The Paranormal Hotel | Knock, knock …

… knock, knock.

I’m just recovering from coming away from a long weekend of working at the paranormal hotel. It’s true, I quit that job months ago, but, when I left, I agreed to occasionally fill in when the owners go on vacation. I’ve known, almost since I quit, that I’d be covering four day-shifts in early May.

I didn’t expect anything particularly dramatic to happen, in the hours between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Mother’s Day weekend, and, mostly, I was right.

Of course it was still hard. Having had many weeks away from that environment, I had nearly forgotten how dreary and hopeless if feels there. Just one day of dealing with the hand-to-mouth existence of the residents and guests drained me.

Knock, knock …

To be fair, I wasn’t at my best. Lately I’ve been having some trouble with absent-mindedness. I’m told it’s a function of my age and stage, and that it will pass, but it pisses me off. When my brain stops cooperating with me, I get cranky.

I’m trying to keep a light tone here, but the truth is that it’s scary when I have these little lapses. They aren’t exactly like what you’re probably imagining right now. Yes, we all have occasional brain spasms when we forget where we left our keys, or drive for a few miles on autopilot without really seeing the road. Usually, these things happen when we are sleep deprived, or upset, or trying to multitask too much. A deliberate deep breath and a good mental shake will clear the mind and allow full functionality to return.

This hormonal stuff is more like being drunk. I know there’s a problem, I can try to shake it off, but sometimes I have to accept there’s going to be a period of a few hours, or even most of a day, when I just can’t trust myself to think clearly, or even perceive accurately.

It’s enough to make some small part of my mind start toying with the idea that I just might be going mad.

The paranormal hotel is a terrible place to be for a woman who distrusts her sanity. People there lie to you. Ineptly, yes, but with absolute conviction that you will believe whatever they concoct. On Saturday, in particular, deception seemed to be the order of the day.

… knock, knock.

Allow me to share some of the versions of reality I heard:

Room 127:

Guest (upon check-in): “I’m supposed to be seeing a doctor tomorrow, but I’m not going to need to do that, because I’ve got an appointment in an hour with a woman who can pray over me and take the tumor away. Isn’t God amazing?”

Me: (Non-committal nod.)

Guest: “So I only need the room for one night, not the two I reserved. It will just be me and my Michael.”

Me: “Not four people? The reservation says you wanted a room with two beds, to accommodate four.”

Guest: “Yes, that’s right, but just one person. I like to lay my stuff out on the second bed.”

Me: “Two people then; just you and a Michael?”

Guest: “He’s my kitty cat.”

Me: “Oh. I’m so sorry, but we don’t allow pets in the hotel.”

Guest: “He’s my service animal. And he’s so good, he always uses his litter box.” (She goes on for a while about the cat.)

Me: “He sounds lovely. I’ll just need to see his papers then.”

Guest: (Absolutely blank stare.) “Umm. They are somewhere in my luggage, and I have to get to that appointment, so I can’t get them for you now. I’ll find them for you later. If you’re still here. When is your shift over?”

Me: “Ma’m, I’m sorry, but I can’t let him in until I see his papers–”

Guest: “But he won’t make any mess.”

Me: “It’s not that. It’s a matter of inoculations and health codes.

Guest: “He has his shots. I don’t understand why hotels don’t welcome a nice clean cat like Michael.

Me: Hotels are legally required to accommodate service animals, but when it comes to pets, they are trying to avoid allergens–”

Guest: “Oh, he’s a Turkish angora, so he’s hypoallergenic.”

Me: (In my head.) Well that’s just not true. You know this, Renae. You raised purebreds when you were a little girl, and you know a hell of a lot about cats. There’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat, really, and a Turkish Angora is NOT on the list of lower-allergen breeds

Guest: “It IS true!” (My face must have shown what I was thinking–which is another sign that I’m not operating at my best.) “I’ve read lots of articles on The Internet.” (I could hear the capitals in her voice.)

I like cats. The paranormal hotel used to accept pet guests, and only really changed its policy because a large dog did some major damage. Plus, I was only filling in for a few shifts. I judged the situation to be not worthy of a fight. I checked her in and warned her that she’d have to show the papers to whomever was at the desk when she returned.

