Ghosts of Venice

There are ghosts here in Venice. It’s kinda spooky.

Every morning I take my daughter to school. It’s twilight and difficult to see.

BTW, high schoolers should start school at 9 am for everyone’s sake. Can we just agree on that?

They say the hardest time to see while driving is at dawn and dusk. It’s true.

Very often people (old people) will be out walking or biking at dawn with little or no reflective gear. We are by the coast, so it can get pretty foggy. I almost hit an elderly walker nearly every morning. You can’t see them until you’re right on their geriatric bones.

I almost hit a biker this morning. He was dressed all in black, going against the light.

Lilli and I have started calling them ghosts. You can barely make out their faint images wandering the lonely streets of Venice. Pale skin, white hair, gray shirts, drifting in and out of the fog. Old people are almost ghosts anyway, right? LOL Just kidding.

I think some of these people-ghosts have a death wish. It is pretty scary.

 

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Punkin

Horseman rides
Without a head
Pumpkin placed
In facial stead

Seeds for brains
Candle for eyes
On this dark night
His ghost will rise

Sword in hand
Out for blood
The streets will run
With crimson flood

Don’t be caught
In the lane tonight
Or you might suffer
More than a fright

Keep your head
And wits about
Stay inside
While the Horseman’s out

halloween


An early Halloween story. It’s October. It’s allowed.

Halloween

I know it’s over 2 months away, but I found this old picture from film photography class.

halloween.JPG

And I just love it. Love the contrast and blurry flower urn background.

Here’s a spooky collage for all you costume-wearing, scary-loving weirdos!

halloween collage.jpg


Here’s a weird dream to boot.

I have a recurring dream–(no, not the “I’m in a store and I’m naked and I need clothes, but I don’t have any money” dream)

The house I’m living in is sinking. The foundation is giving way. Everything is all crooked. I’m usually in the kitchen.

The key to fixing the problem, which is usually a floor that is so slanted you cannot stand or walk, is to find a secret room that is desperately in need of repair. (No, I get it. Believe me.)

We tear down the secret room and find out we have all this extra space. (No, really. I get it.)

Don’t think you have to be a therapist to figure this one out. The secret room is in my brain and if I just tear down all the junky old stuff? I can make room for new relationships and new materials and new, safe, secure building blocks for a solid life.

It’s not a nightmare, just gives me this really uneasy feeling, unsettled, anxious, like I have to fix the problem immediately. Having a house where the foundation is crumbling leaves me feeling very nervous, worried.

But I’m tired of living with everything off kilter. :/


Plus. Here’s a ghost story. Spooky! Footsteps on the Stairs

What are you wearing for Halloween?? Got any juicy ghost stories you want to share on my blog? I’ll host your ghost post on my site!

5th-Grade Death Race

Slumber party. 5th grade. Cray-cray.

I was not popular. I was on the fringes of popular. And that’s okay.

My best friend in 5th grade was invited to a sleepover. Quite a few of the 5th-grade girls were invited to the birthday party, but I was not. I felt left out and disappointed. But as I look back, it shouldn’t have been such a big deal, I wasn’t good friends with the birthday girl anyhow. But FoMO. Am I rite??

If my best friend was going to an overnight slumber party, would she still be my best friend??! Also, looking back, my best friend? She was close friends with everyone. BECAUSE! she was so great. I was just clingy. I mean, she was funny and cool and comforting. The person you can’t live without because they entertain you. The person who draws fake boobs on everything. The person who shares your first fart joke. The person who finds your eyes when something’s funny. The person who can make you feel like you’re the only person in the room. Everyone wants that.

“So don’t go without me!” is what I was screaming. In my mind.

My friend could tell I was tormented, so she begged Birthday Girl to invite me. I’m in! Who’s birthday is it now? lol (I loathe my childhood self. Needy, demanding and oh-so tragic brat. I’m better now.) 🙂

We all arrive that Friday evening to BG’s house. She lived in the country and had a house with a downstairs rec room (split-level ranch). I was always fascinated by basements because our house did not have one. Basements were the first whiff of independence. Parents directed minors to the partially-finished basements of their homes, never to check on their welfare again. It was a laissez-faire lounge of anything goes. What happens in the rec room, stays in the rec room.

Most rec rooms were designed for active children. You usually couldn’t break anything, even if you tried. There was usually an old TV and stereo. Outdated pieces of furniture, matted and discolored carpets, junk-food snacks and unheard-of board games. A pleasure-dome palace of epic proportions for preteen parties. Perfect.

