A Haunting

Michael
By Nancy Vaughn

This story began when I found the grave of Michael, a little boy I used to babysit who died in a tragic car accident. I was a freshman in high school and I was stunned at the loss. Michael was the sweetest and kindest little guy there ever was. He always seemed to need something, but I never understood what it was. There was always a sweet sadness about him. His parents were divorced and had moved on with their lives. Michael and his sisters lived with their mother. His mother was a beautiful woman who worked hard and tried to take really good care of them. She also enjoyed going out to meet men, and there were plenty of them in at the Air Force base in Tucson and the Army fort in Sierra Vista. On her way back from taking her boyfriend back to Ft. Huachuca she lost control and the car flipped and crashed. His sisters and his mother survived but he was thrown from the car and killed instantly. It was 1970.

In 1983 my husband, my two children and I moved into a trailer space in a park that was next to a cemetery. I have to admit to a fascination with cemeteries inherited from my mother’s side of the family. We always were visiting old graveyards on road trips. So after we moved there I used to wander through the one near my house looking at the names and dates. It was an older cemetery with green grass and huge trees and dozens of beautiful statues. I remember when I discovered the part of the cemetery designated for the children. It had a peaceful, comforting feeling and a beautiful statue of a child angel was centered in the middle of the resting places of the lost children. Most of the graves had flowers and tokens laid on them. I used to take flowers from some of them and put them on the graves that had none. That was when I found Michael. His grave rarely had flowers. I began to go see him as often as I could. I also started taking my own flowers to him.

We had gotten this cat, a beautiful silver/grey cat with brilliant green eyes that we named Betsy. She and I never liked each other. I couldn’t figure it out. Betsy and I tormented each other regularly. I don’t know why but we just didn’t get along. One night after going to bed my husband and I heard a low growling sound like a cat squaring off with another cat. Betsy was in the living room at her usual post on the back of a chair. Her cries got louder and then I heard the footsteps. The steps were walking toward our bedroom door. It was a mobile home so footsteps were easily heard. The steps came to our door and stopped, then they walked back down the hall toward the other end of the house. Then I heard the cat again. This began a pattern that went on for weeks. Betsy was even weirder to everyone than before. She tended to sit, looking suspiciously at everything. She never wanted to be around people as it was, but now she was even more reserved.

I talked to my husband about it and he had no explanation for the sounds and the way the cat was behaving. He always did a better job of handling her than I ever did and he is a die-hard sceptic.

Then things got more interesting. Everyone was in bed when the footsteps started. We lay there listening to them and they came to a stop outside our door. Chuck got up and opened the bedroom door expecting to see one of our kids, maybe sleepwalking, but no one was there. I could tell he was bothered. We lay back down trying to fall asleep when there was a loud bang in the bathroom. It sounded like someone big had fallen in the tub. We sat bolt upright and he got up again and rushed to the bathroom. Nothing. It was dark and empty with no sign of anything that could have fallen into the tub. He came back, got into bed and we lay there thinking.
“What do you think a ghost is?” He asked quietly.
“Don’t know.”

The banging in the bathroom continued along with the cat growl and the footsteps. We quit reacting to it and I didn’t find out until much later that my daughter, who was ten at the time had heard the sounds as well. She would cover her head and talk and pray herself to sleep. She never said a word to us at the time. I had told some members of my family and a few friends about the sounds but they laughed it off. We had trouble laughing off the experiences we were having so we quit talking about it.

That is until my middle sister suggested it might be Michael. She also remembered him and his story and had been his babysitter occasionally and had gone with me to see his grave. We were sitting on my back porch talking, listening to music and drinking. We both heard a loud thump and a bang on the washer which was just inside the back door.
“There your go, now you’ve heard it for yourself.” I said.
Her eyes were wide, her mouth open and she just sat there. I got up and went inside to check, as usual there was no sign of anything out of place. It was at this point she told me that on one of her visits to Michael’s grave she thought she saw something around the top of the child angel statue in the cemetery. She said she saw an angel fly up the statue and away into the sky. As we talked about it my heart warmed to the idea that perhaps sweet little Michael was reaching out to me. Maybe he needed my comfort.

