Living in Sherman Oaks in "the valley" had gotten old. My commute to work was a pain, and I felt rather disconnected from things. It was around 1990-91, and my friends (the ones I actually socialized with) lived in Hollywood on the 'fun' side of the hills. The thought of moving was becoming more and more prominent in my mind.
One day at work, I struck up a conversation with a co-worker of mine, Kathi, in the office kitchen. We were both waiting for the current pot of java to finish brewing. The subject of life in my neck of the woods not being that great came up, and Kathi mentioned that her neighbor had moved out of the unit right next to her. It was located in West Hollywood, the rent was around $350 a month (rent control), and it was pretty much available right away. At $350 a month I would have been an absolute maroon to not at least look at the place, so she put me in touch with the owner/landlord. She had a key (she had lived in her apartment for many years at that point), so it was scheduled that I would go by and take a look after work.
I had spent some time in "WeHo" (I absolutely hate when people call it that). Part of Hollywood, it's a very 'happening' area. Lots of apartments, many of the buildings quite old. The building I was headed to for the apartment viewing was no exception. All of the neighbors living there had lived there for years, and I do mean YEARS. The only unit with any turnover was the one I was looking at. There is a rather colorful tale about John, the owner/manager who was deceased by that time, that I may relate another time. Another interesting story is about another one of the tenants who had been married to Edward G. Robinson, Jr. He passed away in the apartment there. Very sad. He and his wife had all kinds of celebs dropping by at all hours. It was not uncommon to see Stars like Marilyn and Tab Hunter coming and going. I had been there once before (had borrowed a sewing machine from Kathi), so I knew where to go. The front building was one-story, and had three units that followed the length of the driveway to the back building where I was headed. That building also had three units, one on the bottom (a really unpleasant guy lived there...he had at one time been on General Hospital, and was having a hard time accepting the fact that he no longer was an actor and that he was aging), and two on top. This picture is of that building. Kathi lived in the unit with the beige fenced deck. The unit I was checking out was on the walkway with the railing by the big tree. (The tree kind of obscures the front door.) So I climbed the slightly steep steps and tapped on Kathi's door. She popped out with the keys and we unlocked the front door of what was to be my new home.
It was really small, but comfortable enough for one person. It was kind of a divided square. The front door opened into the living room; the bedroom was through a doorway to the right; straight ahead was a doorway in the middle of a built-in bookcase that lead into the dining/kitchen area; the bathroom was kind of in the north-eastern most corner of the square. Like I said, small but comfortable enough for one. Now that I've laid out the...well, the 'layout', I'll mention the vibe. There was definitely something about the place, but it wasn't anything I could define. Nothing unpleasant, just something...different. All things considered, I took it. I think I was about 75% towards renting the place sight unseen, so it wasn't a hard or lengthy decision making process. The landlord was called, and the paperwork would be taken care of the next day. Feeling very excited, we locked up and headed off to 'Japon' for sushi (it would become a regular haunt for Kathi and me).
Moving is always a pain in the ass (at least in my experience), but I was never so excited to move. The apartment I rented in Sherman Oaks wasn't actually that far removed from things, but it felt like I was moving in from the sticks. Being in the heart of Hollywood was where I wanted to be. With a little help from some friends, I made the move and began to settle in. I really did love being in my new surroundings. However, that vibe I mentioned earlier was always there. Nothing I could really articulate, but it was just...there. Something was 'there'. There were more life sounds around. Neighbors clanging dishes in their kitchen; the a-hole downstairs having loud get-togethers; helicopters flying around all night making it sound like downtown Beirut; sirens from the fire station down the street. Plus, I was in an old building. It had creaks and pops. I just kind of chalked it all up to the new digs, and left it at that.
The odd sensations increased over time. Some days were more 'active' than others. I would be washing dishes in the kitchen and it would feel like something moved past behind me. I would be lying in bed, and it would feel like something was next to the bed. Was it my imagination? Figured it probably was, but I am a very open person. I just pick up on things some times. Not knowing what to make of any of it, I just shrugged it all off and enjoyed my new pad. Until one particular evening...