When most of us had grown bored of board games and bedlam, in the strained hours before pretending to go to sleep, someone suggested Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. A new “board” game?

“What is it?”

Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board is stupid. That’s what it is. A girl is supposed to lie down in the middle of a circle. Each circle member puts two fingers (index and middle) from both hands under the body of the immobile girl in the middle. Everyone’s supposed to concentrate and quietly chant, “Light as a feather, stiff as a board.” (At a 5th grade slumber party? Fat chance!) And then the girl should rise effortlessly off the ground and levitate.

LOL

It could happen. In 5th grade, anything was possible.

So, we turned out all the lights in the already-dim basement and made a skinny girl (better chance of lifting her) lie down in our covenly circle. I was serious, but most were not. There were titters and giggles from every participant at one point or another. It was hard to tell who was breaking, but from the sounds, it was practically all.

After minutes of trying, I got frustrated. Not so much at the gigglers, but having all the lights out. I didn’t like being in the dark. In my previous story, I explained. I just hated being completely blind. I had a terrible fear of someone sneaking up on and grabbing me, attacking me, biting my toes, killing me, whatever. Irrational and overwhelming. I had to have all of my body parts under a blanket at night or I freaked out. Even if it was dead of summer and I was sweating bullets. I slept with a night light until the age of…last night. I know, it’s stupid. But I just accept it. Everyone hates it, but it’s just who I am. You’re welcome, for not stubbing your toes at night when you patter off to the bathroom.

So, after several minutes of quite seriously trying to lift a girl off the floor in the complete black of BG’s basement, I freaked out and went to the top of the stairs and flipped on the light. Phew.

Then all hell broke loose. It sounded like hell anyway. All I could hear were girls voices whisper-screaming at each other to:

Try again.
Calm down.
Turn that light off.
What’s going on??
Lay down!
Use your fingers.
Stop laughing.
*Gasp* Did she move?
Who farted??

LOL

I also heard shuffling, scurrying, stifled sighs and laughter. After a few minutes, some of my more concerned friends (or other dark-fearers) softly approached me on the stairs.

“You okay?”

I nodded.

“Coming back down? Come back down!”

I vigorously shook my head no. And they stayed for a while, attempting to comfort me.

Inevitably, some noise would draw them back down at a chance for fun or fright. But I stayed at the top until they eventually tired and turned on a light. If this was a horror movie, I would have been the survivor.

I don’t think the game, or anyone, got off the ground. A few people claimed that so-and-so moved slightly, but that was a stretch. Others denied it. Others were confused. “No one will ever know if it worked or not.”

Yes. We will. It didn’t. Pretty sure! LOL


This story was mainly to show the ridiculous nature of preteen girls and the power of suggestion. Most primary-school slumber parties ended with a horror movie and/or dabbling in the occult. We watched Death Race 2000 with Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine. A Friday Fright Night TV airing of a cross-country automobile race where the drivers try to hit people and kill them with their cars. For points! We also listened to a spooky radio show on the stereo while trying to drift off to sleep. Stupid! Not going to sleep! Ever.

Some people just like to be scared. I’d rather have another slice of pizza, please.

Host for Ghost Posts

Any dabblings with demons? Run-ins with ghosts? Natural phenomena that raised the hair on the back of your neck?

Feel free to send me your ghost posts and I’ll publish them on my site. Send to martha.maggio@sbcglobal.net, or post in the comments! I want this to be an ongoing thread, so send away.

I can also publish anonymously. ‘Cause I get it. It can seem a little kooky.

Ouija

Spooky old Ouija board. Derived from French “oui” for yes and German “ja” for yes. A yes-yes board. Or as I like to call it, a no-no board (lol) or a nope-nope! board. 🙂 Although, a Wikipedia article alludes to the word being ancient Egyptian, (huh?) but that’s not as fun.

So don’t screw around with this crap, Devil Worshippers! You don’t want to turn out like Tawny Kitaen from Witchboard do you?? Hell-to-the-nah-NO! Look what happened to her career! You’ll wind up on a reality TV show, married to the lead singer from White Snake. Here you go again on your own! (Because Dave Coverdale filed for divorce, sorry Tawny!) Going down the only road you…can afford on royalties from Witchboard. 😦

G-to-the-D, I’m old. Sorry about that romp through the 80s and all that shredded hair. But that’s where today’s ghost story takes place. The end of an era, 1989.


