OBAN                 LAGAVULIN

Turkey Burger, Habanero Cheddar, Grilled Onion, Tomato, Pickled Jalapenos

Mark’s home. Good, I was getting tired of drinking alone. Because I’m through with my no drinking experiment. Epic fail. Seeing the little girl, hearing her speak, feeling her brush my leg as she passed was real, or at least it was real to me. There’s one thing I’m sure of: I wasn’t drunk.

The Penny was in its usual dull roar around us. It was a bonus day, as far as the 69 drinks were concerned. I had a comment on an earlier blog from an old pal, Gordon Chaplin, professing his love for Lagavulin scotch. Since it was on the list, I ordered it. When the server showed up with our drinks he said that there hadn’t been enough left in the Lagavulin bottle for a reasonable pour, so he brought me what he had, gratis, and would bring me another, maybe the Oban 14-year-old. I agreed, so I was knocking off two drinks with one visit and one payment. Good thing, because both of them were $16 drinks.

Mark took a drink of his beer and made a face. Not a happy face. He’s a fan of sour beers, which I am training myself to like. He slid his glass over to me and I took a taste. I understood the face. It was the sourest beer I had ever tasted and had the additional overtone of road tar. The Lagavulin and the Oban were both superb.

I told him about my time when he was gone, cowering in my bed at night, my talk with Tom at the Ashburn House, and subsequent brush-off. My chat with Betty. Mark nodded through all of it, looking at me with that small smile that said he thought I was full of shit. But probably not crazy. Then he threw a real loop at me.

“The little girl,” he said. He pulled out his cell phone and hit a few buttons. He turned the phone toward me. “Is this her?”

I’m not sure how many more serious lurches my heart is going to give before blowing a valve. There she was, the little girl, only in my versions she has dark skin and the face is a little different. But not that different.

“It seems,” he said, “by your expression, you’ve answered my question.” He put his phone on the table. “That’s your little girl.”Sally Pic

I was stunned. I took a sip of my drink. It could have been ashes in my mouth for all I could tell. “I don’t know what to say. I feel like an idiot. I don’t know why I didn’t make the connection. That’s Sally, from the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas.



By now I think Mark was aware that I was nearing the edge of some sort of pit. I had dug my own grave (why do all of these ghost clichés seem so apt?) with the no drinking experiment. I said that if the visions weren’t a product of too much alcohol, that left two choices, 1. I’m crazy, 2. It’s real.

“How’s my hair look, Mark?”

“Your hair? I dunno, fine I guess.”

If you’ve been reading these blog posts in order you know that in a previous one I said I had always noticed that all the really crazy people I’ve known over the years stopped washing their hair at a certain point as they descended into their various forms of madness. I had washed my hair this morning, so I must be ok. I know this observation and diagnosis didn’t have a lot of provable science behind it, but I still think the theory is sound.

“Where did you get that picture?” I asked. “How did you make the connection?”

Mark fiddled with the phone on the table. “You know I was at a big rare book fair in New York. Sometimes at these things they have an ancillary fair where people sell antiques other than books. I was looking through those aisles and came across an antique doll seller, and she had two modern dolls,” he tapped the phone, “in their original boxes. One was a girl doll and one was a boy doll. I was struck by how this one looked like how you described the little girl who may or may not live under your house. Particularly how the lips were sewed up.”

I’ll bet the other doll was Jack from the same film. When my kids were little, they saw the movie, and for Christmas we got Charlie the Jack doll because he seemed fascinated by it. Turns out that what we saw as fascination, he saw as terror. He hated that doll and never opened the box. It’s not exactly my little girl, the little girl I see in my backyard. She has some Raggedy Ann visual features thrown in as well. I conjured up an image of her in my mind. Yes, clearly a mix of the two dolls.

Mark continued. “So let’s just agree that you have more than a passing knowledge of the Sally character, and many hours logged watching a Raggedy Ann movie with your daughter, and somehow…”

I stopped him with a raised hand. “And somehow I’ve mashed up these two images in my mind. And…?”

“Well, you’re using them as a basis for… I don’t know.” He looked as baffled as I felt. “What you’re seeing under the house and in the shed.”

“I don’t know either. What am I going to do? This is clearly my mind making up an image and convincing me that it’s real. Real. Listen to me. It can’t be real.” For a moment I remembered the little girl running past me in the shed. I felt her brush my leg. Then what is it?

“I guess if we’re going to rule out the possibility that you’re bat-shit crazy we’re — you’re — going to have to keep trying to figure out what’s really going on. What’s Sherry say about all of this?”

