Your calendar editor is on the second floor of the Spaghetti Warehouse, pointing an EMF meter at an urn cabinet, allegedly haunted by the spirits of dead children. The device registers electromagnetic fields produced by anything electronic and, according to the guides of the High Spirits ghost tour, paranormal. Indeed, the meter's squealing like a monkey. Are those damned kids causing this? As we walk into the room behind the cabinet, the meter's still squawking as we pass the coffeemaker and circuit breaker box. When we finally look up, we're standing in the kitchen, staring into the perplexed face of a dish washer.
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"You want to see the elevator?" she asks, and leads us to the shaft where the owner of a pharmaceutical company supposedly plummeted to his death before devoting his afterlife to rearranging silverware. Inside the elevator, the needle drops to half. "You looking for bugs?" another employee asks.
The brains behind the spooky tour of "active" haunted hot spots are KBME-AM DJ Scott Arthur and Sandy Webb, who has done everything from scriptwriting to stunt work in bad horror films. The tour is a result of conversations Webb continues to have with the decidedly dead actor Will Sampson (1987), best known for his role as the mute Indian who broke through the asylum window in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. The two were good friends in life, and apparently death, and this sightseeing venture is dedicated to his memory. Nonetheless, this is an upbeat affair. Between locations, Webb and Arthur crack vaudevillian-style jokes as they show video testimonials. We see photographic evidence of things with scientific-sounding names like light orbs, which are similar to lens flares, or neon vortexes, which are not too different from the streaks you get from swinging a flashlight in front of a camera with a slow shutter speed.
The High Spirits haunted bus tour
Thursday through Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. $29.95. For more information, call (713)22-HAUNT.
Our last stop is The Ale House, haunted by the ghost known as Maggie, a girl who died when the place was a brothel. Part-time paranormal investigator Pete Haviland pauses during his presentation to warn a woman standing in back of "The Captain," another ghost known to pinch women's bottoms near the bar. "Why do you think I'm standing here?" she says. To demonstrate his method of distinguishing true paranormal activity from everyday oddities, Haviland hands us a photograph of a glare on the upstairs wall. "I know what you're thinking -- there's a lot of windows and glass and stuff that could shine light, but then we noticed the light bends," he says, pausing for effect. "We thought that was strange, so that's Maggie." Lest we're still skeptical, he shows us the remote-control car he has videotaped moving under its own power. "I had the servos in my hand," he says.
Right now, your calendar editor is more interested in the new EMF meter we've been given to find ghosts to photograph. (They suggest using the more light- sensitive 400- to 800-speed film.) We wander the bar's upstairs, searching for a place that doesn't make the meter scream. Frustrated, your calendar editor lets go of the button, but it remains depressed, leaving the shrill shriek of the meter that sends a cold chill up our spine.