An Intriguing Paranormal Encounter "Mysterious Night"
An Intriguing Intense Spooky (But Not Scary) Paranormal Experience That Happened To Me Many Years Ago In High School. Enjoy!
This experience happened to me in 1972 while in my second foster home. I was fifteen years old. We had an eccentric neighbor who I felt very drawn to as well as frightened of. I will let the story speak for itself for it is based on the notes I wrote in my journal.
"Something about the old woman perturbed me. She had a way of staring at me that made me feel she wanted something. I had no idea what and no intention of finding out. I kept as far from her as I could, which wasn’t easy since she was our neighbor. In spite of the nuclear family age of the 21st century, Veronica's (my foster mother) philosophy was that neighbors were like an extended family. That meant she expected me to be nice to our neighbors, which in her book meant checking up on them and offering help from time to time, especially the ones who lived alone. In our case, we only had one neighbor who lived alone: Miss Howard.
I don’t think Miss Howard ever blinked. Her black eyes seemed to mirror evil incarnate. I kept praying that she would move away. No such luck! She lived three houses down from ours. What was so strange is how she seemed to know when I would be going out for a walk. It's not like I had a usual time or anything. On weekends I pretty much took off whenever I pleased. Veronica knew that I was somewhat a loner. She had no fear or worry of me getting into trouble. I preferred being out in nature and roaming the fields to being around other kids. I lived in the small suburb of Owensboro, KY in a little town called Sargho. I was a freshman at the local high school. Some of the kids commented on a strange woman who lived in Sargho who was known to be a witch. Even though I know we can't believe everything we hear, I still wondered what they mean for there is often at least some truth behind rumors. Maybe she was a witch. So often she would be looking out the second story window and when I would pass she would stare at me then wave. Chills would go all through me and I'd feel creepy.
I knew that strange things went on in Miss Howard’s house. I could just feel it. I feel lots of things which turn out to be right. To make things more difficult she was always nice to my foster family. She was constantly giving treats to my foster brother twins Maxwell and Mark.
Spring and summer were the very worst, because Veronica insisted that I cut Miss Howard’s grass for her. I liked her grass being tall and overgrown. At least it served to cover part of her house for part of the year. I’d put off cutting it as long as I could, feigning having to stay after school for extracurricular activities. That would sometimes tide me over for a couple weeks depending on how busy Veronica was. Then one day, unexpectedly, Veronica would say, “Michael, you’ve got to cut Miss Howard’s grass soon before it grows so tall it covers the entire house.”
Little did she know that’s exactly what I wanted. At least Miss Howard never pressured me to do it. She never said anything other than an occasional Hello. She would wave more often and give me that long stare which I’m convinced could see right through my bones. I could just feel it. When I’d cut her grass she’d leave me alone not even bringing me soft-drinks. I broke her from that the first time with my “No, thank you,” and icy stare. It didn’t seem to faze her but she left me alone. And I could always see that little smile on her curved lips and that little twinkle in her eye that made me feel anxious and uncomfortable. Without speaking a word it was as though she were saying, I am in control. I will bide my time and I will get what I want. Just you wait and see, sonny boy.
How could Veronica stand to be around her? Her scraggly hair looked like snakes were curled in it. Her wrinkled old clothes never matched. They were often ripped and she smelled. Veronica said that I exaggerated and should be a little friendlier to her. “You never know when you might need to call upon her,” Veronica would insist. “One should always be nice to their neighbors. That’s how I was raised and that is what I am passing on to you.”
“I know,” I’d say, repeating her little tirade. “You’ve told me this a hundred times now.”
“And I’ll tell you a hundred more,” she’d reply. “Why not go over for dinner just once with the kids. They rave about Miss Howard’s cooking.”
“That woman is spooky. The day I carried her groceries inside was the spookiest day of my life. There were eyes glaring at me from every corner of her house. I tell you that woman is in cahoots with somebody or something. There is someone who stares at you from one of her paintings.”
“Your imagination works overtime, Michael. Miss Howard is a harmless old woman. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
I’d frown and walk away. My friend Tommy Bailey told me that I must feel something for the old woman; otherwise I wouldn’t talk about her so much. “I don't feel anything for her,” I’d reply, smirking. True, I have no evidence to validate my theory that she was into strange things but my day was coming. I’d find the needed evidence. I was certain of that. That woman reeked of mystery and I was the kind of person who had to unravel it. I’d be patient but eventually I’d find out what strange things take place in that house.
Maybe I’d sneak into her house one day when Veronica took her shopping. Lord knows what I might find. And why didn't she take better care of her house? Rumor says that Miss Howard has lots of money. She could afford to have the roof patched, a new paint job and to replace that God forsaken porch I fear Mark or Max are going to fall through one day. That big oak tree in the middle of the front yard should have been cut down fifty years ago with so many branches broken off from storms. None of the other trees in our neighborhood were a third that size. Who would listen to me? My foster father said he liked her place; that it was nice to preserve history and the past whenever possible. Mark wouldn’t care if it were haunted by a hundred ghosts. He’d walk into a dragon’s lair if there were food inside.