I had just started driving. 16, got my license, and out the garage I went. I had a car, gas money from my friends and just enough stupid to run the wheels off my old beater. It was a Friday winter evening and my friends had a plan. Before running around town in my metal-gray Monza ’75, they decided to futz around with the ol’ Ouija board someone dug out of their basement.

As I’ve said before, I love/loved ghost stories. Since I was a kid. I had heard of a Ouija board and I’d seen the movie Witchboard (obvs, see above). So, “Yes, let’s be stupid and eff around with Satan!” was not what I was thinking, but close. I was scared, but again, very naive and curious. A dangerous combo.

When you’re a teenager, I think most kids will try anything once. You have a mental promiscuity about the world. You haven’t tried most things and really don’t understand the potential danger inherent in anything. You can’t fathom the consequences of an action that could possibly affect the rest of your life. Especially if you’re sheltered, as I was. Plus, if you died tomorrow, you wouldn’t want to die an emotional virgin. Screw the rest of my life, I don’t want to die ignorant! And also, as a teen, very important clause, ANYONE AND ANYTHING is abandon-able. (I don’t have to run fast, I just have to run faster than you.) “So, break out the Ouija board, Fellow Idiots! Let’s ask it about my love life.” Or something like that.

We turned up at my friend’s house, ready to get possessed. Different friend from yesterday’s post, but this friend also had an old house. We lived in a small farming community, so many people had old homes. This house was even older than A’s. 19th century, 2 stories with an old foundation, so 3 levels. It even had an old parlor room where you would display your dead relatives. No air-conditioning and an upstairs like an attic. It was a little creepy. Did I say little? I meant, mucho.

They always left the light on over the kitchen sink. I got a vague answer the only time I asked why it was always on. “Weird things happen if you turn it off.” *Titter*

WTF??! Anyway.

It was a fluorescent light with a string. A box of bad lighting in a windowless room. So–even creepier in the shades-of-gray arena of creepiness that they called a kitchen.

We turned every light in the house off, except Old Faithful. We left the kitchen sink light on, per the laws of the universe. The dim interior was disturbing for all, but with friends and giggles and faint light from over the bar, we embraced the self-imposed dark nebula.

We broke out the board and prepared to ask *it* questions. There were 5 of us, at least. 1 boy and 4 girls. Might have been 1 more. We finally settled down and 2 people held the pointer. We all focused our dumb faces and thoughts at the plank of pressed cardboard from a not-unlike-Monopoly box and someone asked, “Is there anyone here?” in a Vincent-Price ethereal tone.

As my friends lightly touched the planchette (fancy word for pointer), the device jostled a bit. No one, not even the touchers, could tell if they moved the piece or not. “Did you move that??”

We asked a few more questions and not much happened. “Can you give us a sign?”

BTW: don’t ever ask a Ouija board to give you a sign. It is actually a sign and will become offended at this crude attempt at humor. Even if you’re too clueless to get the joke.

A few cracked jokes and frayed nerves later, the light over the kitchen sink, the only light in the room, started flickering.

GAH!

Someone brilliantly said, “The light is flickering. When did that start?”

The owner of the house was sufficiently freaked out. She claimed that the light had never, never flickered the whole time she had lived there. The light was always on and they never slept without it. Her reaction made me extremely nervous. Everyone was at the top of an impending spiral. We almost immediately left.

“Thanks, this is weird. Gotta go, bye!” as the screen door slammed shut behind me and 2 ride-stealers.


I don’t know if that was a coincidence, but for the light to start flickering while we were asking a Ouija board questions about ghostly or demonic presences? Uh…idk? You tell me.

Moral(s) of the story: don’t futz around with nope-nope boards and never own a Monza–it’ll break your heart.

Footsteps on the Stairs

Sorry! Sick yesterday. 😦 My foot was haunted with gout. lol And just general malaise. So, on with the campfire incantations.


These are real-life ghost stories or what I thought were ghosts. Usually there was/is an explanation for whatever occurred, but sometimes, just sometimes, I could only guess at the reason my heart was racing and goosebumps were rising. I don’t really believe in ghosts. But I also don’t not believe in ghosts. I’m a skeptic. But I would love to see, hear or record a ghost.

