Salutations and gracious greetings to my loyal and steadfast readers of electronic media!  On this day I will impart to you, the
good citizens of the cyber-kinetic netherworld, a tale of such pomposity and divergence that it will roil your intellect and strain the
borders of your imagination.  A fitful world of hair-raising capers combined with surrealistic adventure will buckle forth from
these pages and rankle your anachronistic beliefs in time, space and the finality of death.
  You, of course, have become painfully aware of the dark and sinister world that I have been led through with my strange and
maniacally driven cohort of macabre,
Colonel G. Rush.  Past adventures had taken us to the inexplicable land of desert
desolation,
White Sands, the haunted battlegrounds of Gettysburg, the otherworldly landscape of Carlsbad Cavern, the
mysterious outpost,
Area 51, the old psychiatric hospital turned Grand Hotel in Jerome, Arizona, the premiere Alien outpost,
Roswell, NM and the investigation into the underbelly of Hollywood past and long, dead celebrity glitterati.Â
  The Colonel's world-renowned talents of finding mystery and debunking its myths would be mightily challenged in the
post-mortem of our latest investigation into the most haunted home in America,
The Whaley House.  Situated in the sunny,
seaport city of
San Diego, California, its terrible history belies the surroundings of surf, sand and docile seals which clutter its
shore.  Nowhere in the brochures of its many resorts, world-class attractions or Chamber of Commerce does it allude to the
fact that "
Yankee Jim" was hung unjustly for the theft of a rowboat and continues to terrify modern denizens of this serene and
tranquil hamlet.
  It was during a recent respite the Colonel was enjoying from the foreboding frost of the Northeast that he ventured to the
Southwest to join me in the investigation of the long-storied, two-story abode of hidden horror.  In tow with the Colonel, kicking
and screaming I am quite sure, was his precocious, beautiful, 14-year old daughter,
Kelly.  The Yin for his Yang and the near
miss bulls-eye of his moral center, Kelly kept the Colonel from delving into depravity and debauchery on a regular basis.  
Lambasting him with the regularity of a nagging wife.  She manages to barely tolerate all of us as long as she has access to
instant messaging.Â
  Also along, for her initial foray into another one of the Rush family aberrant and eccentric installments, was my "new" fair lady,
with a familiar bell to it,
Diane.  Radiant, energetic with a streak of wistfulness she engenders the woman of my heartland with
strong fundamentals and a no excuses, no lies lustiness.  She carries a strong hankering to see the Pacific Ocean for the first
time, to touch the land of legend, California, and to bask in the eternal sunshine.   But she will instead spend her time
spelunking through dusty dwellings of a by-gone age.  Showing the pluck of a true
Pittsburgh native, she grits her teeth, furls
her corn silk tresses and acquiesced to the demands of a trip with the Colonel.  My God, she was just introduced to
Layla and
now this!
  We set out with high hopes and visions of magic dancing in our collective heads that would soon be throttled as we hit the
dusty road which leads to the desert oasis known as Gila Bend.  Here amongst the lacking backwater is a town that exists for
truckers and illegal border transients.  The Colonel observes in his own special brand of down home vernacular, "Dis here
burg ain't even got 'tis own Burger King!"Â  But there is one must see place that exists in this realm of oddity and speed traps, it
is the "
Space Age Outer Limits Diner."Â
  The Colonel, who specializes in the partaking in these type of establishments, was thoroughly delighted to find this
monument to kitsch in a locale of obvious...um...
dysfunction.  Hoping to be abducted by an Alien Seductress the Colonel was
disappointed to find that the only aliens here were the illegal kind and that our waitress was named Betty.  "Don't yinz think at
an
Alien Diner there'd be at least one little greenie guy?"Â  After the consumption of slung hash and uncongealed eggs we
endure another round of desert traversing until we reach the great
Imperial Sand Dunes of Yuma.
  These famous dunes have been seen numerous movies depicting every desert in the world and out of this world.  "Star
Wars" was filmed here, "Lawrence of Arabia," "Sahara" with Bogart, "Beau Geste" and the Crosby & Hope classic, "Road to
Zanzibar," along with many others.  But now it is used mainly as an ATV Recreation Center.  Eager to have Diane encounter
her first taste of true desert living, I have them trudge to the top of the dunes and pose for
pictures.  This ends in disaster after
Kelly reminds her that scorpions live in the desert.  I regale them with my encyclopedic knowledge on the dangers of the desert
and how the interrelated species function as one "In a diversifying world of exponentially expanding species and all of the arid
confines of their existence are to be delighted in!"Â  The blank stares that ensued gave me a clue to their wonderment of my
profound soliloquy.  The Colonel broke the silence of the moment with, "Themz some high falutin' words there Boy.  But I
know them scorps can be some awfully nasty critters.  I recall one time in the great state of Texas I was trackin'; one of them
green varmints over a mean stretch of desert and when one of them scorps brought him dahn like heap of cow dung on wet
cement."Â
  We are off again on our flying road show traversing the California border by crossing the Colorado River and soon steeping
the crags of the Boulder Highway.  Miles and miles of gargantuan rocks tossed on top of each other in such a haphazardly
fashion it feels man-made.  But not even Fred Flintstone with an army of dinosaurs could clear this path.  Stones from the size
of a Buick to the size of a house strewn about as if a part of a field of Giant's marbles.