To vent my frustrations I wrote a story about Miss Howard for English class. Miss Andrews gave me an A saying it was the best fiction short-story from the class, and wanted to publish it in the creative writing newsletter. She didn’t believe me when I insisted it wasn’t fiction. It seemed everyone believed Miss Howard’s craziness was a creation of my imagination.
A few days before Thanksgiving the mystery was finally resolved. Veronica and Sam were away for the weekend. Mark and Maxwell were visiting their foster grandparents. Sam said that he trusted me to take care of the place. I didn’t have much choice since my term paper for Miss Andrews was due on Monday and I was behind on it. I desperately needed an A out of her class.
After several hours of steady work on my research paper I was ready for a break. I had a sudden urge to walk to Miss Howard’s house. I stepped out onto the porch barefoot to check out the weather. It was dark with very little moonlight filtering through the trees. She’d never see me. Most of the neighbor’s lights were out. The crisp air was conducive for an evening stroll. I went back inside, grabbed my blue sweater, put on my sneakers and headed out the front door.
The smell of rain was in the air, and although the weatherman had forecasted rain tonight, I knew it wouldn’t rain until tomorrow. How did I know? The same way I knew Miss Howard was into strange things. I felt it. Sometimes I can tell who is calling before picking up the phone. I never talk about this to anyone. They might think I’m possessed or something.
After walking a few feet from Miss Howard’s house, suddenly I stopped dead in my tracks. Shivers ran up my spine when I looked in her living room. A dark figure with a bluish glow around his face was dancing with a beautiful young woman to the sound of waltz music. I had to get a close up view of this. I wish I had brought a camera. Wonder if the bluish glow would photograph? Walking considerably slower than before, I headed toward the big oak tree in her front yard. It would shield my presence. I knew that I could not easily be seen from a lighted room.
As I approached closer, the sound of the window opening grabbed my attention. The beautiful young woman looked out the window as she opened it about twelve inches. She tilted her head to the left, then to the right before looking straight at the tree where I was hiding. I rigidly arched my body, standing erect to be sure I was well hidden. She stood still several minutes. I had a strange feeling that she had actually expected my arrival. The sound of the waltz music playing in the background faded, and she began whistling softly. A black bird perched in the top of the tree, fluttered about and then flew away, causing me to jump. The woman looked up then moved away from the window, pulling the black velvet drapes halfway shut. The music began playing once more. The drapes swayed in a swirling dance like rhythm which made me wonder whether the breeze or the woman was causing the movement.
A few moments later the dancing resumed. I was captivated by the scene. Although the partially closed drapes blocked half the view, I could still see part of the man’s face, and the glow which emanated from it. I had to move closer for a better look. Considering whether it would be safe to go up to the porch, I began feeling drowsy. My mind started feeling fuzzy and confused. The drowsiness grew heavier.
The next thing I knew the young woman returned to the window. I should have felt frightened but didn’t. All my fear vanished, and before I realized what was happening, I was walking towards the porch. It felt like the young woman was somehow luring me there. Part of me wanted to run with all my might back home, lock the doors, close the curtains, shut off the lights and hide under my bead, but another part of me was fascinated by the woman and man, and I had to find out who they were. A dozen questions ran through my mind. My body was as light as a feather and it felt as though I was being carried by an invisible force to Miss Howard’s porch.
“Where is Miss Howard?” I wondered. “”Who are these people? What is the glow around the man’s face? Before I could begin to hypothesize about the situation, the front door opened at exactly the precise moment I stepped on the porch.
The young woman stared at me with black piercing eyes which never blinked. “Just like Miss Howard,” I noted. How bizarre! I felt every cell in my body was being penetrated and examined. I wanted to tell her that I was from out of town and ask for directions to the Myers house. Since she didn’t live in Miss Howard’s house-or if so I had never seen her-I was counting on her not recognizing me. There was a warmth and kindness about her, even if she never blinked, and had the same eyes as Miss Howard.
As she continued staring at me without speaking, I felt she would know if I lied, so I hesitated about telling the out-of-town story. She kept looking at me. I soon felt panicky and struggled to repress my increased breathing, fearing it would give the impression that my intentions were not honorable and benevolent. I found it difficult to move. Perhaps fear is paralyzing my body, I thought. I conjured up a half-dozen horror stories of what fate lay in store for me tonight, while the young woman persisted in looking at me.
Five or ten minutes passed before a word was spoken. I had never looked at anyone that long before, nor felt so under someone else’s influence. I was convinced some invisible force was holding me in place. Finally when I was shaking so hard I could barely contain myself, the woman smiled and softly greeted me.
“Good evening, Michael. What made you decide to pay me a visit?”
