JimShooter.com

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The Dead Can’t Pay the Paperboy

First This

You probably noticed the Contributions request in the sidebar. I was reluctant to ask you for money, but economic reality has a way of asserting itself. To those of you who have already generously donated to help us keep going, thank you. To all who participate in this wonderfully collaborative blog, thank you. Together, I think we’re building something really special here, a tapestry of views and opinions from different perspectives. To everyone who stops by, thank you. All of you make a difference.

Who Can Explain It, Who Can Tell You Why…?

This is the introductory paragraph of the series overview I wrote for Dark Horse’s prospective re-launch of the Gold Key title Spektor (formerly Doctor Spektor) that, sadly, never made it to print.

“Have you ever met anyone who, at some time in his or her life, hasn’t experienced something inexplicable? Knowing the phone was going to ring a second before it did? A premonition that proved true? A horoscope that was uncannily accurate? Next time you’re at a party, ask if anyone has a “ghost story,” a tale of something spooky that happened to them. Almost everyone does.

“I have several “ghost stories,” and I’m the second most skeptical man on Earth.”

If you’re wondering, the most skeptical man on Earth, at the beginning, at least, was going to be Spektor.

When I see him, I’ll ask Mike Richardson if I can post the overview and first Spektor plot I wrote. I don’t see why not….

That introductory paragraph is me talking, for real. I don’t believe in ghosts or in anything the existence of which has not been proven to my satisfaction.

However, things happen everywhere every day that defy explanation. I have had many minor, eyebrow-raising, inexplicable experiences—knowing the phone was about to ring, déjà vu, “prophetic” dreams, uncannily accurate how-the-hell-did-he/she-know-that readings? Etc. You know. I suspect that everyone reading this has had at least one of those.

Until someone figures out a watertight explanation for such occurrences, to a certain extent, anyone’s explanation is as good as anyone else’s. The Wiccans will say it’s witchcraft, or the energies pervading nature or whatever, the E.S.P. fans will say it’s undiscovered mental abilities, the flying saucer people will say it’s the work of extraterrestrials…you know. I think we can rule out the theories of the people who think they’re mutants because sometimes a street light will go out as they approach.

But don’t think I’m making fun of Wiccans and other people who believe what they believe. I know a woman who’s a whole lot smarter than me, a Fulbright scholar, who firmly believes in natural forces yet unidentified by science. I’m not sure if she calls herself a Wiccan, but I have heard her refer to herself as a “hedge witch.”

Anyway….

This is October. A good time to ponder things beyond the world mundane.

I have a few ghost stories….

Some of you have made it clear that you don’t want me straying off of the subject of comics, so I will confine these tales to extra weekend posts.

And I invite you to share here any ghost stories or tales of spooky or inexplicable events that you might have. Please. Enter them freely, and of your own will.

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost…

…but I was, almost forty-nine years ago.

I was eleven. I was a paperboy. I delivered the morning paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in the neighborhood where I lived and those close around in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. Six days a week, at about five AM, I would set out on my route with as much as sixty pounds of papers in a canvas bag slung over my shoulder, down Thornwood Drive then up and down the hills all around. The Post-Gazette didn’t have a Sunday edition. Thank God.

Every house had its delivery preference—inside the screen/storm door (depending on the season), on the porch, through the mail slot, in the milk box…. Remember milk boxes? I didn’t think so.

On Saturday afternoons, I’d walk the route house to house collecting. Six days of the Post-Gazette cost 42 cents. Most people gave me fifty cents. Keep the change, kid. I envied the Pittsburgh Press paperboy who had approximately the same route, delivered after school and, since the Press had a Sunday edition and a week’s worth was seventy-five cents, most people gave him a dollar. A twenty-five cent tip! Jeez, Louise!

October 27, 1962 , was a classic, bleak fall day. Windy. High overcast, with lower level clouds scudding by. Most of the leaves were off the trees and they bowed and rustled when gusts swept by. A gray, foreboding day.