I told my husband about what she said and how I felt about it and he warned me to leave that stuff alone. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, thinking about Michael. I made my first mistake by calling out to Michael to tell him he was loved and remembered. One night after that I had fallen asleep and I’m not really sure how late it was but I felt my covers being pulled. I am not a heavy sleeper and it woke me. Sometimes when my husband rolls over it will pull the covers so I yanked them back and tried to go back to sleep. My eyes flew open as I heard the sound of laughter. It was a child’s giggling laugh, then the covers started to be tugged down. I wanted to explore this so I didn’t wake my husband. This began the fun play each night. The problem was I needed my sleep. I had two kids to get to school and myself to work. One night when I was awakened from a deep sleep by the play I said “Michael stop, I need to sleep. Please.” I heard one more giggle and then it stopped.

Chuck and I had a timeshare vacation planned for Puerto Vallarta for a week, and my kids would be staying with my parents who lived in the same trailer park. Because we had Betsy I asked my dad to stop by the house to check on her and the house. We had been broken into a few months before so I felt safer if someone was around regularly as a deterrent. Little did I know my dad’s world would be rocked by his experiences. When we returned home and everything looked fine a first glance. Then I noticed there was tape over the knob on the stereo and the cable box connector was disconnected and on the floor and every door was closed. I looked through the house to see if there was anything else out of order. We called dad to thank him for his help and he said he never wanted to do it again. I asked him to come over and tell us what happened. He insisted we come to their house, so we did.

Dad said that the first night he came by he walked around the outside of the house and it was fine. He came inside and walked through the house. When he opened the bathroom door he found that the toilet paper roll had been completely emptied on the floor. However Betsy wasn’t inside there. The door had been closed firmly. He cleaned it up, replaced the roll and then left. The next night he did the same thing. Betsy was sitting on the chair, so he went to the bathroom to find the door closed again. He opened it and flipped on the light to find the toilet paper roll was again emptied. Then the bathroom light went off. He turned it on, picked up the paper and didn’t put on another roll. He left feeling very strange. He didn’t go back the next night. The next night was one that gave him his first real scare. As he approached the house he could see that there were lights on in the house. He came close to the door and stopped. Before he opened the door he said a prayer. When he opened the door every light in the house was on. He hurried through the house turning off lights and opening closed doors and after putting food in Betsy’s bowl he left never looking back. The last night he came over the lights were on again and the doors were closed. To his horror the TV was on and so was the stereo. He once again went through the house quickly opening doors and turning out lights and turning the TV and stereo off. Just as he closed the door the stereo and TV came back on. He was scared and a bit pissed so he got electrical tape to cover the power knob on the stereo and disconnected the cablebox to the TV. He never ever came over if we were gone.

One Christmas I invited a dear friend to spend the night of Christmas Eve and spend Christmas day with us. After we were all in bed the nightly activity started. My friend was staying on the foldout couch snuggled down for the evening. I heard Betsy start her growl and then I hear my friend hush her. Then the footsteps started. I asked Chuck if he thought I should check on her but he said to wait a little while. I was asleep by the time it all stopped. The next morning I got up to start coffee and get breakfast ready. I found her sitting up, her knees pulled to her chin and looking as if she hadn’t slept. I asked her if she was ok and she said she wasn’t going to stay again that night as planned. When I asked her what happened she said that when Betsy started to growl the room became ice cold. She snuggled down trying to get warm and when she heard the footsteps she covered her head, drew up into a ball and tried to sleep. She felt someone sit on the end of the bed but she was so frightened she couldn’t look. “What is wrong with your house?” It was then that my children started telling us their experiences with child’s giggling, cold air, footsteps and Betsy’s cries. Chuck told me if it was Michael (remember he was skeptical) I should tell Michael he needs to go be with God. That God wants all children with him. I did what Chuck suggested. I would tell him we would never forget him but that his place was with God and the angels.