What happened later:

When I cam back the next day, I was told she never produced papers, claimed that she was leaving the cat in the car overnight, then had the inexperienced girl who was covering the early morning shift carry the cat from the hotel room to her car when she checked out. Apparently the cat sprayed on most of the upholstered furniture.

Knock, knock…

Room 343, 410, 112:

Guest(s): “I’m waiting for my friend to bring me some money. I absolutely have to stay here again tonight, because (fill in the blank.) I know I agreed to check out at 11:00, but he/she will be here before noon. I promise I’ll come right down as soon as I have the money.”

What happened later:

They each delayed as long as possible with frequent promises that it would only be a few more minutes until they could pay, then were just gone when I went to clear them out at 12:45 p.m. As far as I can tell, they were in no way affiliated with each other; that’s just the way people are at the paranormal hotel.

knock, knock.

The laundry room:

As the housekeepers strip each room, they gather the dirty linens into a bundle, then toss the bundle down a chute that descends through all five stories of the hotel. The bundles end up in an industrial sized bin in the laundry room. Part of my job is to stand at the bottom of that chute and sort the laundry into loads. Staff members are supposed to shout “clear” before they drop a bundle down the chute, but sometimes they forget to do it.

I can forgive that.

On Saturday morning, I had just spent four or five minutes in the quiet laundry room, emptying the bin. I was bent into it, fetching out a few loose towels from its bottom, when I heard a trap door from somewhere far above me open. I didn’t have enough time to get out of the way before a heavy, wet bundle dropped onto the back of my neck.

It hurt. I swore. In a clearly annoyed voice, I shouted up the chute, “Hello?” There was no response. I thought, You scared him or her. Watch your cranky level, Renae. Then, Well, at least now it shouldn’t happen again today.

Later, the guy who had been helping out by stripping rooms for the housekeepers came up to me, his sky-blue eyes wide with sincerity, and said, “You didn’t hear me when I shouted clear. Good thing it was a light load, huh?”

An apology from him would have been followed by one from me, for snapping. His words, though, left me speechless. I had to wonder if I was going crazy. Maybe I had missed his warning, even though the machines hadn’t been running yet. Maybe it had been a small, dry load, but my neck was still sore from the blow I’d received. Then I remembered another encounter I’d had with him.

What happened before:

The guy lives at the paranormal hotel, of course. He and his wife have a habit of narrating the world to be as they prefer it to be. They are convinced that they are good liars, too.

Once, they found a very expensive bottle of liquor in a room and appropriated it for themselves. (This doesn’t bother me much. I can see how they could have considered it a gratuity.) I didn’t know about the cognac until the guest who had left the bottle behind came looking for it. When I contacted the couple to see if either of them had found it, they told me they’d thrown it out, and that they’d fetch it from the dumpster for me. (It’s common to find liquor at the hotel, by the way, and it’s standard practice to bring it to the laundry room in case a guest returns for it. Usually, though, it’s  a half-case of cheap beer.)

Eventually they brought the bottle to the front desk, in pristine condition, with its contents intact. The husband regaled me with how he had to climb into the dumpster and move bags until he found it. He also let me know he’d washed it off in his bathroom before bringing it to me. The couple was anxious to tell me that they had no idea it was valuable because they don’t drink ever.

But back to the stories from Saturday.

Knock, knock …

Room 317:

Guest (on the phone, at about 11 a.m.): “Can I get a noon checkout?”

Me: I’m sorry, we are booked up for later today, so we need to get the housekeepers into the rooms as soon as possible. I can give you until 11:30 though. Will that help?”

Guest: “Yes. I’ll have time for a quick shower then. I really appreciate that, and I’ll try to hurry. Thank you.”

What happened later:

Just before noon I called all the rooms that hadn’t yet checked out, (including 317,) in preparation for my first sweep of the hotel. This is standard routine. When the phone is unanswered, it’s an indication that the guests have probably left. Once I’ve noted all the rooms that are likely empty, I go check each one in person, by first knocking, then–assuming there is no response–opening the door with my pass key to confirm the room is empty. Once I’ve visited all the rooms in this way, I can give the maids an update on where they can go next.

