Why I’ll Never Go Ghost Hunting Again.
Written by Keith “Sid” Watson for Goombay Tally Blog | www.goombaytally.com | Ghost Hunting
So … I’m never going ghost hunting with another weird, nerdy, black T-Shirt wearing, patently antisocial, ghost hunting friend again. I will never listen to George Noorey from Coast to Coast AM Radio or the Real Ghost Stories Online podcast ever again. Let me explain.
Self-admittedly, I used to be one of those guys with (let’s say) a moderate degree of interest in the Ghost Hunters television programs and would occasionally sit down on my black leather couch with a warm Pepsi and bowl of popcorn just to see what these quirky fellows and ladies were up to in that particular episode.
Honestly, I was more interested in making fun of their over-exaggerations during the investigations and use of strange meters, cameras, and electronics to record the slightest bit of evidence. I thought they were total idiots.
I must admit that on balance, I thought these “let’s scare ourselves silly in an old abandoned hospital” shows were mostly bunk and generally just modern day versions of the old “camp fire stories” from our great-grandparent’s generation.
Additionally, I didn’t believe that any of the “evidence” was REAL and certainly didn’t buy any of the legends or back-stories to any of the alleged hauntings.
Categorically, I believed that the ghost hunting community just played on age-old fears and superstitions that have plagued all of us since we were young, gullible children. We’ve all nervously stared at the creepy closet door in our rooms in the middle of the night as kids and swore that we saw shadows move and strange and disturbing noises emerge from these dark and ominous places.
Now enter Alexandria, Louisiana 2016.
During my sophomore year at Tulane University in New Orleans, I received a call from Rodney Hebert, one of my old high school buddies who lived in Alexandria, Louisiana. Rodney was one of my odd but incredibly interesting friends in high school who was both athletically and academically gifted but had an unusual and (probably) unhealthy interest in the paranormal world.
So in short, Rodney could effortlessly get a date in high school but his dates would often go on haunts with him in old libraries and turn-of-the century homes in downtown, Alexandria. Rodney was obviously a “rare bird” in the ghost enthusiast world as most of these guys were treated as outcasts and social lepers in school.
Rodney said that his ghost hunting group was investigating an old elementary school on the west side of town on Friday night and wanted me to take a break from school and drive up for the weekend.
After laughing at him for about 20 seconds, I paused to clear the air and ensure myself that he was just joking.
“Are you finished?” Rodney said in a slightly annoyed but understanding voice.
“You Cajun Rednecks are still bumping around in creepy old buildings and convincing yourselves that you see dead people?”
“No,” I said, and proceeded to laugh at him again before rudely clearing my throat directly into my iPhone. “Let me get this straight,” I said. “You Cajun rednecks are still bumping around in creepy old buildings and convincing yourselves that you see dead people?”
“Crap…you know you’re still a prick right?” Rodney said; now even more annoyed. “Look, I’ve invited you to go ghost hunting with me about a hundred times since we’ve known each other, and you’ve refused to go every single time. If you’re so convinced that we’re wasting our time doing this, be a man and come up to Alexandria on Friday and prove us all wrong,” Rodney said.
Rodney and I played high school football together at Alexandria Senior High School and have been good friends since middle school. So as painful of an experience that I knew this weekend would be, I also knew that I couldn’t turn Rodney down yet again. So I reluctantly agreed to go to Alexandria for a “fun-filled” weekend of ghost hunting and nerd socializing. I also told Rodney that he owed me two Moose Drool beers at Hot Shots Inc when all of the buffoonery was finished that night.
He enthusiastically agreed.
Alexandria, Here I Come.
Wanting to get the ghost hunting investigation over with as soon as possible, I drove directly from New Orleans to the old elementary school in Alexandria to meet Rodney and his team at 7:00 P.M. as agreed. I remember pulling up to the drab looking school but saw no other vehicles parked in front of the building at the time. The sun was setting, but the school was illuminated well enough as the building lighting highlighted the east side of the main entrance and the small play ground to the north of the campus. The school was generally rundown, needed a professional paint job, and had obviously seen brighter days in the past.
