Me, Anita, and “What The Hell Was That?!”

Me, Anita, and “What The Hell Was That?!”

Back in the early 1970’s, when I was in my 20’s, I worked for Volt Information Sciences. Sounds pretty impressive, huh? We put out the Yellow and White Pages for New York City (all five boroughs), Westchester, parts of upstate New York which Westchester might or not be a part of, Long Island, and a couple of other counties in the metropolitan New York Area. That’s a lot of white and yellow pages.

Now this was just before the World Wide Web. There were no laptop computers, no desktop computers, no i-pads, i-phones, smart phones, flip phones, no nothing so when I tell you we had to alphabetize the White Pages just imagine a group of people sitting with galleys and galleys of names of companies that had to be listed in alphabetical order. AAAaaa Auto, AAAaAA Auto, AAaaAa Auto – which comes first? I don’t remember the rules but let me tell you it was a pain in the ass to do. Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester – hundreds and hundreds of pages, thousands of names of companies and a bunch of 20 year olds trying to remember their alphabet and the complex rules of alphabetizing. Computers did not do this job 40 plus years ago, college graduates did. Me and my friend Anita.

Oh, there were lots of us: Dave Gitomer, Katrina (Trina), Larry, and a bunch of  others whose names have long since left me. But my friend Anita was special because Anita and I shared a talent or something. Whenever we were together something odd always happened and if we brushed against each other in passing something major occurred.

We became aware of this one day when we were busy alphabetizing the Bronx White Pages, or was it Westchester? Eh, it doesn’t matter. Anita’s desk was right behind mine so when she called my name it was easy to hear her. The room was quiet because alphabetizing is not as easy as it sounds when you have 400 pages sitting in front of you.

“Sharon?” Anita said.

“Yeah?” I said as I turned around to her.

Anita looked up and said, “Um, I didn’t call you.”

“Anita, I heard you.”

”I didn’t call you, Sharon but I was looking at this page and had a problem and said to myself, ‘I’ll ask Sharon’ and as that thought passed my mind you turned around.”

We both thought that was a little strange but we laughed it off until things like this happened multiple times a day. We weren’t afraid or concerned but we learned that strange things happened when we were together.

So one day, after a long, boring, grueling summer’s day of alphabetizing the White Pages for who cares which county, we took the long elevator ride down to the lobby so we could get home.

Volt was on the top floor of the AT&T Building in Lower Manhattan. It was considered the 30th floor but it was really the 60th floor because every numbered  floor had a floor of equipment underneath it. I can’t explain it much better than that. The important thing to remember is that our office was really 60 stories up.

Anyway, we finally got down, walked across the street to One Police Plaza, walked up the loooooong flight of stairs that would get us to Pace University which we also had to walk through to get to the train. The AT&T Building was in the middle of nowhere back then.

Anita and I finally got to the Pace University Campus preparing for our three or four block walk to the train station. It was a hot day in July and maybe 6:45 pm. The campus was deserted being that it was summer, late in the day, and very few students were around.

So we were strolling along when Anita looked up and asked me what was hanging in the sky. “Well,” I said,” it’s obviously a huge cigar-shaped thing-a-mahooie.” She agreed. We stopped and stared at it for a while wondering why it wasn’t moving and just what it might be.

Through the years that Anita and I were friends we were very use to strange occurrences. At times it was almost exciting to see what we could conjure up during the day but we were very careful and knew when to keep on moving along. Which is exactly what we decided would be best to do at that moment.

We walked a few steps when we saw a man walking our way. Anita and I glanced at each other getting ready to run if we had to. The man walked towards us, smiled, and then his eyes started to glow red. This was not the sun reflecting off him, this was not some shadows playing tricks with our eyesight, the man’s eyes glowed a deep red. Believe me or not, it doesn’t matter, but Anita and I were not happy about this encounter.

He walked past us. I looked at Anita, she looked at me, and we both turned to look at the man, who wasn’t there any longer. There were no buildings he could have ducked into and even if there were it would have taken him longer than two seconds to get to one.

So the man was gone and all that remained of him was his glowing red eyes that Anita and I saw. We looked up to the huge cigar-shaped thing-a-mahooie still hanging in the sky. Anita turned to me and said, “Let’s get the hell out of here.” I didn’t disagree and we practically ran to the train station for safety. Speaking as a native New Yorker, when you’re seeking “safety” in an underground train station something pretty bad must be happening because “safety” and underground trains don’t go hand in hand.

