On August 3, 2019, my best friend and fellow investigator Victoria and I headed to New Orleans to celebrate her birthday. Unlike many folks, binge drinking and staggering down Bourbon Street wasn’t on our agenda. (Although we did take lots of pictures that night and enjoyed a muffelatta and other treats.) As always, we were going in search of ghosts, or at the very least unique and atmospheric architecture. To our surprise, it was the Sachmo Festival and the place was packed from the French Market to Chartres Street. Undeterred, I mean this was the bestie’s big day, we grabbed a few pieces of equipment and drove to the Lafayette Cemeteries, the oldest cemeteries in the area. Unbeknownst to us, the Catholic Church stop-blocked us at the entrance. We were not allowed to go inside without paying the $20 admission fee (each) and we had to be guided by one of their guides, so no paranormal investigations. We could enjoy their stories about the dead.
That made me sick.
I understand trying to protect the resting souls of the two Lafayette Cemeteries but… I’ll keep my thoughts to myself. So we got back in the car and went to the St. Vincent de Paul Cemeteries No. 1 and 2 which weren’t far away. These two plots are located on Louisa Street, near Robertson in the St. Claude neighborhood of New Orleans. Often confused with another set of cemeteries with the same name located Uptown, these cemeteries were likely the parish cemeteries for the Catholic church of St. Vincent de Paul, located on Dauphine Street in the Bywater neighborhood. The precise founding date of this cemetery is not clear. Some sources say the property came into use as a burying ground in the 1830s, but we can’t be sure.
Famous duelist, swordsman and bullfighter Pepe Llulla founded this cemetery. Through his lifetime, Pepe Llulla dabbled in many different business ventures. He purchased real estate and ran a logging company. For some time, he staged bull fights in Algiers. Can you imagine? He is best remembered as the proprietor of the “Louisa Street cemeteries,” now known as the Vincent DePaul Cemeteries which he most likely purchased in the 1840s.
Back to our investigation. Tori and I were up against some serious heat, the heat factor was in the 100s and there were a few times when we had to stop and cool off. There are no trees for shelter in either of the cemeteries, just perfect rows of mausoleums and graves. There is white stone everywhere and some fine marble, all the graves were heart-wrenching and beautiful.
Our visit to #1 was quiet. Nobody was awake, or if they were they didn’t want to talk with us or interact at all. (Many of you followed along with us through our videos. If you didn’t get a chance to see them the videos are still on my Facebook page.)
Yep, it was pretty quiet until we got ready to leave and go to #2. As we were exiting #1, an older woman with kinky brown hair and a white dress warned me, “Don’t go over there. They’re all crazy!” But it was hard to take her seriously because she was also laughing at us. She was quite the character. (I’m a medium, in case you were wondering.) I didn’t engage in conversation with her except to say, “Thank you.”
In the car between our walks, Victoria and I reviewed our EVPs (nothing at all on those) and we did a quick vid while we cooled off. A few minutes later we grabbed my digital recorder, our cell phones and headed off to the second location.
The lady in Cemetery #1 wasn’t wrong. The energy in the Cemetery #2 was frenetic, moving and unsettled. We went to the left immediately and it didn’t take long to encounter one particular ghost that didn’t want us around. He was male, that was all I gathered before he shut down on me and began getting physical. He was not very tall but he did have a bad attitude. He punched me in the gut repeatedly until I had to make him quit. Tori immediately began sensing his energy too and we followed him to see if we could make contact. Clearly, he wanted no part of that. He had a cane or a sword or something which he poked me with in the top of my foot. I had to pause and make him stop again and then he moved a few rows over. We slowly walked behind him and you can see in one of the videos a translucent person move between Tori and I but to be fair, that image could also have been the heat. And it was so hot the heat shut our phone down a few times. Or something did.