“She doesn’t have any idea what’s going on, and I’m not going to try and explain it to her. This morning she asked if there was something bothering me, that I looked kind of pale and tired. I told her I was working on my blog about the 69 drinks. She understands when I’m working on a big project I wander around the house at night thinking and writing. I lose a lot of sleep. She’s used to it. Look, she knows I get kind of crazy when I’m writing a novel. The blog isn’t a novel, but I’m still immersed in two worlds.” I gestured around me at the crowded bar. “The 69 drinks and the rest of my everyday life is one world, lets call it World One, and whatever world it is where this doll exists, World Two. When I’m not in World One I’m sitting in a chair at 3:30 AM scaring the crap out if myself. So, maybe I’m ‘situational crazy.’ I just invented that term. It means sometimes I’m in a situation where I’m going to be at least a little bit insane, where maybe I have to be a little insane to succeed with the writing. I must have imagined the little girl as looking like something I knew, in this case a combination of Sally and Annie. The operative word here is imagined.

“But you didn’t imagine the light going on and off,” Mark said. “Or the shovel. I’m the one who found the shovel. I think we can both agree that I’m not crazy. And now the shovel has gone missing and you’re hearing someone, or something digging under your house. And you were saying about Sherry?”

“She’s going to go to her sister’s house sometime soon for a week or two, so I’ll have time to look into this stuff without worrying her. Meanwhile, I’ll go over to the historical society and try to find the records on my property and the house, and I’ll go back to the Ashburn House and find that guy Rafe that Betty told me about. Maybe he knows something.”

Mark took a sip of his beer. He was really having to work to get it down. “Here’s another idea” he said. “Since I’m not going back under the house, and I assume you aren’t either,” he paused long enough for me to give a shake of my head, “then why not hire someone else to go under there and see what’s going on?”

“You mean hire a kid and send him under there to his death or something?”

“No, don’t be ridiculous. A crawlspace professional. Someone in the building trades who does infrastructure diagnosis and work.”

Not a bad idea. Before we bought the house we had an inspector go over it from top to bottom. He pointed out that some of the pillars underneath were crumbling and should be replaced. And there was a possibility that one of the pipes had asbestos insulation wrapped around it. At the time, it hadn’t seemed particularly dire. I asked the inspector how long it was going to last if I don’t do anything? “Two years?”

“Maybe,” he said.

“Twenty years?” I asked.

“Maybe,” he said.

That was close enough for me. I’d get to it one of these days. Or maybe I’d die first and it would be someone else’s problem. But Mark’s idea would kill two birds with one stone (another death cliché). I’d get an opinion as to what was going on under there and an estimate for work that needed to be done at the same time. If the inspector didn’t notice anything odd, then we were back to square one: I’m batshit crazy.

“Good idea,” I said. I raised my glass in Mark’s direction. “Welcome home.”




No Special of the Day

Remember the plan? No Drinking. No visit to the Penny. No Drinking at home.

When it was time to go to bed, I wasn’t the least bit sleepy. This was the first effect of the No Drinking rule. No alcohol to lull, or, on some nights, club me to sleep. Not that I ever made it through an entire night’s sleep in one seven or eight hour session; I usually fall asleep quickly for a couple of hours before waking up. The choice is always either lay there and try to outlast the wakefulness, which can take up to a couple of hours, or get up, put on my robe, do some work or read, and fall asleep in my comfortable chair in the TV room. For years as a kid I watched my father fall asleep in his recliner while watching TV and later watched my father-in-law fall asleep in a chair at my house while watching TV, and always I fought back the urge to yell at them, If you’re going to sleep, go to bed! Now I do the same thing: fall asleep in my chair in the evening while watching TV. Shameful. At least I don’t own a recliner.

So I’m lying in bed awake; Sherry is sleeping beside me. This was the plan, an experiment to see if my visions or hallucinations or whatever they are come to me when I’m not drinking. I thought I would sleep for at least a couple of hours before climbing out of bed and going downstairs to see if there was anything unusual happening. But it didn’t feel at all likely that I was going to fall asleep anytime soon. In a few minutes, I was bored.

I got up. Usually I wear just my fabulous thick blue Polo brand robe (a gift from my wife) when I’m wandering around, but tonight it was especially cold in the house. I threw an extra quilt over Sherry, pulled on my Puma sweatpants and a tee shirt. The robe went on over the ensemble. I pushed into my fleece-lined moccasin slippers and crept down the stairs.

Everything was quiet in Sherry’s office. Not a creature was stirring, not even a squirrel in the back yard. I had a drink of water and settled into my chair in the TV room with a clear view of Sherry’s desk, chair and file cabinet. If it was cool in the upstairs bedroom, it was positively frigid downstairs. I pulled one of the fleece lap rugs off the couch and over myself and fell asleep.

