Can You Spell Ouija Board?

Cover of "Long Time Dead"
Cover of Long Time Dead

We were watching the 2002 film Long Time Dead tonight which centres around a Ouija board and the evil Djinn (a fire demon according to the film) it releases. The resultant death and carnage all go a long way toward warning the audience of the perils of Ouija boards. Specifically if you operate one under the influence of booze or drugs (and if one of your party is the survivor of a previous Ouija board party gone bad).

When I was a whole world younger (and several worlds dumber) I had a fascination with these boards that allowed you to talk to the spirit realm. I never got too carried away though, I was too impatient to use a system that slowly spelt out any messages that your dead Uncle Fred or next door’s cat might want to relay.

Just in case you have led such a sheltered life that you don’t know what a Ouija board is I’ll just pass on the Wikipedia definition of this “game.”

The Ouija board (play /ˈwə/ wee-jə) also known as a spirit board or talking board, is a flat board marked with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0-9, the words “yes”, “no”, “hello” (occasionally), and “goodbye”, along with various symbols and graphics. It is a registered trademark ofHasbro Inc.,[1] which markets and distributes the Ouija Board as part of its line of board games.[2] It uses a planchette (small heart-shaped piece of wood) or movable indicator to indicate the spirit’s message by spelling it out on the board during a séance. Participants place their fingers on the planchette and it is moved about the board to spell out words. It has become a trademark that is often used generically to refer to any talking board.

A modern ouija board plus planchette
A modern ouija board plus planchette (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh and in case you were interested? The thing was introduced into the retail world in 1890! 

Like many other young people I’d heard the odd urban legend (although  I can’t think of a single specific one, I do remember hearing about inadvertently calling up demons) about how these parlour games could be scary and even deadly.  I never really gave much credit to these scary stories.

I mean, how deadly could they be? They were made by Parker Games and Hasbro and were marketed as games! I remember sitting down with my mother’s best friend’s daughter and asking the board the stupid kind of questions kids at 12 and 9 years old ask. Will I get married? Does K like me? What does death feel like?

Generally, if someone wasn’t cheating and pushing the planchette, you got nonsensical answers like, “Blue,” to every question. But as I said, I never really had the patience to “play” with the board too often.

It wasn’t until years later when I was the reverse age of my initial Ouija experience (I was 21, just in case I was being too esoteric there) and my first wife and I lived in Southern California.

Our best friends lived in the flat above us in a house that had been sub-divided into two apartments. K and N were the closest friends we ever had and both K and I cried like two little school girls on the day my wife and I boarded the bus for home.

About a month before we left, my wife and I were visiting K and N and we started talking about the old Ouija board. A book had come out about a séance in Long Island or Rhode Island (I cannot remember which) and all the participants had been victimized by a “demon.” It was reportedly a true story and it impressed the hell out of me.

N said that the whole story was ridiculous and that if you followed the rules nothing bad would happen. Her husband K stated firmly that he did not like the boards and would not ever participate in the use of one. For some stupid reason, N and I decided to have a go on a board that they had.

K immediately went outside. He refused to be in the apartment while we were using it. N set the board up and grabbed some blank paper in case the words got too long for us to spell out quickly. My wife volunteered to write down what was being spelled out.

I remember that N and I sat there for what seemed like ages with our fingers just resting lightly on the planchette. Suddenly after asking repeatedly if anyone was there, it moved. It suddenly changed from being a cheap heart-shaped wooden heart to a live moving thing. It jerked and twitched and started gliding towards letters.

N and I both accused the other of moving it. After we both emphatically denied moving the thing, it glided to the “yes” on the board. My wife and N and I all looked at each other and grinned nervously.

N started by asking who was there. The mists of time have shrouded the name given, but it was a servant or serving girl who had lived at the house just after it had been built. I remember N and I asking a lot of questions about who the owners were and when the house was built. Things that we could check against records to validate if the “spirit” was real or just something messing us about.

The spirit girl had a fixation with me and for a long time would only “talk” to me. N got a bit frustrated when I had to ask her questions because the board would not respond unless I did the asking. We finally ran out of validating questions and asked how the girl had died.

She told us that she had died in childbirth. Something had been ruptured or broken and she had bled to death. N and I sat looking at each other and tried to think what to ask next. I suddenly had an idea and asked, “Who was the father of your baby?” The girl replied that it was the house owner’s child.