The house on the corner of Elderwood and Chessbriar was surrounded by a high hedge. There were big, bare, wind-scourged trees in the yard. I wish I could tell you that there was a wrought iron fence with a creaky gate, but, nope. Just a flagstone walkway leading up to the porch.

I had never seen the people who lived there. At every other house, I’d knock on the door, someone would answer and give me my forty-two cents and sometimes throw in an extra eight cents for the effort. Sometimes not. When I came collecting at the corner house, though, there was always an envelope taped to the door with exactly forty-two cents inside.

But not that Saturday. And not the two Saturdays before, either. No envelope.

I’d been faithfully delivering the papers anyway. They’d pile up for a few days, then they’d be gone. Then they’d pile up for a while again, then they’d be gone again.

Looked like the grass hadn’t been cut for a long time.

The first two no-envelope Saturdays I figured the people who lived there were away or something. By the third time I was starting to wonder. I had to pay for those papers whether or not I got paid.

I knocked on the door. No answer. I knocked louder. I wanted my $1.26, darn it!

I was about to give up. Then the door opened. It was an old lady—you know, old like a teacher or someone. Probably more than thirty! Like my mother.

She was wearing what in those days was called a housedress. Plain, ordinary clothes. She looked a little confused, like she couldn’t quite grasp the situation—a paperboy wanting to collect. A kid, coin changer clipped to the belt. Receipt deck with binder rings in hand.  Hello-o?

I demanded $1.26.  She looked troubled and confused. She said she didn’t have any money, but maybe she could find some.

What?

She asked me to come inside while she looked for money.

I came inside, as requested. In those days, if an adult asked you to do something, well…he or she was an adult, so….

The place was largely empty. As if a lot of stuff had been moved out. There were a few odd pieces of furniture, some taped-up boxes and some piles of stuff apparently in the process of being sorted.

The lady poked around, opening a drawer here and there, looking under little piles of papers and small items. Didn’t seem likely to me that she’d find $1.26 anywhere she was looking.

I started thinking maybe I should just go. And said so. Told her I’d come back later. I was getting that hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-the-neck creepy feeling….

No! she said. She asked me to follow her to the kitchen. Maybe there was some money there.

Numbly, I followed.

Sit down, she said, pulling out a chair at the kitchen table for me. Okay….

She looked in the refrigerator. For money?

There was nothing in the fridge except for one bottle of Coke. She was delighted. She offered it to me.  I said no, thank you, but she insisted. There was a bottle opener mounted on the side of a cabinet. She opened the Coke and put it in front of me.

Then she sat down and started asking me questions. Where did I go to school? What grade was I in?

Memorial School, just up Elderwood and over the hill. Sixth.

She wanted to hear all about it. Did I have friends? What were they like? What did we do? Did I like school?

I started feeling very…what’s a good word? Uneasy? No, I’d felt uneasy since the door opened. Okay, default to comic-book-speak. I felt a nameless dread. I was scared.

She pressed me about what it was like, my life. Looking back from this distance, granted, in nameless-dread, comic-booky terminology, what it was like to be alive.

Suddenly, a feeling of terror overwhelmed me. I said something like, “I have to go.” And I ran out of that house as fast as my scrawny legs would carry me.

I ran all the way home.

I didn’t deliver papers to the house at the corner of Elderwood and Chessbriar that week. Steered clear of it.

The next Saturday, I went collecting again. Skipped that house.

The next door neighbors were customers. I knocked on their door and Mrs. M., answered. As I was giving her fifty cents change for her dollar, I asked her what was up with the lady next door. I told her that I came to collect from her a week ago but she couldn’t find any money.

Mrs. M. looked puzzled. She told me that the lady who lived next door had died a month ago, and insisted that no one had been in that house since, except her brother once or twice, packing things up.

True story. I swear.

Now, I can hear you thinking, coming up with various explanations. I’ve done that, too. Surely there is a rational explanation—a sister or cousin who came by to help pack. Whatever.

