In 1995 I went to New Orleans with my best friend Jenny. We had a great time. The food and music was amazing. We went by Anne Rice’s house and traveled by trolley to the Garden District. The trip would’ve been memorable if that’s all that happened. But it wasn’t. We (and by “we” I mean me because I had to encourage Jen) decided to go on a paranormal tour. The difference with this tour was that it was run by a paranormal research society so I was psyched.
The walking tour went by all the classic haunted places in The Big Easy. The Morgue, Faulkner House Books, The Old Absinthe House and many more. They were all creepy to be sure — especially the Lalaurie Mansion. But we didn’t experience anything spooky there. In fact we were both happily sipping on hurricanes until we arrived at the O’Flaherty’s Irish pub. I felt my first cold spot there in the courtyard! It was crazy. The hair on my arms stood up like I was being shocked. I giggled like a kid. So cool. We went back to O’Flaherty’s many times while we were there. They played great music and despite the haunting – the vibe was jovial and fun. I’m very sad that Hurricane Katrina ended this amazing place to sit and have a pint.
Then we went to Le Petit Théâtre Du Vieux Carré and I will never be the same.
Jenny experienced the first paranormal encounter. She was coming down a flight of stairs in the old theater and began to sob uncontrollably. Our tour guide said that it was on those very steps where an actress flung herself either down the stairs or out the window. (I’m sorry I don’t remember).
Then we went to the stage – and I was jazzed. As a community theater actress there is something visceral about standing on stage. My heart pumped a bit more enthusiastically and my brain buzzed with the actor’s high. We were told of the classic ghost audience member (there is one in many theaters) and a few others that are classic theater ghosts. The combination of theater and ghost stories was making me so damn happy I was giddy.
So I was grinning and looking around the stage with open curious eyes. That’s when I saw Perry. He was staring at me from above the stage in the fly tower and grid. My mind didn’t fully comprehend what was happening. I was just curious about why a man was there and more importantly why he was frowning at me. No – glowering at me. It was then that I noticed our tour guide was talking about a runaway enslaved laborer who was shot in the theater and eventually passed away.
I lifted my gaze above – but he was gone. I saw Perry! Holy shit. It made sense that he would frown at me – a white woman. But I wanted to get off the stage immediately.
Then we went to the children’s theater and I … how do I explain this? The guide told us that there were a lot of young spirits in the children’s theater. They felt safe there. And my heart hurt for these kids – you know? Then my legs started to feel this almost burning cold. No other way to explain it. The lower part of my body was freezing. Then something chilly appeared to clasp my hand. I looked up at the tour guide – my eyes wide – and she smiled. “Are you a mom or a teacher?”
At the time, I was a preschool teacher and apparently the children felt safe around me because their little spirits surrounded me. Still gives me chills today.
Needless to say after this tour we had a lot of drinks. A LOT.