We did catch a stellar EVP which I’m including here. You’ll hear a man’s voice around: 23. (Turn up the volume or listen with headphones and tell me what you heard.) Personally, I think we encountered Pepe Llulla. I think Pepe is still watching over the dead at the St. Vincent DePaul Cemetery, the cemetery he purchased and managed for many years. We offered to help Pepe but he didn’t want our help. There was one other man awake in the cemetery but he steered clear of us and I could only see him as a shadow. It was a unique experience and one that I will never forget.
At It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny. Nobody else was around, except one guy who had been sleeping in the cemetery. He exited the area as we arrived. We found rubbish around one of the graves and he was wearing a backpack. There were used needles, empty drink cans and other assorted garbage in a few places. And there was a tree that had fallen and been cut up on the far side of the cemetery that nobody had bothered to remove. I felt terrible for the poor souls that rested there.
Beside this terrible oversight, the Church Street Graveyard was beautiful, peaceful and quiet with the exception of two experiences. As we walked along the far right side of the property, near where the Masons and indigents were buried (which I discovered later), I “felt” a woman who was awake and not happy about our presence. She was buried with her husband and two children all of which she was trying to protect. I got the impression, from the candle stubs and other items around the area that not everyone was honoring the “stay out of the cemetery after dark” rule. I apologized for getting too close and we continued our walk. We took lots of pictures, did some EVP work but didn’t see or hear much besides one other entity, a female with a bad attitude. I felt her immediately as she pushed me away and later discovered that Tori and I successfully captured a voice on one of the audio files.
Here’s the clip, if you would like to hear it. At :42 was when I walked into the lady. :50 is when she speaks. I'll tell you at the end of this post what I think she said. I don't want to influence your listening skills.
Some notable residents of the Church Street Graveyard include Charles Boyington, Joe Cain and James Roper, the man who built Oakleigh Historic Home, the inspiration for Seven Sisters. It's a small area, only four acres but those that rest there have been there a long time. If you come to Mobile and decide to visit this historic location bring some beads for Joe Cain and lots of respect. They'll thank you for it.
PS. I'm hearing, "I hate you," at the :50 mark. What did you hear?
It's been a busy week for me, but then again, all weeks are and I kind of like that. I'm not one to veg out for days on end. Vegging out for just a day is hard for me. Unless I'm sick. Then of course I can't do much of anything. But thankfully, I'm as healthy as a horse and I'm brimming with creative ideas. Yep. I'm a creative junkie. I love writing, creating book covers and working on side projects like my upcoming Indie Author Roadmap. It's going to be an expansive course hosted on Teachable. If you've thought about writing a book but don't know how to get started this course is for you. Make sure you visit my Workshops page and add your name to the list to get notices about the course.
Speaking of loving the creativity, I began a new poem. I don't write poems often but it was on my bucket list for this year. Here's the beginning of my new poem, SHE STEPS LIGHTLY. I plan on including it in the new Lost Camelot book, The Last Queen of Camelot.
Lightly she steps
the candle at rest,
in the palm of her hand
Downward she goes
soil beneath toes,
into that darkest land
Oh, lady fair
with flowered hair
why come you to hear to die?
Life you should seek
not love so bleak
leave before endless night
Never she swore
we loved before
and we must love again
Embrace me then
you may step in
but never will you leave
Don't judge. It's a work in progress. In other news, I finished Wreath of Roses which is now with my editor. I cried at the end, I ain't even going to lie about it. Not because anything horrible happened but because it is the last of the Seven Sisters series. Even if Carrie Jo and Ashland investigate another house all the ghosts of Seven Sisters have finally been put to rest. I'm simultaneously happy and sad. I hope you love it too. It releases on March 1, 2019.
Now I'm working on my side projects but I'm also beginning The Ghost of Joanna Storm, the last of the Morgan's Rock trilogy. It will also likely have a bittersweet ending but it's time to give Megan her happily ever after (maybe?). Let me know what you think about my poem in the comments. Also, check out my Workshop page and be sure and add your name to the mailing list if you're interested in learning more starting your writing career.
Okay, no joking. Last question.
I've got so many books coming your way this year. Here's a slideshow of some (not all) of them. Which ones are you must excited about? Let me know in the comments section.