“Excuse, me,” I said, my voice quaking, “do I know you?”
“Not exactly but you want to. How is your term paper coming along?”
“How do you know I’m writing a term paper?”
“Your foster mother told me,” she said, moving closer. For the first time, her black eyes sent a shocking recognition up my spine. I could never mistake those eyes, not even a mile away. “Miss Howard,” I exclaimed, my mouth gaping widely.
“At your service,” she answered, offering a curtsy.
“But you look so different.”
“Do I really, Michael? Lots of things in this world are not what they seem, including people. I’ve been waiting a long time for this meeting, but you had to make the effort on your own. Come in, won’t you? We’ll have some tea and a chat. I’ve made some delicious almond chocolate fudge just for this occasion.”
I was torn between fear and fascination, so I chose to join Miss Howard, or whoever she was, for tea. Her house was surprisingly neat and in order. That was not the way I remembered it the time I brought her groceries in. It was as though she had cleaned and prepared for guests. The furniture, which was covered in dust before, shone with a lemon fragrance. Wilted flowers had been replaced by fresh roses. The huge painting behind the wall near the mantle, which had been lopsided, was straight. I moved towards it for closer inspection while she prepared the tea. The first thing that caught my attention was the dark piercing eyes. They looked exactly like Miss Howard’s eyes. The longer I looked at the painting of the tall impeccably dressed gentleman, the more real those eyes became. At one point I thought they moved. “My eyes must be playing tricks on me,” I said, moving away. The eyes followed me.
Exercising my will fully, I refused to look back at the painting, no matter how strongly it compelled me. Sitting back in the thick dark plush chair, I began examining other areas of the huge room. My reverie was interrupted by Miss Howard a few minutes later. She brought a tray with a pot of tea and cups and a saucer with fudge on it.
“What do you think of the painting, Michael?” she asked, pouring steaming cinnamon tea.
“It’s very interesting,” I commented, hoping she would change the subject.
“Does it look familiar?”
“Now that you mention it, it does,” I said, taking a piece of fudge. I realized that the aquiline shaped nose and dark long hair resembled the man with the glow I had seen dancing with her earlier through the window. I didn’t dare tell her about that in spite of the feeling I had that she already knew. I looked away. She granted my wish, at least for a moment and remained quiet.
“Is the fudge good?” she asked a few moments later, grinning.
“Yes,” I replied, still seeing the image of the man in the painting and the one dancing with her earlier. I was ready to get up and go look at it again, but came out of my trance like stupor when she tapped me on the knee.
“Are you alright, Michael?”
“I’m fine,” I stammered, my head slightly spinning. She either didn’t notice or chose to ignore it. For a moment I felt terrorized, thinking that I had been drugged. When I tried to move my legs to get up, they would not budge. I also noted that my breathing had increased, “Keep calm,” I mentally told myself, “if you become hysterical, you will only make a fool out of yourself.”
She looked at me for several moments. Coolness slowly enveloped me, and the dizziness subsided. She resumed her small talk. It seemed that she could continue forever. For a moment I had the feeling I was dreaming. Then I looked at her again. Her piercing gaze was so intense that I actually flinched. This certainly did not feel like a dream. We continued talking about superficial topics a few minutes until I could take it no more.
“Miss Howard, I can’t stand the suspense anymore,” I said, interrupting her talk about flowers. “I’ve got to have some answers. Please!”
“What would you like to know, Michael?” she asked nonchalantly.
“For starters how can you be Miss Howard and yet look like a completely different woman except for the eyes?”
“Isn’t there something you’re not asking, Michael, that you really want to know? Sometimes the questions we hold back are the ones we most want answers for.”
“You’re right. Who is that man you were dancing with? I saw you through the window while I was walking down the street.”
“And you saw us from behind the oak tree,” she added in a nonjudgmental tone. “I don’t mind that you were snooping. I was the one who put you up to it.”
“Oh,” I gasped, covering my mouth with my hand. “That doesn’t make sense to me but maybe it helps explain why I’m here."
“How to begin,” she said, pouring more tea. “Would you like more fudge?”
“Michael, you and I have a lot in common,” she said, blowing her tea gently before sipping it. “You may not realize it but you will later. I know that you have had some unusual experiences, shall we say, just as you have always sensed that about me. Since you are tired of speaking of superficial things why don't you tell me a little bit about some of your past, shall we say, paranormal experiences. I know they go way back with you."
"I took a sip of tea and nibbled on the fudge. "When I was about three years old I saw spirits and I called them 'fendy faces' because I could not say friendly faces. My father made fun of me so I somehow shut that door. I would have dreams that sometimes came true, and know things about people without having to say a word to them. I kept that to myself. I really wasn't that interested in developing it until a lady in church gave me a prophecy and blessing. She said I had a lot of talents and that God and his angels would watch over me and I'd help a lot of people. She said I would be shown things and have lots of visions. She also said that I would meet some sky people. That kind of blew me away. Then about a year later an angel visited me in our back yard and predicted my future."
