Monday, October 8, 2007


I shivered through this month’s GCCRWA meeting. Partly because the temperature in the Ryan’s Steakhouse party room was frigid, but I’m giving most credit to our speakers. They call themselves The Ghost Chicks, a.k.a. Lorrie Jones and Tara Deters. Both are wives and mommies and came by their ghost hunting profession by chance—specifically, a sinister night at the notorious Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana.

I consider myself a cynical sort. I can only claim one maybe encounter with a ghostly presence. Not even that, really—just a moment seven years ago while I was sitting stationary in my desk chair, feet curled up, in silence and suddenly feeling the rushing sensation of moving forward very quickly. The only way I know how to describe the feeling was when you hit G-force on a roller coaster. I was perfectly healthy at the time. I didn’t feel disoriented before or after. I didn’t get goosebumps or feel cold as people claim to be in an entity’s presence. Looking back on it, I thought it had something to do with God. But usually when feeling God’s presence, you’re speaking to Him in some way. I wasn’t in a religious state of mind at the time. After today’s meeting, I was forced to reevaluate that experience.

I’ve heard tales of ghost encounters. We spent a week in my high school Psychology course taking turns contributing our own experiences, and there were several stories I found particularly lucid. They’ve stuck with me through the years because they came from practical contemporaries. The only book I remember checking out of my Intermediate School library was 13 Alabama Ghosts. I’ve been trying to forget Jeffrey ever since. The Red Lady was one of the reasons I chose not to attend picturesque Huntingdon College in Montgomery despite the fact that my grandfather got his undergraduate degree there and played on the basketball team.

So I believe in ghosts…but I'll never visit the Myrtles Plantation or Pratt Hall. I believe in them, but I don’t want an encounter. This inhibition is the driving reason behind my great respect for these Chicks who not only voluntarily hunt ghosts but have made it their business to do so. They aren’t phonies, either. They are certified paranormal investigators, taught by renowned parapsychologist of the HCH Institute in Lafayette, California, Professor Loyd Auberbach. Witty, down-to-earth, and conversational, their presentation was enlightening. They willingly shared personal experiences and theories. The only topic they chose not to discuss was the religious aspect of their profession. I wanted to applaud them at this point. Those who refuse to force their beliefs on an open audience—especially those in the wide, eclectic paranormal field—are a rare find. There were bone-chilling moments of their talk, but overall I found it comforting on some level. Maybe because they were so normal. A chapter member asked why they do this for a living and Lorrie jokingly replied, “I’m crazy!” The opposite is true. They weren’t just sane; they were hauntingly keen and wise. Their equipment and described methods were simple, technical and effective—believable.

They had my belief when they first informed the group they didn’t clean houses or purge spirits—meaning they don’t go around spraying holy water everywhere. Their mission is to debunk spectral claims. I was especially reassured by Lorrie’s assertion that there are no demonic spirits. She backed up this belief by recounting one of Auberbach’s experiences involving a black orb. Those who witnessed it thought it to be a harmful spirit. When counseled, this spirit turned out to be despondent...melancholy...harmless. In the Ghost Chicks’ personal encounters, they’ve never run into any demons though everyone in the group that fateful night at the Myrtles Plantation did end up vomiting—Lorrie even had a terrible seizure. This is a common story from those who’ve been brave enough to stay there through the long night hours though even our beloved Oprah wasn’t valiant enough for the experience.

I learned several things from today’s encounter—chiefly that the last place on Earth you can look for me is Francisville, Louisiana. The subject of the South came up. Indeed, generally you do hear more stories of ghosts in the southern states. GCCRWA President Martha Krieger and The Ghost Chicks agree this is because of the South’s more brutal history and settlement. It’s an interesting concept, one I hope to explore in my work or, perhaps, just out of niggling curiosity since research is on my long list of bookish hobbies.

I know I was not the only one inspired by The Ghost Chicks’ talk. Our paranormal writers were especially fascinated. You can find them at their new website—which, at the moment, is still in development— Or look them up at for the Peace, Love, & Lip Gloss hour! Check out their MySpace pages for more information…or just to rock out to their playlists…which I admit doing while I was writing this post. I, too, believe groove is in the heart and Jesse James just might still be out there strutting across some dusty Missouri street. Imagine that!

*Saturday night after the meeting, a terrible storm swept across Baldwin County and this writer was cowering under a fuzzy blanket in pajamas and slippers with a bowl of ice cream and three cowardly dogs watching The Sound of Music and jumping at small noises.

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