What was that cigar-shaped “thing-a-mahooie?” I don’t know. Can men really have glowing red eyes? I don’t know. If Google were around back in the 70’s maybe I would have research these things but I doubt if even Google could have come up with an answer.

Do I believe in Aliens with glowing red eyes? Hell yes! Along with my belief of ghosts and other things that go bump in the night I believe that aliens from other planets have landed here thousands of years ago and are preparing to attack. Well, maybe not attack, I don’t believe that, but I do think that we are not alone and neither does my good friend in New Jersey who has seen her share of space crafts as she walks her dogs. She calls me every time she sees one. No, my friend in New Jersey doesn’t indulge in a nip of alcohol before her walks. Maybe a cookie or two but never alcohol.

One thing that has happened to Anita and myself did frighten us. I still wonder/worry about it to this day and I have no idea how to explain it but that story is for another time and another day.

 

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Ghostly Visitors

Ghostly Visitors

Well, anyone who has read my blog has seen my stories about ghosts and other things that go bump in the night. My apartment is haunted. In fact I think my whole apartment building is haunted. I’ll go so far as to say that every apartment in New York City and all over the world is haunted. I do believe in ghosts. I have had experiences with them, nothing terrible or anything, just experiences. I’m not really afraid, I accept it all because I have no other choice.

I don’t know what happens when you die. I don’t know if you’re given a choice to go into the “bright light” or to kind of stay where you are to watch over things. Maybe you can go back and forth using some kind of heavenly transportation system. I don’t know. Maybe when you die you just aren’t around anymore like when you have surgery and put under and when you wake up there’s no memory of anything. I don’t know. But what I do know is that things happen in my apartment and around me.

I hear noises, footsteps, smell perfume, know when someone is in a room with me even though I live alone. I’m pretty sure it’s my sister who died eight years ago. My sister, even though she was three years younger than me, always acted as if she was the older one. She had to because everything terrified me and Ade was the person who had to solve all the problems. She basically took care of me and taught me things. She might have passed eight years ago but she’s still around watching and caring for me.

My mom drops by every so often too. I can smell her perfume, “Tabu.” I haven’t smelled Tabu since she passed over 30 years ago except for when she visits. Dad pops in every so often too. I can hear him clear his throat like he used to and Grandma Grace drops by once in a blue moon. I can tell it’s her because I can smell her apartment. I do wonder why Grandma Grace comes by since I’m pretty sure that I didn’t mean all that much to her but that’s another story. Maybe grandma got lost on the heavenly transportation system and is looking for one of my cousins.

I’m sure others come by too like Ray (Rachel) one of my parent’s friends who used to live in the building. Ray was a wonderful lady who really did care about me. A day or so after her death she came to me in a dream, kissed my right cheek and said, “I love you Shari.” Ray was the only person who called me Shari.

Lots of people who used to live in my building drop by to say hello once in awhile and that’s fine with me. I don’t mind and I know they’re just checking up on things. Their visits do not frighten me. When I sense their presence I always say hello, smile, and tell them that I miss them. I do miss them.

Two years ago I was in the hospital. The doctors thought I had a heart attack, I thought I was suffering from severe panic attacks. It was atrial fibrillation but the point is that Coney Island Hospital (lovingly known in Brooklyn, or at least by me, as “The Hell Hole”) admitted me into their Coronary Care Unit.

My room was right by the nurse’s station and because it was the heart unit I was alone in it. Well, kind of alone. Many times, many, many times, I saw old men sitting in wheelchairs in the room with me. Only men no women and they looked like they were at least 80 years old. Maybe some were younger but they all had that tired look that people get when they’ve been very sick for a long time.

I didn’t recognize any of them. At first I thought my dad might be one of those men or maybe one of my uncles, a grandfather? But no, I didn’t know any of them.

One day I was taken for a test, an angiogram. When I got back to the room and was finally able to move around all the men were sitting in their wheelchairs looking around and surrounding the upper portion of the bed. I looked at them and asked, “Who are you people?” I had to whisper it because I didn’t want “Nurse Ratched” hearing me. “Nurse Ratched” is for another story at another time.

