanks for coming by.” I told my husband S had come through, and he asked if I thought he would be with us for a while. I said, “I think until he wants to say good-bye, because we never had a chance to do it in person.”
We haven’t heard from in quite a while, but every time we go to Florida, we wonder if we’ll “see” him.
When I was in college, I shared a duplex with four other women. The day I moved into my attic room, as I unpacked my boxes, I heard my roommate shout, “Sharon!” I ran downstairs, only to find Cindy in the shower. When she came out, I asked if there had been a problem.
She smiled. “Oh, I forgot to tell you. We have a ghost.” This ghost moved things around, knocked things off shelves and mimicked other roommates’ and even boyfriends’ voices to get attention. She also paced a hallway that ran from the kitchen to the bedroom on the main floor.
One night I pulled an all nighter for an Organic Chemistry exam (not my best subject!). I had a little dachshund, named Bisou, who went everywhere with me. That night I studied in the kitchen, drinking gallons of coffee, memorizing benzene rings. I decided to take a little nap. I cuddled on the couch with Bisou and closed my eyes. The doxie started shaking and whining and I heard the footsteps. They came closer and the dog became more agitated. The ghost was standing right next to the couch and the dog was in a frenzy.
“Please,” I said, “I need to get some rest, this exam is really important to me. And you’re making my dog crazy. Could you please go away?”
The ghost’s footsteps receded from the side of the couch, down the hall and then stopped. I aced the exam (a miracle).
After I had been living in the haunted duplex in for a few months, I invited my sister-in-law and brother over for dinner to meet my new boyfriend, my roommates, and see the place. My room was in the attic, and at $25 a month for rent (5 women, $125 total!) I wasn’t complaining about my space. I was very happy to be there and grateful to have such a bargain. The ghost was almost an added value at that point.
We had appetizers, did not really get to dinner, when my brother, a Vietnam vet and Green Beret who to this day keeps in touch with buddies from the 82nd Airborne, said, “Why don’t you show us the place?”
My then boyfriend had already been repeating all the strange events (with embellishments) that I had told him about and was making Twilight Zone music.
As I led my brother and sister-in-law up the stairs to my room in the attic, the now very annoying boyfriend said, “Ooooooo! Can yooooou feeeeeel the spiriiiiit?”
“Yes, I can,” my brother said. “She’s right next to me, has shoulder length brown hair, and is wearing a brown print dress. She’s very lonely.”
My brother turned on his heel without even reaching the attic and raced down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairwell he said, “I have to go! She’s all over me. It’s like she’s so happy I can see her, she’s trying to get under my skin.”
My brother and astonished sister-in-law ran out the door. The dinner party was over and so was my relationship with that idiot boyfriend.
PostScript: Ever since that night, my brother literally “sees dead people.” I always thought it was interesting that I heard them. It’s as if each of us got one part of the psychic abilities, but not the whole package!
The Haunting of Hotel LaBelle
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Date of Publication: November 16, 2016
Print ISBN 978-1-5092-1153-1
Digital ISBN 978-1-5092-1154-8
Number of pages: 198
Word Count: 48,000
Cover Artist: Rae Monet
Tagline: The past meets the present when a curse turn-of-the-century man meets a feisty modern day woman.
When hotel inspector, Tallulah Thompson, is called in along with her pug, Franny, to investigate renovation delays, she meets an extremely annoyed and dapper turn-of-the-century innkeeper. The only problem is he’s in limbo, neither dead nor alive, and Tallulah and the pug are the first to see him in a hundred years.
Cursed by a medicine woman, “Love ‘em and Leave ‘em Lucius” Stewart is stuck between worlds until he finds his true love and gives her his heart. When he first sees Tallulah, he doesn’t know what he’s feeling. Yet, her stunning beauty, and feisty attitude pull him in.
With the fate of Hotel LaBelle on the line, Tallulah with the help of a powerful medicine woman turns Lucius back into a flesh and blood man. She and Lucius team up to save the hotel, but Tallulah can't help but wonder if he will ever let go of his past love and learn to love again.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/OB-RseyCWyM
This short novel gives readers insights into Homeland Security Anomaly Defense Director Bert Blackfeather’s Native American heritage. An in-between book in the Jinni Hunter Series, this is a lighter paranormal tale than the others. Take one Montana innkeeper from an era when men were men and women were glad of it, one sassy hotel inspector with a pug on patrol, and stir in a generous dollop of humor and sexual tension—and you have The Haunting of Hotel LaBelle. Come along to Big Sky Country and enjoy the ride with Tallulah, Lucius, Bert, and his sister, Emma as they join forces to rescue the people and the hotel they love.
A book flew at his head—and sailed through him, bouncing off the wall and landing on the floor.
Mouth agape, the woman stared from him to the book and back to him again. “You’re a ghost.”
“Not exactly. Shall we start over?” He leaned against the wall and folded his arms across his chest. “After a hundred years of being invisible to everyone except you, I’d like to know who you are and what you’re doing here.”
“Of course. Why not? Could today get any weirder?” She sank into the desk chair, shook her head, and sighed. “My name is Tallulah Thompson. I’m a hotel inspector, hired by the current owner as a consultant to find out why the renovations are delayed and what he needs to do to fix it. He’s teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.”
“What tribe are you?”
She jerked her head up and those doggone lapis lazuli eyes of hers sparked as if she’d strike him with lightning and kill him with one look. “No one asks that. It’s not politically correct.”
“Well, I guess you haven’t been talking to the right people. And I don’t know what you mean by that last part. I’ve never been involved in politics.”
“Nowadays, it’s considered rude to ask about another person’s national origins.” She threw her hands up. “Why am I giving a ghost an etiquette lesson? What am I thinking?”
About the Author:
Sharon Buchbinder has been writing fiction since middle school and has the rejection slips to prove it. An RN, she provided health care delivery, became a researcher, association executive, and obtained a PhD in Public Health. When not teaching or writing, she can be found fishing, walking her dogs, or breaking bread and laughing with family and friends in Baltimore, MD and Punta Gorda, FL.
Twitter ID @sbuchbinder https://twitter.com/sbuchbinder
Goodreads author page https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4417344.Sharon_Buchbinder