Miss Howard's eyes twinkled like stars. She let out a snicker and took both my hands in hers. "Michael, we are both fascinated by the unknown, and we possess abilities many people don’t believe in or accept. We often know things before they happen, we sense things about people, and we can sometimes portend and see into the future.”
I nodded in agreement, my knees shaking and heart pounding.
“Try to relax,” she said, moving a long strand of blond hair over her shoulder. “You’re in the company of a kindred spirit,” she said, emphasizing the word spirit, as she looked at me intently. “We all have many different sides, Michael. Sometimes they can clash. If there’s a part of us we don’t like, or are even scared of, we often try to deny or repress it. Sooner or later we run into people who mirror those qualities we don’t like about ourselves.”
“Is that why I’ve felt afraid of you, Miss Howard?” I asked, still finding it hard to believe this young woman was Miss Howard.
“Yes. You always knew when you looked into my eyes that things were not as they appeared, or let me say your intuition knew, just like it knows lots of things your mind can’t reason out. Instead of trying to reconcile your feelings with your thoughts, and learning about me, you chose to make me your enemy. Note, that I didn’t make you my enemy. I always knew of our connection and tried to be friendly. You created an entire scenario in your mind of who and what you thought I was and then you proceeded to feel and act accordingly. Needless to say, your fright and repulsion for me were totally without reason or merit, and you had no justification for any of your bad feelings other than your own ideas that you fabricated.”
“Why didn’t you straighten things out?”
“You wouldn’t have listened. You’d have interpreted any effort of friendship from my part as an attempt to bewitch or harm you. This is exactly what you did, did you not?”
“You should have made me listen.”
“I’m not a witch,” she said, giving me a big lovely smile.
I noticed the full round curve of her lips and how beautiful she really was.
“I don’t make people do anything,” she said, interrupting my reverie. I knew you’d eventually come around and simply waited. Tonight was the perfect time. With your family away, there would be no distractions or interruptions."
“Do you do mind reading and did you use your mind to force me over here?”
“Influence yes, but not force. “I just told you I’m not an evil witch who casts evil spells. I’m not a witch at all. There are some good ones, you,” she teased. “I mentally sent you the thought and because you are so receptive you received my thought, and responded, not knowing whether it was your thought or mine. That is why you felt confused. I knew you were sensing what was going on over here, which I’ll take about soon. I choose to hide my real appearance from most people so they won’t bother me with annoying unnecessary questions.”
“Like why isn’t a young beautiful woman like yourself married? How can a young woman live in a big house all alone? Things like that?”
“Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder as the saying goes, but you have got the basic idea. Since you have the ability to see past appearances, my old woman disguise never convinced you. I encouraged you to come over tonight so you could learn who I really am, and as a result learn more about yourself. In a way I am a spooky person, but only in the sense that people tend to be afraid of the unknown and what they don’t understand. Some people even cringe if you speak words like the occult, esoteric, paranormal, fortune telling, psychic, or divination. Sure I'm interested in all of the above. The word occult simply comes from the Latin word occultus meaning that which is concealed or hidden. Just because something is hidden from normal view should and does not make it evil. People like to see things the way they expect them to be. They don’t want their tidy and neatly packaged belief systems challenged or invalidated. As long as I play the role of the eccentric old maid people leave me alone. It makes my life a lot easier and doesn’t threaten them.
“This is my home, Michael. I had five wonderful years with my husband Jacob. When he died I knew I’d never move away. So I fabricated a story of selling the house to my grand-mother Caroline Howard. You could say I basically willed the house to myself, except that nobody knew it. And I have been playing out that role ever since. Most people can be fooled if you are crafty enough. When someone occasionally asks about the young beautiful woman who lived here I simply say that after the death of her husband she moved back near her family. Two years later she found a nice gentleman and is currently happily married in Northern California. That seems to satisfy them.
I wanted to ask her how her husband died, but figured that she would tell me if she wanted to reveal that information.
“There are other reasons I stayed which I’ll explain later when I tell you who I was dancing with.” She looked at me silently as though expecting me to figure out the answer to my questions. “Sometimes we can answer our own questions, Michael. We can see symbols, pictures and images in our minds which provide the answers we seek. Some call it dreaming in the daytime. Our dreams are our teachers, but few take the time to get acquainted with them and learn what their symbols and messages mean. Just as we see symbols and images in our dreams at night, so can we learn to see them in the day time. It just takes some practice and work to learn how. Don’t you day dream?”
“Yes, but doesn’t everyone?”
“Not as well as you. You’ve had a few which came true. This is called precognition. You are very psychic and clairvoyant, Michael. I hope you realize that this gift of yours is not evil, and that it can be used to help yourself and other people.”
“Who would want to listen or believe me?”
“People often listen to us when we are sincere and honest no matter how strange what we say may seem.”
