The other night we had some friends over for dinner. After dinner the conversation somehow turned to the topic of ghosts, and I told the story of Loretta's and my brush with the supernatural. One of the guests suggested it should be put down in writing. And so, without further ado, I give you the tale of...
The Haunted Bed and Breakfast
I am a devout skeptic, but I have an abiding interest in all things supernatural. Knowing this, several years ago Loretta surprised me with the birthday gift of a weekend at Bracken Fern Manor in Lake Arrowhead. This picturesque English Tudor inn was originally a brothel owned by Bugsy Siegel and is reputedly haunted by not one, but two, ghosts. When we checked in, our hostess told us that the inn had been featured on a Discovery Channel program about haunted hotels in California, and that there was a video of the program in the TV room should we wish to watch it.
We watched the video after we returned from dinner. Like most programs of its kind, it told the stories of the ghosts of Bracken Fern Manor with dramatic reenactments and eyewitness accounts. The first ghost was "Violet," a working girl who committed suicide when her lover was gunned down by the mob. The second was a little boy—the son of another girl—who was tragically trampled by a team of horses outside the inn. Some guests claim to have smelled Violet's perfume in the hall; others have heard the little boy playing on the stairs or seen his footprints in the snow.
Each room at Bracken Fern Manor is named after one of the ladies of the evening who once worked there. We were relieved to find that we would NOT be staying in Violet's room. Our room was on the third floor, and it's worth noting that we were the ONLY guests on that floor.
It was a dark and stormy night (no, really—it was!) when we went upstairs to our room and bed. However, in spite of the lightening flashing in the skylight overhead and the booms of thunder, I had no trouble getting to sleep. My sleep was undisturbed by ghosts or even bad dreams. Loretta was not so fortunate. When I opened my eyes she was wide awake, and she had clearly been awake for some time.
"How did you sleep?" she asked.
"Fine," I said.
"You slept okay?"
"Great," I said.
"Really," I said.
"You didn't hear anything?"
"No," I said.
"No," I said.
I was beginning to think she was trying to tell me something.
"Well, aren't you going to ask about my night?" she asked.
"Okay," I said, "How did you sleep?"
"I didn't sleep at all!"
"Really? What happened?"
"First, I thought I heard a creak on the stairs, then footsteps outside our door..."
"But there's no one else on this floor! It must have been..."
"I know! Then I felt...a presence!"
"Why didn't you wake me?"
"I thought about it, but I didn't want to bother you."
"Well, I wish you had. I would LOVE to have felt a presence! What happened next?"
"I was terrified. I buried my head under the covers, held my breath, and listened. I didn't hear anything else. Then, after awhile, I felt a relief—as if the presence had departed."
"Then nothing. But I couldn't get back to sleep. I kept thinking, 'Well, that was probably Violet. But what about the other one?' I was awake all night, waiting for the ghost of that kid to show up!"
"I wish you had wakened me!" What a wasted opportunity! I wouldn't have cowered under the covers. I would have welcomed a supernatural encounter with open arms. I would have thrown open the door to the hallway and said, "Hello!" to whoever—or whatever—was out there.
Grumbling about the general unfairness of life, I got out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom. As I passed the door to the hallway, I noticed the Post-It which had been shoved underneath it. I picked it up and read the following note from our hostess: "Don't forget to set back your clocks."
By the way, it looks like Bracken Fern Manor is for sale (http://www.innshopper.com/gallery.aspx?ListingID=1042). Anyone interested in buying a haunted bed and breakfast?