3:10. I could see the time on the cable box underneath the TV. I had snapped awake, unaware that I had ever fallen asleep. I sat in the chair, organizing my jumbled thoughts. Stick to the plan. Time to explore.

I stood up. It’s only a matter of 10 or so steps from my chair to the area of the floor in Sherry’s office where I had seen the light coming up from below. But those 10 steps are a minefield of creaking floorboards; I wanted to be stealthy this evening. Halfway there, three slow steps and I could see light glinting up through the cracks between the floorboards. More disturbing than that — after all, the light function could easily be tied to an electrical short — was the sound of digging. I wasn’t even down on the floor with my ear pressed against the boards, and I could hear the sound of blade on soil. I half expected to hear the sounds of a full-blown party emanating up. It was as if my taking time off from my nocturnal wanderings had encouraged whatever, spirits? what should I call them? apparitions to proceed with their agenda undisturbed by me.

A board creaked as I took my next step. The digging stopped. Silence. The light went off. I drew the logical conclusion: someone was under my house digging. After a minute spent getting my nerve up, I walked normally the rest of the way into the office. It was as dark and as quiet — oh hell, go ahead and say it — as a grave. It felt like the room was holding its breath. More silence. Whoever was under there wasn’t going to do anything as long as he/she knew I was standing overhead. Let me assure you, knowing someone was lying on the ground only a few feet beneath me was very disturbing. But just standing there wasn’t going to resolve anything. Time to check out the back yard.

I went into the kitchen. The backyard was brightly lit by one of those moons the weatherman on TV is always telling us viewers to look out for, a harvest moon, blue moon, hunters moon, a moon so clear it cast sharp shadows from the trees onto the grass. So bright I could see that the door to the shed was partially open. I always keep the door to the shed closed.


The shed is one of those wooden storage units that you see for sale outside Home Depot. Mine holds lawn equipment, old cans of paint, storm windows, a ladder, extension cords and various other tools and odds and ends that you don’t want to keep in the house. Oh, yeah, it also is where I stashed the old shovel that Mark found under the house. I wondered if it was still there.

If it wasn’t, that might answer some questions.

Well, maybe not answer some questions, and in fact it would pose even more questions, but it would help me decide if I was going crazy! If someone had taken the shovel out of the shed and was now under the house digging away, I would know I wasn’t just imagining it. I had two choices, open the door to the crawl space and shine my flashlight under there and take a look, though I’d probably have to climb in and take a good look around to be absolutely sure there was no one in there, even though I was pretty sure there was someone under there. Or, I could go outside, walk to the shed and see if the shovel was there. I needed to close the shed door anyway. Which would you choose?

The shed, of course. It wasn’t even close.

I cinched my robe tighter, unlocked the sliding glass door and edged it open. Warm air poured in over me. Hesitantly, I stepped out onto the small outside deck. It was at least thirty degrees warmer outside. What’s up with that? Why was it so cold in the house? I closed the door behind me. The mosquitos are murder in North Carolina, I didn’t want them getting into the house. I almost laughed. Mosquitos? I was worried about mosquitos?

I padded across the backyard in my slippers and pulled open the shed door. I checked in the corner on my left. There’s no light in the shed, but there was more than enough moonlight to see. The shovel was gone.

Case closed, I thought.

As I turned back to leave, I heard something move in the back of the shed.

I didn’t even think about it because I knew if I did I would have leapt outside, slammed the shed door shut and run like hell for the house.

Groundhog? Squirrel? Possum?

I tried to calm myself, but I was ready to run. I took a couple of deep breaths. I thought about what a chicken-shit coward I was being. I turned back and lifted a piece of tin roofing off the pile where the storm windows were stacked. There was a natural little hidey-hole in the back there. I looked inside.

There was the little girl. Raggedy Ann. She with the no nose, no fingers and the sewed-up lips. My heart lurched, and I would have run, would have loved to run, but my legs were locked. I was so scared I couldn’t move.

She was looking at me. “He say I should hide here,” she said in a little girl’s voice. Clearly.


She leapt out of her hole and ran by me, out the door. I felt her brush my leg. By the time I got my breathing under control and was sure I hadn’t crapped in my pants, I looked out the doorway toward the house. She was gone. I didn’t know where.



Pause II


In Which I make You an Offer

I call the bar in my town The Lead Penny. This is not the bar’s real name. In several places in this continuing blog I change the names of various people and places. I do so because after many years in the writing business I have learned that you can never tell what is going to make people angry when you are writing about them. You can point out one amusing and endearing trait that might be construed as the tiniest bit unflattering, (in an amusing and endearing way) and the person referred to will sometimes complain bitterly that you have compared him to Adolph Hitler, ruined his life and embarrassed him in front of his wife and children. So sometimes I change the names because you just never know what’s going to upset someone.