“These wonderful psychic gifts you possess are a blessing. We all possess them, but most people never awaken them. Your intuition is strong like the lady at church told you but your error is that you usually doubt your original intuitive feelings and then react against them. That is when you are wrong. Do you regret coming over here tonight?”
“What made you come over? I thought you hated me,” she teased me.
“I don't think hate is the right word. I was afraid of you. Now I have changed.”
“Thank goodness for change.”
“Looking back, I see that I have always been intrigued by you. My friend Tommy said I had to feel something for you, or I wouldn’t be so obsessed always talking about you. You are the subject of half our conversations. I drive him crazy talking about you.”
“I’m honored even if you said some mean things about me. At least that goes to show how much I affect you. You are here tonight to learn who you really are, who I really am, and who we really are to each other. Part of what made you come over was curiosity, another quality we ‘seers’ possess inordinate amounts of. We have to know and become familiar with things. We need to check them out fully to get answers. And then our minds go over them until at some point, we reconcile our intuition with our reason and come to conclusions that satisfy our mind and heart. It’s part of our makeup. And we’re willing to take risks to satiate our need to know. We’re simply built like that. It can be no other way. Without your curiosity you would not have been nearly as receptive to my mental suggestion to come over. Seers are extremely receptive to suggestions. We often sense the intention of the sender. If it’s in accord with our own, we are compelled to follow the suggestion.
“My suggestion activated your own subconscious forces which wanted to know more about me as strongly as you denied liking me. Your body was guided by those unconscious forces. It was your will that brought you here, Michael. I only prompted and awakened it so to speak. It did seem as though an invisible force were leading you here, but that force came from you, not me. Remember how as you approached my house closer the more your fear vanished?"
“Yes, and that surprised me. I expected to become terrified. I truly felt you were luring me to the front porch. It was so bizarre for me to feel more at ease the closer I got to your house. I have always kept a distance from you before.”
“Had you come within arms reach I might have grabbed you, locked you up, fattened you up and eaten you for dinner,” she laughed. “When an undeveloped ‘seer’ approaches another one, there is a psychic connection that is made. The closer they are in physical proximity, the stronger the connection. This is why you never delivered groceries again after that frightening day. Being physically near me-although we only spoke a few words-caused you to see lots of things, didn’t it?”
“Yes. Images and pictures were flashing in my mind so fast it was like watching a movie. “Oh, my,” I exclaimed. “I remember seeing images of you as you appear now. That image felt so familiar, but since I had never seen you like this before, I became confused and overwhelmed. It’s strange recalling that. I can see that whole day again as though it were yesterday.”
“That is because ‘seers’ can see through time. The past and future all exist in the present for ‘seers.’ That’s why you have premonitions of the future sometimes. Seeing through time gives us amazing memories and an uncanny ability for detail.”
“I was surprised how easily I recalled the way this house looked the last time I was here many months ago. While you were preparing the tea, as I looked around, I could see this place just as it was then, as well as the way it is now.”
“Just like you’ve always known I wasn’t really a mean old hag underneath appearances. That is why you could not forget me or stop thinking or talking about me. You are going to learn that as you develop more you won’t need to physically be close to someone to link up your energies and pass information on to each other. It's called telepathic linking and you already do it to some degree. Your ability to use telepathy will become stronger in the future. Now that you’ve been here tonight you’ll be able to communicate with me much easier henceforth from your house, school or when you are out walking. It will no longer be a one way street with me sending you messages. Actually, you’ve sent me messages before,” Miss Howard continued, “but they were mean ones. I sent them back to you. This is another explanation for the anger you built up towards me. It was your own anger coming back to haunt you all those times you thought I was sending you bad thoughts. Like a boomerang, thoughts bounce back to their source if we ignore them. Thoughts always returns to the source. It may take awhile but they always comes back. That’s why it’s so important to control our thoughts and actions. It can be difficult to do but it can be done. It’s the responsibility of everyone. There are also a lot of people like us than you might think. Mark is also a ‘seer’ but he won’t know it for a few more years. Your foster parents and Maxwell are not so I don’t advise you to tell them about our meeting tonight. They might think I am a bad influence out to corrupt you,” she said, grinning.
“Couldn’t I tell them I was doing some chores for you or sampling your reputed cuisine?”
“Would Veronica believe that?”
“Sure. She’s been telling me for months to be friendlier to you; that you are not a mean old hag. If she only knew how young you really are, I don’t think she’d want me coming over. Some things are best kept secret, aren’t they?
“I agree and now it's time for a break. Are you hungry?”
“Great. I just happened to put a turkey in the oven a few hours ago,” she said, grinning. “It pays to be a ‘seer’,” she said, winking at me. “Give me about a half hour. Make yourself at home. Feel free to look through Jacob’s library down the far hall on the far left. There are some nice paintings in there as well; some he painted himself as painting was one of his hobbies. I always told him he had talent and should develop it. Or you can watch TV or rest. Are you thirsty? I have coke, orange juice or chocolate milk,” she laughed. “I keep the chocolate milk for Mark.”