Some time last year, (2018) a friend of my husband's invited us to visit the fire station in downtown Mobile; it's known as the Central Fire Station. Knowing that I enjoy writing about ghost stories that feature the city and county of Mobile, I think Don, that's our friend, wanted to get our take on what was happening there. Or at least share his love for the historic lamdmark. As a former employee at the fire station, Don had experienced quite a few strange things in the old building, as did some of his coworkers. Needless to say I was ecstatic about the visit. But as a sensitive I did my best not to delve too deeply in the lore before my walkthrough. I prefer to pick up the paranormal details from the places I visit independently and then confirm what I'm seeing/sensing/feeling with actual historical facts. I admit that I'm late in coming to terms with the fact that I am a sensitive but now that I understand my weirdness has a name I've decided to embrace it. (But please don't ask me to do a reading. I can't. Don't know how and don't want to. I scan places, not living people.)
However, as much as I wanted to do the walk through without contamination it was impossible to avoid hearing about the alarm board incident. So full disclosure. Somewhere around 2010, as best as I can establish, the Gamewell Alarm System lit up. This massive, wall sized system was used to summon firemen to specific stations around the city. It was installed in 1925 and used until about forty years. Telephones and computers made such antiquated equipment unnecessary. At some point the batteries in the system were removed and the board was disconnected from any electrical source. That didn't stop it from lighting up one evening and it stayed lit for days. To make things stranger the two lights that came on were the 10 and the 4. (10-4, good buddy?) As I said, the board stayed on a few days and eventually went dark again. The board remains on one of the upper floors but as far as I know there hasn't been a repeat performance. Needless to say I didn't pick up anything near or around the board. I must say though it is a shame that the equipment is being housed in better conditions. What a great addition this would be to a museum!
Other paranormal reports at the station were phantom footsteps on the top floor and in the fire watch area on the roof. Don's office was once at that floor, he's since retired, and he related to us how one secretary moved her office to his floor, presumably to prevent having to walk up and down the stairs multiple times a day. But the phantom footsteps got too much for her and she decided to move back to one of the lower levels. She's just one of dozens who claim the place is haunted. The fire station is well kept but it is clearly an old building which adds to the charm of the Central Fire Station. Don told us that a paranormal group came in to investigate but they didn't record any evidence.
They were completely wrong. The place IS haunted.
Here's what I got.
I started "listening" on my way to the fire station. The first person I made contact with was a woman named Carla. She died not long ago and considers herself a caretaker of the fire station. She was adamant that I not "cast the fire station in a bad light." She said it was a good place with good people in it. I agreed with her request. I got the impression that she was a little nosy, more so now since she could eavesdrop on conversations without anyone noticing her. She had a son that she was very proud of and he was either a fireman at the station at one time or worked at the location. I got that she had short brown hair that she liked to color it blonde and she had thin eyebrows. After I assured her that I wasn't interested in writing anything negative about the fire station she left me alone but she did follow me around during my walk.
The second encounter I had was in the station. I saw a man pushing a broom. He wasn't wearing a shirt, just old fashioned pants, suspenders and boots. He apologized for being bare chested but he said he was hot. That keeping the place clean was a hot work. He was pushing a broom and cleaning the floor and I got the impression that he did this constantly. He was clean shaven with short hair, except for his mustache which he took great pride in. I would say he was in his late twenties or thirties but I think he was older when he died. He was kind of frenetic and had a lot of energy. I got that he died from a fall and that he struck his head. In life he was dedicated to his purpose. People might hear him knocking brooms around because he's kind of clumsy. He hasn't quite got the hang of handling his death. He isn't aware that he's bothering anyone. I got that he died in the 1870s. He stays mostly on the bottom floor. He likes to be close to the action.
