Archive for Stories

BUCK WARREN Part 2

Posted in Afterlife, Demons, Entities, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Hauntings, Paranormal, Saturdays, Stories, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2012 by Dave Lapham

No one would go with him, and we couldn’t actually see Crazy Crickbaum’s grave from the gateway. I wanted to make sure Buck didn’t cheat, so I rode around to the other side of the cemetery where I had a perfect view. Sure enough, just after I got off my bike and settled in to watch, there was Buck Warren marching boldly up to the grave of Henry Crickbaum.

Buck stood at the foot of the grave, arms crossed, feet spread apart. I was actually impressed. We hadn’t made any arrangements for him to pick up something from the area to prove he’d been there, but he bent down and grasped an old vase of dead flowers. Then he straightened and stood staring at the headstone.

He had been standing there motionless for about three minutes when a luminescent, chartreuse mist oozed out of the grave and formed a funnel, like a small tornado. As the mass rose, the top of it changed into a human-like torso with an indescribable, fiendish-looking head. Piercing eyes, shark-like teeth, the most evil-looking thing I’d ever seen. I was terrified. I almost vomited.

But Buck. Buck was magnificent. He dropped the flower vase, picked up a fallen tree branch, and swiped at the monster, who darted out of the way. As the beast closed in on him, Buck realized that his defense was useless and backed up, then turned and ran. The demon came after him. Buck looked back, tripped, and fell. The awful creature now hovered over him. I screamed, and the demon looked towards me with his fiery eyes, even though I was a hundred yards away. In that instant Buck leaped up and raced toward the entrance, faster than I’d ever seen him run on the football field. The demon turned to follow him for several yards, stopped, and then vanished from sight.

I jumped on my bike and raced back to the entrance. Panting, I slid to a stop and dropped my bike. Buck was sitting on the ground leaning against one of the arches. His hair was snow white—and he was crying. Everyone else stood there in petrified silence, not knowing exactly what had happened to him or what to say. I looked at Buck and related exactly what I had seen. Well, Buck became a hero, a true legend of Washington Junior High School.

But he was forever changed. He no longer bullied anyone, and even though he was as aggressive on the football field as ever, he treated everyone kindly. He’d hit a runner with a jarring, teeth-rattling tackle—and then help the guy up. Buck and I became good friends and remained so, even though I moved to Cedar Rapids, a hundred miles away.

Several years later, Buck and I joined the Marines and went to Vietnam in the same unit. On Halloween, 1966, our company was overrun by a North Vietnamese battalion. Buck Warren died that night saving our company and me.

Buck was buried in the Ottumwa Cemetery not far from Henry Crickbaum’s grave. The demon there has never been seen again to this day.

BUCK WARREN

Posted in Afterlife, Demons, Entities, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Hauntings, Paranormal, Saturdays, Stories, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2012 by Dave Lapham

I grew up in Ottumwa, Iowa, a small town in the southeastern part of the state. We had only fifty kids in our ninth grade class at Washington Junior High School, and we were a tight, companionable group—all except for Buck Warren and his three or four lackeys. Buck was a big guy, a tackle on the football team, and he was really good. In later years he played high school football and went on to play in college. But he wasn’t real smart. I suppose because of his lack of intelligence, he had low self-esteem, and in ninth grade at Washington Junior High School Buck didn’t think much of himself. He made up for it by being a bully.

Because I was a wise acre, I taunted him every chance I got. At five feet two inches and 115 pounds I was quick, and Buck could never catch me, although a couple of times his henchmen did. I paid the price, but it was worth it.

Halloween in 1953 fell on a Saturday. Saturdays were when we played our football games, which usually started around nine in the morning. After the games, we’d all congregate down the hill at the drugstore soda fountain. Buck had played extremely well on that day both on offense and defense, and he was all puffed up and lording it over us lesser human beings. So I decided to rattle his chain.

All of us kids knew the legend of Henry Crickbaum, a Civil War veteran, who’d served in the Iowa Sixth Cavalry Regiment and was a hero. But after the War he’d gone berserk and killed a dozen people. The local sheriff reluctantly shot him when the ex-soldier attacked him with a pick ax. Crickbaum died on Halloween and was buried in the center of the Ottumwa Cemetery up on North Court Street.