Why the Lead Penny? Because it’s almost like the bar’s real name and anyone who knows my town would guess it immediately. So what good does that do me as far as protecting myself against people getting mad at me? I dunno. Let’s move this along. I have an offer to make.

When I was a kid my father collected coins. This was a common activity among adults at the time. You bought folding coin holders that held five years of coins — the folders were dark blue — and you put the coins into slots that had the correct dates and where the coins were minted underneath the slots. The idea was to fill the holders. Since my dad traveled a lot, he figured that he came across a varied cross-section of coins, and maybe he could fill up the blue folders. He wasn’t looking for a rare coin, something that would make him rich beyond his wildest dreams, he just wanted to see if he could fill up his folders.

As a little boy, I could see that dad got a lot of pleasure out of going through his change on the weekend and putting any new finds into the folders. I asked if I could start a collection, so he assigned me 1943 pennies. Most of you out there either don’t remember these coins or are too young to have ever seen one, but during the Second World War pennies were made of copper, as they are now, except for the year 1943. That year they were made of steel coated with zinc, which infused them a dull grey color. The copper was needed for shell cases. We called them lead pennies because of the color, and by the time I started collecting them around 1951 you could still find them sprinkled among the regular copper pennies when you received change. I haven’t seen one in a handful of change in many years.

I have a couple of hundred of these pennies left from my original collection, most of which seemed to have gone astray over the years. I keep them on my writing desk in an old mayonnaise jar. penny jpegNow you’re probably asking yourselves, what are these unusual pennies worth? A quick trip to the Internet says that they are worth the grand total of 6 to 20 cents, depending on the mint markings. That’s a little S or D you will see beneath the date on some of these pennies. But some people are offering these pennies for up to a couple of hundred dollars apiece. Why? I don’t know and I quickly became bored trying to figure this out. Maybe you can figure out why some of them are worth several hundred dollars.

But wait! There’s more!

Here’s some information about a spectacularly rare version of this penny that I lifted off a coin collector website.


“Valuable 1943 Pennies

There are a few very valuable error coins produced in 1943. Since the mint produces billions of coins in an average year, they use huge totes to move them around the mint facility. As the totes moved from machine to machine, sometimes a blank from the last batch would get stuck in a crevice. Most numismatists believe that a few copper planchets from 1942 got caught in a crevice in the tote. The coining press struck the copper planchets with the 1943 date. Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco all produced these ultra rare 1943 copper pennies.

If you think you might have a 1943 copper penny here’s how to find out if your 1943 copper penny is genuine. In fact, it may be one of the most valuable pennies ever!

Date & Mint Circulated
Buy Sell
1943 Bronze * $29,000.00 $18,000.00
1943-D Bronze * $57,000.00 $38,000.00
1943-S Bronze * $92,000.00 $62,000.00

Copper Plated 1943 Fakes

But beware. At one time genuine 1943 Steel pennies were copper plated and sold as novelty items at coin shows and flea markets. Many of these coins were then spent and ended up in circulation alongside genuine Lincoln cents. Over time, people would find these copperplated steel pennies and think that they found a rare mint error.

When they took these coins to a coin dealer, the coin dealer would hold a magnet over the penny, and the steel underneath the copper plating would attract the penny to the magnet. This process is the easiest way to tell if your penny is solid copper or copperplated.”


All my pennies are dated 1943. It’s possible you might get a fake 1943 copper-appearing penny. Many of mine are so corroded it’s difficult to tell what the finish is or was. Is there a rare copper one in my jar? If you can’t tell just by looking at it, (if it looks steel it is steel), you can test your penny yourself by seeing if it sticks to a magnet. If it does, your penny is worth about 15 cents as a novelty item. And if it doesn’t, MAYBE YOU”VE HIT THE MOTHERLOAD! See the chart above for the true worth.

So here’s my offer. To show my appreciation for Following this blog or even just reading it regularly, I’m going to send you one or two of my “lead” pennies. If you are a Follower of the blog, I will send you two lead pennies. If you are a regular reader and switch to being a Follower, I’ll send you two pennies. All you have to do to become a Follower is find and click on the Follow button (word) on the blog page. All this means is you will be alerted when I put up a new post on the blog.

If you email me your land address at , I’ll put one or two pennies in the mail back to you. I’m just going to stick my hand in the jar and fish one out without looking at it or running it by a magnet. Some of them are really “roached” meaning beat up, and rusty, (that’s a word I learned while watching the TV show Pickers) and some of them are in pretty good condition for an old circulated penny. I’m not going to choose, I’m just going to grab. I haven’t ever looked at any of them to see if there’s a valuable one in there, and if fact I haven’t touched them for 65 years. Once you get your penny if you’re interested you can look for further info. Just Google something on the order of… worth of 1943 lead pennies and figure it out for yourself.