The third person I encountered was a man on the top floor. He hardly noticed I was there and doesn't like for people to see him. He was a much older dead person, he died sometime in the 1830s. He doesn't like the thing on the roof, which he describes as a creature. He thinks the creature is trying to get in and this man feels that it is his job to keep it out. The man stays on the top floor and runs up the stairs whenever he hears the creature on the roof. People would hear him walking on the top floor and in the cat walk. He didn't want to talk to me and I couldn't get his name or anything else about him. If he's on the stairs when people come up he makes himself really flat against the wall to avoid detection. However, sometimes people see him as a shadow, when he can't get out of the way fast enough.
On the first encounter, I have no verification about the lady named Carla. I believe her that she feels connected to the place but I have nothing to prove she was ever there. In regards to the second encounter I know who this was. Don took us to the "break room" to meet some of the guys and I was surprised to see a painting of the man that I saw downstairs.
No wonder I saw him pushing brooms around! That had been his original job as a young man at the station. Housekeeping would have been one of his duties. The injury to his head could either have been from a fall from the buggy (he was clumsy for sure) or the stroke which would have most certainly been a head injury.
I don't know who the third person was that I met but I got the feeling that he wasn't limited to that one building. And he's certainly "at war" with something that only he can see.
So that's it. If the opportunity comes about that I can investigate the place more fully I will. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, I do plan to write about Fire Chief Sloan and the man on the top floor in one of my Gulf Coast Paranormal books. The title is The Ghosts of Phoenix No. 7. It won't be out until later this year but I'll keep you posted. I will be dedicating this book to the First Responders of Mobile. It was an honor meet so many of them. (Did you know Mobile currently has twelve women serving as firefighters? How awesome is that?
My Favorite Memory of 2018!
AKA My Cousins Are Going to Kill Me For Posting This
It’s that time of year, y’all. The time where forward-minded folks like us assess the past year’s progress and usually decide to make changes to what we do, how we behave or what we eat. It’s all very promising when you’re proverbially standing on the precipice of January 1, 2019. The world is waiting for you and I; all our hopes and dreams are right at our feet, the possibilities are endless. I love the feeling of a new year. I love it. Almost as much as the feeling I have when I begin a new book. I adore both of those experiences. And in past years I was right on board with all the other Resolution Makers. But not this year. I’m spending more time on the review of 2018. I guess you could call it Counting My Blessings before moving on. Don’t get me wrong, I have a plan and things I want to change. I love goal setting. I followed the 2018 plan for myself and although I didn’t get 100% of the results I hoped for—wow! 2018 was a remarkable year for me.
I walked my first 5k. That had been a bucket list item so bonus to me for achieving that. Have I mentioned how much I love St. Jude? I think I’m going to go for it again this year. It didn’t matter that I was practically dead last crossing that finish line. I did it!
I slow danced with the Mister. In public. On multiple occasions. We were involved in so many wonderful events this year, so many opportunities to slow dance. And we did. And I loved every minute of it and I love him. He’s My Imperfect Cowboy, even with his bad jokes and his two left feet. He still looks a treat in a pair of jeans and those eyes…
Yep, My Imperfect Cowboy. (Hey, that sounds like a book title. Please don’t steal it, fellow writers. LOL)
But hands down my favorite memory of 2018, was our cousin Christmas party. I had no idea that I missed this so much until I was with them again. I reunited with family members, cousins, I hadn’t seen in ages. We had our first reunion and it was a blast. I love my Viking Cousins and I’m so glad that there are so many amazing people in my family tree. I look forward to the future. And I'm glad to say that I spent plenty of time with my "squad," including a my "most bestest."
Another cool 2018 adventure? Actually I had several paranormal adventures. My spooky friend, Victoria and I walked through Old Cahawba this year, as well as visited a local cemetery. It was exciting and a blast. Not to mention the ghost hunt tour in Mobile. It was great ghost hunting with the ten of you ladies. I hope we can do it again soon.
I guess the reason I’m telling you all this is to encourage you. Not to brag on myself. I encourage you to look back at your year and look for the good things. Don’t let 2018 be a complete write off. Welcome the Do Over that 2019 brings but don’t dismiss the many blessings you have enjoyed.
