I know it sounds funny but I have spent the last year acting like a ghost......................................
Downtown, many businesses entertain Saint Augustine tourists with varying renditions of the area's historical misadventures. This should come as no surprise because this little city claims to be the oldest one in the entire U.S. of A.
453 years old in fact... Since 1565.
Some of its history is progressive yet much skews towards violence, riddled with struggle, rolled up in romance and sprinkled with the macabre.
Meet Charlie Powell, Saint Augustine’s premiere otherworldly encounter.
Charlie is an authentic person with a tragic history, outrageously hanged by a madman sheriff back in 1908. This debacle occured because of a paradox of injustice incited by one man's unsavory malice towards Charlie's wife.
To top it all off… The execution went horribly wrong.
His fate and many others are recounted on the renowned Ghosts and Gravestones Frightseeing Adventure. And this is where my story begins.
G&G offered me the role of Charlie Powell last March. I did not believe in ghosts at the time but playing one sounded like fun so I accepted the position. Shortly thereafter, I began performing as Charlie Powell in nightly encounters within The Old Jail, the most haunted building in all of Florida.
All of Florida?
Riiiiiight, whatever you say, my dear…
Just give me my paycheck at the end of the week, okay?
Late one foggy evening, waiting for the guests to arrive, I lurked beneath the jailhouse staircase against the back wall of the building. Sidewall lights cast an eerie shadow of that same staircase across the pavement directly at my feet as I mindlessly gazed at the aged bricks.
Abruptly, a dark silhouette ran up the staircase shadow.
Bewildered, I stepped out from underneath the staircase to see exactly who the Beelzebub was dashing up the steps directly above my head.
Absolutely no one.
Hey, someone must be casting that shadow, right?
No one was there!
Holy Banshee, Batman!
That was my first encounter with the Ghosts of Saint Augustine.
As it turns out, the phantasms either loved me or hated me depending on which self-proclaimed medium you listened to at the time. Eventually, the doomed things rode home in my car and began harassing my wife, too.
What did they do?
Well, let's start with the baby...
That’s right, a grayskinned newborn, stark naked, plopped down on the floor with its back against the wall outside the women’s cells blinking its black eyes. The gruesome thing eventually melted into the wall stains, thankfully.
Oh, and good old Robert Lee...
Yes, this apparition shows up frequently, typically right after I relayed his tragic story to my frightened audience. Sometimes he would wade through the table in front of me like it was some bizarre puddle, other times he would float down from the ceiling behind me, caught on cell phone video.
That Jail gets peppered with cold spots from time to time, complete with noises and shadows and an eerie feeling that tingles your neck and makes your skin creep. The overhead lights flicker at odd times, too.
Then there's all those comings and goings at Potter's Wax Museum, past home of Vincent Price and his creepy horror flic, House of Wax. Latched doors creak open spontaneously, footsteps plod along in random places, impromptu noises sound off alongside me in the dark, and voices jabber incoherently when no one else is around.
You know, doors locked, empty building, just me...
And those damned wax figures.
The entire mortar ceiling in solitary confinement at The Old Jail collapsed into a monster heap at my feet.
The only reason I wasn’t rendered flat as a flip-flop by the plaster avalanche was simply because the next group had been delayed by a few measly minutes.
Meanwhile, back to the old ghosts at home…
Cindy and I would frequently hear noises at night... Doorknobs rattling, doors squeaking, other unfamiliar sounds... Remote controls would mysteriously drop onto the floor for no apparent reason. Once I watched a stainless steel water bottle fall over in slow motion.
Believe in ghosts?
I don’t know.
Maybe the ghastly things really do exist?
How can they?
I’ll revisit this subject again later.
After we move to Charlotte, North Carolina.
Here's what I'm thinking...
Put as much distance as possible between us and all those Ghosts and Gravestones.
I thought that I had found the perfect place to hide perfectly dead bodies.