“Who are you?” I asked the assemblage of eight or so wheelchaired older men sitting near the bed. They didn’t answer. I wasn’t surprised at not getting an answer. I wasn’t really expecting one. It was a rhetorical question.

I suspect they the men were the ghosts, souls, specters, of men who were in this heart care room at the end of their lives. I think they died there and still kind of haunted the room. I do wonder why there weren’t any women specters around though. No, I wasn’t afraid of them. I was afraid of Nurse Ratched, well, more like annoyed with her. She was a real pain in the ass. The male ghosts were docile enough and seemed content to sit in their wheelchairs watching other patients come into the room and maybe join them eventually. I have no idea.

I was in that hospital room with those elderly men for five days. The day I was discharged I wanted to be alone in the room for a moment just to say goodbye to the ghosts but Nurse Ratched was constantly in the room with me giving me directions on how to swallow the numerous pills I was given.

Did the men follow me home? Of course not. They’re probably still in that CCU room watching other patients and within the past two years maybe more men have joined their group.

But I do believe that my sister did visit me when I was in the hospital. I’m pretty sure she was the one who lead me to think that the men had passed away in that hospital room and were just sitting there waiting for something or someone.

I tell you this story to let you understand that ghosts, souls, whatever, are around. I think. I’m pretty sure of it. I know my sister is always with me. My mom and dad pass through and I get lots of visits from my cousin Donna who passed, I don’t know, nine years ago?

In my dreams I’ve been allowed into a room or something, where I think people who have passed on stay when they want to talk to people who are still alive. I’ve been in that place many times. I used to see my uncle come in and out of that room as I walked along the long hallway to get there. I wondered why my uncle was there since he was alive. Years later I learned he had heart problems, which I did not know about. Maybe there was a question about if he’d survive his heart surgery, which I also didn’t learn about until years later. Maybe I was being told through those dreams that he was very ill and might not be around much longer. My uncle lived about 15 years or so longer. Pretty good.

Just keep your mind open that maybe, just maybe, there’s more to this life and death than can be explained. No need to be afraid if something odd happens. As I tell my cousin, who questions everything and wants to know “WHY??” and HOW” and needs an answer to every little thing that occurs. It drives me nuts sometimes. I tell him, “things happen that can’t be explained. Either forget about it or live with it. If you want to research something, research it, if you want to question something, question it, but sometimes there are no answers and if no answer can be found then just accept it and go on with your life.”

And that’s what I do. I accept the strange things that happen to me. What’s the use of wondering if it will drive you crazy? I can’t explain what goes on or why I seem to be so susceptible to these occurrences. I do know my sister was able to “feel” these things too but I think my talent in that department is stronger than hers.

I have lots of stories that I need to write about, things that have happened with me and my friend Anita that did kind of frighten me but that’s because Anita had the same “talent” that I have and together Anita and I did and saw some strange things. I definitely have to write about that.

 

The Massacre of Mankind (The War of the Worlds #2) by Stephen Baxter

The Massacre of Mankind (The War of the Worlds #2) by Stephen Baxter

Author Stephen Baxter has continued where H G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” ended. The Martians might have been defeated by Earthly germs 14 years earlier but they are a smart species and have figured out how to get around that so they came back to Earth to take over not just England but the rest of the world.

The new battle is worse than the first and it appears that the only person who could defeat the Martians is a journalist and sister-in-law to Walter Jenkins. Some kind of new germ was put into her bloodstream and all she has to do now is get near enough to the invaders to let the germs work its magic against them. But it won’t be easy getting close to them and she needs a lot of help from some British soldiers and other people she meets along her journey across occupied England. And now that the Martians have landed in the United States’ New York, things are looking gloomier every day.

The Massacre of Mankind” by Stephen Baxter is a good enough book even though it’s well over twice as long as Wells’ original novel. Stephen Baxter, who is an excellent science fiction writer, does tend to like descriptions and this book is filled with them bringing the page count to close to 500. I tend to scan descriptions preferring to read the story itself not really caring how green the grass is or isn’t. But Baxter did a nice job at describing what the Martians were doing to their human captives, the experiments that were being run on them, and how the humans were forced to live. I’m not sure if there was supposed to be a Nazi comparison but it kind of felt that way to me. Ah, what do I know?

