Monday, June 20, 2011


I recently did an interview about my paranormal Elliott Smith Mystery series, and in response to a question as to whether I'd ever had a paranormal experience, I immediately thought of my encounters with a spirit named Robert, and how I really miss him. I realized that it was Robert who was the model for Elliott's dream-visitor, John, in the series.

I met Robert through a roommate and short-term partner, Paul, shortly after I bought my first house in Los Angeles. I always got home from work before Paul, and one evening, the instant I stepped in the front door, I knew I was not alone. I didn't just know it, I KNEW it, and I had never been more sure of anything in my life. Afraid that the house was being burglarized, and calling out "who's there?" several times, I cautiously made my way from room to room--a truly stupid move if anyone were there. The feeling was almost overpowering as I approached the front bedroom, but when I finally gathered the courage to enter, ready to bolt for the front door immediately, no one was there.

As soon as Paul came home, I told him of the incident. He laughed and said: "Don't worry about it: it's just Robert." Robert, he told me, was a ghost who had lived at Paul's former apartment with him and three of his roommates. He was totally harmless but had a habit of playing tricks, his most favorite being hiding things. And he was, I learned over time, particularly fond of bedrooms and classical music. Though I was frequently aware of his presence, it was never the least bit frightening. In fact, I grew to be very fond of him and looked forward to his visits.

Paul told me of the time one of his roommates had come home from grocery shopping with a carton of cigarettes. Setting the bags on the kitchen table, he made a quick trip to the bathroom, and when he returned, the carton of cigarettes was gone from the bag. He was the only one in the apartment at the time. Three weeks later, when another of the roommates set out to do some minor repair on his car, the carton of cigarettes showed up at the bottom of his tool chest.

Though I never learned Robert's history, he did travel back and forth between my house and Paul's former apartment, his comings and goings usually coinciding with visits from Paul's former roommates. A roommate would come to visit, Robert would show up; another roommate came, Robert would leave.

When my mother came to visit for Christmas shortly after my father died, we were sitting in the living room on the couch, talking. The couch sat toward the center of the room and faced a huge picture window, and I could easily see the living room, part of the kitchen, and the entry/dining room, where the Christmas tree had been set up, reflected in it.

I was telling my mother about Robert. As I did so, I saw Paul, who had been somewhere in the back of the house, enter the living room from the kitchen and walk behind the sofa and into the dining area. He was wearing a bright blue bathrobe I'd recently bought, and when I turned to ask him why he was wearing it, the dining area was empty. When I called out to him, he answered from the back of the house. He was not wearing my robe.

"I don't believe in ghosts," my mother said, and at that moment, three ornaments fell off the tree.

Mother apparently changed her mind.

The next morning she told me that she had awakened in the night, knowing that someone was in the room with her. I asked if she'd been frightened, and she said "Not at all. I just said: 'Go away, Robert,' and he did."

When Paul moved out, Robert all but disappeared from my life, though there have been a few times since Los Angeles that I have been aware of him. I do wish he'd show up more often. I miss him.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

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