Bring Some

I was sitting awake by the hard blue light of my iPad, trying to figure how best to allocate my time. More and more these days, things grab at it, and I’m left with doing my own thing hurriedly. This week, there was only one day to spend on a very long list of necessary evils, most of which did not get done. So when I turned off the light, and said “goodnight” to the understanding woman beside me, I thought maybe it would be peaceful enough to concentrate and find a solution.

I decided to tap on WavePad, and record while I sat – just because. It’s what I do. No questions to ask; no comments or requests – just the dark, cold air and my thoughts. The recent months have been a time of doubt for me, and occasionally I’ve felt as though my contribution to the paranormal field has been maximized – there’s nothing more I can contribute. But that’s tough to decide – it’s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

You know, EVP are a passion for me. I still have my priorities in line, but I feel close to these voices – they’ve found an indelible place on the list. I listen carefully, and my anticipation is not in hearing them so much as in understanding what is behind their words. We have become such strange friends, because we’ve formed a perfectly reciprocating relationship. Nothing unworthy in that. Isn’t that enough to continue what I arrogantly call “my work”? I can make changes, certainly. Less social networking, perhaps. Less worry about book sales. I can cut back on the number of podcasts too. There are lots of ways to solve my time issues.

I stopped the recording, anticipating nothing, but instinctively, reached for my headphones and began to listen. Some kind of whispering was there – nothing anyone could ever understand; whispers that most researchers would label as ambient sounds. I know the room well, and I know what they are, but they’re not voices until there are words. But then… there were words. “Sad,” she said – clear as a bell, and equally as expressive.

I thought she was talking about me. I thought she had gauged my mood; that possibly all the whispering had been centered around my self-absorbed need for over-analysis. Perhaps she was even carefully chosen to express a group sentiment – “sad.” Well, I was a little sad. How intuitive of her; how correctly she had assessed my demeanor. But before I could rest too comfortably in that interpretation, she spoke again. “Bring some,” she said.

Bring some? Really? Doncha just love it? How do you not fall head over heels for these voices? Not only was she not interested in my somber reflection, she didn’t make a lick of sense. I can’t walk away from this; can’t concern myself so stridently with the relevancy of “my work” or whether I’m maximized, marginalized or whatever-ized. There’s a spirit out there doing her best to entertain the bejesus out of me, and maybe someday, along the way, I’ll make some sense out of it. But until then? No need to be “sad,” I’ll just “bring some.”

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Together

Someone once told me to never write anything down late at night. Apparently, reading it the next morning proves the point. What seems so profound in the very early morning becomes stupid and foolish in the light of day. But I couldn’t sleep, and frankly, I’m feeling sorry for myself.

I woke up missing those old investigations. I know, it’s weird, but how I loved it there in the quiet and the dark; sharpening my senses; preparing for anything. I miss every part of it – even setting up and tearing down the equipment. I miss all the little things too, and I suppose it makes sense, because it’s hard to replace the intensity. There’s adrenaline flowing, your mind is in full-on observation mode, and there’s this bond you form with fellow investigators; the way you rely on one another. I miss those people most of all.

Oh, it’s great to see them in other settings – on the street, in the mall, or at a restaurant, but it’s not the same. I mean, the guy texts and drives, but there’s no one I’d trust more in a dark abandoned building on a moonless night in the middle of nowhere. It’s the same with each one of my former teammates. Those times together were unique and so totally indelible. We formed a trust that was really quite visceral, and what we didn’t create in the name of friendship, we certainly forged through complete confidence in each other.

You quickly grow to realize that if you have to, you’ll brave anything to stand by their side. You’ll definitely have their back; you’ll never accept fear over their safety; will always walk into the abyss, if need be, to guarantee they’re not alone. And you understand they’ll reciprocate. But at the end of the day, when everything ends and it’s all up to technology to provide the answers, you know that you’ve done something meaningful, and more importantly, you did it together.

We share more on those investigations than is ever obvious. The experience is not dissimilar to being a member of a Super Bowl team, or the campaign staff of the newly elected candidate. You’re like a Blue Angel, a part of Delta Force, or one of The 300. You breathe rarified air, because this thing you do together, week after month after year, is just that special. You’re real spiritual warriors and come what may, you’ll handle whatever you find with grace and valiancy. And you know this because you know these people, and every ounce of your own strength and mettle comes directly from them. Even if you fail, you do so with family.

A little over the top? Will this be embarrassing in the morning? Possibly, but this is what I’m feeling, and why there’s no rest for the weary tonight. Because I miss them as much as I would miss the work. What I wouldn’t give to get the whole gang together again and go haunt some ghosts. What I wouldn’t give for just one more walk through the dark with “the team.” Our mates are so much more than brothers or sisters in arms – they’re our perfect counterparts; our better halves. So before I try to sleep again, thanks guys. I miss ya all the time. Sorry I don’t call very often, but I know you understand.