“He’ll keep you running to the store. I keep saying I’m going to buy him a chocolate cow for Christmas. “I’ll have a coke please.”
Miss Howard whisked so fast I thought for a moment she did a disappearing act on me. A few moments later she returned with a big glass full of ice and a liter of coke.”
“You must think that guzzling drinks run in our family.”
“Not at all. I just want there to be plenty for you. I don’t allow anyone in the kitchen when I’m preparing food. I want to surprise you.”
“I love surprises,” I said, filling the glass with coke. “Ring the bell when it’s dinner time,” I teased.
“Over dinner I’ll tell you more about Jacob, my dance partner, and those piercing eyes in the painting which keep staring at you.”
A chill ran through me as I recalled looking at the painting earlier. It was so real; the eyes seemed to be looking into the very depths of my soul. “Thanks, I can’t wait to sample your reputed cuisine.”
I returned to the painting first thing. Those dark piercing eyes were staring at me as though they had never left me. But this time there seemed to be a slight curvature of the lips giving the face a grin. I looked at it awhile and a sense of warmth came over me. They must have really been in love, I thought, feeling a tinge of sadness. I thumbed through a few of Jacob’s books and was surprised that many of the subjects were topics I had read about such as ESP, the paranormal, spirits, and psychic abilities. Why was I interested in such things when nobody in my family ever was? I walked over to the fireplace mantel and admired a collection of mythological figurines and some small African wood carvings.
I found it amazing that a house I had been so afraid of suddenly was very welcoming. It was almost as if I belonged here instead of at my house. That was a weird feeling I felt sure I’d learn the answer to before the night was over. I thought about my term paper I had left behind, and the necessity to return to it. Actually, I could incorporate some of the ideas Miss Howard talked about, since I was writing about the supernatural. I could even ask her permission to interview her. Live interviews are always welcomed in term papers. That is how I justified not returning home immediately and getting back to work. In a sense I was at work on the paper. I was conducting an interview with a supernatural unusual woman,” I said, laughing. “After tonight maybe I would even have the nerve to share some of my experiences. I no longer felt so uneasy about the unknown. How can a person change so fast? I wondered. “Am I under some spell? Am I dreaming? If so, it’s a nice one. In either case, I’d still ask Miss Howard about it.
I was looking at the painting again when she summoned that dinner was ready. Midnight seemed late for dinner, but I didn’t say anything. I was as hungry as though I hadn’t eaten for days. I wondered if Miss Howard usually had dinner so late. Maybe she was on a different schedule and had her meals later in the day. She would not let me help her serve the meal. “You are my guest and it is my pleasure to entertain you,” she insisted, placing the steaming mashed potatoes in front of me. Then she placed the turkey to my right, telling me to eat all that I wanted. She also served green beans mixed with corn, dressing and cranberry sauce.
“Jacob was a hearty eater. Help yourself to as much as you want,” she said, covering the wooden table with still more culinary delights. Her turkey and dressing were the best I had ever eaten. I tried to figure out the spices she had in the dressing and gravy, but couldn’t and decided not to inquire. The vegetables and soufflé were equally delicious. I felt like Louis XIV indulging in a feast.
“Now I know who the man you were dancing with is,” I said. “He is Jacob come back for your sumptuous cuisine. I couldn’t much blame him. I think I could put Heaven off awhile for these heavenly delights. Now I know why Maxwell and Mark come to your house so much.”
“You are right,” she said, but she wasn’t smiling. “This is a good time to unravel some of the mysteries you are wondering about. That man you saw dancing with me is my beloved Jacob. He became my dance partner and later my husband as well. He swore he would never leave me alone. Actually, he declared his undying love for me after our third date. I laughed but there was something about the way he said it that haunted me, never letting me forget it. Now I’ve come to witness first hand that a strong love as undying as his for me is more powerful than Death itself. Through our paranormal studies we learned how to detach our soul from our body. We often used to take trips around the world in our spirit bodies. When Jacob died, instead of choosing to go on, he (or at least part of him) stayed here with me. He says that he protects me, and will stay with me until I meet a new husband. Isn’t that sweet?” she said, wiping away tears.
“It’s nice that he approves of you having a new husband,” I replied, fighting away my own tears. “I’m sure a jealous spook would not be one to upset. I bet he could make a haunted house look like a toy factory.”
She let out a laugh. “I like your sense of humor, Michael but the truth is that Jacob would not hurt anyone unless they tried to harm me. The glow around his face is his soul radiance which he projects to the top part of his body. This enables him to interact more with me than just as a ghost or spook as you put it. He’s sort of in between a person and a ghost.”
“The best of both worlds,” I teased.