When I got to room 317, I knocked, then slid my pass key into the lock and tried to open the door. I immediately hit the security bar which can only be fastened from the room’s interior. I let the door close, then called the room with the portable phone I was carrying. I heard it ring five or six times before the same woman I’d given the 11:30 checkout to answered. Her voice was groggy. I told her it was now past noon, and she’d agreed to leave by 11:30.

She said she’d never spoken to me. I didn’t argue; I just told her she had to vacate the room as soon as possible.

When she finally cleared the room, after 12:30 p.m., she left a wad of foil-lined paper and some food scraps in the microwave with the timer set to maximum.

… knock, knock.

Room 432:

432 was another of the rooms I had called just before noon. There had been no answer, so I had every reason to believe it was vacant. By the time I got to the fourth floor, however, I had run into several rooms that were still occupied, despite the unanswered calls, (including 317, above, where the security bar had been engaged.) When I came to 432, I was a little gun shy. I rapped firmly on the door

Knock, knock.

then paused to listen carefully.

… knock, knock.

From inside the room someone rapped back. It was a soft sound, but distinct. I looked up and down the hall, in case someone was knocking at another room, but I was alone. I tried again and got the same response. My cordless doesn’t always work well above the third floor, but I dialed the room anyway. The phone behind the door rang ten times as I strained to hear any movement beyond the door, but all was silent, save for the rings.

I tucked the phone into my back pocket and tried again, this time with a louder, triple strike

Knock. Knock. Knock.

which was promptly returned.

… knock, knock, knock.

It occurred to me that maybe someone was messing with me deliberately. I checked my occupancy list and found that the rooms on either side of  432 were empty — one had been so all night, and the other had checked out earlier, by turning in their keys to me. Again, I looked up and down the hallway. I paged through the papers on my clipboard. Telling myself it must be an echo, or a sound coming up from the floor below, I raised my had to knock one more time, but I didn’t have the chance. From inside the room came an impatient-sounding

KNOCK. KNOCK! (Pause.) KNOCK!

It’s my job to open that door, no matter what I think I might see or not see, so I did.

hotel room

It was empty, of course.

 What’s going to happen now:

I think it’s best for me to avoid the hotel until I have a little more confidence in my ability to perceive things are they really are. It’s bad enough when the residents and guests are lying to me, but when the hotel itself gets in the game, I’m out … at least temporarily.


This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: May 11 – 17, 2015

~YOUR MUSICAL INTERLUDE~

Nostra Morte | Perséfone

Thanks to Joanna Wagner, who brought this to my attention.

This week, I think I’m most excited about:

Wayward Pines

~THE MOVIES~

NEW ON NETFLIX & IN REDBOX:

Granite Flats (2013, 2014, 2015) TV series from BYUtv(!)

All three seasons of this series will become available on Netflix streaming on May 15th. (No link available yet.)
This blurb caught my eye: “It’s the 1960s. The height of the Cold War. The rural town of Granite Flats, Colorado, suddenly becomes a hotbed for mystery and intrigue.” (IMDb) A little more research reveals that this is an original, scripted drama from the folks at Brigham Young University TV. That’s interesting in its own right. Apparently the show has been on for BYUtv for the last three season, but now they have partnered up with Netflix to screen the whole show. To be honest, the few trailers I can find feel a little “after school special” to me, but I want to give it a fair shake because I love this era.
On IMDb here.

Extraterrestrial (2014) NR
Available on Netflix streaming on May 12th.
This looks fairly average, but I do love anything with Michael Ironside in it.
On IMDb here.

IN THEATERS:

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) R
Opens in general release, Friday, May 15th.
Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
[UPDATE] I had my doubts for the first 15-20 minutes, but in the end I came out stoked about this movie. The visuals are stunning. (I can close my eyes and “see” the sandstorm sequence.) The tone is much closer to Mad Max and The Road Warrior than to Beyond Thunderdome. The story is fine, but it’s the spectacle that will impress you. Don’t wait for it to come to DVD — this is one that deserves to be seen on the big screen.
On IMDb here.