I immediately thought of every Gothic romance novel I’d ever heard of and decided that she must have been having an affair with the owner. I blurted out my next question without thinking. “Were you pretty?”

The planchette, which had been so alive during our session suddenly stopped. The slight electrical charge that N and I had both felt was gone. I started to ask the same question again. I was puzzled by this turn of events. As I opened my mouth I got the word were out  and N shook her head.

“I don’t think that was a good question. Try another one.”

I asked about her age (going back to familiar ground as we had asked before and gotten a reply). Nothing. I could not get any response from the board. Not even when I asked N’s questions for her. Frustrated and confused, I looked at N and said, “You try.”

N shrugged and asked, “What’s wrong.”

The planchette started moving. H…E…I…S…N…O…T…A…N…I…C…E…M…A…N. I was stunned! What had I done wrong? N asked what I had done and it continued to say that I was not a nice man and that the spirit had liked me but it did not now and would not talk to me.

The planchette stopped moving for about two minutes and then it changed. The electrical charge that N and I felt was gone, in its place was a weird cold/hot feeling in the ends of our fingertips. The planchette suddenly moved very fast. It began to spell out N’s husbands name.

It spelled out K’s name three times. It then spelled out the sentence, “Tell K that Ned is dead.” The message was repeated three more times. At the last letter of the message it stopped and nothing we could do would entice it to move again.

We all sat in silence. N jumped up and shouted out the window to K. “We’re done. You can come back in now.”  When K came in he looked at the board and asked why we hadn’t put it away. He glanced down at the paper by the board where my wife had written down the board’s repetitious message for him.

His eyes widened and his face turned white. “Shit! I know three Ned’s. Are you sure that was the message?” We all nodded silently. He spun around and ran to their wall phone in the kitchen.

It took him some time, but he finally rang all the Ned’s that he knew. All were alive and well and he came back into the room calmer than when he had left. Glancing down at the board he said to N, “I’m burning the damn thing.”

And he did. He took it into our communal back yard and placed it on the barbecue grill, doused it with lighter fluid and burned it.

My wife and K and I talked about the change in the board after I’d asked the spirit if it had been pretty. We all agreed that the atmosphere in the room had changed. It felt malevolent when it gave us the message about Ned’s death. We were all a little “freaked out” by the nasty turn that the Ouija board session had taken.

Suffice to say that I’ve never participated in the use of one again. I don’t know how they work or even if they work.

I do know that I don’t want to feel that malevolent, nasty feeling again.

Ever.

Michael Grant’s Gone Series Book Number 5 and Counting

Michael Grant's Gone
Michael Grant’s Gone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wow.

That one little word says exactly how I feel about Michael Grant‘s series about a group of Southern California teens who are trapped in a Dionysian apocalyptic world by a giant bubble that has been created by a 5-year-old autistic demi-god.

I read the first book in the series in August of this year. I was immediately hooked on the characters, their story and the tiny surfing community of the fictional Perdido Beach where everyone over the age of fifteen suddenly disappears.

Perdido Beach is soon renamed the FAYZ by the remaining children who are broken into factions. The first two factions are the “Freaks” and the “Normals.” Further factions are broken down into the Sam Temple camp and his half-brother Caine Soren, as the names imply Sam is the good guy and Caine is not.

The other faction that affects all the kids beside the actual bubble itself is the Gaiaphage, an outer space virus that was getting a piggy-back ride from a meteor that crashed through the Perdido Beach nuclear power station.

The trials and tribulations of the stranded kids has run the gamut from carnivorous teeth sprouting worms to bugs that eat you from inside out.  Of course there is still the disappearing at fifteen hurdle to overcome, but both Sam and Caine have proven that you don’t have to “poof out” if you don’t want to.

The books in the series are as follows:

1. Gone

2. Hunger

3. Lies

4. Plague

5. Fear

6. Light

Light the sixth and final book in the series will not be out until April 2013. I, for one, cannot wait for the finale of this outstanding series.

The Gone series is classified as fiction for Young Adults or Teens. I am neither and I have been swept away by Grant’s world. Each book in the series has followed the character’s development, deaths and decisions.

I actually sat down and in a three-day “read-a-thon” plowed my way through Lies, Plague and Fear. It was only after I’d downloaded Fear and read it as an E-book that I realised my error. If I’d waited for the book to be available via the library, I could have save myself the agony of waiting for the last book to be published months away.

