Archive for the ‘Stories’ category

Haunted Bar Guide

I’ve started a new project called Haunted Bar Guide. We are creating the definitive guide for people that are looking for Beer, Wine, and Spirits.

Help us out and share your stories of encounters with ghosts, poltergeists, and apparitions at public drinking establishments.

Revenge of Mack the Knife

A tale of betrayal and revenge on the high seas

Warning:

This story contains graphic and gory details that some of my readers may find shocking. Please accept my apologies, but I feel compelled to tell this sorry tale. Is it a confessional or a warning? You will have to decide…

Background:

My first job out of college was doing the lights and sounds for the stage shows on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. This may sound like fun work, but let me tell you that quite the opposite was true. It is a little known fact that people go insane working on cruise ships after serving for 8-12 months. Most of the cruise directors have been working for 7-10 years. They feel that the boat is the whole world and they are king. They live to make the lives of underlings miserable at any whim. Forget about Julie, the real thing is quite a bit more frightening.

The Betrayal:

The cruise director on my boat didn’t like me. He would frequently snub me and constantly tried to undermine me in little ways and I never knew why. I figured I could ignore his disdain and carry out my duties with honor, until that fateful night…

After most evenings of work, the cruise staff would retire to the crew bar to unwind after a hard day. Since beers were only 50-75 cents, it was quite common for people to buy a round for the bar as they entered. I had done it myself on numerous occasions. One night after the shows were over, the cruise director entered the bar and said, “Another round for everyone… except him.” I could feel him pointing at me before I saw it. There was no explanation. It was even more of a snub because the cruise director got free drinks. It would have cost him nothing to include me. This was the last straw.

The Revenge:

If you ever vacation on a cruise ship, you know you will have to hear Mack the Knife at least once. It’s just part of the package. I knew for a fact that the cruise director hated this song. (He had been working ships for 8 years after all). Another little known fact is that some entertainers live on the boat and some fly in, meet the boat at a port-of-call, perform, and fly off at the next island. The pieces of a plan were starting to formulate in my mind.

As the sound technician, I met with all acts before they performed. On this particular week, I knew the live-in entertainer performed on the first night and always included Mack the Knife in his repertoire. The second night, the other live-in entertainer performed. He was always drunk, never watched the first performer and it was easy to convince him that he should add the song to his set. One by one the fly-in acts came aboard for their performance nights, and one by one I stroked their egos by telling them how much I loved their renditions of our boy Mackie’s rash adventures. Each of them took the bait and included it. I even convinced the comedian to perform it on his night. The orchestra could have been my undoing by warning the performers of the Mack the Knife Marathon that was afoot. But it never happened and they became silent accomplices, perhaps because of some slight they had experienced from the cruise director.

For good measure, I also made sure the song was performed in the disco, the lounge, the piano bar and by the reggae band that played by the pool. I don’t know if the cruise director ever knew what was really going on or why, but I enjoyed watching that vein in his temple get bigger and bigger with each new rendition.

Epilogue:

The following week, I packed my bags and got off the boat in Old San Juan, never to return. If there were any long term ramifications of my Mack attack, I would never know about them. As the big white ship got smaller and smaller behind me, I found myself singing:

“Oh the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear,
And he shows them, pearly white,
Just a jack knife has old MacHeath, babe,
And he keeps it, out of sight…”

For Your Enjoyment:

Human Nature?

Last year I was hiking in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon near Mount Hood. Near the side of the trail I came across a hollowed out stump of a tree. The stump was about 5 feet high and 3 feet across. You could see into the stump through an archway at the base and it was quite striking the way the sun light spilled in from the opening at the top bringing out the rich red color of the rotting wood. Stumps like this are very common throughout the Pacific Northwest.

What was uncommon was that someone had piled a number of river rocks of varying sizes one on top of the other in the center of this stump. It looked like a pagoda bathed in the red glow of the sunlight.

I remember thinking, “What would cause someone to do this?”

“Is it human nature for people to want to create something beautiful?”

As I walked away I felt good about human nature. I was glad that some anonymous person was trying to make the world a prettier place.

A little later we turned around and were hiking back along the same stretch of trail. We came across the same stump, but this time, the stack of pagoda rocks had been knocked down. In the hour since we had passed this random act of beauty, someone simply destroyed it in another random act. Why? For what purpose? Now I was struck with my second thought:

“Is it human nature for people to want to destroy something beautiful?”

Which case was true? Create or Destroy? Did people have one nature or the other? Did people have both at the same time? Was one urge stronger than the other? Is it simply easier to destroy than create? What makes a person want to take the harder route? Is it a conflict in everyone or just part of the balance of life?

What is your nature? Which impulse wins out for you?

The Secret to Success

A long time ago on an island far, far away, a series of very fortunate events resulted in me pet sitting for the summer in a tiny apartment on the Big Island. As the string of fortunate events continued, one night I found myself at a lavish party at an extraordinarily expensive house overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Keep in mind that at the time, I was just an 18 year old kid from Maryland, dead broke and way out of my element. I stood there a little overwhelmed on the deck of this multimillion dollar house gazing past the pool and the koi ponds mesmerized by the rainbow out over the Pacific Ocean. A couple of big Hawaiian guys were playing Bob Dylan tunes on their ukuleles behind me.

Suddenly, I was approached by what turned out to be the owner of the house and the host of the party. After introductions and small talk, he posed the question, ?Do you think I am successful??

Under most circumstances, a question with such an obvious answer would demand some sort of smart ass comment, but at the time I was still too stunned to generate one. So I took another look at the house, the pool, the koi, the happy friends and family that surrounded him, the great party and the grin on his face and I admitted, ?Yes. I think you are successful.?

A couple moments of silence passed after my response and then he followed up with another question, ?Do you want to know the secret to success??

This time my answer came quicker, ?Sure.?

?There are two secrets to remember in order to be successful,? he began. ?Number one is: Don?t sweat the small things.?

I thought about that for a minute and saw that it made sense. It didn?t seem to be an earth shattering discovery and I found myself wondering what this second secret was. I looked expectantly at the man and finally when it didn?t seem that he would ever reveal the final secret, I asked, ?Okay, so what?s the second secret??

He took a slow draw from his glass of single malt, looked me in the eye and finally said, ?Don?t sweat the big things either.?