Every Secret Thing (2015) R
In general release, Friday, May 15th.
Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning
I’ve not seen any previews for this on TV or in the theaters, which surprises me a bit, considering it opens Friday. Looks suspenseful. And I love what I see of the cast.
On IMDb here.

~ON TV~

Wayward Pines | FOX | Thursdays | 9/8c | Starts this week, May 14th.
10 episodes
From the homepage:
“Imagine the perfect American town, beautiful homes, manicured lawns, children playing safely in the streets…Now imagine never being able to leave. You have no communication with the outside world. You think you’re going insane. You must be in Wayward Pines.”

“Based on Blake Crouch’s bestselling series of books and brought to life by M. Night Shyamalan. An “intense psychological thriller evocative of the classic hit Twin Peaks.””
[UPDATE] I’m giving this orange status for now, based on one episode. I realized as I watched that I don’t really trust M. Night Shyamalan anymore. I adored The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, but somewhere along the line, I realized that everythinghe’s done since is a trope, and there aren’t a lot of genuine twists to enjoy. I fear this is going to be like The Village, which was pretty and creepy, but essentially flat in the end.
On IMDb here.

~***~

And that’s pretty much it for this week. I’m just coming off a four-day stint at the Paranormal Hotel, so I’m a bit worn out, but I hope to finish and post the next installment of Investigating a Haunting: Carlos Avery WMA, MN on Friday or Saturday. I also promised a little story to go along with a snapshot of an empty hotel room that I tweeted/facebooked a couple of days ago. (If everything goes just right, you might see that on Wednesday.) Right now, though, I have to catch-up to my word count goal for my novel project. Have a great week, Folks.

~***~

RECENTLY FEATURED ON MACABRE & MYSTERIOUS MEDIA:

Still in a theater near you?

Still available on Netflix streaming or in Redbox:

** Available in Redbox, but not yet Netflix streaming, as of this posting.

The color of the title is keyed as follows:
Black = Have not yet experienced. I’m interested … or I think you’ll be interested.
Red = Have experienced. Not recommended. Worse than the reviews or buzz indicated.
Orange = Have experienced. Recommended, with reservations or cautions.
Green = Have experienced. Recommended. A good movie that lives up to its reputation.

This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: May 4 -10, 2015

~YOUR MUSICAL INTERLUDE~

Buckle up, Folks…

Nekromantix – Gargoyles Over Copenhagen

~A BOOK~

You know I don’t feature many books here, in my Macabre & Mysterious Media posts, (which is CRAZY, I know, all things considered) but occasionally something new comes along that I just have to share. Recently I had a chance to read an advance copy of The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, by J.H. Moncrieff, and I loved it.

There’s even a spiffy book trailer:

This novella becomes available on Tuesday, May 5th, for just $2.66.

Support this debut author by grabbing a copy HERE.

You’ll want to have read it by the time June rolls around, because … (I’m excited to announce) … I’ll be interviewing J.H. Moncrieff on Skype at the end of May!

We’ve been in contact for the last month or so, working out the details of our plan. We still need to nail down a firm date and time for the conversation and decide what specific cocktail we’ll be sampling together. FYI, we have agreed the concoction we settle on must 1) be something that neither of us has every tried 2) include Malibu rum, and 3) have a spooky name.

I’ll be creating one or more videos from the raw footage, and will post the end product(s) in early to mid June. Of course we’ll be discussing The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, and there might be spoilers in the video(s). (Especially if we choose to indulge in strong cocktails.)

~THE MOVIES~

NEW ON NETFLIX & IN REDBOX:

It’s a quiet week on Netflix except for this:

Grace & Frankie (2015) TV SHOW

All 13 episodes will become available on Netflix on May 8th.

Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Martin Sheen, Sam Waterson

Not even a tinge of spooky here, but I’m really looking forward to this cast! It’s going to be a perfect binge on a rainy weekend.

On IMDb here.

Also, my favorite Angry Scholar has led me to something I missed:

The Road (2011) R

Avaliable on Netflix streaming.

On IMDb here.