But I was scared out of my mind. Nameless dread. A kind of terror piercing to the soul that defies description.

Anyway….

NEXT WEEKEND:  My Girlfriend’s Dead Aunt Comes to Call

Again, please, if anyone has any tales to tell, please do so.

Berni Wrightson, or Bernie Wrightson, as he now prefers, told me about a weird event that happened to him that makes the few tales I have seem paltry. I’ll see if I can get him to tell the tale. Joe Jusko, I know you’re in touch with the estimable Mr. Wrightson, and I know you stop by here sometimes, so rattle his cage for me, please, if you will.

And if you have one or more….

Anyone else with knowledge of comics guys I can bug for a tale, please rat them out.

Thanks.

MONDAY:  Jane’s Fighting Ships, the Marvel Encyclopedia and Where It Went From There

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43 Comments

  1. Sad, Anonymous. Very sad.

  2. Anonymous

    No ghosts, no demons, no magic, just humans with faulty perceptions trying to explain the world and its phenomena.

  3. Another great one. Awesome segue to the coin changer!

    Calmixx: Great story.

  4. dpd

    also not quite a ghost story, but here it goes –
    the year i got married, i was teaching at a catholic school for girls – sister gabriella was the head of the school, and she gave my wife and me a family bible for our wedding present –
    later i was teaching elsewhere, and i woke up one friday night, unable to sleep – looking for something to help me doze off, i started reading the bible she gave us – i got up to about genesis 40 before falling asleep –
    sunday morning her obituary appeared in the local paper – she had died while i was reading the bible she gave us

  5. Jim, I would love, dearly love, to see a revival of Dr. Spektor. I loved that character when I was in my early teens. It deserves to be revived. Please find a way to bring the character back.

    Bev "Bevboy" Keddy

  6. Jim, this was a terrific ghost story and I'm looking forward to more.

  7. I could tell the story of the mashed potato incident, but it only has special significance to me and my friend. Sigh!

  8. Jim,

    I got around to reading this blog entry late last night. Sincere thanks for the absolute creeps it gave me, and for others' follow-up stories.

  9. Jim, I'll be making a donation on the 15th. Enjoy your writing as always. I have a few ghost stories, as well, but I'll with hold them simply because I'm not all that good a writer.

  10. Sorry, no ghost stories there,but lots of freaking moments of reality.
    One of the most frightening was when I was working, quite young, as a night auditor in a small hotel in one of the biggest city in France.
    At 2 AM, heard the sound of a body or something huge falling high in the small private courtyard of the hotel. Did not want to go check it. Then, seconds later, the sound of somebody knocking very hard against one of the back doors from the courtyard to my resting place. Went up, went to check the door from the corridor to the courtyard. It's pouring rain: I saw the shadow of a man behind the glassed door. Then a fist broked one of the door window. I opened it and saw a man, in front of me, naked, with blood coming out of his arm, not moving an inch. I recognized him it was my boss, he went to sleep hours before in one of the bedrooms on the first floor. He was not responding to anything I was saying, staring right in front of him, eyes down. Then I put him in a blanket, moved him, helped him stopping blood. He said nothing, went back to the room and came back 1h our later, while I was standing at the reception, wondering what happened.
    He explained to me that I had to know he had a sleep disorder: not only was he sleepwalking, but when he did it, he unconsciously tried to reach the nearest exit and took it: turns out the nearest exit wass often a window, no matter what floor it was on. He fell from the room to the courtyard, tried to open the door to my resting place and then, when facing the closed door to the corridor, had smashed it to try to exit the courtyard.
    Turned out his condition was almost unique and left all the doctors perplexed and fascinated. This thing was only clicking if he would fell asleep drunk (which was often the case, being an alcoholic). One time, when completly drunk, he said to me "I'm gonna say to you something I have never said before. The only thing that I remember when I "wake up"… I… know why I'm jumping out of windows… that's because… I hear my father calling to me" (his father had died when he was 11 or 12 in a tragic and brutal bike accident)
    No ghost, only the sad reality of a grown-up man falling into alcohol and who never really could cope out with his father death.