Michael Grant has shown us what Lord of the Flies could be in the 21st century. Both tales are of nuclear catastrophes and of the effects that it had on a group of ungoverned youths. Grant’s FAYZ bubble is an island by everything but name and the kids in it are facing similar struggles to the plane wreck survivors in Lord of the Flies.

Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The addition of “super powers” in some of the kids and the “joker in the deck” of Coates Academy full of rich kid juvenile delinquents just makes the playing field that much more colorful.

I would recommend this series full of unforgettable characters to anyone, young or old. The villains of the series are not cardboard cutouts and some, Drake Merwin aka Whiphand especially, are terrifying. By the end of Fear we’ve learned that outside the bubble the “real world” exists and that it is aware of the bubble and is trying to penetrate it.

I have read the odd review where they stated that the kids did not seem like “real” teenagers. I have one thing to say to that, but since this is a series aimed at young adults, I’ll restrict it to a G rating. What a crock! I work with teenagers everyday (well I did until my accident and then heart attack) and I can identify with Grants depiction of Sam, Astrid, Caine, Diana, heck all the kids in the FAYZ.

I have, so far, written two reviews about this series. The Gone  and Hunger reviews were written literally minutes after completing the book. This review took a bit longer as I sat and digested the enormity of what Michael Grant has achieved with his story of the FAYZ and all those in it and their families outside of it.

It also took a couple of days to get over the disappointment of realising that I won’t know the outcome of the characters until April of next year. The sign of any good author is the trait of being able to leave his readers wanting to hear more about his creation.

Grant has done that no question. I am a Michael Grant fan now and like a true fan I’ll be reading everything else by him that I can get my hands on. If for no other reason than it will make the waiting for the final book of Gone that little bit easier.

Chicken Little Politics aka Gun Control.

U.S. Presidential flag, 1960-present (not usua...
U.S. Presidential flag, 1960-present (not usually called a “standard” in official U.S. government terminology). It is defined in Executive Order 10860. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everybody knows the story of Chicken Little. The small fry chicken who gets hit in the head by some debris and then runs around like a headless chicken telling everyone the sky is falling. Of course it transpires that the sky is not falling and that Chicken Little was panicking for no reason. Of course the moral of this story is be sure of the information you’re spreading around, it might just be wrong.

Or how about the little boy who cried wolf?  Another childhood story that deals with a boy responsible for looking out for a flock of sheep. This mini Shepard got bored with this glum and thankless task and took to running into town and telling everyone that a wolf was attacking the sheep. After the towns people ran out several times only to find that the boy had lied, when the wolf did finally show up, no-one believed him and all the sheep got eaten (and depending on the version of the story you might or might not have seen, the boy got nom-nommed as well).

The moral of this story was a bit similar to the Chicken Little parable, don’t lie or make up stories because one day it might really happen and no one will believe you.

I only thought of these two childhood morality tales when I was reading a few of the more spectacular Tweets on Twitter about gun control and the government conspiracy to take guns away from the great American public.

I will admit that I also thought of both these stories when the Bush administration was busy ladling out huge doses of fear and paranoia about weapons of mass destruction and how they were on the cusp of being used against innocent American citizens. The Bush presidential two-term run made sure that the American people were too terrified to ask questions and to wonder why everything had gotten  so bad. The entire eight year term proved what the conspiracy theorists had said all along.

The government is lying to you. And guess what? They’ve been doing it since the birth of the nation. Now you won’t find this out from history classes or the ”sanctioned’ history texts used by the educational institutes in America. You have to dig a bit deeper and look at tomes written by PHD students who have dug around and found out things about our government that they really don’t want you to know.

I had my eyes opened when I was a junior in High School. Our American history teacher told an amusing story about how the first President of the United States was almost fired. That’s right, George Washington, the father of our country was almost booted out of office in his first term.

Why?

Well George had a thing for the ladies. He also told congress not to bother giving him a huge salary, he’d just like his expenses paid, if you don’t mind. C0ngress  said that would be just fine, until they got those first expense sheets back. It turned out that George liked to buy his ‘ladies’ gifts as a gesture of appreciation. It also turned out that President Washington has a lot of appreciation to hand out. He almost broke the governmental coffers. He was told off and had his expense account discontinued and there was a lot of talk about having him replaced.

You won’t read that in a classroom text on American History. Out teacher found out from another university student that she knew who had based his thesis on it.

When I was in Southern California I found out from a professional photographer about how the United States forced Japan into the Second World War by placing an embargo on their oil. By stopping the oil coming into the country they stopped all production of things the Japanese needed to survive, so they in turn, declared war on the US.