Brown Bananas

So, I was looking out the front door of the market, and I could see them walking up the road – about a quarter mile away, and they appeared really strange even at that distance. By the time they’d made it close enough to see details, I was no longer alone in my surveillance – they were attracting a great deal of attention.

“They” consisted of a man and a woman in their late twenties; both barefoot, and in tan Biblical-style robes – he with an actual shepherd’s crook, she with a small canvas bag. “Oh Christ, I hope they don’t come in here,” someone said. Someone else called them dirty hippies. Well, it was 1974, but I found them more Tribe of Israel than flower children; more intriguing than startling. They came inside; wanted permission to look through the dumpster for old fruits or vegetables, but the owner wanted them gone, and they left empty-handed without incident.

I lived upstairs, so I offered to feed them. I volunteered a chicken dinner with all the usual accessories, but they would only accept a few brown bananas and some bruised, green apples. But we spent the rest of the day kicking around the ideas of faith, God, and morality. We discussed living joyous lives in the service of our fellow man, and we talked about the responsibility to one another’s soul; about love. They asked to spend the night – out back would be fine, behind the store, near the woods, under the stars, and I watched them till late from my bedroom window. When I awoke, the sun barely new, they were gone. I had hoped to offer a ride – maybe breakfast, and I wanted to ask all the questions I was too polite to ask the night before.

Well, I dreamed about them last night. I had forgotten; had somehow buried the memory, but there they were forty-years later – brown bananas and all. It was one of those incredibly vivid dreams – the kind that lingers with you awhile, and seems to have a purpose; promises to teach you something considerable. “Randy, you have to believe before you can see. It doesn’t work the other way around.” he said, smiling from ear to ear. And then the dream just ended.

I don’t know what he meant for sure, any more than I can grasp who they really were, although I would like to think I am capable of understanding. It was dimestore philosophy, of course, and dreams like this shouldn’t be confused with meaningful moments. It was a dream that made use of an old and obscure memory, while somehow managing to masquerade as significant and elucidating.

I caught myself taking it seriously for a moment – I can admit that. I found myself pondering those words about believing. But disbelief is itself belief, isn’t it? “I believe that I don’t believe?” Doesn’t matter. These days we want more than simply to believe. We want to truly know, and usually, we wish it wasn’t so damn obtuse. Occasionally, really vivid, meaningful encounters are nothing more than dreams, or in this case, just a load of brown bananas. Personally, I’d have taken the chicken dinner and slept on the sofa, but then no one would dream about that 40 years later. Ah, choices choices choices… I bet they sell insurance now.

“So, I had this dream…”

Last night, I experienced part two of an intense dream from a week ago. It was such an incredibly vivid and seemingly significant dream that of course, I have to tell you all about it. I’ll remove the personal, boring details; I’ll combine both dreams into one event. You know, we all have these kinds of vision-like dreams, and while they may be rare, they are something we all have in common.

Mine begins with a simple argument with my wife. I was lying on my back, and she was sitting next to me. It was a very calm dispute, so I knew she was wrong when she said, “Well, that’s it. It’s over.” I understood that I had to leave, but I was certain she would come to miss me, and we’d repair the rift between us. But I knew it would take time.

I moved temporarily into some kind of dormitory – part of a paranormal institute, no less, with fascinating experiments going on all around me. It actually felt weirdly familiar and yet different at the same time, and my roommate was a childhood buddy. Instantly, we became fast friends once again, but it didn’t take long before he started to annoy me. Sloppy and boorish, he couldn’t manage to respect my personal space, and I quickly reached the point where I’d had enough of him. I decided to take a walk to get away, and for the first time I thought of my wife. I considered simply apologizing and admitting to the error of my ways; disavowing my stubborn need to be right. Almost immediately, there she was. I saw her pull up across the street in a very strange red vehicle, and she parked in front of a two-story glass building. I yelled from across the way, so happy to see her, and she turned and waved back – big smile on her face. But there were no words; no eye contact, and she looked right through me, and went inside.

Seeing my wife was difficult, and it preoccupied my mind for a day or two, but it wasn’t long before I found myself on that same street again – across from that same glass building. This time, when she pulled up in the strange vehicle, I felt oddly encouraged. I called out to her again, anticipating a joyous reunion, but my enthusiasm quickly waned. Instead of running into my arms, she completely ignored me. I yelled again even louder, and then several times more, but each time, she refused to acknowledge me. I noticed that she looked old and a little stooped over, but she seemed to straighten up and come alive when she saw a small girl looking out from behind the glass. As she hurriedly opened the door, I heard the child call her “Mama!” and noticed that she looked exactly like our daughter at four. Slowly, I began to understand.

She didn’t answer because she couldn’t see me. She was indeed much older, and the little girl was our daughter’s child. The vehicle was all the rage for the time, and that glass building was where she lived with what was left of her family. I, on the other hand, was no longer alive. Our argument wasn’t an argument at all. It was “over” because it was. When I finally understood, I realized that I could cross the street and get closer, if I wanted, but as I first stepped off the curb, I awoke. For quite some time I laid there. I wasn’t entirely certain whether I was alive and in bed, or whether I was in fact, dead and visiting. I wanted to reach over to wake her, but I was afraid to find out.