“Something like that. Jacob never wanted to miss out on anything. He always had his foot in both worlds. It took about a month before he returned. For a few hours at a time Jacob can materialize into a type of physical body. That’s the times we dance. At other times he’s still here but no one can see him but me. You could see his eyes through the painting because of your sensitivity and because he wanted you to see him.”
“Why are your eyes identical to his?”
“Because we are twin spirits. Sometimes I don’t know whether it’s me or him looking out.”
“That must feel strange.”
“Not at all. It’s like being double-sighted like some people are double-jointed. Two are better than one,” she said, grinning.
“Does a ‘seer’ have a spirit looking through their eyes?”
“Not necessarily. More don’t than do. You don’t and I don’t always. When my new husband comes to me, my double vision will cease although I will always be able to see Jacob and vice-versa.”
I wondered who her new husband would be but didn’t dare ask. “I hope that Jacob likes me. I am, after all, in his house, talking to his wife.”
“I assure you, Michael, that if Jacob didn’t like you he would have made it known.”
“I didn’t want to imagine the ways he could do that.”
“Was he smiling at me from the painting a few minutes ago?”
“What do you think?”
“I think so.”
“You are right. Jacob likes you. There is no need to fear anything. He was the one who told me to be patient; that you’d eventually come around,” she said, reaching for my hand and stroking my fingers gently.
“Is he here now?” I asked, looking around.
“Look into my eyes and tell me,” she whispered, moving closer.
“I can’t tell. I’m too nervous.”
“I’ll tell you,” she said, kissing me on the cheek. My head spun so fast I thought I’d fall over. She held my hand tighter. Without that contact I think I’d have fainted. We looked at each other for several moments in the silence. I could feel cool energy entering my head. It had a calming effect and helped restore my equilibrium.
“How does it feel to visit an old hag who is in cahoots with the devil?”
“I’m both bedeviled and beguiled,” I said, softly. “You are always saying things that I am thinking.”
“That’s because your thoughts are so easily sensed.”
“Sure. Anytime a thought is backed up by strong emotions, it can easily be sensed or even seen by a ‘seer’,” she whispered, touching my cheek lightly. Now if you will help me clear the dishes if you would be so kind. Then I must send you back home to work on your research paper. You have a lot of things to write about, and of course, you may use anything we talked about or even construct it as an interview. I would be very honored.”
“Will I ever see you again?”
“I am your friendly neighbor, Michael,” she teased.
“You mean I’ll never see you again as you are now?”
“How you see me depends on when you visit,” she laughed. “I’m Miss Howard in the day and at night I became Marie Juliette. You are the first person in this town to meet Marie Juliette.”
“What a beautiful name. Marie Juliette,” I repeated several times. “Do I really have to go?”
“Once ‘seers’ get past superficialities they really like being together. Marie Juliette is so pleased to know you, Michael. I have waited long for this moment as has my beloved Jacob,” she said, extending a graceful curtsy. “You have a lot of work to do, Michael, but tomorrow you are invited to return; that is if you are a good boy and write all day. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for you not getting that “A” your heart is set upon. I know how much it means to you.”
“You know lots of things about me, don’t you?”
“Some things,” she whispered. “And I look forward to learning more about you. How about arriving at ten p.m. tomorrow night. Is that a good time? That will give you plenty of time to get a lot of work done."
“Perfect, but won’t you be dancing with Jacob then?”
“Not if you are here. He’s the perfect gentleman. He knows when to take a back seat. He knows that we have things to learn from each other."
“Could I have one more look at the painting before I leave? Is that okay?”
We had the dishes cleared, and washed and put away in a short time. I almost dropped a dish more than once. I could tell that Marie Juliette was holding back a snicker. A few minutes later she took me by the hand and led me to the painting. She was even more beautiful than when I first saw her as Marie Juliette. I wondered if Jacob had anything to do with that. We stood quietly for several moments in front of the painting. Tears rolled down her face. I squeezed her hand gently. The eyes did not move. I wondered if they had merged with hers.
“No,” she said, interrupting my thoughts. “He’s not here. I have a feeling I’m going to be seeing a lot less of him and a lot more of you, Michael. And that is as should be. You and I have a special connection. Think of it like being part of the same soul family. I can be like an older sister to you. Thank you for coming over. I’ve had a wonderful time. I hope that you have too.”
“It’s been an incredible evening, Marie Juliette. That’s all I can say. I should say wonderfully incredible.”
“I take that as a gracious compliment from a gentleman. You will make some young lady very happy one day. I’ll walk you to the front door, Michael.”
I looked back at the house long after Marie Juliette shut the big front door. She turned off all of the lights except the living room lamp. She looked outside for several minutes. I thought I detected her looking my way as I stood by the oak tree. A few minutes I pulled myself up from the ground, realizing I had fallen asleep. I glanced at the window. The man with the blue glow around him was there but they were not dancing. “Marie Juliette,” I said out loud, wondering if this had all been a dream. “It must be,” I repeated, beginning to head towards the porch. I was surprised that I was no longer afraid or anxious. The precise moment that I stepped on the porch the front door opened and the beautiful woman, who was even more beautiful than I thought, stepped on the porch and greeted me warmly.