That also won’t be found in a text book.

Conspiracy theories notwithstanding we already know that the truth about any given situation that the government deems ‘safe’ to relate to the masses is homogenized and pasteurized beyond all recognition of the real facts of what really happened, Is it any wonder that a lot of folks think that conspiracies lurk behind every corner?

I wrote earlier that I thought it was a bit too convenient, this ‘midnight massacre’ incident. Happening just when the government wants to change the gun control laws. With the President about to sign the United Nations Arms Trade Control Treaty on the 27th of July and with a large population of Americans up (if you’ll pardon the pun) in arms about; it is there really any surprise that folks think that the incident was rigged?

It’s like the government saying, “See we told you the current gun laws were bad. Just look what happened!” Just like Chicken Little or the boy who cried wolf, the government are telling us that not only is the sky falling, but that a big bad wolf is going to eat us up before we’re crushed by the debris.

I would have thought that after an eight year reign of ‘ruling by terror’ we would have learned to be a bit more cynical about the government and how they control the masses. I am not in any way detracting from the horror of what happened in a crowded movie theatre in Colorado.

What I am doing is questioning it and wondering how much of the conspiratorial hysteria is just hysterical finger pointing, looking for the wolf who isn’t there or shouting that, “Hey! The sky is falling asshole and it’s going crush all of us!” Or are they right, that this has been coldly and cruelly organised to show how right the government will be in taking away our right to bear arms.

Unfortunately with conspiracies and cover-ups, only time will reveal their presence. It is only after the dust settles that we can find out that the wolf was here and it was he who made the sky fall.

Playing with the Grim Reaper or Babes in Hollywood-Land Part Three

Grim Reaper (advertisement)
Grim Reaper (advertisement) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My wife had gotten a job with the Salt Shaker Restaurant near the Pasadena Convention Centre. It was working as a waitress on the ‘graveyard shift’ from ten thirty at night till five thirty the next morning. The pay was pretty good and the tips weren’t bad either. The only draw back was that we didn’t have a car, so I walked her to work every night. We couldn’t really afford a car so we decided to ‘hoof it’ everywhere that was reasonably close and use the bus for the longer jaunts.

In the meantime, I had let my hair grow and I’d grown a moustache and a goatee. I hadn’t gotten a job yet. I was applying for just about everything that had cropped up with little success. I was also trying to figure out how to get into the entertainment business. I talked to Martin’s fiancée Lillian. She had worked as a model and was full of suggestions on how to get work as an actor. Her first suggestion was to check out the Pasadena Amateur Theatre scene.

I went to the Pasadena Playhouse and asked about auditions for their next Am Dram. They took my details and explained that I would be responsible for  supplying my own wardrobe, make-up and that I would have to pay a ‘fee’ to be considered for any auditions in future. I was also told that agents frequently attended their performances so it was a good place to get noticed.

I was a little concerned. Back home wardrobe and make-up were provided by the Theatre and we didn’t pay any fees. I was in a completely different world in California and one where I couldn’t afford to even join an amateur group. I would have to re-think my options.

I had gotten into a regular routine and route when I walked my wife to work each night. We would walk down past the Southwestern Bell building and take the next left, walk straight up till we passed the convention centre and then the restaurant. I would drop her off and then either repeat the journey in reverse or walk up towards the Pasadena Hilton on South Los Robles Avenue.

I started going the Hilton way regularly. The main reason was that if I took the route that went back by Southwestern Bell, I would invariably bump into a pimp and his three or four ladies who hung out on the street  corner across from the Bell building. The first time it happened, I was amused and surprised and, let’s face it, a little shocked.

I mean this tall thin black man with the ‘lollipop’  afro, big ten gallon panama hat and long leather coat was very friendly and funny. He was amazed that I was not interested in any of his ‘ladies’. I first met him when I paused on the street corner to light a cigarette. He asked if I had a match. I said no but I had a lighter. He laughed and started chatting with me. This became a regular occurrence until he decided that I was a plain clothes cop. Hence the reason I changed my return home route.

Walking towards the Pasadena Hilton, I passed what looked like a tennis or country club. I would stand and watch the tennis players in their pristine tennis clogs as they batted the ball back and forth. One night a “drop-dead gorgeous” blonde woman stopped to talk to me.

“Hey! You’ve been coming by here an awful lot.”

“Yeah.” I replied, feeling friendly, “It’s kind of my regular route now.” I chuckled, waved and started to move off.

