Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ghosts, Orbs and Entities: My Fault,I Went Lookin'

Kangaroo.  Not scary.

Satisfying our mutual and natural urge to wander, I traveled with my teen aged daughter this summer. We hiked around the Smokey Mountains, had facials, went to the Indian casino, and found a kangaroo farm out in the middle of nowhere Georgia.
But from the jump, we made a plan to fulfill our interest in visiting a “haunted hotel” in the South, and ultimately ended up for a night at the Inn at Merridun in Union, South Carolina.

This antebellum inn is widely known for its “haunts” and good food.
We were not disappointed either way!

The Inn at Merridun


On the outside, if you squint, there is a glimpse of this mansion’s glory days when it was central to a booming cotton industry and anchored many square miles of property for the family by which it was owned. The echoes of steam locomotives chugging by, laden with white drifts of cotton, linger on the tracks not 100 yards away from the front door.

The gracious porches, where sparkling entourages of lavishly dressed guests were once greeted and ushered into the house for society balls, roll now like a set of ocean waves, the marble tiles pushed up and sunken down at intervals.

Looking up, all is overarched by a tin veneered ceiling gone green with dripping corrosion.
Now in unremitting dilapidation, the entire house seemed as though it is melting gracefully into the landscape drawn down by gravity and unseen tendrils of kudzu and mildew pulling it earthward.

No line is plumb, no angle angular.

It is a rounded dowager, an aging belle, stuffed with a profuse collection of delicious antiques, lolling on a green throne. She is holding court anxiously awaiting imaginary suitors to fill her dance card with waltzes and reels.
The Girl. Hunting.


Naturally, upon settling in, we went into our “Ghost Hunter” mode. Since we were the only party staying at the inn that night, we gleefully explored every possible space in the mansion for cold spots, fleeting peripheral sightings or disembodied voices.

We ranged around trying to whisper and tip toe from the gentlemen’s sitting room on the first floor to the ballroom on the second. Ballrooms in those days were situated above the “mosquito line” for the comfort of the guests.
 
We heard a ghost dog barking, footsteps above our heads, felt cold tentacles embrace our legs, saw a shadowy sad man leaning over the balcony, and heard far away laughter with piano music.
And always the train going by on that discontinued spur - all distant and lonely and muted like the volume was turned down.

Imaginations overwrought, we just wound ourselves up into a susceptibility of the most exquisite degree.
We took gobs of pictures hoping to catch an “entity” digitally and did catch a few creepy photos with smoky ectoplasm and orbs in them, we think.

Just above the picture - See the orb?

Assigned to the ground floor suite called “The Senator’s Room,” really the only scary thing about it upon first examination was a framed and signed photograph of Strom Thurmond next to one of Jimmy Carter, both of whom apparently stayed there at one time. I thought it might be disconcerting enough getting to sleep with those two evil birds gazing down from above the spooky black painted fireplace!
But they were the least of it, as it turns out.

Of course, as if on cue, the atmosphere literally became electrically charged when an unbelievable summer storm enveloped the place as the sun went down. Static was snapping and popping all around and ozone scented the air profusely. I could not have ordered a more appropriate special effect had it been a movie set.
My ever-so-mature and intelligent theory on “ghosts” up until this point is that they are merely “echoes” of past energies left behind by really passionate and particularly distinctive humans.  Their personalities were just too, well, interesting not to leave an indelible imprint on their environments.

Basically, I contended with a haughty confidence born of sublimely misguided arrogance, these energies are like a television broadcast possessing no sentient thought, and no purpose. Just recordings replaying until the battery runs out, if you like.

So, going in, “I ain’t scared of no ghost!”

Not until 3:11 a.m. in the morning anyway.

I awoke in our dark room with just the gleam of a streetlight streaming through the window. T was oblivious next to me snoring and cooing in her sleep a little as she does.

The sitting room. Orbs everywhere!

Then I heard a voice coming from the sitting area in the room.

Clearly, closely and not in my head. It sounded like an old woman but had a childish tone as well. She said:

This is the kind of paper that…”

Then she paused and said it again a little louder sounding slightly annoyed.

“This is the kind of paper that we…” 

And then…nothing. T continued snoring.

I smiled. Now I had finally heard my “entity,” my “energy recording from the past,” and congratulated myself that our adventure there was worth every penny; the fun factor was off the chain. Great story to tell!
Confident and content, I rolled over positioning myself back to back with my squishy snuffling little daughter to sleep.

Then, directly in my ear, sounding as though the talker was standing over me, I heard,

“This is the kind of paper that we use, LINDA!”

And what was my cordial, measured and winning response?

I told a ghost to “SHUT UP! SHUT UP!”

My southern-bred charm, poise and manners flew right out the window with what I imagined to be a very offended specter.

T emerged from her stupor only to say, “Mom I didn’t say anything! Why are you telling me to shut up?” From her vantage under me, because that is where she ended up, all she could see was me - white faced and growling, eyes bugging out and poised on all fours like a mother lion. I was unconsciously pushing her behind me trying to shield her from…

Nothing.

I still struggle with the embarrassment of that moment and harvests of goose bumps pop up all over my lily white skin even in the telling of the story.

Needless to say, in a flurry of dramatic flapping on my part, the lights went on, the TV and my computer were powered up. I made every modern electrical contrivance work to repel any more ghostly encounters for the night. We were left alone, ultimately, and I think it was because I was so rude.

Well, mea culpa all to heck.

The innkeeper, a lady called Peggy, explained the next morning over a beautiful breakfast, that the resident ghost from our room, a certain Miss Fannie, expressed to a visiting psychic (with whom she apparently had a better encounter than I) that she was not pleased with the renovations made to the inn.
She was especially annoyed that the wallpaper had been replaced with plaster and painted.
Apparently, Miss Fannie was the bossy old-maid business mind behind the plantation for many years, ran the massive cotton farming operation there, and evidently ruled every one’s life there as well!
She was also quite the prude. Her ghost allegedly confronted newlyweds after evidently being disturbed by their, ahem, newly-minted marital hijinks in the wee hours. Called the bride a “harlot!”  Loud and clear.
As we drove away from the Inn in the radiant purging light of a summer midday in the south, T said she was going to miss the sound of sweeping. She was certain she heard someone tidying up as she was going to sleep the night before.
The sweeping porch.

“Didn’t you hear her on the porch outside our room Mom?”

I didn’t.

We were the only ones in the Inn that night, but the ghosts dish up what we might need to hear at any one moment in life.

My message was one of humility and T was gifted with a scratchy primitive  lullaby leading her to sleepy comfort.

I come to find out that there was a sweet black nanny who purely loved the children for whom she tended at the mansion. Many had seen her apparition gently and rhythmically sweeping the porch outside the children’s rooms as she waited for them to settle down and sleep.

It appears that love, among many other emotions, lingers on.

***
I've taken a lot of pleasure telling this story set at the Inn.
 Be sure to visit and say hello to Ms. Peggy and her friends:

1 comment:

Come on! Blurt, rant or engage in verbal disrobement! Anything goes, so indulge yourself right here, right now.