And if you end up with one of the rare ones, well, drinks are on me.





Italian Melt/ Provolone Cheese, fresh Mozz, Onion, Salami, Capicola, Roasted Red Pepper

It was the middle of the day, but I was back at the Penny. It’s easier to find a place to sit and easier to think there during the day rather than in the evening, but it’s also easier to slip into the warm clutches of alcoholism and public drunkenness if one starts tossing drinks down in the afternoon rather than after five PM, which has always been my standard personal rule. I’m limiting myself to one drink per session at the bar from now on, at least when I’m there before five.

I had lots of notes to go over. I’ve written in earlier posts some of the interesting history of my old house, which is known as the Daisy Lynch house. How the two center rooms were originally the two rooms of the Ashburn School, located just a block from my house. Over the last 170 years the rest of the house – 6 rooms downstairs and four rooms upstairs – have been added on room by room. So, sometime in the early 1850s, the two-room schoolhouse was dragged one block north over what would have then been empty land to my lot. This had to have been done with a team of horses or mules and must have been difficult.

The Ashburn’s private residence still stands, part of the Ashburn School property, which is an historic landmark complete with public programs and an operating officer and board of trustees. The CEO of the Ashburn School Trust is Ted Jackson. I interviewed him today, and Ted is not a fan of the legend about the original Ashburn Schoolhouse now residing in the interior of my house. He says it’s just that, a legend, and has never been proven.

I can think of a few reasons he’s so adamant about this. If his schoolhouse is in my house, he’s going to have to change some of his history, which he doesn’t want to do, and maybe he’s worried that I’ll claim the schoolhouse, put a sign up outside my home declaring it part of the original school and begin charging admission, leading tours and giving lectures. Not that I have any interest in doing that.

When he was selling the house, the last owner made a video, showing his research into the Ashburn Schoolhouse controversy, pretty much proving that it’s just what everyone except Ted thinks is true. I’ll put a link up to that video at the end of this post.

Back at the Penny, Janet brought me my drink. I’m still going easy on Janet vis-à-vis making her climb to the top shelf to fumble down a bottle (see last post), so I ordered a Crown Royal, which is on my list. This is a Canadian blended whiskey that we thought was pretty second rate even when I was young. Its singular claim to fame was and is that it came in a crown-shaped bottle nestled in a little blue velvet bag with a gold-colored drawstring. I guess the manufacturers thought the packaging would instill some elegance to the whiskey; it doesn’t, though something has kept this particularly ordinary whiskey in the marketplace for a lot of years. It’s bland and undistinguished, but it’s one more drink to be crossed off my 69.

After I left my interview with Ted, (he didn’t kick me out, but he made it clear he had better things to do), I walked around the grounds and the gardens of the Ashburn property. That’s where I met Betty.

I saw her in the garden of the School hacking away at a giant wisteria vine. She’s old, (Betty, not the vine) but vigorous, wielding pruners with savage precision. I introduced myself and told her I lived in the house that had swallowed the original two-room schoolhouse. I asked her if she thought that was true. She scoffed and said everyone in town knew it was true. She spoke as if she’d been there to witness the event. I asked why Ted, a few yards away ruling his fiefdom from his office in the house, didn’t believe it. She said she had no idea, put the pruners down and gave me a short tour of the garden, explaining that she didn’t really work for the school but had just taken to keeping the garden in good shape years ago so everyone, probably even Ted, just assumed she belonged there. I asked her some more questions about my house but she made it clear she had wisteria to prune.

“Ask Rafe,” she said, waving a hand in the general direction of the back of the garden where the original outhouse still stood. There was no one back there that I could see.

“He’s around somewhere, or if not, he’ll be back soon enough. He works here the way I work here. Off the books.” With that, she went back to her trimming, and I headed down the hill to the Lead Penny. And my notebook.

And now I’m back home writing this up so I can post it. In my eleventh post I said three possibilities could account for my recent unusual experiences. One, I’m mentally unbalanced and have been having visions; two, I’m a drunk and have been having hallucinations; three, it’s all happening just as I’m reporting.

Here’s a thought: I can test the drunkenness theory by simply not having anything to drink for a few days, then get up in the middle of the night and see what happens downstairs. This means putting my 69 drinks quest on hold, but that’s a small price to pay to prove to myself that it’s drink that is or is not fueling the visions/hallucinations. But here’s the problem.

If I don’t drink, and I still see the weirdness, that means I’m crazy. Because it can’t be the third possibility. Can it?

Here’s the link to the short video about the Daisy Lynch house. The owner at the time, Craig Perrin, was and is a good guy who patiently answers my email questions about the house. In the video you can see a bit of the crawlspace. You will note they refer to the school as the Burwell School. I call it the Ashburn School.






