Posted 12 July 2013 - 07:29 PM
Does my bed shake? It did a week and a day ago! I went down to Old Town San Diego for a few days around Independence Day, and stayed at the historic Cosmopolitan Hotel “on site” in the Old Town State Historical Park. Two of the hotel rooms—7 and 11—are supposedly haunted; but I had no apprehensions as I was in room 9.
On the day I arrived, I was a bit weary from the hustle and bustle of travel, and so retired a bit early, perhaps around 9. The area is quiet, as the Plaza shuts down around dusk, only the several restaurants edging the Plaza staying open later, and the surrounding streets, within the historical area, are pedestrian only. I propped myself up in bed, and read Don Quixote for an hour or so—very pleasant reading, and I reflected that it was a book which the 1820s-1830s-etc. residents of Old Town could well have read themselves. At length, my reading light on the nightstand began to flicker, which often happens when old lamps become overheated (the room was furnished in 1870s style), and I thought it was just as well to spare my eyes further exertions after a long day, so switched off the light, and started thinking over the events of the day, and my plans for the morrow. Suddenly my mattress began to shake. “Earthquake!”, thought I, with a smile; and I turned my eyes up to the chandelier hanging over the bed, which I had left on dimly as a sort of night-light. No movement whatsoever; but my mattress continued to shake. Intrigued, I then looked at the lacey curtains in the room, light enough that anything could stir them. Again, no movement whatsoever. “Most curious,” I thought, and lay back calmly, awaiting what might happen. After about twenty seconds, the shaking—much more than a vibration, rather the degree of shaking one would use to shake a pan of popcorn one was popping—suddenly stopped for about five seconds, then began again, just the same. I thought, “That’s just the amount of time a person would pause to see another person’s reaction [to the shaking, I meant].” I’m phlegmatic, as I always have been. I don’t panic. I just sit back and start analyzing. Again, the recommenced shaking lasted about twenty seconds—the shaking was steady, no variation, no “fade in” or “fade out,” then paused again for about five seconds, then started again for perhaps ten seconds, then ceased. I thought for a moment, then said, “Ghost, show yourself,” without result. I shrugged, but decided to put my hearing aids and glasses, which I had lain on the top of the nightstand, inside the nightstand drawer, so that any possible ghostly hijinks wouldn’t knock them onto the floor for me to step on, or such. And then I went to sleep. On awakening the next morning, I found that, though I thought I had slept well, the bedclothes were all tossed and twisted about. My glasses and hearing aids were safe in the drawer; and I proceeded with my day, which was July 4. The maid came by early, and, just making miscellaneous conversation, not really thinking about my experience, I asked whether the place was haunted, and if she had seen anything in her service at the hotel. “Oh, yes!” she said, citing footsteps where there was nobody, flickering lights, floorboards creaking, hearing someone in the next stall in the staff restroom when there was no one there. But I didn’t mention my experience with the shaking bed; somehow it didn’t seem quite proper to be talking about the bed with the maid.
Nothing further happened the subsequent nights. To address the attempted explanations given by those I have talked to: Earthquake: Why would an earthquake move nothing but the mattress? And I should point out that not even the (squeaky) bed-frame moved; only the mattress. The steady nature of the shaking was not like what one experiences in an earthquake, something I have experienced many times. Passing trucks: The nearest street on which motor vehicles could go was a block away; and it was a small street, not one which accommodated big commercial trucks. Also, the fact that this only happened about 10 p.m. on one night would make one wonder why, over three days, only one truck would pass. Passing train: True enough, the train tracks were only perhaps a quarter of a mile away; but again, the trains—very noisily—were passing all the time day and night, with this occurrence only happening over the course of one minute or so one night. And, for truck or train, if their effect were enough to shake my mattress, how could nothing else be shaken? And the pattern of shaking was not consistent with the effect of passing vehicles. Dreaming: I had only turned out the light a moment before; the shaking began almost immediately; at once after the shaking, I moved my glasses and hearing aids into the drawer, which was no dream as that’s where they were in the morning (and it’s I think the only time I have put them in a drawer in my whole life). Hotel machinery: I was at a corner of the hotel, with my room jutting out, free on three sides of the rest of the building; below was the empty large dining room; the elevator and a/c master unit were at the opposite end of the building; and why would such regularly-used machinery only affect my room (and indeed only the mattress) once? Drunk or having delirium tremens: No, not me. Magic Fingers: Not present, nothing to put a quarter into. Mute bed-partner shivering because I had taken all the covers, and dying of cold exposure within a minute, the body dissipating into thin air before morning: No, as it happens I was unaccompanied. Shameless lying: Well, though this is always a possibility, I asseverate that this is not the case.
Taking it as a ghost—I’m dubious, but no satisfactory explanation has come forward—I didn’t feel threatened at all, only as if something wished to make its presence known, and perhaps turned to bed shaking when I turned out the light and deprived it of doing its flickering light routine. Perhaps it was Juan Bandini, who originally built the adobe which forms the kernel of the hotel back in the early Mexican days of old California. I understand that he was of a lively and playful disposition. Perhaps he wanted me to read Don Quixote out loud to him . . .