Some of you will have endured significant losses in 2018. It’s never easy losing people you love. Trust me, I know this. I lost my little brother in 2017 to MS. What a cruel way to die. But I have to move forward and so do you. Look for the good things and remember those too. Let grief do its work but keep your eyes on the horizon, my friend.
Hint! Want to see how great your life is? Keep a planner and write in it every day. Make THAT your resolution. It’s a great tool to use when you need to go back and remember all the good that happened to you. Your heart and mind and soul deserves to be reminded of all the sweet moments that you've experienced. It can be easy to forget during times of adversity.
And if nobody else says it I sure will. “You are loved and celebrated. Make 2019 the best year ever! You can do it!”
- Monica Leigh (M.L.) Bullock
Here's a sample!
I had kept an eye on the balcony entrance as best I could between thanking my guests, but I had not seen him step back inside. I tugged his jacket around me tighter as I ventured back out to the balcony. Besides a few potted trees and a sitting bench, I saw nothing and no one at all. I glanced around in hopes of finding my treasure, but there wasn’t a trace. Perhaps Father had collected it and planned to force me to confess the loss. That must be it! He must have it in his possession!
“Father?” I called as I stepped out a bit further. Could I have missed his return? There was no trace of him out here.
Except his shoe. Where would he have gone with one shoe? I picked it up and clutched the leather protectively. Yes, this was certainly his shoe.
I walked to the edge of the stone balcony and looked across the forested area toward Rockville. Strangely enough, the fog had lifted, disappearing as if it had never arrived. Never covered the town. Had an ocean breeze blown it away? Had I dreamed the fog? That could not be true; I wore my father’s jacket, and this was his shoe. That was no dream.
That’s when I heard a scream—a long and terrible blood-curdling scream rose up from the driveway below. A woman by the sound of it. I peered over the side of the balcony and, to my horror, saw my father’s broken body sprawled on the ground. His head was turned around backward, and his eyes stared up at me. His legs and arms were akimbo, flung out wildly like a marionette cut from his strings from a very great height. A scream of my own erupted from my lips and seemed to last forever. I cannot say how long I leaned there, over the side of the balcony staring and screaming at the sight below, but it seemed like forever.
Continued from last week's post, September Hauntings: Spooky Stories with M.L. Bullock
You lose your footing momentarily but steady yourself by grabbing the closest small pine tree. The footsteps stop behind you and you can’t resist looking as you put your free hand up to fend off the potential attacker but there is no one there. With a shocked gasp you continue to run down the road. Despite the chilliness of the afternoon you feel sweat popping out on your forehead. Why do you feel so sick?
“Burly! Get back here!” You know the dog can’t hear you, he’s too far ahead. In fact, you notice his barking has stopped altogether. You find yourself in front of the house. You pace the road and stare at the place, dread fills your heart. No, your soul. You want nothing more than to be away from here. You wouldn’t go in that house for a sack of money or anything else.
“Burly!” You call again but he’s not answering. You think you hear him whimper, the sound comes from the depths of the house. Yes, he’s in there. What should you do? Go home and call someone? That seems a ridiculous thing to do. You’re a grown woman and you’re not afraid of the dark or things under the bed. At least, not since you were a kid. When you were a kid you were afraid of everything. Halloween, dark corners under the stairs, Aunt Rita’s basement. Why was it that this house brought all those childish fears back? There wasn’t anything special about it. Not really. A dilapidated, two-story Victorian with broken windows, missing paint and a porch that looked like it would fall in at any moment. Not scary at all.
“Burly! I’m not calling you again!” You threaten as you hear him answer with a troubled bark. Yes, he was definitely inside the house.
You pace a few more seconds and then unzip your jacket a bit. You left your phone behind and who was to say you would get a signal on this lonely road? That wasn’t an option.
Steeling your nerves, you pick up a stick, just in case there are predators hiding inside. You whack the stick in the palm of your hand to make sure it’s not rotten. It’s solid. Not much protection but at least it’s something. Maybe it will help you if you encounter an angry rodent.
