I’ve never been much of horror guy. When I was kid I stayed up crying after watching the film Independence Day. My older sister would take advantage of these irrational fears, by waking me up and saying “What’s that?!” and I’d shriek. So I taught myself that I can rationalize things look for reason to come a conclusion without fear.
Because of this I was never really big on Halloween. I like the candy aspect of it, but after the age of 15 I really didn’t dress up or anything. When I was college I couldn’t afford a costume and I also didn’t care. So when I went to Halloween dance, people would ask me what my costume was. My response was “I’m a terrorist in disguise”, more or less said in sarcasm. But a lot of people just accepted it and said “Nice, that’s very accurate”. This made me realize how many people in my college were super racist.
I’ve only had one ghostly experience in my life that I wasn’t able rationalize, myself. A few years ago I did a show in Sackets Harbor, NY at the Lake Ontario Playhouse. The week I did this show I spent my week driving between Pittsburgh, Cleveland & Morgantown and did about 12 shows at that point. And then I drove another 6 hours to way way upstate New York. There’s a good chance I hallucinated that I got pulled over on the drive up.
This was an old theater. I walked around to see newspaper articles from 1904 about the plays they ran and then how it shut down in the 30s. Then how it became a comedy theater and how they started doing Stand Up Comedy there. So there’s a lot history of failure and success there.
The comedy condo for this venue was right above the theater. Normally these are just abandoned houses. And in order to get to the room I walked up the old, rickety wooden stairs and with creepers growing on the windows. There old set pieces and masks and stuff all around me. And when I got up to the room, it was darling! It looked like a nice little bed and breakfast!
I went down and met the headliner, who’s now a good friend of mine, Mike Storck. The first show was a nightmare. There a bunch of drunks in the crowd and I basically took my set to make sure those folks settled down! And once I was off stage and felt good about how I handled it, the host re-engages the crowd. This was frustrating to both me and Mike! After the show we sold a few CDs and hung out and then I crashed. Real hard! I slept for like 10 hours, which is abnormal because I usually only get about 5 or 6 a night. Sleep is for the dead.
Mike and I had lunch in the morning and I found out that he had gone to a hotel. As we we’re sitting there he asks me “Hey, is there anything weird about that condo?”
I squinted at him and said “What do you mean?” I was running through a list of things. Was it moldy? Does the owner sleep in the same room as one of the comics? Do I have to clean the bathroom or something?
“I don’t really know. I talked a few comics and they said it was just weird and beware of it” Mike replied.
And I immediately wrote it off. I know what was ups. This is the same shit my older sister used to do. I know hazing when I see it! So we had lunch and then I went back to the theater. I talked to the owner and found out there’s actually an apartment right above the condo rooms! This place was starting to feel like a old Scooby Doo mansion.
So Mike drops by the condo to take a nap and I go down to hang out with some folks. So I wound talking to a few people for about 2 hours and noticed it was almost showtime and Mike was nowhere to be seen. So I walk in the showroom and he him walk out and say “Oh there you are!”
“What?” I replied.
“Weren’t you just upstairs?”
“No, I’ve been down here for like 2 hours!”
“I could’ve sworn you were up there. I heard someone pacing in the hallway thought it was you. I called out to you…”
Ok, now at this point I don’t know if this is an apparition or not, but Mike told it my name?! I assume these ghosts can access the internet, and they can figure how to exploit my weaknesses or at least embarrass me or make me insecure about shit I said online 3 years ago.
“…Then I saw these shadows of feet under the door and then it walked away. That wasn’t you? Was it the owner?”
“No, the own has been down here for a while with us. No one’s been in the showroom, Mike, so I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I knew what was up. I’ve had an older sister and I can still tell hazing when I see it! The second kicks off and it goes pretty well. After the show the bar staff cleans up and get ready to head out. Mike was heading to Canada and didn’t want to get caught in traffic, so he left. And I realized, I’m the only person in this theater. This old…big…cavernous theater in the middle of Up-Up-Upstate New York.
I was talking to my then girlfriend and falling in and out of sleep. All of sudden I woke up with a gasp. Like all the air from my lungs had been sucked out with a vacuum cleaner! And then I started hearing creaks. I went to rationalize it. “It’s an old building, so the wood it reacting the cold temperatures outside. It’s fine, just rest up.”
Then the creaks started getting consistent. Like footsteps. Again I tried to rationalize my thoughts. I closed my eyes for a second and jolted up to with the though “You have to leave right now” ringing in my head.
I got up gathered my things and realized my soap was still in the bathroom. I said fuck it. It’s gone now. I got ready to leave and thought what if this ghost outside my door waiting. It’s probably an old ghost that was in a run of Phantom of the Opera and it’s looking it’s perfect co-star! And I’m not it! I’m not that good of an actor. I gotta plow through this thing. I took one deep breath, twisted the knob and I rushed out.
I ran as fast as I could. I look around at the masks and set pieces and realize they could all be haunted and ran even faster. I hit chairs and tables in my frantic of the creaky ghost! I hopped in my car and drove like a bat out of hell. I called my then girlfriend, and she told me to go back there because it was fine. Which in hindsight, it probably was, but fear had completely taken over my decision making skills.
The day after I was hanging out with her and she looks over to me and says “You know, if it was a ghost, you’re probably ok. But if it was Demon, it followed you.” I slowly turned her and said “Why, why, why, would say that?!” I got up locked my door and window and put a chair in front of the door. Because you know, demons are all about eating your soul, but dammit if they’re not polite about it. And then as a 25 year old man, I made my girlfriend at the time sleep with the lights on.
A few days later I talked to a friend of mine and he says “You know it’s probably a flight response. It’s a Hunter-Gatherer thing. Our ancestors used to pay to breathing sounds and cracking noises to see if they should run or stay. You’re ancestors were probably pansies.”
That was comforting. But I also kind of like the thought of a ghost that wanted to haunt me just because it wasn’t a fan of my comedy.