  Soon we are plummeting down through the foothills to the exhilaratingly beautiful coastal city of San Diego.  We head to the
port area so Diane can get her first glance of the Pacific Ocean.  A moment that is never truly forgotten or truly appreciated.  
We marvel at the
three-masted schooners which are moored to its pilings.  The famous Star of India is proudly displayed and
conjures the tall tales of the Colonel to reappear, "I recall being Shanghaied to one of these floating skiffs were I spent the best
part of me youth swabbing decks and riding high seas to purt near every port of call in lesser America."Â  Also situated at the
port is the still floating vessel that appeared in the swashbuckling hit film, "
Master and Commander."Â  We find a fine dining
establishment that excels in the preparation of the salty creatures which inhabit the watery abyss.  Or as the Colonel averred,
"Kill and grill me a swordfish about yea big!"Â  The angst-ridden woman-child,
Kelly, can find no servings to her liking as she
finds seafood repugnant.  This will begin a series of embarrassing episodes in which she is forced to order chicken strips
from the children's menu.  She hates us all.  The Colonel vilifies her thusly, "Ders folk in China who live on bamboo shoots
and youse sqwaking over good 'ol Kentucky turkey?"Â
  After our sumptuous cuisine we arrive at our elegant hotel in the middle of the Gas Lamp District.  The Horton Grand Hotel is
a
crown jewel hostelry that dates back to the 1880's and has been the respite of many famous names in American folklore:
Wyatt Earp, President Benjamin Harrison and Babe Ruth to namedrop a few.  Styled in an elegant
western motif it houses
many
artifacts and many secrets.  It is also purported to be haunted.  Guess who picked this place?  "Ders a story that dis
use to be a hause of ill-repute and the ghost of a red-girdled madam still moans in the night!  I aim to have me way wit her."  
His salaciousness is disturbing.
  After a night of merriment and mirth at the local Irish establishments we head back to our room of phantasmal fright.  
Decorated in
period-style décor the room is nicely appointed with an entrance room foyer, high-bordered ceiling and a
modernized
chain-pull toilet.  Soon I manage to quiet the heart rending palpations enough to fall into the inky bliss of deep
slumber.  Not so, for my sleeping mates as their quiet solitude is badgered by my inebriated snarking and the Colonel's
endeavors to capture the infamous madam by sight or sound.
  His first device of ensnarement is to put a movie camera in the room that will record all night.  "Dat way if she comes to
abscond with me and yinz don't know what in tarnation was done with me you can gist lookie in this camera box to find aht."Â  
The man was brave, delusional, but brave.  He then inquired at the night desk as to what the apparitional Madam's usual
modus operandi was for scaring the beJesus out of the guests.  The Night Manager informed him that she would knock three
times on the door and if a man answered she would appear in a flowing red robe and enchant him with her plentiful
endowments.  But if a woman answered the Banshee would vanish.
  As I slept as soundly as a coma patient and the girls thrashed about trying to muffle the "terror of the logs" with down pillows,
the Colonel skulked the hallways all night hoping to capture the "Vixen of Vapor."Â  After a night of fruitless efforting he came
back to the room in dismay long past the witching hour.
  It was at the first blush of morning that the horror of our confines had struck.  Diane, with her still crusted eyes slowly
focusing on the ceiling corner, jumped with a hesitant scream as she believed that a dead cat's head was affixed as a bloody
stump to our Corinthian inspired ceiling!  I, too, shrieked as her description seemed to appear before my eyes!  The
creakings of the old hotel seemed to come alive as we noticed that someone or something had opened our
balcony door when
it was secured by none other than the Colonel.  As fear clutched our collective throats it was then that we heard what we all had
been dreading ...knock...knock...knock!!!  Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!  As we exchanged horrified glances of sheer, maddening panic, the
Colonel sprung from his bed with all the speed of Yosemite Sam with his biscuits burning.  As the rest of us cowered under
the Queen Anne comforter, the Colonel flung open the door!  I peeked through the blinding darkness, which was my hand, to
the specter of what was most-assuredly our demise!  The screaming of angels had befallen upon my ears!  We were about to
glimpse to the Otherside!Â
  The Colonel disappeared from the doorway!  Had she taken him?  Was he in hot pursuit of his long-sought after dream or
had delirium struck him and he was now running maniacally through the halls?  Our questions would soon be answered as
he reappeared with a visage of sadness and reported that he saw nothing.  "Nothing!"  I  yelled.  "What do you mean
nothing?  We all heard the knocks!"  The Colonel exclaimed, "It musta been one of yinz that pounded on the furniture to get my
goad! Â Itz all been a heapin' humongous joke to pull that odiferous prank on me!"