Warning: this is hard to find on Netflix, because of the OTHER movie titled The Road (2009). (You know, the deeply depressing one, based on the Cormac McCarthy novel.) Scholar mentioned THIS movie in his recent post:

 Smart, Beautiful, Horrible: Horror’s Thoughtful (and Funny) Filmmakers

…where he also recommended Starry Eyes (2014) which I featured last week. (I’m going to have watch that one, despite my reservations.)

IN THEATERS:

Maggie (2015) R

Opening Friday the 8th, though it may not be in wide release yet.

(I can’t find it playing near me this coming weekend, though a couple of theaters say it’s “coming soon.”)

Another zombie movie, this one starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. WAIT! Don’t just skip along. I’m hearing really good things about this one.

(I’ll probably share it again, when I believe it’s ACTUALLY going to be available to a lot of us.)

On IMDb here.

~ON TV~

Nothing exciting on TV this week, except for that Grace & Frankie show, which is really a Netflix thing.

Last week, I rounded up the best of April’s paranormal entertainment. Most of that stuff is still around, so if you need more, check there.

~***~

The color of the title is keyed as follows:
Black = Have not yet experienced. I’m interested … or I think you’ll be interested.
Red = Have experienced. Not recommended. Worse than the reviews or buzz indicated.
Orange = Have experienced. Recommended, with reservations or cautions.
Green = Have experienced. Recommended. A good movie that lives up to its reputation.

You will be returned to your regularly scheduled investigation report next week.

Apparently, I’m going to be engaged in an entirely different set of adventures this weekend. (More details will follow — assuming anything interesting happens.) In the meantime, now might be a good time to catch up on the first two installments of Investigating a Haunting: Carlos Avery WMA, MN. 

To make up for my absence this weekend, I’ll post a random little something for you now.

(By the way, these are a bit raw and non-PC. Watch at your own risk.)

Epic Rap Battles with a Paranormal Spin

Stephen King v. Edgar Allan Poe

Jack the Ripper v. Hannibal Lecter

Rick Grimes v. Walter White

Stephen Spielberg v. Alfred Hitchcock
(This one is just filthy with the language, as my imaginary grand-mama would say. Enjoy.)

For more battles, suited to your particular tastes, check out all the videos on the ERB channel.

I hope you can get your spook on this weekend. (I’m certainly going to try.) If you’re looking for more paranormal entertainment to fill the time, feel free to wander through some recent

Macabre & Mysterious Media posts HERE.

Se ya.


For my Walking Dead Peeps.

My son brought this Imgur thread to me tonight. As my boy would say, it got me right in the mind. I had to step away from the PC because I was laughing so hard I got a stomachache.

Maybe it’s just me. (But Ogre was laughing pretty hard too.)

Here’s a sample, but click the link to see them all.

glue walking dead meme

RICK AND CORAL ON IMGUR


Posting in sick.

Hey, Folks. Today is eight Fridays away from Halloween and I’ve spent the better part of the last four days either working at the hotel or sleeping. I am currently – slowly – working on the countdown post for this week. I expect I’ll get it up sometime this weekend. (It doesn’t look good for the Paranormal Deck of Cards post though.)

By the way, I’m replacing the Etsy post that held the 8-weeks-to-Halloween slot last year with something totally different. So at least there’s that.

SAMSUNG

halloween countdown 8 ivan

1:26am: See? It’s coming.


Wild card post: dating, courting, and going steady.

WILD CARD POSTS

I’m often thinking about how the blog is doing and where it’s going. I’ve gone through periods of daily posting and I’ve fallen silent for long periods of time. Recently I decided to try a more structured schedule, which is getting off to a decent start.

The plan, in case you haven’t already figured it out, is to do Macabre Media on Mondays, Halloween Countdown on Fridays, and a topic of paranormal interest on Saturdays or Sundays. (Plus, on some Sundays, a Body Preservation post.)

I have to be careful, though, to not box myself in too much. If it gets too rigid, it stops being fun.

In the interest of keeping things lively, I plan to reserve Wednesdays for off-theme posts. I don’t promise to post every Wednesday, but when I do it will either be about the paranormal hotel or it will be a straight up wild card. Tonight, to get things started right, you get a wild card.