“Don’t go!” She waved her tennis racket. “You play?”

“I’ve tried it once or twice.”

“Well you ought to come down, we’ll have a volley or two.” She was smiling and shielding her eyes against the lights.

“I’m not a member.” I shrugged and started to wave again, when she moved closer to me.

“I can sign up to two guests in. Come on in and we’ll see what you can do. We can get you some tennis clothes, so you don’t have to worry about that.”

I laughed again and started off.

“Wait! What’s wrong? You scared I’ll beat you?”

I laughed again and shaking my head, I gave a friendly wave and kept walking.

“Some other time then.” She sounded disappointed and I had the briefest moment of thinking about turning around and going in. Then it hit me. I realised that she wasn’t really interested in playing tennis with me.

Hilton Pasadena

I always was a little stupid when it came to women and their possible interest in me. While pondering this new information I had reached the Hilton. As usual the doorman greeted me with a smile and a “Good evening, sir.” I was always amazed that he would be so welcoming to a young long haired guy in boots and jeans. I mean the Hilton was rich with a capital R and I could never figure out why they didn’t  tell me to get lost.

I found out much later from my friend Nathan that the hotel staff thought I was an ‘undercover cop.’ It turned out that my appearance combined with my attire pretty much screamed cop. I thought that was very funny until he said that for safety sake I should either get a haircut or vary my route a bit more.

On the night I met up with the Grim Reaper twice, I had indeed varied my route. I walked by the Pasadena City Courthouse. It was, at that time, touted as the most beautiful courthouse in the country. It was pretty impressive. It sat back from the road and was surrounded by gardens and weeping willow trees.

As I approached the courthouse heading north, I noticed a van parked on a side street facing away from me. The engine was idling and every now and then the driver would goose the gas pedal. I could see the driver’s bearded face watching me in his side view mirror. I had turned down the road he was on and noticing that he was watching me, I got a tingle that crawled  up the back of my neck. He was revving his engine again when I decided to turn around and go back the way I had come.

I nonchalantly strolled up to the corner where a huge weeping willow was. I walked out of the van’s sight line and kept my casual pace going. The second I was out of the van driver’s sight, I heard the squeal of tyres on asphalt. I glanced back and saw he had made a U-turn in the road and was racing his van in my direction.

I jumped forward like I had a rocket up my ass and ran to the intersection. I darted through the street lights just as they turned red. The van shot through right after me; the other cars screeched to a halt and angry horns were blatting out their disapproval. I ran through the supermarket parking lot, dodging between cars and ducking down so the van driver could not see me.

I made my way to the supermarket doors and ran in. I stood hunched over and looking out into the parking lot. The van went up and down each row of cars repeatedly. He was obviously looking for me. After what seemed like hours he gave up and left.

Years later I read with horror about the ‘green death van’ that had been cruising the roads in Southern California and how the bearded driver was kidnapping and torturing people to death. The van that had chased me that night was green and the driver had a bushy beard. I think someone was looking out for me on that Pasadena street.

But I think that whoever had kept an eye out on my well being with the van fell asleep for a bit while I was in the supermarket. As I was headed towards the opposite exit in the store I caught sight of a group of about eight black teenagers disappearing through the door.

I walked out seconds later and saw them all jump over a cinder block wall as I came out. I was about to have my second close call of the evening.

I walked over the 210 Highway on the street bridge. I was about halfway across when I got that tingle again, but this time I felt the small hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up. My heart jumped into my throat. The van! I looked quickly behind me. No van. But there was a group of eight black gang members who were quickly and silently closing the gap between us.

I turned back around and quickened my pace. Only a little, I didn’t want them to either sense fear or decide to speed things up. I was headed for a vacant lot just a few yards ahead. I passed it several times and I’d noticed an empty glass Sangria gallon-sized bottle there every time I’d passed the lot.

That jug was my immediate goal. I figured that they would probably overtake me before I could get to my house which was just around the corner from the empty lot. In my head, I knew they were going to get to me before I could get in the house. If  I could get hold of that huge bottle, I could at least take a couple of the bastards out with me. I got to the lot and looked quickly for the jug. My heart jumped from my throat to the back of my mouth. Someone had broken it. All that remained was the very end of the neck with it’s finger hole.

Change of plan. I walked a little bit faster. The gang was getting uncomfortably close by now. I turned the corner opposite my house. As I got out of their line of sight, I did a replay of what I had done with the van. I ran like the devil was chasing me. Sprinting moved in a big half circle and crawled on the porch from the side of the house. I crouched and opened my front door and slipped in.