Passion Fruit Marinated NC Amberjack Tacos w/Red Cabbage, Cilantro, Smoked Jalapeno, Ranch Dressing

 I was at the Penny, on my own, just me and my trusty notebook. I love my Field Brand notebooks; I always have one in my back pocket to write down the stray thoughts that float into my head when I’m working on a project. For the last few days I’ve been researching ghosts and the paranormal on the Internet and keeping notes.

I was drinking a Knob Creek bourbon. My choice on the list came not because of any taste considerations, but because I wanted something that was easily reachable behind the bar. There seems to have been some sort of a firing blood-bath at the Penny, and my usual server, Josh, is out and they’ve hired two newbies. Janet is my waitress, and she doesn’t know the drill when it comes to the 69 drinks, so I’ve been schooling her. It seems a little unfair to send her up on the rickety plastic crate to reach the more exotic liquor choices that are high up on the back wall. I could see the Knob Creek was in easy reach on the back bar, so that’s what I’m drinking. It’s pretty smooth, even at 100 proof, one of Jim Beam’s excellent small batch whiskies. When I look Knob Creek up on the Internet I find that it is very popular with the hip hop community. I have no idea why.

The hot burn of quality bourbon settles into the background of the usual Penny uproar as I go through my notes.

I expected the Internet to be awash in crazy blogs written by people who firmly believed in ghosts, or at least believed in the ghosts they have personally experienced. Blogs penned by paranoid paranormal conspiracy theorists. It turns out that while those types are certainly in evidence, most of the sites up at the top of my searches are about why certain people “see” ghosts; the “scientific” reasons: rational, informative but unexciting articles. I thought the number one reason people saw ghosts would be insanity, as discussed in my last entry, but that hardly made the various lists. I’ll give you the most widely accepted explanations, in no particular order.

Carbon monoxide poisoning was sited in a number of examples. One extended family that lived in a large old house reported feeling weak, being held down in bed, hearing strange voices in the night, among other strange phenomena. After calling in experts they found that the furnace in their haunted home was pumping out carbon monoxide. After it was fixed, they were fine. This sounded reasonable to me, so I logged off the computer and went to Home Depot and bought a few carbon monoxide detectors. After a couple of days, they found no evidence that we have a problem.

Mold. A few experts report finding toxic molds in some reportedly haunted houses, molds that produce symptoms such as irrational fear and dementia, but there was no universal conclusion. My crawlspace is dry and I have never seen evidence of mold in our house, so I’m crossing this one off the list.

Infrasound — sounds just below the typical human hearing threshold of 20 hertz. A number of citations for infrasound circulate in ghostbusting circles. “Other environmental explanations for ghostly phenomenon include low-frequency sound waves (infrasound), said to cause feelings of nervousness and discomfort and vibrations in the eye which can produce illusions.” I walked around the house trying to find something that might operate in the ultrasound range. Other than the furnace or the air conditioner, which were not running when I experienced my visions, were the only possibilities. Take it off the list.

Fluctuations in the electronic field. “Persinger and his colleagues reported on the strange case of a teenage girl who said she’d been impregnated by the Holy Spirit and felt the invisible presence of a baby on her left shoulder. The girl had experienced a brain injury earlier in her life, the researchers wrote, but the trauma wasn’t the sole reason for the religious visitation: Next to the girl’s bed was an electric clock that generated magnetic pulses similar to those used to trigger seizures in epileptic rats. Once the clock was removed, the feelings of a presence vanished.” I unplugged my bedside alarm clock for several nights. I noticed no difference in anything other than I had no idea what time it was when I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.

Those were the most oft-cited possibilities, aside from this catch-all line: “They are also associated with mental conditions that affect the brain, including epilepsy, stroke, migraine and cancer.” Well, I guess I could be afflicted with any of these possibilities, but rather than check into the Mayo Clinic for an evaluation, I’m going to take these physical conditions off the list as well.

I’m crazy. That seems to be the most reasonable possibility (other than drunkenness) but until someone tells me I need to wash my hair (see last entry, number 11, for an explanation) I’m going to reject that one as well.

I finished up my drink, put away my notebook and walked home. So much for finding any answers on the Internet. Next step: leave the house and do some primary research. I have always been aware of the limitations of secondary research, reading what other people have to say about something rather than asking the questions myself. So, it’s time to talk to some people who might have some answers. Living people, not ghosts. But wouldn’t that be interesting? Finding a ghost or two to interview.

And for those of you who want to engage in some personal ghostbusting, check out this nifty ghost hunting kit for sale on Amazon for only $159.95. Nifty ghost busting kit


I am astounded.

I am not alone.