I have been fascinated by TV programs about ghosts from a young age. Murder mysteries, Scooby-Doo, Murder She Wrote, Sherlock Holmes, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Unsolved Mysteries, TAPS, Celebrity Ghost Stories. Anything. I watched The Exorcist and couldn’t sleep for 3 days. If I think about that movie at night, I don’t sleep for hours. That sh!t is scary. It could happen. LOL

The following story is a bit more serious than last time. Hold onto your popcorn tub.


In high school, I met a really great friend, A. She was my best friend. Sometimes, she was my only friend. A was shy, eager to please, and downright terrified. Of everyone. A was quick to laugh, but she was nervous and skittish. Like a dog that had been beaten. We had abuse in common, though we never talked about it at length.

She was the truest person I’ve known as a girlfriend. The most honest, the most loyal. She was devoted and encouraging. A thought I was hilarious and fascinating. Most people did not share her adoration. I felt like a magical being around A. She rarely criticized me, if ever, and she lavished me with friendship, praise and comfort.

But her house was a f***ing mess. Sorry, A. But she would say the same.

The house was old. I can’t say how old, but probably from the early 20th century. It was 1 1/2 stories, but full of tales. The funny, little house had a tall, wooden fence not five feet from the exterior walls. It was prison-like with the planks that close. (Prisons are usually built by their occupants, in one way or another.) But they lived in town, on the busy main thoroughfare, and it provided privacy on their small lot.

A’s family (Mom, Dad and A) lived only on the first floor of the home. The door to the stairs was always blocked by clutter of some kind. VHS movie tapes, magazines, newspapers, clothes, shoes, trash. So I thought it was just the condition of their house, not an attempt to cordon off the entire upper floor.

I had visited A’s house many times, but never stayed over. One night, it was extremely late, I was extremely tired and A offered the couch in the small room by the front door. Again, the house was tiny. So the stairs were just behind the couch room. Only separated by a wall. The couch? Where I laid down to sleep? Was backed against the shared wall of the stairs.

Right before I laid my very tired head down on a throw pillow and covered my very tired body with a scratchy-thin blanket, A thought it wise to warn me:
“I just wanted you to know. Sometimes, and this will sound weird, you can hear footsteps on the second floor. Sorry.”

GAH!

“Huh??!” is all I could manage.

She explained that some nights, she could hear footsteps above. Heavy steps that sounded like boots thudding across the floor. She had a very serious look, so I knew she wasn’t winding me up. She was dead serious and sort-of embarrassed. I was wide awake.

“So…what is it??”

A offered more. She said that it was definitely person-like, not an animal, and the weird thing (weirder thing), the floor on the second level was rotting. No one could possibly walk from one side of the house to the other because they would fall through the deteriorating floorboards.

That’s. Specific. She told me that I could leave if I didn’t want to stay.

I felt bad for her, I was tired and I half-way didn’t believe this bizarre bedtime story. Plus, she had made it clear, “It doesn’t happen every night.” She just wanted to warn me in case it did. So, I stayed. I asked her to linger with me a bit longer, to laugh off the strangeness of her caution.

She was exhausted and begged off to bed. I was exhausted as well, but still uneasy. So I played Super Mario Brothers until my eyes screamed shut. I left an end table lamp burning, but I always did that. I hated the complete black. If I was going to be attacked, I wanted to see it coming. Mostly though, if I heard a noise, I wanted to identify it immediately.

A few hours later, still dark outside, I heard a loud thump above my head. I was instantly awake. I stopped breathing and listened. I heard footsteps coming across the floor upstairs.

NO! Crap!

Heavy boots. Not cowboy skiffle-shufflers, but heavy, leather, chunky-soled motorcycle boots. Or work boots. Donned by a heavy-set human. Coming closer until they were directly above me. Then they started down the stairs!

NO! Crap!

The stairs that were less than 2 feet away from my face! Behind the wall!

GAH!

I listened to the steps until they stopped exactly by my ear. And we waited. Me and the ghost. For something to happen. I didn’t do a thing. I laid on the couch, breathing from time to time, eyes at attention, until dawn. No more sound.

After everyone stirred, I went to look at the door that led to the upstairs. Cluttered as usual. No one had been on the second floor.

GAH!

I never stayed at A’s house again. Even when she offered.


According to A, the man who used to own the house committed suicide years earlier at another location. Did he still like this house? Is he trapped? Is it residual?

I don’t know what it was. If someone told me this story I would think they’re full of…sprite. LOL If it wasn’t a ghost, then what was it???

True, every bit.

PS. Don’t go in that house.