But you know there are ghosts in there…you can feel it. Your stick won’t help you with the ghosts.
Maybe this isn’t such a good idea, you say to yourself. You could go home and call the neighbor. You really shouldn’t trespass on someone else’s property. Right? That’s the responsible thing to do.
The leaves stir behind you. Those footsteps have returned. You aren’t looking back again. No, not again. You step into the yard and approach the porch. With measured movements you move up each step until you are standing in front of the open door.
“Burly? Come here, boy.” You hold the stick tightly. Your mouth feels dry as you push the door open. It groans as it sags awkwardly on the rusty hinge.
“Please…Burly,” you whisper with one last hope that you won’t have to go inside. Maybe he’ll answer you this time. Be a good boy, Burly, you think but he does not come.
That’s when you feel two hands shove you and you fall into the house.
Are you scared yet? Leave me a comment below!
Hi, everyone. We’re slap-dab in the middle of September. Can you believe it? This year is sailing past us but at least it saved the best for last. Spring leaves me feeling inspired; summer reminds of happy moments and is the perfect background for making more but there is something about fall…I think it is my favorite time of year. Not just the theoretically cooler temperatures (I live in south Mississippi) or the crunching of leaves underfoot or the smell of a roaring fire and hot chocolate. This time of year is much more than football and hayrides. Yes, fall is so much more to me. It’s storytelling time!
I thought it would be kind of neat to share a story with you. I’ll add to it every few days. Here’s one for September. Let me know what you think.
The season comes with long shadows and hiking boots and you love it. It is a combination you can’t resist. You put on comfortable jeans, a warm sweater, and lace up your boots. You aren’t the only one that is excited. Your dog jumps around excited to take a walk with you. The two of you play in the leaves for a few minutes but you really want to stretch your legs so you hook up his leash and head down the road. It is quiet out here. This is no busy highway but a lonely country road. You don’t regret the decision you made to leave the city behind and live in more peaceful surroundings. The cottage is cozy and you’ve gotten a lot of writing done recently. The new book should be finished right on time. You breathe in the air and let it out. Yes, you love everything about your new life.
Except that house.
The abandoned house down the road is no longer hidden with overgrown foliage. The leaves have fallen away and revealed the skeletal remains of a once friendly farmhouse. You can see it plainly as your dog tugs you along towards it. You aren’t one for dramatics but you feel as if ghosts must wander there. And they beckon you subtly. As you turn your head away, your eyes are immediately drawn back. You can see someone moving around on the top floor, just out the corner of your eye. You stop and stare but there’s nothing to see.
You cross the red dirt road. Best to avoid the place altogether. That’s what the postman told you and you had every intention of taking his advice but you pause again. Just there! You see a hand on the window pane, white and small. A child’s hand.
But that can’t be right. There is no one living there. The mailbox is missing; the front door is hanging on one hinge. A few windows are broken. But your dog sniffs the air as if he catches a whiff of something too. Fear grips you and you tug at his leash as you fight the urge to run and then the fear vanishes almost as suddenly as it appeared.
That’s so odd, you think to yourself as you remain rooted to the spot.
The aroma of musty leaves and rotten wood fill the crisp, autumnal air. You want to leave but you’re transfixed by the house. You manage to coax your dog away from the house and the two of you travel down the road and up the hill. You have no intention of staying out late, you just wanted to take a quick walk to stretch your legs. Yes, up the hill to take a few photos with your camera and then back home again. You have friends are coming visit; they have been dying to see the new cottage.
As you walk, you can’t help but look over your shoulder. The sound of footsteps behind you frightens you but you are determined not to look back.
But your dog does and he begins to growl. You pull him close to you and steel your nerves. You don’t want to look, you really don’t but the dog’s hair is standing up on the back of his neck. He is immovable. Slowly you spin on your heel, you clutch his leash desperately.
There is no one there. Your dog remains at attention as if he can see something or someone you can’t. Feeling slightly sick you decide to go home. The beauty of the late September afternoon has quickly faded and you want nothing more than to hide in your room. In your bed, if possible.