Rodney said that a small number of the school’s faculty and janitorial staff reported seeing the image of a tall man walking the halls of the school – mostly during late evening. When challenged to see if he needed assistance or who he was looking for, it was said that the man would essentially vanish into thin air. Apparently, three members of the janitorial staff refused to come back to work after only a few days on the job.
“Oh great,” I said to myself. “Rodney better not be playing games with me tonight.” Already pissed that I would be missing out on some well-deserved partying and relaxation down in New Orleans this weekend, waiting for a team of ghost-hunting misfits wasn’t on my list of things to do tonight.
I quickly thought about all my frat brothers partying down on Bourbon Street tonight. Instead, I was sitting in my car in front of a “haunted” elementary school that only a handful of ghost hunting nerds and a few scared school administrators gave a crap about. It made my head hurt.
I decided to give Rodney and his merry paranormal crew five more minutes before “pulling anchor” and hauling my butt to Hot Shots Inc on my own. I remember looking down at my iPhone to check the time and to send Rodney a quick text message to see where he was. It was 7:05 P.M.
At that moment, from the corner of my eye, I distinctly remember seeing the blinds in one of the classroom windows quickly lift up as if someone was peering out from inside. In fact, I could now see a bright glimmer of light shine through, possible from the glow of a hallway floodlight inside. I could also see a figure passing in front of the light. There was definitely someone there. Trust me, I’m getting goosebumps on my arms right now as I write this.
Initially, I was startled, but then I began to crack a huge smile. Was the janitor staff still in the building? At 7:00 P.M. on a Friday night? “Ah, I get it,” I said. Rodney and his buddies decided to get back at the paranormal critic by showing up at the investigation site early and trying to scare the crap out of him just to have a little fun.
Well, I didn’t have time for this man! Those bastards must have parked their cars in the back of the school or down the street and set me up from inside. I peered back at the window with the peeled back blind and saw the same blind slowly fold itself back down as the inside glare disappeared as quickly as it appeared. I picked up my iPhone and called Rodney this time.
“Nice try dude!” I yelled into my iPhone as Rodney picked up.
“Yo man, I’m really sorry…Jeff’s car died on us in Pineville–we had to borrow Janet’s van…we’re right around the corner bro,” Rodney quickly interrupted before I could lay into him.
“Look, I know you planted one of your boys inside the school already dude…you must think I’m an idiot,” I said. “In fact, that’s probably you screwing around with the classroom window blinds right now you jerk,” I added.
I remember distinctly that there was roughly five seconds of disconcerting silence on the phone before Rodney finally mumbled, “what blinds are you talking about Sid?”
“Oh…O.K., we’re playing freakin’ reindeer games now right,” I said. “You know damn well what window blinds I’m talking about Rodney…someone just lifted up the blinds in one of the classroom windows and closed them back…I saw you in the window man.”
Again, there was silence on the phone.
Rodney finally said in a bewildered tone, “Sid, the entire team is in the van with me right now; there’s nobody else in the building dude.” At that moment I saw the headlights from a silver minivan with Rodney’s ghost-hunting team peel around the corner from the main road and park next to my Nissan Altima.
Rodney quickly jumped out of the driver’s seat and ran to the school’s main entrance door. Jeff Booker, another one of our mutual friends and long time member of Rodney’s ghost hunting team, immediately ran to the school’s rear entrance door. Both doors were locked and they quickly opened them with a key and subsequently disarmed the security system.
Jessica Long, who I called the token ghost hunting “hot chick”… was a tall, creole-looking beauty who was just finishing up her freshmen year at LSU-Alexandria. Jessica was still inside the minivan talking to someone on her cellphone. Rodney later told me that she was on the line with the school’s vice-principal to confirm that the janitorial staff and faculty was gone for the day and that the security alarm was still engaged prior to them entering and disarming it. The vice-principle indeed confirmed that the school security system was not disturbed prior to their arrival.
It quickly occurred to me that if this was an elaborate hoax by Rodney and his ghost hunting team — they certainly were delivering an Oscar-worthy performance. And why go through all the trouble, right?
I also saw the rookie member of the team, Pam Thomas, outside the minivan and pacing back and forth–smoking a cigarette. She was visibly rattled and I could see her right hand shaking as she lifted the loosely held cigarette to her thin red lips.