  11. Jim, as an avid reader of this blog, I'd be glad to read anything you care to write about, comics or otherwise. I'll also gladly donate when I can – as a webmaster myself, I sympathize with the pains of monetizing a website, and this blog is not only something I look forward to reading each day, but also does an excellent job of helping to pass a half hour of my daily commute. The only downside is that reading your stories makes me long for the days when you were in charge of Marvel and comics were at their best, which negatively impacts my desire to read current comics (something which is sort of required when you're the webmaster of a comics website… but I digress).

    I don't have any ghost stories, but I do have a UFO story, which sort of qualifies. When I was ten years old or so, I was spending the weekend with my mom at my stepdad's condo in Monmouth Beach, NJ. The condo was on the river (nothing fancy – everything in that area is on the water). It was summertime and early evening, not quite dark out yet, when the power went out in the apartment. We all went outside to see what was going on, and we found that a lot of neighbors were outside as well, all looking up in the sky.

    I looked up and saw that there were nine or ten lights, in a circular formation, rotating slowly, but staying more or less in one spot. It was not something a plane should be able do,and it wasn't a helicopter. I got the impression each light was a separate object. Everyone stared at these lights for a few minutes in silence, until one by one, the lights zoomed off at great speeds. As soon as the last light was gone, the power came back on and everyone went back inside, no one really talking about it. My mom has mentioned it a few times over the years, so I know I didn't imagine it, but other than that we've never discussed it. Aliens refueling their ships from our power lines? Secret government experiment? Weather balloons and a coincidental brownout? Who knows? It sure was weird though.

  12. Anonymous

    Dear Jim,

    I came and checked out this blog entry right after viewing an episode of 'Ghost Adventures'. Odd…

    Your experience was almost 49 years ago? Huh, I was BORN almost exactly 49 years ago… October 29, 1962.

    You were eleven at the time? Hmmm, my youngest daughter just turned eleven… coincidences abound!

    Amazing ghost story, by the way. I'm a major skeptic myself, but I've had a few undeniably inexplicable experiences myself over the years. Will recount them if I get the nerve.

    Good luck with the job hunting — I just landed one myself after a couple of months unemployment. I'm an editor too; not in comics, just a government/science type.

    Pete Marco

  13. Hi Jim and Jay Jay,

    Considering the clamor people in the comments make for a book collection of these posts, perhaps using Kickstarter is in order?

    http://www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/nonfiction?ref=sidebar

    Look at some of the successful projects… there are all sorts of strategies for rewarding different levels of contribution.

    I know the time and effort required to write a book is enormous, and tough to leap to when there are bills to pay… but with Kickstarter, you can effectively get an advance from the book buyers themselves, making self-publishing a low or no-risk endeavor.

  14. If ghosts exist, I've definitely experienced one. I don't wish to have it published online.

    I can't say with absolute confidence that I experienced a ghost. All I know is that my experience defied explanation and I'm 100% skeptic.The hair on my arm stood up.

    Quantum entanglement is a scientific fact. It is a possible explanation to connected events that seem to otherwise defy normal explanation.

  15. Anonymous

    My only ghost story occurred during the 1992 San Diego convention.

    I shared a room with artist P Craig Russell at the Horton Grand Hotel, located just across from the convention center. Very nice accommodations that included a nosy fella at the front desk who reminded me of Dr Smith from "Lost In Space."

    PCR left the room early on Saturday morning, so I was by myself watching Robert Osborne introduce a movie on AMC.

    Several extremely loud knocks suddenly banged at the door. Scared the heck out of me. Immediately opened the door…but there was nobody outside the room. Glanced down the long hallway to the left and into the foyer area down the stairs to the right, but still nobody.