My daughter Leah, who lives in New York, passed along the Twitter address of a guy, Adam Ellis, who is tweeting about a paranormal experience he is having in his life. His twitter site is known as Dear David. He began the tweets in August 2017 and has assembled four months worth and put them up on Spotify, a site that organizes social media projects. I thought this material was so relevant to what I am going through I would write this interim post, calling it Pause One because I imagine from time to time things will come up that don’t exactly fit the regular format.

So here are Adam Ellis’ first seven Dear David tweets, put up over the course of a few minutes on August 27, 2017.

So, my apartment is currently being haunted by the ghost of a dead child and he’s trying to kill me.


He started appearing in dreams, but I think he’s crossed over into the real world now.


The first time I saw him, I was experiencing sleep paralysis and saw a child sitting in the green rocking chair at the foot of my bed.


He had a huge misshapen head that was dented on one side. I did my best to draw it:


For a while he just stared at me, but then he got out of the chair and started shambling toward the bed.


I couldn’t move because I was paralyzed. (I have sleep paralysis fairly often. It sucks.)


Right before he reached my bed, I woke up screaming.


Here is the address of the Spotify site: (I don’t know what’s up with the moby dickhead designation.) You can also go on Twitter and enter his name (Adam Ellis) in the search function and you’ll come up with his Dear David stuff. If you start reading the Spotify material, you’ll quickly see how addictive his tweets are and why he has almost a million followers.

He lives in New York and began having terrible dreams that seemed to become real. The spirit haunting him is named David, a toddler-aged child with a bad expression and a seriously dented head. Adam’s cats react to this spirit; he hears sounds that come from a crawlspace over his ceiling; he sets up a camera and records, unclearly, pictures of David, there are strange noises in his apartment. (The camera is a good idea; I’m going to get something like it and put it in my crawlspace.) David seems to fall down from the ceiling. Hmmmm.

Sound familiar?

At first I was shocked to read this story. Was he copying my blog? No, he started his tweeting before I started my blog. Was I somehow copying his? No, I never heard of him until Leah told me about him. Every one of his tweets has a thread of followers discussing the events described. The comments (there are many thousands of them) range from suggestions about how he can rid himself of David, concern for Adam’s well-being, accusations that it’s all a hoax and he should admit it and stop tweeting. There was a time when I would have been solidly in the hoax camp, but his material is genuinely disturbing. Couple that with my own experience and the only conclusion I can draw is that his experiences hew so closely to mine that this is more than coincidence. Are there then common elements that these spirits (God, I wish I had some better word for these things. I feel like such a fool writing spirits and ghosts. Can anyone think of a more neutral term?) have in common? Strange sounds, strange lights, appearing as children, falling from above, hiding under and over houses? And more? There must be a reason they are so similar.

I signed up for Twitter, (my address: If you’re on twitter, follow me) so I could follow him. I’m not very good at it yet, so there’s a huge swath of tweets of his I haven’t yet accessed. And, truth be told, I don’t think I want to access them.

His spirit, David, seems to me to be different than my ghost child. I would call David a demon. I have never been afraid of my doll/child. I’ve been scared when this strange stuff was happening, but I never felt as if I was going to be harmed. In the beginning, Adam says he thinks David is going to kill him, and it certainly sounds like it’s a possibility as you read deeper into the tweets.

Seriously, folks, this is some very creepy stuff. Bad dangerous creepy. Read it and see if you don’t agree.

The discovery of the Dear David site was a bump in my current events, but it isn’t going to change anything for me. I spent the afternoon in the Penny yesterday going through my recent research, so I’ll put up a post about that in a day or two, rather than waiting a week.

And now I’m going to sent a tweet to Adam Ellis, just in case he wants to talk to someone who understands, or at least sympathizes with what’s been happening to him. I don’t expect him to respond, he has thousands of people sending him tweets every day, but who knows? Stranger things have happened.


Adam. You are not alone.










Local Burger w/Swiss, Pork Belly, Sweet ‘n Spicy Sauce, Tomato and Onion

 I blame this all on my son, Charlie. When he was a very little boy, he used to sleepwalk at night. I would find him standing in the bathroom taking a pee into the wastebasket, or trying to get outdoors, dressed in his little one-piece footy pajamas. With his eyes open. Fast asleep. I learned to carefully herd him back to his bed and tuck him in, all without waking him. This sleepwalking gave me nightmares. I envisioned various scenarios like him going into the basement and deciding to tackle a building project, one that required the use of a power saw. All while he was fast asleep.