That part of the legend was probably true, but there was a companion story that every Halloween Mr. Crickbaum came out of his grave and went after anyone who was nearby. I guess he took his insanity to the grave with him. Anyway, that was the story, which I dismissed as a myth.

Well, you know how kids are, especially about ghosts and most especially about cemeteries. And it was Halloween, so that Henry Crickbaum was a topic of discussion at the soda fountain. Buck popped me on the back of my head and strutted around. “I’m not afraid of Henry Crickbaum,” he said with a sneer.

I grinned and replied, “Buck, if you’re so tough, why don’t you go visit old Crazy Crickbaum at the cemetery tonight. You could really show us how tough you are.”

He smacked me on the back of my head again and replied, “Why don’t you shut up, you little dirt ball, before I crush you?”

That started it. Everyone chimed in. “Yeah, Buck. Show us how brave you are, how tough you are.”

Buck got red in the face, but finally agreed. “Okay, you kooks, I’ll show you. Midnight, I’ll be at the cemetery, if you’re brave enough to come watch.”

And I retorted, “Yeah, and right in the middle next to Crazy Crickbaum’s grave.”

We trick-or-treated just after dark. Then almost everyone jumped on their bikes and headed uphill to the cemetery. We all gathered around the big limestone arches at the entrance and waited for Buck, who showed up five minutes before midnight with his three goons. He got off his bike and looked around, a sneer on his face.

He hitched up his jeans and said, “Okay, you melon heads. Watch this.” And he sauntered off into the darkness.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

PEGGY & KEVIN

Posted in Afterlife, Ghosts, Paranormal, Saturdays, Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2012 by Dave Lapham

Almost forgot to post this; I’m at the Florida Writers Conference this weekend. Great experience! Anyway, this is a true story about a friend of mine. I’ve changed the names and geography a little to protect my friend’s privacy, but this happened. I know the little kid who is now a youngster–and just like his uncle, in temperament and looks.

Peggy and Kevin were not only twins, they were best friends. They looked alike with the same blond hair and blue eyes. They had the same likes and dislikes, the same thoughts, the same desires. They played the same games, ate the same food. Except for the fact that Peggy was female and Kevin male, they could have been clones. Their communication with each other was almost telepathic. They attended the same college and pursued the same major, environmental science. After college, Peggy married and moved to Florida. Kevin headed west. But they still checked in with each other almost daily.

Two years later Kevin called Peggy with bad news. He had pancreatic cancer, and he probably had a few months to live. But he had accepted that and was only mildly concerned. He made Peggy promise, though, that she wouldn’t tell anyone in the family. He didn’t want his parents to worry.

As the weeks passed Kevin got worse and finally decided it was time to go home to die. Peggy was beside herself with worry and returned to their home in Iowa to be with Kevin his last few weeks. She spent every day with him and made him as comfortable as possible. Finally, Kevin knew the end was near and asked his closest friends and family members to assemble in his room. He was joyful as he said goodbye to each person, his parents, his best friends, and Peggy. That night as Peggy sat by his bedside, Kevin passed away.

A few days later as family members arrived for the funeral, Peggy gave up her bedroom to her aunt and uncle and moved into Kevin’s—no one wanted to stay in the room where he had died. The night before the funeral Peggy was awakened by a gentle tap on her forehead. She sat up and there at the foot of the bed stood her brother. He was smiling. He told her not to grieve for him, that he was fine, that he would see her again. And then he disappeared. Peggy felt at peace.

Several months later, Peggy had a dream. In the dream, Kevin sat in a rocking chair in their parents’ kitchen, and he held a baby boy. Their mother and father were standing beside Kevin. The baby was gurgling and smiling. Kevin and their parents were laughing.

A month later she visited her doctor and learned she was pregnant with her first child. Nine months after her dream, Peggy gave birth to a baby boy—on Kevin’s and her birthday. Of course, she and her husband named the child Kevin.

