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The Manager and Mr Spooky

Bonni Hall, Victoria, Australia
March 2004

I've had many experiences with ghosts and other strange presences, but I think this is the strangest. I've only ever told this story to one other person, mostly because it is so very odd. I can't explain it other than to tell it the way it happened (and I'd like to note that I was certainly not the only person who experienced these weird phenomena by any means).

In the late 1990s, while living in a medium-sized university town in the American Midwest, I had a roommate, R, who worked in a coffee shop a few blocks from our apartment. The coffee shop was in a building that had once been a theater in the early part of the twentieth century. I was told by M, the owner of the business, that upstairs was an old vaudeville or burlesque theatre, although it was kept locked and nobody was allowed up there for safety reasons. In the basement under the coffee shop were some storage rooms and some old offices. The coffee shop's office was actually on the same floor as the shop, and it wasn't the only business in the building.

My first encounter with something odd there was when I noticed The Manager, as we came to call him. I couldn't see him, but I could "sense" him and get a kind of mental image of him (as could others). He was a short, balding man with a mustache, and he would come up from the basement and walk around the coffee shop in a set pattern. He probably went elsewhere in the building, as well, following a "circuit" of some sort. He didn't seem at all aware of anyone else, and he seemed to me to be mostly an "echo" type of presence rather than sentient one.

He was pretty much harmless, and a lot of people didn't even notice him, although some people seemed to notice odd cold spots in the shop. The shop's owner, M, knew about The Manager, however, and so did my roommate. In fact, she was present one night when I was standing in the wrong place and he walked right through me. All the hair on the back of my neck stood up and I got an immediate case of severe goose flesh. Fortunately, I knew what it was and I was able to just shudder and shake it off (I might have freaked out completely if I hadn't already become acquainted with The Manager and his rounds).

There were other presences there, though, that were not so harmless. At least one struck me as quite malevolent, or at least troublesome. I always had the impression that he was tied to the theatre upstairs, but I'm not sure why I thought that. I never really had a picture in my mind of what he "looked" like. This particular presence caused a fair bit of nervousness in some of the employees, knocking things off the walls, breaking the occasional cup, opening or closing doors, and generally being a nuisance. One girl refused to work at nights there after an encounter with this spiteful spirit.

This spirit, whom we came to call "Mr. Spooky", was in the habit of hanging around the front door and trying to menace people as they went past. Usually, the shop's owner opened in the mornings, but sometimes my roommate did, and I was there at opening a couple of times. All of us felt the presence of the spook waiting for us by the door. He would also sometimes hang out by the door at closing time. I encountered him there several times when I stayed late to walk my roommate home after work.

Finally one night I got fed up with Mr. Spooky, and I told him to go away. I had the feeling I should give him some specific instructions, so I told him, more or less on a whim, that he was not allowed into the building at all any more, and that he couldn't come any closer than the curb from then on. I had the distinct impression that he was furious about this, but he did seem to move to the curb, and R and I went home for the night.

The next evening, R came home from work and had a story for me that still gives me chills. Although her boss, M, had absolutely no way of knowing what I had told the spirit, M said that when she had come to open the shop in the early morning, she was surprised to see that Mr. Spooky was standing on the curb and didn't seem to be able to come inside the building at all! She said that normally he would be right by the door to annoy her, and M thought that Mr. Spooky did seem quite irritated and angry, although he also seemed unable to do much other than "chatter" angrily at her from the curb.

Like I said, I can't explain this. If it hadn't been for M reporting that Mr. Spooky really was apparently banished to the curb (without knowing that I had told him he wasn't allowed any further), I would probably have put it all down to my and my roommate's active imaginations... Also, as far as I know or experienced from then on, Mr. Spooky never was able to come inside to pester people from then on (although The Manager certainly still made his endless and harmless rounds of the building, and probably still does to this day).

Someday perhaps I'll go back to that city for a visit and see if Mr. Spooky really is still chattering angrily at people outside that theatre turned coffee shop.

Bonni Hall, Victoria, Australia
00:00 / 01:04
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