In Thursday’s print edition this week we published a story about Justin Brown, a local paranormal investigator. It is not the kind of story we publish often, but it was Halloween, there was an interesting local legend to go with the story, and it was well-written by McKenzie Caldwell, one of our relatively new reporters.
With that introduction out of the way, let me make one thing real clear — I do not believe in ghosts or the paranormal.
I have never seen anything even remotely resembling a ghost or a demon, or experienced anything paranormal. It’s kind of like Bigfoot and Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster — until I see it with my own two eyes, I’m just not going to believe it exists.
That does not mean I have never seen or heard something I could not explain. I have. But no matter how strange it seemed, I figured there was some logical explanation.
Take last Sunday afternoon for example. I was home alone, sitting downstairs with my dog nearby, when as plain as day I heard something upstairs that resembled the sound of two footsteps. It did not sound exactly like footsteps, but it was close, and they were two back-to-back sounds separated by about the time it would take to put one foot down and take another step. Thinking maybe I was not home alone after all, I went upstairs to check things out. There was no one around, and no evidence of what created the sounds. Still, I’m confident something fell or there’s some other reasonable explanation.
There was a time when something like that might have frightened me. But I’ve heard plenty of similar sounds over the years and grew out of the frightened stage long ago.
Now, I’m not necessarily discrediting those of you who believe in ghosts and such. I have lived long enough to understand there are things I will never fully comprehend and that it’s not wise to ever say never. But I will tell you that if you start telling me about seeing ghosts floating around such, I’m going to consider your words with a large dose of skepticism.
Sorry, that’s just the way I am. If you want to convince me otherwise, bring a ghost over to see me. I would like that.
Maybe it’s three-plus decades in the newspaper business that have made me more than a little cynical. Because trust me, I was not always so sure that ghosts or demons do not exist.
Once when I was less than junior high age, I was spending the night with a friend that was two years older me and had lots of older brothers and sisters. It was about this time of year, and they were sitting around telling ghost stories. I’m not sure why my friend and I were allowed to listen in on their conversation, but thinking back I’m relatively certain it did not happen by accident.
Anyway, one of them got to telling this story about some monstrous thing made up of all kinds of different animal parts and lived on Black Rabbit Road in Highland County. I grew to learn it was a local legend lots of kids joked about, but on that night, it was the first I heard about it.
I was completely enthralled with the story. The more they described, the deeper I was drawn into the tale of young lovers being attacked and mutilated in their vehicles on a remote road by this wild-looking creature. I wanted to hear more.
But when the story ended, it was time for us youngsters to turn in for the night.
So upstairs my buddy and I bravely marched, to a large bedroom that had like six twin beds and lots of windows — like the kind the Black Rabbit Road monster could see us through. I do not remember how our conversation went, but I know my buddy and I decided we’d feel a lot better sleeping in the same twin bed, with blankets pulled tight up to our noses, and a clear view of all those windows.
That night must have left an impression on me because the Black Rabbit Road monster became part of my life for several years. As I grew older I shared the story with others younger than myself to see if they would have the same reaction I did at their age. And many were the trips in my high school years to Black Rabbit Road.
I grew out of that stage decades ago, too. Still, if you have a ghost buddy, I’d like to meet him. Maybe he could fill me in about those unexplainable sounds.
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at 937-402-2522.