We heard no more laughing and other activities seemed to slow down. I hoped Michael had found peace and comfort. We went without anything happening for several weeks until a very unsettling thing happen one night. I was sleeping when I woke to the feeling of my covers being lifted off my feet. They weren’t being pulled like before but lifted. I kicked out and it stopped. This began a nightly occurrence and then one night I felt a hand grab my ankle! I kicked and cried out. This woke Chuck and stopped the contact. I began to pray every night about it. I didn’t think it was Michael anymore but my openness to contact with Michael had made me a point of contact a spirit conduit. Whenever it would happen I would say no and kick out and it would stop. I thought I could get it under control.

My first aggressive attack happened when Chuck was working an evening shift for a guy. Everyone was in bed and I had fallen asleep. It was probably around 11pm. You know that feeling when someone gets in bed but you are asleep and yet you can still sense it? This is what happened. I was dreaming he was home and getting into bed. After a few minutes I rolled onto my back and it was then I felt pressure on me. It was as if someone was pressing me into the mattress. Pressure on my shoulders and neck. I started to fight it. My eyes were open but I saw nothing. I just felt the heaviness. It was as if a 300lb offensive lineman was astride me and trying to stuff me into the mattress. As I fought it I started to call out to God and Jesus-I needed help or I would die. A sound like a low breathy moan filled the room, then the pressure lifted. I caught the glimpse of a dark shape fly out of the room through the ceiling.

One of the last attacks happened when Chuck was there. It began as the others had and my cries and fighting against the pressure woke him. He could see me pushing against something invisible that was so strong I could only lift my head an inch off the bed. He saw tears in my eyes and he sat up and yelled “Stop it! Go away!” It was gone. He held me as I finally calmed and fell asleep.

I decided we needed to bless the house. I went to a Christian bookstore and found a pamphlet with a prayer used to do battle with evil and bless the home. I also found a bottle of holy oil to use over all the doors and windows. After coming home and telling Chuck and the kids what we were going to do we spent an hour going to every inner and outer doorway and all the windows praying the blessing for the house and all living in it and calling the warrior angels from heaven to cover the house with protection. After this was done I stood outside and said goodbye to Michael and anyone else cast out and asking them to leave this place of the living and go to the place waiting for them.

I did have a couple of experiences where I would wake on occasion to see a dark shape over me but I was never touched or heard anything. After continuing to pray to cast out whatever was lingering and to prevent anything from coming inside these spirits left and have never returned.

The End
01 Dec 2014

Me and Dad

Hey World! This month is the birthday of the most amazing human ever!

My dad.

DAD

I loved my dad, I love him still, just as much. I think of him every day and covet those moments when he fills my dreams. I have his photos on my desk where I can see him every time I sit down to work. I have always been daddy’s girl.

ME AND DAD

Finis A. Turner or otherwise fondly known as Jack has an amazing story to tell. It is funny, heartbreaking, adventurous, and loving. No matter where he was headed I wanted to be with him. He was my buddy, my first crush, my first best friend, and the person I wanted to be with. Even when I was a bit older I loved to sit in his lap, the smell of car grease, gasoline and WD40 the familiar scent of my dad.

He was born to an unwed mother in Dallas Texas right before the depression. He was given up for adoption and sent to a Texas children’s home where he was adopted as an infant by Mr. and Mrs. Turner. This unfortunately wasn’t meant to be his forever home or family. After a few years his adopted mother decided life in West Texas as a farmer’s wife wasn’t for her. She wanted more than what her husband was offering and she left them behind. She ended up remarried, living in the big city.

The life dad had as a toddler, young child and early teens was hard, filled with abuse, neglect, and indifference.

JACK

His adopted father took off and left him in the care of an aunt and uncle, where he was essentially free farm labor.

FARM JACK WITH HIS BLUE RIBBON CCOW

I asked him once why he ate so fast and he said it was because when he lived on the farm he was never given much time to eat so if he wanted to get his fill he had to do it fast. This habit was even more ingrained when he was on the USS Enterprise in WWII where meals were quick. There were two times my husband, Chuck, had to do the Heimlich because dad had choked on big pieces he didn’t chew well enough. Chuck was the only one who could do it since he was as big a man as dad. Dad was always reminded by his uncle Bud he was living off the good graces of his adopted family, that he wasn’t blood related. Nothing he had really belonged to him. I always felt this was why he was so possessive of us – my mom, my sisters and I. He didn’t learn to share because he never had anything that was his that he could share. This was why I always told him we were his.