[Unless you’re a night owl like me, you’re likely to see these posts on Thursdays. For me it’s still Wednesday until I go to sleep.]

HOMESCHOOLING

I was just reading through my personal FB feed and I came across an article about courtship.

I should remind you that I educated my son at home from fourth grade to tenth, and then I turned him over to the local community college for his junior and senior year. He has now been graduated from my high school curriculum and earned an associate degree in the process.

Yes – despite my dancing around the word – that means we “homeschooled.”

I always hesitate to use the term, because of the stereotypes surrounding homeschoolers. Sadly, some of them are more true than not. Most of the families we met through homeschool organizations were homeschooling, at least in part, for religious or political reasons. We did ok in that world, though we were clearly in the minority when it came to our (nearly non-existent) religious practices … and we were almost unique in our liberal political views.

Still, these were good people and I maintain casual relationships with several of them.

And that is how I came to be reading Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed.

At first I didn’t realize that the author was using the term courtship in a very specific way:

Courtship is a relationship between a man and a woman in which they seek to determine if it is God’s will for them to marry each other. Under the protection, guidance, and blessing of parents or mentors, the couple concentrates on developing a deep friendship that could lead to marriage, as they discern their readiness for marriage and God’s timing for their marriage. (Quote from Institute in Basic Life Principles, for clarification purposes.)

To be honest, I was unaware that this was a thing. I don’t know how many of my fellow homeschoolers subscribe to this kind of thinking.  (In my son’s age cohort, there just weren’t very many girls — plus, you know, there were some obvious ideological issues with the few that were around — so that’s not where he’s done his dating.)

5123813830_29af542b15_z

Photo by Samantha Jade Royds

COURTSHIP, DATING, AND GOING STEADY

Read the articles if they are of interest to you, but I want to talk about a particular gem of wisdom I found in Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed.

It seems that we as a society have changed the definition of dating since it was being done in the 40s & 50s. According to the article, it was common at that time for parents to make one major rule when it came to early dating:

You can’t go out with the same person twice in a row.

It was perfectly acceptable, and expected, that in any given month you would go to the movies with Tom, have a malt with Dick, go to the dance with Harry, then – perhaps – go to a party with Tom again. The idea was that you’d get to know a lot of different people and there would not be so much pressure to pair bond with one person. By the time you’d dated 10-20 people, you had a much better idea of what kind of person you wanted to go steady with and, maybe, eventually marry.

An argument for this kind of traditional dating, from the Christian viewpoint of the article, is that there isn’t much sexual activity associated with it. I’m probably less concerned with “purity” than the author of the article is, but I can see how this kind of cultural norm would be a healthy way for people, especially young people, to develop relationship skills without feeling so pressured. And I can see how such casual dating would be less likely to contribute to confusion between raging hormones and burgeoning love.

Plus it sounds like a hell of a lot of fun.

This is NOT the way it was done when I was in high school. It was much more like serial monogamy. We hung out in groups until a couple decided to “date” at which point they would see each other exclusively for anywhere from a week to several months or more. When you stopped dating someone, there was a breakup. Then you would do it all over again with another person. Some relationships included sex, some didn’t. The concept behind the process, though, was that each person you dated could be The One. Once couple-hood was declared by going on a date, you ran that relationship out to its end.

Right now I am totally taken with the idea of bringing back real, old fashioned dating. Assuming it isn’t already being done and I just don’t know about it.

HOW IS IT DONE NOW?

From what I’ve seen in my kids, and my nieces and nephews, it’s still pretty much the way if was when I was younger … serial monogamy.

I have questions for you:

  • What was your dating experience?
  • What have you seen happening these days?
  • What are you doing (if you’re unmarried and still looking)?
  • Do you think anyone is dating casually the way I described it above? Who?
  • If traditional dating isn’t happening, do you think it should be?
  • If traditional dating isn’t being done, how on earth could it come back into practice?
  • If you are (or were to start) dating, what do you think the reaction would be if you said, “I don’t date anyone more than once in a row and I don’t want you to either?”

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