Real Life Ghost Stories Part Two: The Writing Workshop Ghost

Here is a weird little story that has been a hard one to explain for some time now. It’s about the time I accidentally took part in a séance at a writing workshop. On the last day of the workshop we decided that we’d have a last-night-get-to-know-you dinner. Those who were still in town gathered outside of the main hotel and we all walked down to find a nice place to have dinner. Well, not super nice, it was Applebees. Then we were having such a lively discussion that we decided to stick around the hotel lobby and chat.

It only took a short while for the more mischievous of us (me) to find out the business room we’d been using during our workshop was still unlocked. We all shuffled into the more private setting. That’s when things got interesting.

See, writers are not like normal people. We all have our quirks and when left alone to our own devices we start to unleash our overactive imaginations. Some people started declaring special talents, which led to suggestions of tarot card reading. But we didn’t have tarot cards. One person volunteered to drive back to her hotel to get her own personal set, but we didn’t want to go to the trouble. I had index cards in my purse and we tried in vain to remember the tarot card set, but got as far as the death, lover, and joker before we all had exhausted our collective tarot knowledge.

“I can do aura readings,” one guy volunteered.

We all raised an eyebrow at this admission. This came from a guy you wouldn’t expect to admit to supernatural dealings. He was a clean-cut, city guy who had a respectable, ordinary job. At first I thought he was joking, because he was outrageously humorous during the entire workshop and our talk of tarot cards got a bit on the ridiculous side. I thought he was continuing the joke. Shows how unworldly I really am, because the guy proceeded to do a pretty good reading on my friend. Granted, we’d all been together for a week now and he probably had a good handle on each of us, but it was still good, even if he was just majorly observant.

We all got excited about his super-talent and each of us begged for a reading. It started out normal enough.

When he started reading me he looked a little concerned and I thought it was because he wasn’t able to come up with anything original or hidden like he was able to do with the others. It’s a lot more impressive to do a reading when a psychic can surprise people in the room. But again, we were playing around, not really serious. Amateurs…or so I thought.

“I, uh…” the guy paused, his focus not on me anymore, but on an empty space next to me. “I don’t know how to say this.” He looked a little embarrassed and I suddenly wondered what about me he’d found out, or maybe this was the set up to some joke. We all giggled and teased as if that was the intent, but he quieted them all with a look. “It’s not really something funny. Hey, I’ll just be out with it. I’m sometimes a medium for ghosts and there’s one here now.”

We all silenced. Either we were all waiting for the punch line, or wondered how to politely leave the room while this guy had some sort of mental breakdown. But since I was used to psychics by now (remember in my last post I talked about attending a local psychic meeting?), I waited patiently. It didn’t matter that I wouldn’t get a reading, and this might be more fun anyway.

There was some confusion as to who the ghost was and whom the ghost belonged to. It was apparently the ghost of someone’s grandfather. The grandpa would have to have been around to see part of our childhood. And I instantly was out. My grandfather was still alive and the other one died before I was born.

But the guy kept coming back to me. “Are you sure you don’t have a dead grandfather? He seems to be fixated on you.”

“I don’t have a dead grandfather that was around when I was young. I have a dead great-grandfather I knew.”

“This would be a parent of one of your parents.”

“I don’t know who it could be.” And I didn’t.

“He’s showing me a picture of when you were born. He died when you were really young. I think. Maybe two.

Well, that’s convenient, I thought. I won’t be able to say one way or the other since I would be too young to know if what the ghost whisperer is telling the truth or not.

“He had some connection to Las Vegas.

Nope again. I drew a huge blank.

“He’s showing me a picture of an arch.”

I still had no idea.

“He’s showing me a picture of a Native-American baby? Like on a board on someone’s back?”

The others in the room were trying to connect the ghost to someone else. Maybe a hotel worker? Maybe a really confused ghost? They all offered plausible suggestions. Remember: writers.

But something he said stuck with me. I remembered a story my mother had told about how my dad’s dad had called me a little papoose when I was born. So, he had to have been alive when I was born at least. I’d remembered incorrectly, but now I realized who it could be.