Suddenly, your dog lurches forward, the leash slips from your grip and you watch in horror as he barrels down the road barking ferociously. And he is running full speed towards the house. Not your house but the empty, broken one.
The empty house, the one you wanted to avoid.
The sound of footsteps behind you let you know that you aren’t running alone…
What do you think? Do you want to hear more? Let me know in the COMMENTS section.
Mobile, AL, 1883
As the horses’ hooves clopped heavily on the dry, red dirt road, I tugged on the black thread that I had tied around my finger. My eyes gazed past the driver of the carriage, but he was not my focus at all. I was seeing beyond this moment in time into another world. There were many interesting things to see here past the veil. Oh yes, the air was thick with sorrow on both sides, the atmosphere so saturated with grief and loss it was almost tangible. And I felt power. Slowing my breathing, I stared intently into the beyond—I had to see more! Yes, you could feel it with your fingers and taste it in your mouth. I could see it all now, all except them, the dead who hid from me. Why would they? But I would wait, I would remain focused. They could not hide from me forever. No, not forever.
Ah, the sorrow. Yes, the air was heavy with regret, and just like dew on the morning grass, it would fall upon someone sooner or later.
“Almost there, ma’am,” the driver said with a friendly smile, but I paid him no mind. I gave him no answer, no sign that I valued the information he offered me. I knew exactly where I was—I was no stranger to Seven Sisters. My late husband had been in the employment of the Delarosa family, a fact that he had taken great pride in.
You should have listened to me, Max. I warned you that Death wandered the halls of Seven Sisters, but you didn’t believe me. You never believed in my powers, and now you are gone. But I am not gone. I will see you again, my clever one. You spun your web too quickly, Max, my darling. Too tightly and too quickly, and you snared yourself. I have real magic, my poor husband. Watch and see.
Although our marriage was legal, it had not been widely publicized. Max and I agreed upon this. It was rather scandalous for a young man to marry an older woman, but the difference in our ages had not mattered to either of us. We had been like two old souls, born for one another. Max had been my fourth husband—I’d been widowed three times—but he was the one I had loved the best, despite his moral turpitude. His scheming repelled me at first, but Max had a rare elegance about him; he was a charismatic spellbinder, and I could not help but fall under his power. But he became too ambitious, too sure of himself in the end. He was not the purest of souls, but he had been my husband, and upon learning about his death, I realized just how much I loved him.
Through some difficult spirit work, I delivered a kind of justice for Max, but my dead husband was not satisfied. Oh, I can feel such power here! Yes, there were many restless spirits associated with the grand old home. I tugged the thread tighter, my gray eyes focused on the space in front of me. Contrary to what the driver might believe, I wasn’t watching the road rise up ahead. I wasn’t studying the flickering amber lights of the fine home that welcomed her arriving guests. Although the sound of the creaking oak boughs above me briefly caught my attention, as did the occasional cascade of leaves and Spanish moss that flitted about, I saw none of it. Only sensed it.
Tug tighter. Feel the pain. Endure it. Pain frees you, Margaret. It is the catalyst.
Dr. Maxwell had been an excellent mentor, a patient teacher and a student of the emerging world of spiritualism, but in the end, I had grown past him. In all ways. I had not realized how true that was until the day I left the institute. I’d been so young when I came under his wing. He’d treated me like a daughter, but his refusal to acknowledge my emerging gifts had frustrated me beyond words. In the end, I had to leave. But even today, as the sun beat down on my face and the air chilled my bones, I could hear him coaxing me on, instructing me.
Still your mind. Focus on the veil. Feel the pain, Margaret. It is the key.