THE MOORISH HOUSE ON CHARLOTTE STREET (Part 2)

Posted in Afterlife, Ghosts, Paranormal, Saturdays, St. Augustine, Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2012 by Dave Lapham

Zamora had been able to acquire more land around the house, because it was south of the main part of town. That made room for a detached kitchen, a sizeable garden, and a carriage house. Although the property had passed from the Zamora family’s hands, subsequent owners had been able to keep it intact. Through the years there had been modifications, although the original Moorish atmosphere had been maintained. The kitchen had been connected to the main house by an enclosed walkway. Servants’ quarters were built above the carriage house. The garden had long since been abandoned, but Sara was already making plans to grow her own vegetables.

She knew the history of the house but, oddly, had never been in it until she and Matt had looked at it with the realtor a few weeks before. When she was growing up, it had been owned by the English couple, who were there only a few months out of the year. Later, it had sat empty and deteriorating. No one seemed to want it, partly, she supposed, because restoring the house was going to cost a good bit and partly because of the stringent requirements of restoration enforced by the city and its Preservation Board—St. Augustine was the only city in the United States with an archeologist on staff.

Matt fumbled with the keys as he unlocked the pedestrian gate which led to the loggia. Sara kept pushing him, she was so excited. “Hold on just a second, Sara, let me get the gate open.” The handle finally turned. “There.” He stepped back to let her enter first.

Sara rushed in, grabbing the keys from Matt as she went. She had the front door unlocked and was inside before Matt had taken three steps. Breathless, she stood in the middle of the large living room and turned slowly, trying to take it all in. A wide, deep fireplace anchored the far wall. To the left stairs led to a landing and then up to the second floor. Also on the left another room tucked in between the outside wall and the loggia. She planned to make it a small library and office. To the right the dining room extended from the front wall next to the loggia almost to the back wall. A hallway led from the living room behind the dining room to the kitchen. The inside, like the exterior featured Moorish accents with an intricately-tiled floor and elaborate filigree covering the arched doorways. An ornate mirror hung over the fireplace.

Matt walked up behind Sara and put his arms around her. They stood there staring at their reflections in the mirror, neither saying anything. After a few moments she turned quickly and hugged him. As she looked over his right shoulder she thought she saw something move on the far side of the room. When she looked again, she saw nothing.

“Let’s go check out the rest of the house,” she finally said, grabbing his hand and pulling him toward the stairs.

The upstairs was just as enchanting as the first floor. The floors were wood, but the Moorish motif had been carried throughout the house. Even the bathroom had a Moorish flavor to it. They walked quickly around the rooms, deciding that they’d use the corner room as the master bedroom and considering the possibility of adding a second bath to the other bedroom. Then they went downstairs to inspect the kitchen and the rest of the property.

The ensuing weeks were busy for Sara and Matt. Sara was taking days off to spend time with the architect, the contractor, and the city archeologist, and Matt worked extra hours at the hospital to cover for her.

One Saturday Sara was in the house alone checking on the many details of the renovation. She was standing in the dining room, when she heard guitar music again. It was coming from the living room.

She stepped through the doorway—and there, sitting in a chair, was a dark-haired man bent over what looked like a very old guitar and playing the piece she had heard a few weeks earlier. He was dressed in what she thought was 18th or 19th Century clothing: brown, tight-fitting trousers with a long waist; a short cream-colored waistcoat with wide lapels; and a white, high-collared shirt with ruffles down the front and hanging from the cuffs of his waistcoat. He didn’t acknowledge her presence but continued to pick out the music with long, slender, and very supple fingers. Sara stood just outside the dining room and listened. After several moments, she cleared her voice. Slowly turning his head, his face expressionless, gazed at her for four or five seconds. Then he disappeared.

Her knees were shaking. She wasn’t exactly afraid. She was stunned. She had never seen a ghost before, but she was certain that’s what the man was. Still, it wasn’t a frightening experience. And she had been enthralled the music.

For weeks she came to the house as often as possible, and every time she was alone, the guitarist appeared. After several visits, he stopped disappearing when she made her presence known, evaporating only when someone else came or when he finished what he was playing, always the same piece.

