By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
During my first couple of years as managing editor, I often stayed overnight at the San Benito News office … ya know, just to get a head start and make a good impression. It took me a few years to realize that it wasn’t about how many hours I dedicated to work but how much work I dedicated in an hour. Still, I enjoyed the silence associated with the nighttime.
It wasn’t uncommon for me at that time to catch the Coast to Coast AM broadcast. Understand that it was usually around midnight before I began to wrap up my stories and the preliminary work I was completing on redesigning the newspaper. So although distracted by spooky tales of the macabre, it also helped keep me awake. Besides, it only took another hour or two before I would finally lock up and head home.
Coast to Coast AM, for those who are unfamiliar, is a popular overnight radio show that focuses on unexplained phenomena, urban legends and folklore—more specifically subjects such as the paranormal, UFOs, strange occurrences and life after death (yes, that’s where this is going).
There were a few nights when the host, George Noory, took telephone calls from listeners, many of whom added commentary while others shared eerie anecdotes of particularly spine-tingling experiences. By the way, one of the more interesting aspects of the show is its audience, which is divided between the eccentric (I’m being kind) and the educated. This made it easy to separate the fair from the fiction.
One Monday evening, I was working on a complicated piece and anticipated staying at the office a little later than usual—maybe 3 a.m. The way I justified my lack of sleep was by promising to hit the sack for four hours when I got home. Sure, I planned on doing it all over again the next day, but I reasoned that by catching up on rest Wednesday, when I went into work at 1 p.m., I would fulfill the sleep needed to function the rest of the week.
I thought of my little plan to finish this big story and still be productive in other areas while sitting at my desk and transcribing interviews I conducted earlier that day. Then I remembered the wisdom my grandmother imparted about the dangers of participating in late night activities. She warned that people had no business staying up past midnight, surmising that only mischievousness can be found past such an hour. In an attempt to tune out those memories, I turned on Coast to Coast.
One of the more memorable stories told on this particular broadcast came from a woman who shared an unfathomable, albeit hair-raising encounter with a winged creature. She described it as a rather large humanoid figure with powerful wings that were brown and majestic—this in an attempt to argue that she had seen an angel. But her description of it was more terrifying than comforting.
Of course, I dismissed the woman’s tall tale as a mere flight of fancy. But there was something about how the story made me feel that was odd.
Another person who called into the show was a truck driver who claimed that, while in the middle of a long haul, he saw something that frightened him. My memory is a little shaky on this one, but I recall it having to do with another motorist on the road who seemed to torment the trucker by appearing and reappearing in seemingly impossible ways and for a significant length of the trip.
Whether or not there was any truth to these stories is not what’s in question here. It’s what happened afterwards that leads me to believe that my grandmother may have been right.
In my peripheral vision, I saw a dark mist form from the ground up, and when I slowly turned to get a better look, it slowly dissolved. So I rubbed my eyes and convinced myself that what I saw was purely suggestive; after all, I was just listening to a creepy radio show. It wasn’t until I heard a voice whisper in my ear that I bolted.
I don’t know exactly what the voice said, but to this day I can still feel its breath near my right ear. Suffice it to say, I’ve since worked late only when I’ve had to, and I always make sure that someone is with me. Even then, bizarre incidents have continued to occur.
But that’s for next Halloween.