In breaking paranormal news, there has been another ghost sighting in our fair little bar! Our Friday Night Bartender has reported seeing a ghost as she was closing up shop. A second witness, Nate B., who’s mechanical ingenuity will be featured in the next edition of The Barroom Chronicles, was swamping at the time and although he did not see the ghost, he insists something freaky happened. The story goes like this:
The bartender was counting her till and Nate B. was sweeping the floor when country music played loudly for approx. 10 – 15 seconds. The bartender turned her head in time to see an apparition walk from the side door and past the pool table before fading into obscurity. She stated that the ghost was sporting a cowboy hat and his dress was consistent with contemporary western wear. She also stated that the spotting was timed with the music. They both stated that the experience wasn’t frightening, though they said it there was a palpable eerie feeling.
Her description does not match her predecessor’s, who had spotted an apparition, at roughly the same time of night, sitting in a chair in the casino. That ghost was also dressed in modern ‘cowboy’ wear but sported a long beard. The details of that sighting are detailed in a previous post on this blog entitled Haunted Town. Could our ghosts be one of the cowboys visible in the smoke in the above photo? Hopefully someday we’ll find out.
This week’s post could easily be part of The Barroom Chronicles,
but I’ve decided to use it as the first post in a new series I’ll be featuring. Like the title suggests, it’s about ghosts, more accurately, it’s about the disproportionate number of ghosts in our humble Montana town.
The subject is prickly for me, even though I have had my fair share of trippy experiences, both in Montana and in my hometown in Pennsylvania, I’ve always been super skeptical of their existence. As much as I would like to believe in them, I’ve always hesitated in admitting believe, but too many occurrences have me coming around to admitting my believe in the creepy critters.
What’s weird for me is that I’ve never seen a ghost, but I’ve witnessed many things that go bump in the night, and in the afternoon too!
Today at work, the subject of ghosts came up again. Not because of a recent sighting in the bar (more on that later in this post) but because two more ghost hunters showed up in town. They didn’t stop in the bar, but I wish they had, I have a few good ghost stories to share.
The owners of Ghost Rails Inn, the neighboring bed and breakfast also stopped by today and mentioned that this weekend some guests reported another sighting in their room. One of the owners mentioned that Alberton could be the most haunted town in America. Sounds like a lofty claim, but on further review, it may have merit. Considering our town has barely 500 souls, pun intended – that would be the living, breathing type – it at least could be considered for the most ghosts per capita.
Here are the reported sightings in our fair burg:
Ghost Rails Inn is aptly named, as of this writing, the owners have distinguished three different ghosts, they have seen two. A guest has reported a third, and another guest has reported something even more bizarre – their stories will be shared in later posts.
The Grocery Store – I don’t know anything about this ghost, but I’ve heard the store is haunted. I will talk with the owner and will report his story.
The Railroad Car House – This is a duplex that is made of old boxcars. I’m foggy on the details. Paranormal societies have investigated this house and the Ghost Rails Inn.
The Trailer Court at the edge of town. It’s reported to be haunted by a lady who committed suicide. I don’t know the details.
And last but not least, the home of The Barroom Chronicles and the host to at least one ghost – good ole Sportys…
My first encounter happened in May of 2006, I had just bought the bar and was closing up shop. This encounter was more feeling, that creepy, undeniable sensation that someone is watching. Lets just say the feeling wasn’t subtle, it was in stereo. It felt as if the old timers were floating near the ceiling checking out the new guy.
Three weeks later, something happened to my dog. It was after hours and I had her with me, I fancied making her a bar dog. As fate would have it, my pager went off (at the time I was a firefighter) and I responded to an emergency call. When I returned she was a quivering ball of jelly and she had an accident on the floor. She was four at the time, so she wasn’t a puppy and was housebroken. Although she hasn’t had an accident since, she can’t stand being in the bar. As soon as she enters she whines and whines. I’ve given up taking her. I can hear the skeptics: “Big deal, she was freaked because she felt abandoned in a strange place.” Absolutely possible – maybe even probable. If it wasn’t for what I’m about to share, I would believe that theory.
May 2007 The palm tree… A picture is worth a thousand words. Take a look and tell me what you see. This photo was taken the first night the palm tree was in operation. The person taking the picture was smoking a cigarette. The image was not Photoshopped. Tell me what you see. Notice the 20 in the upper right hand corner. I believe that is related to the aforementioned bizarre sighting by a Ghost Rail Inn guest. (I’ll spiel my theory on that in a later post.)