“Wait,” I said. “I didn’t realize it, but my dad’s dad was alive when I was born. I’m not sure when he died, but it must have been not long after I was born. Also, people called him ‘Archie.'”

We all sighed with relief. After realizing the ghost was there for me, it seemed to pick up a bit. Except for the fact I know nothing about this relative. Big fat nothing. Only a few clips of things here and there.

“He had land around here, Vegas maybe?”

“I wouldn’t know.”

Most of the information was a dead-end since I couldn’t confirm or deny. Then it got weird.

I love writing workshops, not necessary being haunted when I attend them.

The ghost explained how he’d have dreams and act them out for my dad and his siblings. This seemed to be a point of regret for the ghost. Then the insistence of the dreams became a more serious matter. For one, they were acting out deaths of some kind.

One of the other writers started to get agitated about our little impromptu séance. I didn’t blame him. This ghost was a little messed up. The guy who was acting as the interpreter seemed just as spooked as the rest of us. He wanted to stop, but the things he was saying did seem important. Our ghost medium informed us that my grandfather had a problem with the guy who was freaking out. My grandfather told him to “Shape up. Act like a man.” And a few other bully-ish comments. This was more on par about what I knew about my grandfather.

On to the deaths, which my grandfather corrected were murders of some kind. He described one particular death in detail, which I won’t describe here. It was using a very specific weapon, a very specific way.

Did he work for the mob? The others questioned. Not that I knew of.

Did he kill someone and hide the body? Yeesh.

This seemed really strange. And at this point we all decided to tell the ghost to go away. It was too freaky. For one, the ghost started calling me Lily Ann. A name very, very similar to a family member who I somewhat resemble on my dad’s side. He was referring to our interpreter by my dad’s name (and this guy did look pretty similar to my dad, one of reasons we think it attracted my grandfather). The ghost did leave, but not before he insisted I deliver a message to my dad that he “was sorry.”

It was late at night and so I went to bed, with the lights on. The next morning I packed for my flight home. The events of the night still confused me. I had no way of confirming them, unless I called my parents. I spoke to my mom first, gauging how my dad might react to this news. He doesn’t believe in psychics, just that people might have a really keen sense of observation, or really great Internet sleuthing skills to trick people.

I ended up on the phone with my dad and he straightened out a few things.

I was two when Grandpa died, people called my grandpa “Arch” for an even shorter version of his nickname, and he did own real estate near Las Vegas. So in all the areas I thought were not quite right during the reading were in fact spot on.

Then came the hard part.

“Did grandpa ever kill anyone?”

My dad didn’t hesitate. “He killed a lot of people. He fought in WWII.”

I then described the very specific death, one that no one would ever find described on the internet and never will. It’s not really something that can be guessed either, it was that specific.

“That did happen,” My dad confirmed. “Or at least, it’s a story he told from the war.”

I explained the weird part, the part about grandpa acting this out for his children. And I wondered how disturbed my grandpa must have been. And now that he’d maybe found some relief in death he must have regretted it.

“My dad never really talked about the war, but when he drank he’d have something like flashbacks. He likely had PTSD, before people really accepted it as a problem.”

This made a lot of sense. Especially the insistence of the medium that this was a “good ghost”. A lot of the other writers the night before started to say my grandpa was an evil spirit and this turned out to not be true. The medium had said that my grandfather had felt trapped into these murders and felt justified for them at the time. Although he struggled with the deaths years later. Just as someone who fought in a war might feel.

Then I gave my dad the last message:

“He says he’s sorry for that.” I assumed the flashbacks, the drinking, the not being fully present because my grandfather had been haunted by his own ghosts.

There was a long pause before my dad answered. “He didn’t have anything to be sorry for.”

I was able to get a message to the guy who saw my grandfather’s ghost and told us this information. It did make him relieved that it turned out to be a war and not that my grandfather was some mob hit man. It was also interesting to hear some family history, although not a very conventional way of learning it. And that’s so far the only time I’ve been involved in an accidental séance, but I did spend the night in a haunted house on accident. I’ll tell that one on Friday :)

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