I looked out my front window. The eight youths had reached the corner. They stopped and looked up the street. Not seeing their prey they bolted up the street shouting to each other as they looked for me.

I sat on the floor covered in sweat. Two close calls in one night.

The next day, we got a car.

A Pasadena 4th of July or Babe’s in Hollywood-Land Part Two

English: Rose Bowl
English: Rose Bowl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

**All of the folks I talk about here are, as they say, real people but as I don’t know their whereabouts to ask permission to include them in my little story I’ve changed their names.**

My first wife and I wound up living in the old Pasadena Music Conservatory. This old clapboard house, just one block over from N. Los Robles Avenue on the north side of the Foothill’s Highway, had been turned into a ‘four-plex’ a long time ago. The house itself was large and quite pretty. It had a huge covered veranda that ran all along the front of the house. The apartment next to ours had double French doors that the occupant used as a front door.

Our apartment was a two room affair. It boasted a huge kitchen (it had actually been the kitchen of the original house) a bathroom and the front room, which was huge, had a sofa-bed. Behind the house was a separate little house on the plot. The area between our house and the little one was our communal back yard. It was bare of any grass, mostly dirt with a few weeds here and there to give it a bit of character.

It was a perfect place to start us off. We met all our neighbours within the first few days of living there. The first neighbour we met was Nathan. It was the Fourth of July and we were sitting on the front porch watching the sporadic ‘illegal’ fireworks that dotted the sky. Nathan came wandering down and introducing himself, gave us both a Coors and said, “I’ve got some rockets up stairs, I’ll get em and we’ll celebrate your  first Southern California Fourth of July.”

We sat sipping our beer and waited for Nathan to return. While we were waiting we met Martin, the guy who had the cool French Doors as his entrance, he was only passing by, but he wished us a happy fourth and said that if you went around the back of the block you could see the Rose Bowl fireworks for free. Nathan came back looking a bit dejected. His rockets weren’t there and he decided he’d have to go buy some. With promises of a speedy return he drove off.

We decided to go around the block and see if you really could see the Rose Bowl fireworks. We locked our front door and walked around the corner. The house sat on the front corner of a city block that was divided into two different territories. The ‘top’ of the block was ‘ruled’ by the Diablos and our section by the Bloods. We weren’t aware of this quaint little gang custom until later. But appearances to the contrary, this was one rough neighbourhood.

There were a few other people out and about when we walked to find a good Rose Bowl viewpoint. They all spoke and we sort of meandered up the sidewalk. We kept stopping and looking at the occasional sky rocket and talking excitedly about our first ‘Fourth’ away from home. We kept an eye out for a new apartment complex on the corner. That building was our cue to turn right and start looking for the free fireworks.

We stopped just before we reached the corner. We could see what we thought might be the Rose Bowl display and we talked about how cool it was that we could see it for free. While we were talking, two little old ladies chattering like magpies passed us and went around the corner we were about to turn down. Seconds after they turned up the road and out of sight, we heard screams.

My wife and I stood frozen for what seemed like ages. We then bolted around the corner. One of the ‘little old ladies’ was lying on the sidewalk blood streaming from her forehead. Her friend was anxiously darting around her as one or two  people came running our of their houses.  As I ran up to the little group, one of the men looked at me suspiciously. “Did you see anything?”  This was asked as he advanced menacingly towards us.

“No, no. They were around the corner. They didn’t do anything.” This was from the friend of the unconscious lady. After giving me a look of disdain the man went back to the ladies and said he was going to call the police. We stood there feeling helpless. This was outside of our limited experience. We did find out that as the two old dears turned the corner a man jumped out of the dark and smacked one of the ladies in the forehead with a brick. He then grabbed both their purses and ran.

While we stood waiting for Pasadena‘s finest to arrive, we realised that if we had not stopped when we did, we would have gone around the corner before the little old ladies. We both went a little shaky at that thought. It should have been one of us lying on the ground and bleeding. After talking to the police just long enough for them to realise that we would be no help. We walked back home.

The lovely glow of the place we’d just walked up had changed. We walked slowly and looked carefully at the shadowy areas by the path. When we got back to our little apartment, we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. It would be another two weeks before my brush with the gentleman with the black robes and scythe. He was very interested in me on that night, offering me two chances to take a trip with him.