Sara was fascinated by the apparition. She didn’t tell Matt or anyone else about it. She didn’t know exactly why. Did she believe he would think her insane? Did she feel guilty for some reason? She should have said something, but she didn’t. TO BE CONTINUED…

THE MOORISH HOUSE ON CHARLOTTE STREET

Posted in Afterlife, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Paranormal, Saturdays, St. Augustine, Stories with tags , , , , , , on September 15, 2012 by Dave Lapham

Night descended on the Moorish house on Charlotte Street. Sara stood on the cobblestones in front of the loggia, the recessed portico common in Mediterranean-style homes, absorbing the three-plus centuries of this house. She felt happy in spite of the descending evening and the ominous feeling cast by the huge, old oak bearded with Spanish moss swaying in the cold, January breeze. Empty and forbidding the house might seem to others. To Sara it was the fulfillment of a dream. She and Matt were closing on it in the morning. It would finally be theirs—well, theirs and the bank’s. A gust of icy breeze tousled her hair and she pulled the collar of her coat up higher, wrapping her arms around herself.

She stood admiring the Moorish-style architecture, the horseshoe arches, the geometric and arabesque shapes, the complex designs of the tile borders, the intricate, latticed privacy screen covering the balcony above the loggia. It reminded her of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. She imagined the exotic eyes of Arab harem beauties gazing down upon her.

Suddenly, she saw movement. A face in the window to the left of the balcony? Maybe she was imagining things. It was deathly quiet. When the sun went down, St. Augustine rolled up its streets. No one was about, especially in this residential area south of the Plaza on this cold evening.

There it was again. Movement in the second floor window. Just a glimpse. Less than half a second. But she did see something—or someone. She shivered and turned to leave, but just as quickly froze.

Music, the sound of a classical guitar, came from inside the house. It sounded like someone playing in the main room just inside the loggia. Whoever the guitarist, he played exquisitely. She tried to remember the piece; it was vaguely familiar. Baroque, perhaps Molino? Whatever. It was melancholy, haunting, beautiful, and she knew she had heard it before. She hesitantly walked to the loggia and peered in the window. The room was empty. Not one piece of furniture. Nothing—and no one. She turned and hurried out to the street, climbed into her Miata, and drove home, the music still in her head.

When Matt arrived from the hospital a little after eight, Sara was sitting on the couch plucking the strings of her guitar. He parked himself beside her and leaned back.

She stopped playing and smiled. “How was your day, sweetheart? Anything hot in the ER?”

“Kinda slow, actually. No major emergencies. How about you? What’s that you’re playing?”

Sara began strumming her guitar again. “I don’t really know. I’m trying to remember something.”

Matt watched as she played. She was enthralling, he thought. He loved her passion for the guitar and for medicine. He loved her black hair, her brown eyes. She was the most beautiful woman he’d ever known. They had grown up together, been high school sweethearts, gone to college and medical school together. He had never considered marrying anyone else. Now they were doctors, working together in the Flagler Hospital Emergency Room. Matt couldn’t have been more content. He listened to her play for several minutes and finally sat up. “Hey, let’s have some supper, Mrs. Segovia,” and he walked into the kitchen.

Precisely at ten the next morning, Sara and Matt stepped out of their apartment to go to the closing. They purposely hadn’t scheduled any other appointments for the day so they could focus on the house. The closing went quickly. The last occupants, an English couple, had left it to a son who had never even seen the place. Apparently, he just wanted to get rid of it. And both her dad and her Uncle Bill had helped them with a healthy down payment. By eleven-thirty, keys in hand, they were hurrying down Charlotte Street!

Sara had been steeped in the lore of St. Augustine and of her family by her father, a history professor at Flagler College. She knew everything about the house. One of her ancestors, Gabriel Zamora, had come from a Moorish background in Granada. He had been driven out of Spain in 1612 by the Spanish Inquisition and had sailed to St. Augustine, where he had become a successful rancher. When the British wrested Florida from Spain in 1763, Zamora’s heirs remained, and Antonio Zamora built this house in 1793. To be continued…