I learned to lay in bed with one fist under the side of my head, so my ear wasn’t pressed against the pillow, so I would be sleeping with both ears functioning, so I could hear him the second his tiny feet hit the floor and he began his peregrinations. Charlie left home for college pretty much for good more than ten years ago, yet I still sleep so I can hear out of both ears, with my fist under my head; if a mouse farts in the living room a floor below, I wake up. Once I’m awake I feel impelled to get up and investigate. I have trained myself well; too well. I haven’t had an uninterrupted night’s sleep in more than 25 years.

The thing is, if I slept soundly, I wouldn’t be aware of any of this. I wouldn’t have the slightest clue that there was something going on under my house. No lights, no digging, no children falling out of the sky.

For the last week I have made it a point to stay in bed, every night, all night long. I get up to go to the bathroom and resist any urge to take a stroll around the house to see if any animated dolls with cut-off noses and sewn together lips are in evidence, maybe sitting in the family room in the dark, staring at the turned-off TV. I can see, in my imagination, that little rag doll head swiveling toward me, and those sad lips attempting to twist into that ghastly smile. No, I have stayed in my bed where I lie awake for hours, but where I am safe. I am safe there, aren’t I? I tell myself that I am.

I’m sitting at the bar, at the Penny, nursing my drink of the evening, a pour of Booker, a bourbon that runs anywhere from 120 to 130 proof, which makes it strong, which is what I like. I should throw in some water to calm it down, but I’m not into such niceties. I’m looking for some mind-numbing this evening. This is number 21 of my 69 drinks. I’m alone, Mark having gone off on a trip to Boston where he is attending a bookseller’s convention. Mark has a business selling rare poetry books that he operates out of his house, which means he’s out of town for weeks at a time over the course of a year. So I’m drinking my drinks, writing my blog entries, trying to stay in bed all night, trying not to think about what’s under my house, wanting to know, not wanting to know.

I still haven’t told Sherry. It’s funny, she could simply read this blog and she’d know what was going on under her nose, or rather under her house. But she stopped reading my blogs years ago; they don’t usually have anything that’s of interest to her or her friends. I would ask the rest of you from refraining from contacting her and saying, hey, you want to know what’s living, if living is the right word, under the floorboards of your office? If you feel the urge to do so, please don’t, because knowing what seems to be going on would drive her nuts.

Or maybe I’m the one who’s nuts. There are only a few distinct possibilities: one, I’m mentally unbalanced and have been having visions; two, I’m a drunk and have been having visions; three, it’s all happening just as I’m reporting.

I don’t think I’m crazy, and I don’t think I’m a drunk. Yes, the evidence on the second possibility is mildly damning. After all, I write a blog about my systematic drinking at the Penny, and I’ve logged plenty of instances of my overall liquor consumption, which is significant. But do I stagger around at night running into the furniture, hallucinating goblins and gremlins, lying on the floor listening to unusual goings-on under my house? Well, yes to the last one. But I’m not drunk when I’m doing so.

I’m not the sort of guy who normally would believe in the supernatural. I’m a science guy. I deplore religious thinking, both the good and the evil aspects, meaning both God and the Devil. I’ve never been faced with the kind of eyewitness “evidence” that I have been seeing. My recent coping strategy is to push it all to the back of my mind and very carefully not consider it. And stay in bed all night long. But, alas, that no longer seems to be working, at least the not-thinking-about-it part.

What to do, what to do?

I’ve decided to tackle this just like I deal with any of the subjects that arise when I’m starting to write a book: I’m going to research the hell out of it. I’ve been mooning around all week; it’s time to take a more proactive approach. I’m going to work the Internet, and I’m going to get out of the house and ask some questions and see what turns up.

I’ve thought about closing down the blog. Obviously the 69 drinks have morphed into something else. And what is this “something else?” An investigation, I guess. For what purpose? Maybe just to see if I’m going crazy. I don’t think I am, or at least it doesn’t feel like it to me. Which is probably a symptom of being crazy. During my 72 years I have had friends who did exactly that — went nuts. (I know, there are better, kinder, terms for this condition.) Some of them ended up killing themselves. Some of them heard voices, some of them saw “ghosts,” many of them were under the care of trained professionals, all of them seemed, well, crazy to me. And there was nothing I could do to talk them out of their convictions.

What I’ve noticed over these years, is that they all had one thing in common: they stopped washing their hair. I’m not kidding. So, do me a favor, if you see me on the street, or more likely down at the Penny and I’m looking kind of rough around the edges, in particular if my hair is long and greasy, tell my wife it’s time to take me to Duke Medical and get some professional help.

One more thing. You know how private detectives and investigative journalists always, when involved in something dangerous, package up their research and send it to their lawyers or The Washington Post with instructions to Open only in the event of my death. The blog will be my contingency plan, my fail-safe. If there is a sudden silence from my end, if there is no entry for a week or two, call my wife and ask her to alert the authorities.