I tugged harder on the black silk, so hard that I was sure my finger was bleeding. Suddenly, the air moved and I gasped at the double sight that appeared before me. No, he couldn’t hide forever! I could see the road, yes, but also a dark figure. A shade, a ghost. It was as if the two images were superimposed on one another, the figure and the road. And as we moved, he moved. A man! Like an arrow from a taut bowstring, he raced ahead of us now, his black hair fluttering about his face. He paused and hovered at the crux of the road where it turned to the long drive that would lead me to Seven Sisters. I did not question the vision, for I could see Jonatan Delarosa clearly. And I smiled at him.
I whispered, “Oh, yes. You remember me, don’t you, Jonatan? But you are dead now, dead like my Max and like Memphis. Tell me, Jonatan, does she haunt you? Can a ghost be haunted by another?”
The carriage driver cast a glance over his shoulder and asked, “Ma’am?” but I didn’t break my focus. I waved him silent with my bloody finger, and he moved the carriage along at a more hurried pace, but the damage was done. The change in speed broke my trance, and I unwound the black string and tucked it in the pocket of my black dress. Smothering the wound with my handkerchief, I shot the driver a look of disapproval, but he did not look back again. No, he wouldn’t look again. Oh, but he could feel me. I stared at his back and imagined raking my fingernails across his flesh. I smiled as he shivered briefly and then popped at the reins.
Jonatan was gone from my vision now, but he had not gone far. He’d faded into the background of falling leaves and was carried away on the icy, late-fall breeze. I smiled as I watched the tangle of red, brown and gold leaves scurry toward the house as if they too wanted to shield the Delarosa family from my arrival.
But it was too late now. I was here.
I didn’t smile and clap my hands as I so wanted to do. I kept my composure as the carriage came to a halt in front of the house. The driver made no move to assist me, which was just as well as I did not like to be touched by strangers. I shoved my mossy green bustle behind me and escaped from the carriage as smoothly as possible. I had not brought my trunks with me. Not yet. But they were packed and ready to go at the hotel if I should need them, if the work here took me longer than expected. I could send for them later, at the appropriate time.
Jacinta Delarosa alone came to greet me. Her once-handsome face was pale except for the bold red patches on her cheeks. This color came not from rouge but from liquor. Was she drinking now? Oh, that would work in my favor. With a false expression of concern, I climbed the steps and offered my gloved hands to her. She clutched them like a drowning man would clutch the hands of his rescuer. Then she kissed them, and I bit the inside of my lip to keep from smiling.
“Thank God you are here. I have so wanted you to come, Madam Serena. Welcome to my home. Welcome to Seven Sisters.”
“I am glad to do so, Mrs. Delarosa. I am happy to be of service to you, my dear, and I have good news. I have already seen your son; he greeted me on the road. A handsome boy with long, dark hair. He waved me down the driveway.”
My half-true confession drew a gasp from Jacinta’s pale lips. “My Jonatan! That is my son! Then he is here. I knew it. Please come in!”
I released her hands and stepped through the open door. “Yes, I think I will.” My eyes took in the grand entrance, and I could smell the promise of a delicious meal. Someone slammed a door above us, but perhaps it was only the wind. In a house as large and fine as this, that was possible. Things would move. Doors would close. No doubt there were many spirits here. Yes, the air was rich with all manner of negative emotions. No wonder Max loved this place and wanted so desperately to claim it. Seven Sisters drew you in. It had a presence about it, a strange charisma, like it wanted you to love it and it would always love you back. Forever.
I knew what Dr. Maxwell would say about the aging antebellum home. The place has a powerful energy and great potential for important spiritual work. What fun I would have here! I would open every door I could. I would uncover every Delarosa rock; in the end, I would leave them with nothing.
Not even their dignity.
I smiled up at the big empty staircase. Someone unseen watched me from the highest step. I could hear her sighing at me.
Watch and witness my power, all you dead. Watch and witness…
As a kid, I never wanted to be a superhero but I would have traded all my Barbies to be Nancy Drew. That love for mysteries and a total obsession with ghost stories is what led me to become a writer. I just love a mystery!
I'm a true blue Southern girl who loves living on the Gulf Coast. When I'm not playing the trumpet or hanging out with the people I love, I'm probably daydreaming.
It's really what I do best.