DAD AND HIS THREE GIRLS IN JAPAN

Dad was always a rather free spirit when he was a young man. He ran off his junior year of high school, not letting anyone know, and enlisted in the Navy.

NAVY JACK

When it was discovered he was underage serving in WWII on an aircraft carrier as a sheet metal worker he was discharged as a reservist and went back home to finish high school. He wandered around picking up jobs here and there, until he met and married his first wife. That marriage came to a quick and heartbreaking end for him. Not to say he was faultless in the situation but he was with a woman who wanted more – kind of like his adopted mother. After that relationship ended he wandered more, pretty much all over west Texas and ended up in Colorado City TX where he met my mother. She was a petite little cutie who worked in the drug store behind the soda counter. She told me the first time she saw him she was taken by his gregarious nature, his fun loving personality, and how handsome he was. They had their first date on July 4, 1950

DAD AND MOM FIRST DATE

and were married on July 25, 1950! Yep that’s right three weeks later. They were married until April 2002 when he passed away.

DAD AND MOM WEDDING

Fifty two years.

Dad went into the Air Force after an ultimatum from my mom to get a real job or get lost. He had taken off and she had no idea where he was. She showed up at his aunt’s place and waited for him there. She found out later he had met up with some old friends and the longer he stayed away the guiltier he felt and that kept him from coming back. He was embarrassed to show his face. Like I said he was a bit wild and had no business getting married. He got an earful from both mom and his aunt, and he went home with mom, tail between his legs.

AIR FORCE JACK

He enlisted in the USAF and spent twenty years in the service. He (and the family) was stationed in Harlingen TX, Yuma AZ, Panama City FL, Valdosta GA, Del Rio TX, Tucson AZ, Misawa, Japan, Angeles City, Philippines, and retired back in Tucson in 1971. He also had a solo assignment in Germany.

GERMANY JACK

My dad was a cool guy who rode motorcycles, volunteered with the UA football team, once met Elvis Presley and John Wayne (not together), and was everybody’s friend. He was the guy you wanted to know. Dad and I regularly took off on his bike, leaving my two sisters home with mom. I knew if I was very well behaved he would take me with him and I was always a good little girl for my dad. He wasn’t perfect by any means, but he treated me wonderfully and I could count on him. He loved to work on cars, and nearly burned down our house when he was working on a motorcycle carburetor. That was the last time he owned a bike. Mom put her foot down.

MOTORCYCLE JACK

Several months before my wedding dad was hurt very badly at work and had skin grafts to his right foot as well as three toes amputated from that foot. It was a horrible injury, but he worked so hard to be able to walk me down the aisle, even wearing a walking boot and using a cane, he did it. Like I said, I could always count on him.

Once when dad was working with the Arizona Wildcats football team as a volunteer during Coach Larry Smith’s time I sent in a letter to a local TV station doing features on ‘people who care’ in the Tucson area. They set it up and came to interview dad at practice. He was also interviewed when the football coaches changed from Coach Smith to Coach Dick Tomey. I have those interviews recorded on VHS and finally have a player so I can watch them. I will admit when I view them my heart aches for him. I cry, sob sometimes, with missing him. I’m feeling a bit teary right now as I write this.

ME AND DAD 1 YEAR BEFORE HE PASSED

Dad had a really bad stroke that left him completely paralyzed on the right side. He couldn’t walk or speak. A terrible situation for this larger than life, handsome, gregarious, friendly, outgoing man. The stroke was in 1998, and he passed away in 2002. I miss my dad, Sarge I called him, and treasure memories of his laugh, his love for us, the way he smelled of gasoline and WD 40, and him calling me “sugarbabe”.

Thanks for indulging me with this bit of my dad. His birthday is the 28th of this month and he will be in the forefront of my thoughts.