    Didn't think anything was out of the ordinary. Later asked PCR whether he came by the room. Maybe he'd forgotten his keys, knocked, then either became distracted or was just messing with me. But PCR said he hadn't yet been back to the room.

    Seemed a little odd at the time but never gave it another thought. Until 15 years later.

    Around 3:00am on a cold October night in 2007 I'm in my underwear painting a model of the Bates Motel that was re-issued by Polar Lights. Don't ask.

    Suddenly I recognized a familiar voice in the background noise that was cable television. There's a guy who reminds me of Dr. Smith from "Lost In Space."

    Wait! That's our nosy hotel clerk from the 1992 San Diego Con!

    Travel Channel was airing a special on haunted hotels. Dr Smith narrated a segment on the ghost of a woman with long red hair who wore a blue dress and haunted the Horton Grand.

    The first-person camera moved through the foyer, up the stairs and directly in front of the door to the same room in which he stayed.

    The ghost was well known for banging on the door to this particular room. Sometimes she even appeared to guests.

    Ever feel your spine go cold?

    Thinking back to the layout of the hotel made the occurrence seem even creepier. The floor was squeaky, the next room was well down the hallway and the stair/foyer were sort of large. Nobody could have high-tailed out of my line of sight in the brief moment it took for me to open the door.

    Don't know what to make of this. Maybe the hotel hooked up a device to bang on the room's door.

    The Horton Grand Hotel has an interesting history. Worth a google search or two.

    Ironically, think I met Jim Shooter at that convention. Gave me his business card…which inexplicably featured a graphic of a hammer and nails instead of a typewriter.

  16. Calmixx. Wow. Don't much care for what may have caused or was it really real. Just glad it made your life better and brought you peace. Some power gave you what you needed, internal or external, and that's a good thing.

  17. The only seemingly-psychic event that I experienced, the only one for which I couldn't figure out a plausible and likely explanation: I went out one morning to head for work, and, for some reason, I needed to get back out of the car to check the rear of the vehicle. When I tried to get back in, I discovered I had locked my keys in the car. This happens very, very rarely to me (like once in 10 years), and I always keep close control over my keys–I never plop my keys on the counter when I get home, they always stay in my pocket. I knew I'd have to wait another hour until the apartment management started work to get them to open my door (so that I could get my spare key, which I kept in a drawer in the kitchen, and which I had never had to use), but I went back up to my apartment, and, surprisingly, the front door was unlocked! That, too, is not like me, but easily explained, considering that I'd already demonstrated some carelessness that day. The mysterious thing was this: when I entered my apartment, my new kitten, about 3 months old, was in the middle of my living room floor, with my spare car key sitting on the carpet in front of him.

  18. Jim,

    I agree with some of the others here. It's your blog, use it to talk about whatever you want. Heck, if you want, you can do a blog about what color you painted your kitchen! 🙂

    I don't believe in ghosts but I would concede there are things out there we don't understand about our world. But a little bit of mystery isn't a bad thing…

  19. I once had a very realistic dream about a vampire chick that left behind sensory impressions that I used to think was a ghost encounter, but I can't go into further detail, because it's pornographic, and there are 2 year old toddlers who can't read reading this.

  20. Dr. Spektor kind of looks like Tony Stark, or more like Dr. Strange…

  21. Hhhhmmm… I think calmixx's story is more of a "visitation". I think of ghost stories as more random, scary type events. Events that seem to have no rhyme or reason other than to scare you. His friend was delivering him a message from "beyond", and had a very real purpose. All I all a fascinating story.

    Despite being skeptical, I do believe these visitations can occur in our dreams.

  22. The only horror stories I can think of right now are the dismal numbers on the comic book sales chart, and how DC blew a HUGE opportunity to revitalize the entire industry by giving us the same crap with new issue numbers. There will be no industry bounce, no all boats rising.

    Comic books need to get back to where they were – a mix of newsstand titles crafted as constant entry points to bring in new readers. the Direct Market for the people converted from the newsstand and to bring back in readers who have fallen away, and digital to drive awareness and impulse buys, and to serve new tech readers.