Ghost (almost)

So! I’m starting a new section on my blog: ghost stories. Real-life ghost stories or what I thought were ghosts. Usually there was/is an explanation for whatever occurred, but sometimes, just sometimes, I could only guess at the reason my heart was racing and goosebumps were rising. I don’t really believe in ghosts. But I also don’t not believe in ghosts. I’m a skeptic. But I would love to see a ghost.

I have been fascinated by TV programs about ghosts from a young age. Murder mysteries, Scooby-Doo, Murder She Wrote, Sherlock Holmes, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Unsolved Mysteries, TAPS, Celebrity Ghost Stories. Anything. I watched The Exorcist and couldn’t sleep for 3 days. If I think about that movie at night, I don’t sleep for hours. That sh!t is scary. It could happen. LOL


My first memory of a ghost experience was when I was about 8 years old. I think. I was over the age of 5, I know that, and I was at home with my sister for a few hours while my mother ran an errand. (This was the 80s, when parents left their children under 10 alone at home for a few hours. Totally normal!)

I was watching TV, sitting on the couch. The couch was orange with big flowers. The same couch that everyone bought in the 70s. My parents had that couch for 20 years or more. Mainly because you couldn’t ruin it. Spills, urine, mud, urine. Nothing could end this couch. And we all secretly wanted it to die. Dirt and liquids just rolled off its back. And arms. And cushions.

babytina couch

^This is me. Sitting on the couch in 1974. So there’s photographic evidence. We had the couch for several more years after the ghost sighting. So, it had to have been 20 years old. Also, this couch existed before I did. So, actually 20+ years.

Anyway. I was curled up on the couch. Drinking a glass of water.

I put my glass of ice water down on the end table. Smooth glass bottom on sleek Formica top. I was watching some TV program with my sister, who was only 2 years older than me, and the glass slowly moved. It slid, BY ITSELF, at least 5 inches.

GAH!

Lump in my throat, frozen. Didn’t know what to do.

If I knew how to curse, I would have uttered a string of profanity impressing even my father. In my 8-year-old mind, I immediately thought, “Ghost!” At 44 though, I would have said, “F***ing ghost!”

Strangely, I didn’t leave the room. I did rocket to the other side of the long lounger and waited for my sister to exorcise the ghost.

Get it!

Was what I was thinking. But what I asked instead, “Did you see that?”

Quiet nod of affirmation.

GAH!

We hesitated, unsure what was happening or how to get rid of a ghost. I finally asked. “What do we do?”

I could tell my sister was just as frightened as I was. And just as sure that it was a f***ing ghost. It was a bizarre, surreal feeling that no words could encompass.

“Call Mom!” she realized.

Crap! The phone was by the glass. I carefully creeped over to the phone and looked around at everything! Carefully examing the atmosphere for signs of wisps or movement or sound. I, with overwhelming terror, picked up the phone and dialed. Old-school rotary dial, so I had to spend a few more seconds in the danger zone. Then I recoiled quickly to the end of the couch when I heard the ring tone begin on the line.

Our mother must have been with our grandmother or at a meeting for school (she was a bus driver for the local school district) because we knew where to reach her. (This was the early 80s, so no cell phones, pagers, tablets, email, etc. You had to know where someone was going to reach them by phone! LOL)

I called. “Mom! There’s a ghost! My glass moved by itself!”

No laughing. No incredulity. No “have you lost your mind?” No dial tone of hanging up on me for telling tall tales. “Is there water under the glass?”

I checked. Water!

She instantly knew. Had she been haunted by the old water-under-the-glass ghost before? How did she know?

The glass of ice water had sweat dripping off the sides and pooling under the glass. I had a quick lesson in condensation. The slick surfaces had magically moved my drink. It wasn’t a ghost. It was science! lol I wasn’t totally convinced. But after a few hours and my mother’s return home, we moved on.

My point though–I thought there was a ghost. Those horrible feelings you have when you’re alone or isolated. The creepy cast that comes over a lonely street in the witching hour. Darkened hallways on moonless midnights. The terrible paranoia of being watched. The blood-pumping, heart-pounding sense of a madman lurking around the corner. Hair-raising, teeth-chattering spooky specters of psychosis.

It doesn’t matter if it IS real. It feels real. Right?


I have many more ghost stories that I’ll add over the next several days. Some much
more serious. And please, leave your ghost story in the comments or email me at martha.maggio@sbcglobal.net. Tell me your personal ghost or almost-ghost stories and I’ll pick my favorite ones to repost with your permission.