A random Thursday night after closing: This was my first audio (dare I say haunting) experience. I had just got the last patron out when I heard a keno machine print a ticket and then footsteps crossed the casino into the Men’s room. The bathroom door slammed shut.
No big deal, I thought. Somehow, someone played through last call. I waited ten minutes and went back to check on the player. I figured he passed out in the bathroom. Of course nobody was there. He couldn’t have slipped out any doors, they were all locked.
I’ve since had that experience again. Earlier this year, another bartender reported hearing the same thing – twice.
A Saturday morning before opening: I was taking the garbage out and stopped to open the side door. As I propped the door open, out of the corner of my eye I saw legs walk past me, through the door and into the bar. I immediately turned around and said: “Excuse me, can I help you?” There was nobody there. To this day, I get a chill and goosebumps every time I relate the story.
I’ve never felt scared of our ghost, quite to the contrary, I believe he’s a trickster, there’s always things misplaced and switched around. I have named him: Kermit, in honor of a patron who passed six months after I purchased the bar. The real Kermit was a trickster, so the M.O. fits. I’m not saying it is, but hey, it’s all good.
But the Coup De Grace happened a little over two weeks ago. A new bartender was working a Friday night shift. She had closed the bar, gotten everybody out when she heard a keno machine print. She looked back into the casino in time to see the apparition of a bearded man sitting before said keno machine staring at her. She claims it lasted a few seconds before it faded away.
A couple of days later, she came into the bar and asked: “Why didn’t you tell me about the ghost?”
So begins a poem that appears in Cemetery Street. Shannie (pronounced Shane-ie) wrote it in James’ birthday card, and like so many things about Shannie, its significance haunts the narrator. So much that he recites the poem before her headstone. Was Shannie inferring that memories are the sentinels of our souls?
Your guess is as good as mine. I claim lack of expertise in the science of memory, but I have written a novel about romancing a memory, so that qualifies me to pontificate about memory’s potential sappy nature.
I have a feeling James isn’t unique and am willing to bet that everyone who reads this post is haunted by memories – good or bad, funny or sad. Double or nothing that you may have even obsessed over one or two. Heck, I may even be guilty of such an offense.
I hear the romantics shouting: “How can you not be guilty?”
Maybe the answer is directly related to how much time one spends in the memory universe and how much energy is expended recalling them. There’s no denying their power, heck, memories define our identity. Isn’t that what Shannie was saying? If it was, in lies their danger.
– Your father cursed and threw things when he cranked on a wrench, so you have an aversion to auto mechanics.
– You got a speeding ticket on Main Street, so every time you pass the location you check your speed and tap the brakes.
– You failed 7th grade English class and believed you could never write.
Suddenly, we’re in danger of being memory’s prisoner. James may be guilty as charged. On the other hand, maybe he’s a victim of circumstance and his obsession is a way not to relive the horror of a lost identity. (Plot hint… Plot hint… Plot hint…)
Here’s what James writes about regaining his memory:
“As I pen these words, I deal with the effects of what happened in the early fall of 1994. I forget things – I’ve learned that a short pencil is better than a long memory – and only come to cherished memories with the help of pictures or scents. Although playing with aromas is playing with fire. Certain smells trigger avalanches of uncontrollable memories: the smell of steak releases an onslaught of memories of my family; brewing coffee frees Shannie; burning leaves remind me of Count; cigar smoke evokes Russell and Main Street; burnt rubber takes me back to Atlantic City. The force of such memories paralyzes me. It’s as if my memories have me. It makes for a distracted lifestyle. Pictures are much safer, they aren’t the frayed edge of an unpredictable memory strand.”
I’m by no means a memory expert, but as you’ve read, I have written about them. In a sense, Cemetery Street is a memoir, but it’s the memoir of a fictional character, with fictional memories. So maybe that makes me an expert in fictional memories.
John, that’s all well and good, but you can’t tell me that Cemetery Street isn’t your memoir.
Well, yes I can. If it was, I would be on serious anti-depressants. I’m not saying there isn’t a memory or two woven into the story’s fabric. But I’m a prankster at heart and like to keep people guessing what is real and what is made up.
If you haven’t read Cemetery Street you can take a chance on winning a signed paperback copy.