    But most of all, the big two need to get back to having an editorial vision that promotes story and storytelling instead of decompressed ideas and pin-ups.

    Sorry to go off topic, but I happen to just see the Marvel August numbers over at Comics Beat, and it scared me… and scarred me.

  23. Ghost story? Can’t help you there. As you can tell by my title, I have a certain theology that defines my life. But though I don’t believe in ghosts, I certainly do believe in a spiritual world populated by good and evil forces.
    I have had several experiences with what I define as Demonic activity.
    Before I entered the ministry I was employed as a Deputy Sheriff. For the first five years as a deputy, I worked at the County jail, much of that time on the midnight shift. One night I was on what is called a “constant watch” – basically sitting outside of an isolation cell and keeping my eyes on an inmate the medical staff was in danger of causing self-harm or attempting suicide. The prisoner I was watching was notorious for getting us to watch him just so he could manipulate the system. Never tried to harm himself, just liked tying up a sorely needed staff member for 8 hours at a time.
    About 3 hours into my shift a new prisoner was brought in and placed in the isolation cell next to the one I was sitting in front of. He had been discovered in his house holding his wife, who he had doused in gasoline, to the ground with a knife to her neck in one hand and a bic lighter in the other. He was telling her they would both burn in hell together. Thankfully the wife was rescued and he put in jail. He was placed in the cell naked and I was told to move to between the two cells (they were only separated by a block thick wall) and keep an eye on both. We were extremely short-staffed and this was a common way to accomplish several goals at once.
    The new, naked guy is pacing around the cell, smacking his head with his hands, mumbling mostly incoherent babble. I situated myself so I could see him, but the best he could see of me was my left shoulder and my head when I leaned over.
    About an hour into this he starts talking intelligently. Crying, begging for forgiveness, asking to see his wife. Then suddenly his eyes would bulge, and a voice somewhat akin to Sauron in LOTR would come from his throat, cursing, shouting, and talking back to the man as if he were another person or personality. He would reply in his own voice, and then rebut in the Sauron voice, speaking to me, telling me that he would drag me to hell, fillet my children, etc.
    Then the weirdness started. A voice came from this man, a third voice. The sweetest, prettiest womans voice. Like the voice of the bubbliest high school cheerleader you ever met. And the voice said “David, David I know you…” I had not spoken to this man, nor had he hear anyone speak to me all night. He did not know my name.
    The Demon/Sauron voice quickly returned. I prayed for him the whole night, prayed for myself too. This wasn’t the spookiest encounter I’ve had with a Demonic force, but it was close.

  24. Neil Anderson

    I'm a pretty skeptical person. Don't have much of a story to post, but I have a friend who had a an experience kind of similar to calmixx's. My friend, (I'll call him Henry, cos I haven't asked him if I can use his name) who is not superstitious at all, does not use drugs, drinks moderately, was woken up one night by the sound of his high school best friend's voice saying something to the effect of "Oh no…I fucked up." At that point they were both in their late 20's, lived several states apart, didn't speak very often. Henry found out from his family the following day that his friend had committed suicide. I've known several other people who've seen ghosts, but that's the story that stays with me, partly because Henry is one of the most rational guys I know, partly because he only found out about his friend's death afterwards…

    Neil Anderson

  25. Dear calmixx,

    Wow.

  26. A comic book was published in sweden that had my social security number on the cover. All the numbers on the cover, from the top left to the bottom right, read in that order, and they ended with "-777".
    There were no other numbers, nor could they be read in an alternate order. That's how they read.
    The comic book in question, was amusingly enough "Longshot".

  27. Dr. Spektor is THE Gold Key character I would love to see revived! I even wrote and polished and polished a pitch that I was ready to send to Valiant back when I was young and starry-eyed. But before it went in the post, TSR Inc. hired me under an exclusive contract.