Cheers!

-N

Bigger might be better

My current sound booth is fine, perfectly functional, does everything I need, and had a zero sound floor. I can do what I need.

I would like it to be a bit larger.

I found when I am recording I tend to use my arms – alot! This creates an issue in my space. I find I have to pay attention to what my arms are doing when I work, and this can take away from the spontaneity of my performance.

Once I have done my script analysis, made my notes and practiced to find the voice and tone I’m looking for the last thing I need to worry about it hitting my mic with my hand. Sheesh that is a pain.

Right now I have a laptop dedicated to recording. It is hooked up to my interface with the recording software, Audacity, loaded. It’s an easy one touch process. I take the files and move them to a thumb drive and take it to my laptop I use for editing. This one is bigger, more memory and can do everything I need. It’s the one I email the finished audition file to the client with.

Art bit more space would also make it easier to integrate the devices and have an actual sound engineer area. So I guess I need to make some VO money so I can expand. Pass on my contact info to anyone you know who needs a professional voice for their project.

Cheers!

-N

What’s Next?

ZOOM work, school, social distancing tool, even funerals and memorials.

What kind of world is all this quarantine creating? Is this the thing that initiates a new electronic age of intimacy in relationships?

A movie that spoke to me in a profound way was “A.I Artificial Intelligence” by Stephen Spielberg. It frightened me but also made me curious about the future of technology.

AI Artificial Intelligence

I really liked it so many of it’s robotic aspects, yet I was so moved by the boy robot played by Haley Joel Osment. The warning was strong to the parents about activating the “imprinting protocol” which would cause him to have an eternal love for them . When the unthinkable happens and the robot is cast out, this love sent him on a journey to find himself. I understood the mothers desire for her child’s love, but I also felt the emotions of the robot when he is abandoned.

Will our future be like this? Already technology has become so prominent in all our lives we can’t think of existing without it. August 21st I stopped using Facebook. I am amazed at how much more I get done every day without the FB leash. I still have Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn but these don’t paralyze my brain with nonstop scrolling the way FB did. One of the last days I was on FB I did a three hour scroll! I missed a VO web meeting.  I disgusted myself.

My five year old grandson blows my mind with his technology abilities. He has no fear of jumping onto a program. He is a Minecraft fiend.

MINECRAFT

Kids who are doing ZOOM school don’t think twice about using laptops or tablets to listen to their teachers, interact with learning programs and doing their attendance and homework online. They are not, however, interacting face to face socially with their classmates. This worries me. If these socially distant situations go on until the beginning of 2021 as I have last heard, will they adapt or will they withdraw?

How will advancing tech in our everyday affect who we are? There is a huge push in artificial intelligence for self driving cars to the possibility of autonomous weapons. I am concerned about this desire of technological progression that the human side becomes flattered to see it successfully implemented.

Could ego incorporate programming that devastates? Think hackers.

What if the programmers think they are putting in place an AI designed to help, but it ends up interpreting it with a destructive methodology? Think HAL.

As I said in the beginning I am fascinated with it, and cautious as well. What do you think about technology in the future?

Cheers!

-N

Getting my VO groove on!

I just finished a weekly webinar series by SOVAS called #thestateofVO and it gets me so pumped up.

SOVAS

Listening to the guest speaker who could be a renowned voice over artist, a VO director, a talent agent, or any number of professionals in the voice over business is so great! The people who host are in the foremost of the industry. I’m starting to recognize regulars like me.

VO

So much of what they share is spot on, with information that only comes from first hand – hands on – real time experience that I can’t help but feel I’m getting first class tools to expand what I can offer a client’s job.

The person tonight, JB Blanc, has been the voice for several game characters, and just like that he dropped into character and shared his development process. What a great voice.

DAUGHTERS OF DC

He also shared the trailer for a podcast he is directing, “Daughters of DC”. It is so on trend right now.

The hosts and guest speaker also take the time to answer some of our questions during the session and this is where you find out how common your personal thoughts and travails are within the VO community.

Us newbies can use this info to really build on our experiences.

Cheers!

-N