“Good evening, sir,” she said. “May I help you?”
“Yes,” I replied calmly, feeling a strange sense of deja-vu, unable to take my eyes from the dark piercing eyes. They were the same ones I had seen in the painting so many months ago the day I brought Miss Howard’s groceries in. I’d never forget those eyes.
“Are you alright, sir,” she said, softly, making no attempt to avoid my stare.
“I’m fine. It’s just that, well you remind me of someone,” I stuttered, struggling to conceal my agitation which quickly overtook the calm I had been feeling.
“Perhaps Miss Howard,” she said, smiling. “We do have the same kind of eyes. You could say we are related.”
I wondered how but did not ask.
“Now what can I do for you, sir?”
“I’m from out of town,” I continued. “Can you tell me how to find the Stuart place? My friend Michael lives there.”
“You look like a Michael, too,” she chuckled. “Wait a few moments. I’ll go get Miss Howard. Be patient. It may take a few minutes to awaken her.”
“Oh, don’t bother.”
“Oh no, just wait here. No bother at all. She needs to get up now anyhow.”
A few minutes later the Miss Howard I could recognize a mile away, came to the door. She was wearing an old black torn skirt and a blouse that didn’t match. Her scraggly hair seemed more disheveled than usual. If I didn’t know better I’d think she was wearing a wig. She was also wearing a very nice smelling perfume. It smelled so familiar. Miss Howard wearing perfume. I’m imagining things, I thought. She looked at me intensely. I assumed she was waiting for me to speak first. I was half-surprised I could stand being in her presence. For some reason I could not understand all the repulsion and disgust I had felt for this old woman was no longer there. I even felt some strange attraction to her. We looked into each other’s eyes for what seemed several minutes. My head felt lighter and lighter. Finally I knew I had to speak before I passed out. I noticed a slight smile on her lips. Miss Howard moved a little closer.
“Marie Juliette,” I blurted out and then put my hand over my mouth.
“What a pretty name,” she said softly. “Is she a new lady friend of yours?”
“To be honest I don’t know.”
“Tell me, why are you here. Do you want to interview me for your term paper? Veronica told me about your topic. It’s on the supernatural.”
“Yes, I would like that.”
“Okay but not tonight. I’m very tired but if you will come back tomorrow night I’ll be more than happy to see you. I will explain lots of mysteries you’ve been wondering about. I’m not really the mean old hag that you think I am. I could even make you some dinner. People say I’m a good cook, in spite of some who think the contrary,” she said, pointing her little finger at me, smiling. “But make sure that you work on your paper all day. You have lots of things to write about. How about discussing some of your own experiences for I know that you have had some,” she said, touching my cheek gently.
“That’s a deal,” I replied, taking a small bow, slowly walking away from the porch. I whistled all the way home.
I interviewed Miss Howard and got an A for my term paper on "the supernatural". Then Sam, my foster father, took sick and suffered from a major heart attack and stroke and had to be put in a nursing home two weeks later. Veronica moved in with her daughter and I moved away to a different foster home. Miss Howard did have a farewell dinner party for Veronica, myself, Mark and Maxwell. As we exchanged our goodbyes she gave me a big hug and told me to remember that time does not exist for 'seers'. She and I would always have a strong connection although we might never see each other on the physical plane again.
"Besides, you have some much needed earth lessons to learn," she added. "Especially regarding human love. You have the ability to maneuver your consciousness and tap into many dimensions. This opens you up to many spirit adventures and psychic experiences. It stretches your mind and spirit but you are also on good ole terra firma as we say, and you have lessons to learn that deal with a more emotional nature. Your sad and lonely childhood has wounded your soul and heart. You have a very deep capacity to love, but the mighty goddess of Love has some hard lessons to teach you. I have total faith that you will pass them all although the tests of human love can be emotionally straining and challenging at times to say the least. Give Love your all, my friend. Don't hold back. Learn each and every lesson no matter how much it requires of you. For that learning will help bring you into the fullness of even more creative and psychic abilities."
Miss Howard gave me another big hug and other chapters of my life were about to begin. I was going to start learning those lessons and though my love life would not especially stand out from that of my college peers, the year after I graduated I was going to learn just how difficult romantic love can be. But before I get into that I want to share some more paranormal experiences during my college years. During that time personal love was not a priority. I did date and had a crush on a few girls. I even went steady with one my sophomore year but it fizzled out the following year. I was upset that we broke up but instead of dwelling on what had been and what could not be, I focused my time and energy on academics. I took up French, Spanish and German and continued my opera training as well as Psychology and Philosophy studies. I managed to read some ESP psychic books and there were some unusual paranormal experiences as well.
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