I’d recommend reading this novel if it’s your cup of tea but be warned that is long and a bit drawn out at times. And if you’ve never read H. G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds,” Amazon’s Kindle edition is free as of this posting. The original is very good and with only 230 pages you can get through it in no time flat.

massacre

The Sign in the Moonlight: And Other Stories (Digital Horror Fiction Author Collection Book 1) by David Tallerman

The Sign in the Moonlight: And Other Stories (Digital Horror Fiction Author Collection Book 1) by David Tallerman

I’ve always enjoyed short stories and I especially enjoy horror short stories. With “The Sign in the Moonlight: And Other Stories (Digital Horror Fiction Author Collection Book 1)” by David Tallerman horror lovers get a great mix of scary tales.

The mix includes ghosts that roam a hotel; An expedition onto a cold, snowy mountain where aliens want to take over the Earth; A hidden cave where a young girl gets lost while the boy who loves her attempts to save her from a life with some strange creatures; A man living in a seemingly jail cell, not knowing how he got there and discovers that the door isn’t locked and wonders what is going on outside; A strange beast who has to create scarecrows to protect his crops; A soldier during WWI stuck in a bunker where two groups of rats battle each other; A 7 year-old little girl who has a strange friend; and many other tales. All told there are about 23 thought provoking, chilling stories that are sure to keep you up at night reading them.

Author, David Tallerman knows how to tell a story suitable for scaring listeners by the campfire on a chilly night.

As with any anthology, some of the stories are a little better than others but all of them achieve the purpose of introducing readers to strange people, creatures, and places that only live in the depths of a horror writer’s mind. It looks like I’ll have to find the second book to of this set and see what else is living in Mr. Tallerman’s head.

I have no problem recommending this terrific horror book of short stories to anyone.

“I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book, through Reading Deals, so I could give an honest review.”

the sign in the moonlight

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King

Gwendy Peterson lives in the spooky town of Castle Rock, Maine. Strange things have been going on there for decades but the inhabitants take it all in stride.

Twelve-year old Gwendy is more or less an average teen. Maybe a little too chubby but she does love her chocolate. I can relate. But Gwendy is determined to try to get a little slimmer so every day she runs up the Suicide Stairs to get to Castle View where there’s a park where you can sit for a spell and a baseball field if you’re inclined to play ball but Gwendy just wants to run up the steps for the exercise.

One day she gets to the top of the stairs and sees a man sitting on a bench. He’s wearing black jeans, a black coat, and a black hat. He calls Gwendy over and gives her a box and tells her to hold on to it for him. The box has some buttons on it. If she presses one button a piece of chocolate will come out in the shape of an animal. The chocolate button is good but he tells her that the other buttons might have serious consequences if she presses them. She’s told she can press any button she wants whenever she wants but she’ll never know what will happen if she does.

Gwendy takes the box and every day presses the button for the chocolate and even though she comes close to pressing one of the other buttons she always stops herself.

Changes are happening to Gwendy in the course of the years she has the box. She’s lost a lot of weight, has become beautiful, has lots of friends, her grades in school are phenomenal but those other buttons are calling her name. Just to see what happens Gwendy presses one of the non chocolate buttons – just to see what happens – just to see.

“Gwendy’s Button Box” by Stephen King is a wonderful story. You can read the 180 pages in one day. You won’t be able to put it down because you want to know what happens.

Author Stephen King is an amazing storyteller. His short stories are much better than his longer novels because he cuts to the chase without long drawn out descriptions. Don’t get me wrong, I read his novels too but I think his short stories far surpass them.

The ending of “Gwendy’s Button Box” is unique and not really expected but let’s just say that Stephen King does his best writing when he talks about the innocence of children.

Pick up this short book, visit Castle Rock, Maine and find out what’s going on with Gwendy’s button box.

Gwendy

 

Six Scary Stories by Stephen King (Editor)

Six Scary Stories by Stephen King (Editor)

Stephen King’s British publisher came up with an idea to promote one of King’s books. They decided to have a short story competition for new horror writers. Over 800 people sent in manuscripts and King selected the winner. In “Six Scary Stories” short story horror fans can read the winner of the competition and five other stories that King thought were good.

The winning story was WILD SWIMMING by Elodie Harper. Out of the six stories this was the best even though it reminded me of a few horror stories I’ve previously read. A young woman finds an out of the way lake to swim in and even though she was warned not to she went swimming anyway. Yeah, it sounds familiar but there are some differences that might not be in similar stories but the outcome is the same. No real surprises.