One evening after work, I was watching a little TV and unwinding after a long day. I was sitting on the sofa, sipping a beer, with my feet up on the coffee table. To my right was the doorway into the dining area. That was the first time I saw 'it'. In my side vision I saw a non-descript figure in the doorway. I jumped and looked to the opening. Nothing was there. My heart was pumping a little quicker, but after the initial shock I was intrigued. Sure, it could be my imagination. What if it wasn't? I had been having "feelings" since I had moved in. Over the next couple of weeks, I would catch some more glimpses of a figure (always out of the corner of my eye), and it took more shape. Well, actually the second time I saw it there was more of an image than a 'blob' there. It had to be a male because I could see the hint of a beard. White puffy shirt, knee length pants, and stockings. Almost immediately, I thought 'Conquistador'. That's what he looked like. A rather disheveled one, but a Conquistador nonetheless. This picture kind of illustrates what I saw, only take away the hat, chest armor, and sword. (If one were to see a spirit/ghost/apparition of a Conquistador, it would make perfect sense to see one in southern California. If I'm not mistaken, Spanish Conquistadors were in the southern regions of California as far back as the 1500's.)
Ya know, I've got quite a vivid imagination, but I was NOT making this up...consciously or subconsciously. Seeing it once might have made me think it was a figment of my imagination, but I saw it several times. The first times I saw 'him' were in that bookcase doorway in the living room. The first time I saw him by my bed shocked the crap out of me. At no point had I ever felt anything negative from the 'apparition', but there is a vulnerability one feels when confronted with something like that while lying in bed. He was never extremely defined when I saw him. He wasn't clear like a Polaroid. He was just there, always in my peripheral vision. That night in my bedroom I was looking straight at him and he was maybe four feet away. I had been reading a book, and all of a sudden he was there looking at me like he was trying to tell me something. Not vocally, but through his...energy. It lasted for maybe...15, 20 seconds? Right around there. That may not sound like a long time, but sit and count that out (one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand...). When you're in the moment it feels like a lot longer. I may have made my sightings sound like they happened every day. They did not. They did happen frequent enough though. I felt a presence more than I saw one.
One Saturday I was doing some housework, and I had my front door open. I frequently left my door open as Kathi and I went back and forth to each other's apartments all the time. Especially when I heard her blender going...Margarita time. That particular day, Kathi wasn't home. Anyway, I heard a tap on my front door. A friend of Kathi's who I had met briefly once before had stopped in to see her and found that she was not at home. Since my door was open, he decided to stop by and say hello. It so happened that he had been the tenant in my apartment right before me. We were chatting for a few minutes when I decided to bring up my 'roomie'. I hadn't mentioned any of my sightings to anyone. Figured it best to keep things to myself. You never know who might believe you, or who might think you had gone off your rocker. So...I asked him. "I'm just curious, but did you ever see anything in this apartment when you lived here?" His eyes got a little wider, and he got a little paler. His response sent chills up my spine. "You've seen him?" Half of me felt elated that I wasn't going nuts, and the other half felt a tad freaked out because I had just gotten some validation for what I had been seeing.
"Yes, I've seen the man. Mostly in the living room, but also in the bedroom.", I said. He proceeded to describe the figure to me EXACTLY as I had seen it. He described seeing the man in the bedroom, as well, only his experience seemed a bit more intense as the figure got a bit more in his face with the urgency deal. (I have to say that I was relieved that I hadn't had that experience, but then I wondered if it was some 'haunted' fun to come? Oh goody...
We were both relieved, I think. We told Kathi about what we had seen. She hadn't seen anything in her apartment. I found that odd since she and I had nothing but a wall between our bedrooms. Why was the "ghost" so centered on my unit, and not the building as a whole? For a Milli-second I thought about asking my downstairs neighbor if he had seen anything, but him being such a pleasant fellow I thought better of it. He and I had been getting along for the most part, and the last thing I needed was for him to brand me a kook and put me in his cross hairs along with other neighbors (he was quite the bitcher and moaner). I lived in that apartment for a couple of years before moving into a nearby building. During my time there, I did see the apparition several more times in the living room, but I grew somewhat accustomed to his presence there. As I mentioned, I didn't ever feel anything negative there. In retrospect, I wish I had tried to do some EVP recordings to see if I could get any sort of vocal evidence. Maybe I could have answered some of the questions I had.
That is the most intense "ghost" experience I've ever had. Some may believe it, some may not. Some may have had experiences of their own. I'm just feeling the need to share some of the more...'unique' experiences I've had. There will definitely be more to come. I've got another one to share next that happened while I was living in that apartment, as well. It's of a different nature than this one. But, as I said...that'll be in my next installment...