    I have all but one issue of those comics… and I think I shall have to to dig them out and read them again. 🙂

  28. Shortly after the death of my Father (I was a HS senior @ 17yo in 1986) I had a dream. THE dream. My Dad and I sat at on outdoor cafe talking. Told me not to worry and that I was going to have a good life. The past was forgiven and to be forgotten. Tho I cant recall the specifics of the conversation. It filled me great Peace. If that's not of Divine origin I don't know what is..

  29. Dear calmixx,

    That's the best ghost story I've ever read. Thanks for sharing. What happened to your friend and you was so sad, and yet … there was light in the darkness. I hope you are doing well now.

  30. Support this Blog? I LOVE this blog. You're damn right I will. 🙂

    Absolutely True Story:

    When I was 15 a good friend gave me a huge clue that he was about to "off himself" but he was 15 too and I assumed that he was just being melodramatic. Nothing direct – warning was subtle; but it was a warning, I heard it and talked myself out of believing what it was. A week later he was gone and I was scarred.

    I spent the next 5 years punishing myself for not acting. I had grown up a fanatical follower of all things comic book and heroic and yet when my moment came . . . air ball. It was pretty bad. Pretty bleak. I managed to damage every relationship in my life and severely cut into my future prospects. At the tender age of 20 I had a hundred year old soul and a constant sense of dread.

    Then one fall night I was sleeping in some the degenerate apartment of my on again/off again/usually high junkie girlfriend. She had been out doing God knows what and when I heard the door to the bedroom open I assumed it was her.

    Understand something. I was asleep. I was sleeping. But when the door opened – I woke up. Wide awake.

    My dead friend walked into the room and sat down on the edge of the bed. I sat up. I was not scared. I was not high (never did drugs – just spent a lot of time with folks who did). He looked me in the face and said, "Enough. This was never about you or what you did or didn't do. Get out of here and fix it before you can't." He stood up and left.

    I got up, shoved my stuff into three backpacks and did as I had been told. A weight was lifted. Understand that it wasn't just what he had said – the way my mind works changed that day. It was like the sun shooting through a cloud.

    A week later I saw his Mom on the news commenting on the sentencing of the pediatrician who had been sexually abusing him when he took his life. She was saying that while it couldn't bring him back, it brought a measure of closure. I had never known about that. Never knew why. It didn't make it better, but it made my eyes open a little wider.

    I'm still sorry that I was unable to save my friend's life but I will always be grateful that he saved mine.

  31. My ghost story, which isn't much of one…

    This occurred during the 1990's, I was actually working at Diamond Comic Distributors at the time. One night a week I played in a bowling league. On one particular day I decided to walk. It really wasn't that far.

    On the route I took, I had to walk past a cemetery. Now this was a small, older cemetery. The only thing separating it from the sidewalk was a chain-link fence.

    On the way back home that night I was passing by the cemetery, and was deep in thought. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something… glowing.

    A chill went through me, but I kept on walking. I didn't look over at the "glow". A few seconds later I stop, and think WHAT AM I DOING? I'm fairly skeptical when it comes to the supernatural.

    So I stop, and set my bowling ball down. I was thinking of the line Sting had in Dune. At least I think it was Sting's character. "Fear is the mind killer."

    I turned to investigate the "glow". It was about fifty to sixty yards away. Placing both hands on top of the chain-link fence I leaned over trying to get a closer look. The "glow" was hovering over a grave. I thought about Occam's Razor. There had to a be reasonable explanation.

    And there was, as I watched the "glow", I noticed parts of it flashing on and off. I then had my explanation. It was a swarm of lightning bugs. Kind of odd, but nothing supernatural. I laughed and went on my way.

  32. Do I have one of "those" experiences? How about this:
    I have never read Bram Stoker's orginial Dracula, but always wanted to. I am under the assumption (esp. after reading Shelley's Frankenstein) that no adaptation in any other media has come close to Stoker's original story, and I wanted to read that story.
    So I was unfamiliar with the line "Enter freely and of your own free will" until this very morning when I read it on the subway.
    Then a couple hours later I pull up your latest blog entry and…you've made a direct reference to it.
    I know it's October, etc. But…that's a little weird, right? Especially since the post is *about* these sort of strange coincidences?