Obviously, I know this is all very “Sixth Sense.” It’s not paranormal, or vision-like, or even particularly revelatory. It’s not even original – people have dreams all the time, and many of them touch on this very subject with an even finer sense of enlightenment and verve. But mine was for me, and if nothing else, it was gratefully peaceful and calm. While it was sad to have died, I was content to learn that my loved ones were still close by if I wanted them to be, and that I could still share life with them in some capacity. I knew my wife would join me soon, and that I could be patient – a matter of days in my new life, translated into years in the world. But I also felt encouraged that life goes on regardless, and that the essence of who we are continues through our children, and then through theirs. I felt optimistic that the world could indeed make sense, even if that order required the confusion and the dread of death.

I was sad upon waking up, but I am content with these images now. I’m more certain than ever that there is a hereafter and that forever will be as precious as now can ever be. Maybe more, because forever has all the advantages of a dream, and we all know how off the hook those can be. I’m glad to be alive, but more than that, I’m gratified to believe that the only difference between living and dying is found in the waking up.

The One

Everybody knows that most paranormal investigations are boring, and everyone hopes for one that isn’t. You go inside with the anticipation that this will be “the one” that turns out crazy; where things fly off of shelves, and black shadows dart through the upstairs bedrooms. This time, a residual woman in full 19th century regalia might actually walk through the wall of the dining room. You’ll smell cigar smoke in the parlor, hear someone scream from the basement, and a soft hand will stroke your hair repeatedly. By the time you shut things down, everyone will have several mind-blowing experiences, and you will have captured all of it on video and digital recorders. This scenario even includes a few moments of actual fear – the kind that really tests you, but you kept it together; you did your job perfectly.

If we’re honest, that’s the kind of investigation we all yearn for, but sadly, it almost never happens. Most likely, it will be a quiet night instead. You’ll say “what was that?” a couple of times, but it won’t be anything out of the ordinary – a creaky stair, a click of the grandfather clock. Maybe something will fall off the top of the refrigerator – a poorly placed loaf of bread perhaps, dislodged from its precarious perch by gravity or a mouse. If you’re lucky, there will be something you can debunk – a kitchen cabinet that opens on its own or a faint unexplained smell. One of your meters will go off around midnight; the K2 will act a little weird in the living room – nothing too dramatic, and nothing concrete.

You’ll hope something will show up during analysis – EVP perhaps, or maybe some unexplained movement on the video. How many hours of video have you watched this year only to come up empty-handed; how many times has movement in the corner of your eye turned out to be your imagination? How many hours of audio have you labored through – reliving every moment over and over, always with the same excruciatingly predictable result?

That’s how it goes. The field is anti-climactic for the most part. You will probably begin to wonder, at some point, why you even do this. Surely there are better, more productive ways to spend your time. There are better ways to spend your cash too. How many digital recorders do you really need anyway? Secretly, a part of you wants to be Zak or Aaron. You want to hear a voice threaten to “kill Nick,” and it sure would be nice if your Spirit Box performed as well as theirs. If only you could walk the grounds with Jason as he catches something on the thermal, or survey the old mill with Steve – just once.

Oh hell, you’re doing everything right. You’re calm under fire and you know when to be quiet. You’re the consummate professional – you know the equipment, understand how to handle every situation, have totally prepared for any eventuality, and you don’t run. It’s always a great investigation because you’re good at what you do and your team is spectacular – one of the best ever, a well oiled ghost finding machine, ready to take on all comers. If only…

Still, all the training and experience has served you well. You’ve secured your share of solid evidence over the years, so it’s all been worth it, but tonight – on that long drive home as the sun comes up, and the world slowly stirs, you feel a little unsure about things. It’s difficult to explain – you could simply be spent. You’ll probably get over it – all you need is some food and a little rest. But is it all worth the effort?

Well, you can’t answer that one tonight. As you pull into the drive-thru, you hear yourself order that breakfast burrito and a Diet Coke, and you recognize your voice, but you’re not certain you actually spoke. It’s Sunday morning, and people are up. Just an hour ago, it was still Saturday night, and you were still on location; still frosty, and the adrenaline still pumping. While the world slept, you were in search of the truth. You were gaining understanding and knowledge; gathering proof of forever.

Yeah, you just need some sleep. Better get on that evidence as soon as you can though – next Friday night you have to do it all over again, and you need to be ready. People are counting on you. As you pull off the parking lot and onto the highway, your eyes are getting heavy, and your face feels like leather, but all you can think about is next Friday, and you really can’t wait. And so it goes. Maybe next time will be “the one.” Maybe the time after that – who knows? It doesn’t matter, but thanks – we need you. We appreciate the effort, and love the commitment. We’re sure you’ll find “the one” real soon.