Rodney soon came back to the car and asked me to recount what I saw in the classroom window before they conducted their first walk-through of the school. He was taking meticulous notes and drawing maps as I carefully explained what I saw. He was excited but noticeably nervous at the same time.
O.K., this was not a hoax I thought to myself.
I began to feel something in the pit of my stomach that I never anticipated feeling during this weekend excursion. It was fear.
My logical brain was no longer seamlessly computing the neatly packaged explanation that I previously concocted for the figure in the classroom window. My logical brain was doing the equivalent of what your laptop does when it freezes up and you get the perpetual spinning beach ball at the top of the screen. My brain was broken.
I began to feel something in the pit of my stomach that I never anticipated feeling during this weekend excursion. It was fear.
Images from the strange encounter now began to flash before my eyes as I realized that what I experienced was fairly consistent with the accounts from the school’s faculty and staff. Yes, ladies and gentlemen…the stubborn paranormal agnostic just saw an actual entity and the official investigation hadn’t even begun.
I was numb inside.
The excited ghost hunting team scurried around….grabbing video recording equipment, Electromagnetic Field (EMF) meters, digital recorders, and infrared cameras. I watched all of this busy activity as if I was back in my apartment in New Orleans; sitting on my black leather couch, drinking warm Pepsi and eating popcorn. The only problem was that I was actually in the show this time.
Everything was in slow motion at this point. Truth be told, Rodney later told me that most of the members on this ghost hunting team have been doing this for years and never personally experienced anything like I did that night. Sure, they’ve caught strange events on video during a later review of the footage, but not real-time.
And just like that … the slow motion effect stopped and I returned to earth like an Apollo Space capsule violently splashing back to earth into the cold Atlantic Ocean. I slowly got out of the car; almost in a trance-like state, and ceremoniously walked up to Rodney as he continued to shout directions and locations to his team as they dutifully prepared for a long night of ghost hunting success.
Rodney soon stopped what he was doing once he realized that I was standing in front of him. He looked directly at me and saw a nervous hand stretched out to shake his hand.
Rodney said, “What’s up Sid? “This investigation is gonna be sick man…are you ready?”
“Nope…I’m done Rodney,” I said.
“You’re what?” Rodney said in shock.
“I’ve seen enough brother … you win,” I said. “I’ll be at Hot Shots when you’re done tonight…all drinks are on me…but there’s no way in hell I’m going into that creepy old school after what I saw in the window.”
Rodney was silent for a few seconds, but then smiled reassuringly and nodded. We both understood each-other at that point–and without saying another word. I finally understood what compelled my friend to spend perfectly good weekends stomping through creepy old buildings and scary cemeteries. It didn’t make him a weirdo (per se) it just made him a man in search of universal answers.
Time to Get the Hell Out of Here.
I drove into the darkness that night and refused to look in the rear view mirror at the old elementary school as the ghost hunting team behind me continued making final preparations for their newest investigation. I was officially freaked the hell out.
Later, I found myself sitting at the bar with a beer in my hand and staring at an empty wall like a war veteran with PTSD…silently pondering the horrors his eyes have seen over the years and trying to make sense of it all.
The following day I would be heading back down to New Orleans, arguably one of the country’s most haunted cities and realizing that I’ve never seen anything ‘remotely’ paranormal in New Orleans but got my entire world shaken to its foundation in a small town in central Louisiana. Go figure right?
Truth be told, I didn’t care about any video footage, EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) or any other evidence Rodney’s team collected that night. It didn’t matter to me. I didn’t need further validation of what I saw. The window entity touched a hollow, vulnerable spot in my soul that I simply did not want to revisit. Ever.
Momma told me not to mess around with things like that when I was a kid…and you know what? Momma’s always right.
So there it is. No hair-raising, Amityville Horror-like stories to share with you. No startling pictures of hooded, monk-like figures peering from windows to post on Facebook. Just one simple but bizarre event that forever changed my perspective on life and the paranormal. Yep, mind…blown.
And that ladies and gentlemen…is why I’ll never go ghost hunting again.
Written by Keith Watson for Goombay Tally Blog | goombaytally.com | Share us on Facebook/Twitter