In EAU-DE-ERIC by Manuela Saragosa a little girl, who misses her deceased father, gives her new teddy bear her father’s name. I have a feeling that some of you know what’s going to happen here without actually reading it. The old evil toy story is rehashed here.

In a futuristic society a soldier is forced to count the spots on the last living leopard in THE SPOTS by Paul Bassett Davies. Not an easy job to do but the leader of the country needs to know the number of spots and if they aren’t counted the soldier will be in big trouble. I wish the author gave a little more detail about why the leader wanted the spots counted. Maybe I missed something while reading it.

You know how when you were a kid your toys always came alive at night after you went to bed ? Admit it, toys always start to move and talk around 3:00 am or so, we all saw our dolls and stuffed animals wander around when we were four years old. They move around because they’re bored sitting in the toy box all day. The toys in THE UNPICKING by Michael Button have a new game that they’re now playing and no one is safe, not even the toys. I did kind of like this one.

There are two other stories in the collection, LA MORT DE L’AMANT by Stuart Johnstone and THE BEAR TRAP by Neil Hudson. Both are quite forgettable. I read this book a little over a week ago and I totally don’t remember them. To tell you the truth most of the stories in “Six Scary Stories” are forgettable. Nothing much to them at all. I understand that in horror, like in all writing genres, there are only a certain amount of stories to tell. I get that but it’s how you make the same old story different that makes you into a good writer. Stephen King knows how to do this.

I really hate not saying positive things about the writers and their stories. I could never write a horror tale so I do give all the authors major kudos for doing something that many writers cannot do.

If you’re looking for six scary stories you won’t find them in this short book. The collection is good enough but if you want to be scared pick up one of Stephen King’s short story anthologies.

six scary stories

The House of Memory (Pluto’s Snitch #2) by Carolyn Haines

The House of Memory (Pluto’s Snitch #2) by Carolyn Haines

Raissa James is a very progressive woman living in the deep south during the early 1900’s. She can’t wait for women to finally get the vote, she smokes a little, drinks a little, knows how to drive a car, is a writer whose first story will shortly be published in the Saturday Evening Post, and she sees dead people. In fact, she owns a private investigation firm, Pluto’s Snitch, where she and her partner in investigations, Reginald Proctor, help people figure out why they’re being haunted.

Raissa’s reputation is so well known that Zelda Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s new wife, has asked Raissa to look into a problem that her friend, Camilla, is having.

Camilla is due to marry, David, the love her life. But twice when David and Camilla were alone Camilla turned violent and tried to kill David.

Camilla’s mother has sent her to Bryce Hospital asylum  and wants Camilla to have a lobotomy so she will be a docile wife for David. Zelda knows that her friend would never hurt anyone, especially David, and believes there’s a lot more that’s going on than meets the eye.

Raissa and Reginald travel to Montgomery, Alabama and discovers that for some reason Camilla turns violent because of the new house she will be living in once she and David marry. Now all Raissa and Reginald have to do is figure out what evil lurks in the house and why Camilla is being haunted by it. They also have to somehow keep themselves alive since someone is trying to murder them.

“The House of Memory” by Carolyn Haines is the second in the Pluto’s Snitch mystery series and it’s terrific. I thoroughly enjoyed the first Pluto’s Snitch novel, “The Book of Beloved” and if possible “The House of Memory” is better.

There’s a lot of evil beings, both dead and alive, lurking throughout the pages, not to mention a plot line that involves the people living in Montgomery and the surrounding area. The ghostly portions are intertwined beautifully with the reasons why Camilla, and other young women in the asylum, have to be silenced.

Ms. Haines definitely knows her history and all of the books in her different series are filled with historic events that make the stories very believable.

I’m a huge fan of Carolyn Haines and have read so many of her novels that I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count them all. She’s a talented writer that knows how to get her readers so fully immersed in her tales that you don’t want to put the book down.

Plan on meeting Raissa, Reginald, Camilla, Zelda, and actress Tallulah Bankhead who is also featured in “The House of Memory.” It is a little chilling at times because of the evil house and the evil people at the mental institution so keep the lights on as you read but do not miss this new installment of this ghostly series.

To see other reviews of Carolyn’s books go to Carolyn’s section in my blog.

house of memory