Thursday, August 15, 2013

Love letters under the Pillow

WHEN my uncle Gorio, my mother’s elder brother was a young man many, many suns and moons ago, he had a girlfriend that we’re just going to name Sandy whom he wanted to marry but who broke up with him instead. My uncle was broken-hearted and tried to give her some space at first, hoping that she just needed it but the weeks passed and she became cold and aloof until she would barely talk to my Uncle. 

My Uncle, who told this story to us one rainy night during a power outage when we were kids, said did not give up easily though. He was always there and tried his best to win Sandy back.

One day, Sandy got sick from a disease that no one could determine. During those times, the barrio folk rely more on albularyos or faith healers, but when none of the rituals the albularyo performed on her worked, her family was forced to take her to the doctor. She was admitted to the hospital but none of the doctors just could tell what was wrong with her.

Sandy was taken back home where she got weaker each day. One night, she got so worse and just stopped breathing that they all rushed to her bed calling her name. Suddenly, from under her pillow, a white envelope tumbled out. They grabbed the envelope and opened the sheet of paper inside. Sandy’s name was written on it but it was the only thing they can read in the whole page letter.

They were alarmed when a similar envelop tumbled out of her bed the next night, with the same indecipherable penmanship except for Sandy’s name. Yet another letter arrived the next night, and the next, and with each letter she grew weaker and weaker.

On the seventh night since the letters started coming, Sandy just stopped breathing. The albularyo was called and started to perform more rituals at her bedside but there was no more response from her. As was the custom in those days, they buried her the following day. My Uncle Gorio was inconsolable. With the help of family and friends, he tried to move on with his life.

One day a couple of months later, a woman from the same barrio who already moved to Zamboanga City, several hours bus ride away went back to the barrio for a visit. She saw my Uncle and told him that she saw Sandy in Zamboanga City with a man who looked like a foreigner. She told my Uncle that she slapped Sandy in the arm but acted like she did not recognize her. When she chased Sandy, the later told her they were in a hurry and had to go. She also noticed that Sandy avoided looking into her eyes. The two girls grew up together, and if there was one person outside Sandy’s family who knew her so well, it was that woman.

My Uncle said his jaw dropped, while everyone’s eyes went round as saucers. Total silence engulfed the gathering of barrio folks who were there. That woman did not know that Sandy was already dead, and when they told her, it was her turn. Her jaw just did not drop, she collapsed.  
The albularyo explained that there have been already so many instances when people die but they were actually claimed and taken to the other world.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Pursuer

(Here's a ghost story contributed by my buddy Alan from Colorado)

Photo by Alan Szalwinsky
 Maybe it was because I was used to other people trying to kill me in war but I never felt uneasy or afraid of the bears or lions while I roamed and climbed my way through my beloved state of Colorado. I have had many encounters with both and have learned to tell the difference in the threat by manner of approach. A bear will never be shy about making introduction unless they are very young and when they are close they smell to high heaven. Lions are different, they are rarely seen, heard or smelled until they are pouncing on you. Their game is up if eye contact is made as they lost the initiative. They will try again and are very patient. Man is a different animal and are generally very poor hunters without a long rifle. The clumsiness of their movements betray their location and with this knowledge I became very efficient in the field dispatchingthe enemy. If you want to learn how to track a human. Practice phtographing Elk, nervous by nature they make excellent test subjects to sneak upon. I was lucky that the state I live in has many many elk and once you master this it is easy to sneak up on any human.

The morning, even though brisk for a summer was a great morning to be able to grab a camera and go for a walk in the woods. I was in a relatively tame area when I came across a glade just to the North of Pikes Peak in Central Colorado. The area is known to the locals as Rampart and it offered up many recreational activities form motorcross to world class rock climbing. As I walked across the dew laden forest floor the earlg sun streaming into the canapy gave the forest a magical look and feel.

As I started to descend the north approach of Pikes Peak looking forward to the increased oxygen (I was operating at 8500' above sea level) and warmer temps I was exposed to something much different. As I crossed over a small berm I felt the hair on my neck stand straight up not processing the foreboding of doom that would change myb life forever. My mind drifted back to Iraq as a young man during the first Gulf war when my naeivity resulted in my being sniped in the shoulder. I was older and wiser now and immediately changed my profile waiting for the imapct to shock my body with searing pain, it never came.

I scouted the area over and over searching for my pursuer only to find nothing over and over again. I scanned in front of me and a strange fog covered the glade below me. I doubled back my course by following the berm, rocks and trees that nearly suffocated the area. Nothing. I ran a figure 8 pattern and nothing. The temperature dropped the lower I went which should not happen. Every time I neared the fog it dissipated the fog and parted for me. The forest was thinner now and the trail had lo
g since faded as I bushwacked my way back to camp. I performed a modern version of a crazy ivan by making errati c turns in hopes of catching a glimpse of my hunter. Nothing again. The next five miles were agonizing and painful. Who was tracking me and why?
I reached camp and set my cadre I to an increased state of alert and they took anti measures to orevent our intruder access. Within 20 minutes camp was broken and we were heading out of the area. I was nervous and twitchy the rest of the day.

I was unsure of what I had experienced until I started to do some research and talk to local historians. The information I had asembled toom me to a place where I found myself having to suspend my belief in an ordered world. During the fall of 1863 during the American Civil war the Genocidal maniac Col. Chivington ordered an attack on a tribe of Arapahoe and Cheyenne encampment that were under treaty with Lincolns govt. The result was a one sided massacre of over 150 women and children (it was fall, the warriors were hunting for winter provisions) at the hands of the Colorado militia. The result were the Indian wars that spread like wildfire from Colorado to the dakotas. In unprecedented unity tribes throughout the region put aside ancient quarles and set their rage and lust for retribution against the white man. This included an encampment near the base of The North side of Pikes Peak.

It was amustering point for the incensed members of the Arapahoe, Kiowa and Cheyenne Dog soldiers who wanted nothing more than a full out war with the whites. Pioneers and settlers were murdered, homesteads burned and women and children taken and many of them taken to this encampment to be raped, used for target practice or tortured. This was not dances with wolves, entry into tribes was not on the agenda. Retribution in the most of violent ways was the order of the day. I don't know if the darkness I felt that day were from the Indians or from the Pioneers killed but I must insist on saying that this was an area that I felt much anger and hostility and I feel that if it were possible I woukd have met a similar fate of those that perished there.

I have not returned to this area since.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

the ghosts are back

(Photo courtesy of Alan Szalwinsky)
After being 'dead' for five years and 10 months...the ghosts are back!
I stumbled into this page while browsing the web and was surprised to see this is still alive. Ok, so I am going to resurrect this site and hope to bring you all with me to more adventures into the unknown.

Get ready with your brooms, we're flying off the worlds beyond in the next few days.

Thanks for still being there!