  It was not until the clear light of day that I pieced together logical explanations for all of frightful experiences.  The dead cat's
head turned out to be a larger than normal sprinkler head.  Don't ask.  The balcony door was ajar because I apparently had
awoken in a stupor and had gone outside to smoke some tobacco, as evidenced by the cigarette butts there.  As for the
unbelievable knocks on the door, pranksters.  The Madam was known only to frequent the room that we slept in and apparently
we were not the only ones to know this.
  Â  Undaunted, the Colonel waved off my suggestions to see the more comely side of San Diego such as; the world famous
San Diego Zoo or the equally inspiring Balboa Park or maybe even Sea World, my God man at least let the girls see a freaking
gift shop!  "No way Josie!"  I dun sat in your fancy jeep for all of six hours to see the
Whaley House and weez goin' to get a
gander of it."Â  Well, whatever the Colonel wants, the colonel gets, so we once again acquiesce to his demands.
  With our eyes a rolling and the sighs of resignation we make our way to Old Town San Diego to the Whaley House.  When
we arrive we are disappointed that this home looks as normal as apple pie.  But soon we find about its history.  The
history of
the Whaley House reads like the history of San Diego - in a concentrated manner. From the 1850's the house has served as a
residence, theater, a place for formal balls, as a
courthouse and where there was a fight for a county seat. In 1857 when
Thomas Whaley built the house, the cost was $10,000.  
Our guide tries to frighten us with stories of a ghost dog that licks your
leg, red lines that appears on visitors necks and dolls with painted eyes that move.
  I tell the Colonel that this is all rather boring and I need a taco.  He is enthralled by the speaker's words and is constantly
trying to coax the ghostly dog to his side, "Here Boy, come to the Colonel and lick his leg."Â  I secretly hope the dog will lift his leg
on the Colonel.
  Being the dutiful chronicler that I am, I take photos like a private eye on a cheating spouse.  The period detail of the home is
stunning but it is not until I receive my photos back that I found the house was indeed haunted!  I have to admit that I truly
cannot explain the nature of some of the photos and they are not what I saw through my viewfinder.  This first photo, besides
showing the trick of light and shadow and one of the dolls with the supposedly moving eyes,
clearly shows a crack in the vanity
mirror.  There was no crack when I viewed this room!    Â
  The second bedroom is where my life changed forever.  After all of the adventures with the Colonel and all the strange things
that have happened while in the pursuit of a definitive paranormal experience,
nothing compared to the moment that I first saw
this photo!  I shot this photo as an afterthought to just another Victorian era room.  But as you can plainly see the "Hand of the
Afterworld" reaches for me!  The Colonel was right!  Yankee Jim still lives!Â
  The Colonel hears a story that sometimes, late at night the lights are on at this house after everyone leaves.  He is
determined to see if this is true.  "Weez got to come back after midnight and seez if 'tis true!"
  So we leave the woman folk at the hotel and head out on our midnight rendezvous.  We circle the house in the dead of night
looking for signs of the undead.  Sure enough, there is a light on in the second-story window!  I take a
photo of the lighted
room but in the photo, it is not lit!  Peering closer at the photo, I notice that in the tree there is a distinctive
face!  Other photos
show inexplicable balls of
light
  The Colonel is fully intended to get to the bottom of this mystery and soon I hear him trying to get a peak in the window by
pulling on the shutters.  "I aim to get a good gander at de goings on inside that hause."  As I hear wood splintering, I decide I
am not the type who does well in prison.  I walk to the nearest bar to wait.
  There I meet a singularly unusual chap who purports that he too is a ghost chaser.  He states he has actually broken into the
Whaley House and slept there.  I knew I had to get him and the Colonel together so that they could discuss their common
dysfunction.  He introduces me to his
girlfriend who is from the scariest place on earth, Cleveland.  They say they are getting
married in Vegas the next day.Â
  We head back to the Whaley House and he proceeds to give me and the Colonel a long, strange tour.  He shows us the
steps where a young girl mysteriously died and other places that death has visited this home of the macabre.  He shows us
the gardens and a door to what he claims is a vault for goblins.  But it was not until my photos were developed that I took any of
what he reported for factual data.  The Colonel was enthralled.  "Geehosaphats!  What in tarnation is these poor spooks
gonna do fer eternity?"  Alas, that is the question Colonel.  Now that we have found a real honest to goodness ghost, will our
travels to the
bizarre never end?!
GRABBED BY A GHOST