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March 5, 2007
Haunted El Centro BungalowRate this encounter: Gina, Hollywood, California, April 1990
We were unpacking boxes again -- another Hollywood bungalow, another set of crazy neighbors. We were just a block from Paramount Movie Studios, and from our painted tight windows you could see the famous water tower and first generation palm trees. The old neighborhoods attracted musicians and actors like us -- vibrant with echoes of the Hollywood dream, charming 1926 architecture, cheap rent, and located in the heart of the action.
Tim was in the bedroom, and I was in the tiny second bedroom -- we both had heard a voice in the living room. He thought I had let someone in -- I thought he had let someone in. The voice was with a heavy accent and that of an old man who was whisky drenched and had smoked forever -- coarse and guttural. When we both came into the living room there was no one, but an air that someone had just passed through... like you could smell the smoke. I was convinced the landlord had let himself in, and hot and bothered stomped into the kitchen ready to chew him out, but found only our large grey cat hiding at the very top of the kitchen cabinets. I ran out the back door and looked both ways up the fenced in alley - no one. We went to the front door, thinking that we had heard someone from outside -- but saw only a young couple doing some serious kissing. We looked at each other and said, "That was weird."
That night, my husband Tim, crawled back into bed shaking. "What happened?" I asked turning on the light. "I took a swing at someone in the living room." Terrified, I turned on the light and his already light complexion was completely drained of blood. "There's no one in the bungalow," Tim said reassuringly, while pulling the covers nearly over his head. I turned on the light in the living room, had a look around, sensing something... but having been a major skeptic about ghosts and all that jazz... I went to warm up and read in front of the old-world wall heater. There was ice-cold air directly in front of the wall heater -- hot heater air turning icy cold. "Must be a draft or something," I rationalized.
This was just the beginning... though we never heard its voice again, our cat, Compton, could see the spirit. He would sit on his back legs and paw the wall waiting for it -- then chase it around all the rooms and watch it circle above as though he could see it quite clearly. People would always ask "What's wrong with your spastic cat?"
Then the spirit decided to impress us -- I had taken a shower one day, and was drying my hair, when I saw in the reflection a towel behind me lifting up on its own as though going to be removed. I couldn't breathe... I froze as the towel stayed suspended for at least five seconds that seemed like an eternity. When it flopped down, I sprinted outside half-dressed, for some reason still holding my breath, doing my nutty neighbor impression.
My sisters and their friends would come down from the Bay area for visits to see our bands' gigs and nearly all have some story to tell. One time, just for my sister, Lynda, it moved an entire basket of recycled bottles and cans clear across the room and over onto the floor as we all (including the cat) sat watching TV. She got in her car in the middle of the night and jetted home.
Our nutty neighbor, Tommy had once lived in our bungalow, and confessed that there had been something "not right" inside, and had moved to a different, smaller unit after just one night in our place. The woman across the street told us that some people had only made it a few nights in the bungalow and our landlord finally confessed that "for some reason" renters were reluctant to rent the place claiming it had a bad vibe. Several overnight visitors had the same dream of someone hiding in the bedroom closet, then being smothered by the intruder. I was so uneasy in the big bedroom that I had moved into the little bedroom and there had my last encounter with it -- perhaps it said good-bye giving a final icy pass underneath my sheets.
We lived in that Bungalow for two years, all the while fixing it up, trying our best to bring it back to its Hollywood splendor, then moved to the bungalow next door and renovated that one as well in exchange for cheap rent. We never experienced any disturbance in the second bungalow, and for our remaining year at El Centro, the center bungalow where we had become believers stayed empty. Sometimes Compton would sleep on the front porch, and paw at the door, as though missing an old friend.