  33. I could recall many stories that occurred in my childhood home, but I'll only share one of them.

    I used to share a bed with my younger brother since my parents couldn't afford to buy us our seperate beds. Anyway, my younger brother, who was only a year younger than me, had the bad habit of nudging me during the night on purpose to try to scare me. He would use wired clothes hangers to poke my ear , or arm, just to get a frightened jolt out of me. The first couple of times it worked, but after a while I grew accustomed to it. INstead of being scared, I would simply swat him away like an annoying house fly, or kick him in the face.

    I had a bad habit of sleeping with my jeans. For whatever reason, I never liked the texture of pijamas as a kid. I'd prefer sleeping with jeans. Drove my mother nuts, but hey what can I say, I was a weird child. One night, sleeping on my stomach, I felt someone pull on my belt loop attached to the back of my jeans. It was the middle of the night and I thought my younger brother was up to his old routine only this time I thought he took it a bit too far. I then felt him lifting me from my bed from the belt loop. I mumbled to my brother to knock it off. The lifting stopped, but what happened next was a real twister of sorts. I felt my belt loop being twisted in a full 360 degree turn. This was weird, I thought. How can he do such a thing? With my right arm, I attemptd to swat my brother's arm, but I only swung at empty air! I was immediately released and I fell back on my bed. I turned around to tell my brother off, but there he was sound asleep. At first I thought he was faking it, but upon closely observing him, he was sound asleep underneath the covers. I looked around my room and saw no one else. I was crapping bricks at this point and covered myself with the blanket waiting for the sun to come up.

    Looking back on it now, I think that house must have been haunted because of all the strange occurrences I witnessed as a child. Never again have I witnessed or experienced unworldly things.

    Thank you Mister Shooter for your blog and sharing your experiences with the likes of the common readers and professionals alike. Keep up the good work. And yes, You are right, everyone has experienced something unexplainable.

  34. Jim – I don't know that we had ever talked about it, but I delivered the Post-Gazette, too. What a literally stinky newspaper it was. My mom made me keep the bag in the garage because the ink smelled so bad.
    JCV

  35. Donation on the way! I have said to many of my customers that I refer over to this blog, "I would gladly pay $30 or $40 for a book that collected all of these wonderful stories and recollections – even though I've already read them!" . What a great way to be able to hand these treasures over to a friend who won't take the time otherwise. …just an idea…

  36. Spooky, indeed. You never told us you delivered newspapers at the Nexus of All Realities!

    (Which apparently had a branch office in Pittsburgh…)

    Never experienced anything like this, myself, but I keep an open mind. More to heaven and earth than dreamt of in my philosophy, or something like that.

  37. Anonymous

    Wow. Spooky. Nice story, though! (even more scary that it happened in real life!)

  38. GePop

    Dusty, I think ghosts tell Alan Moore stories. LOL

  39. Considering the entertainment value this blog offers, I don't see why anybody would have an issue helping to support it. Most of the readers pay out $4.00 for a single issue of an unmemorable comic each and every month, so how could anybody not see paying at least that much a month for a much better value for their dollar? Besides, I think you're going places, Jim! This blog is only the beginning of the return of Jim Shooter in a BIG way!

    As far as good ghost stories go, I'll bet Alan Moore has some really good ones!

  40. Dear Jim,

    I agree with Ole. You're in the storytelling business, and ghost stories are still stories, so go ahead and tell away, comics or no comics, ghosts or no ghosts!

    A pity that Spektor didn't see print. A paranormal title could have sold well.

  41. Dear Jim,

    I really decided about 20 years ago – when I discovered Valiant – that I would be happy to read anything you write. So, as far as _I'm_ concerned, please do stray all you want. 🙂

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