She Had No Face

threegirls

 A few years ago my friend and I went on a ghost tour of Seattle.

One of the stories has stayed with me, not because it was creepy or scary.

It has stayed with me because it is such a tragic event.

In the story a woman checks into a nice hotel, with no luggage and no wedding ring- in those days I guess nice women didn’t visit nice hotels with no luggage. She told the Clerk that her luggage was on its way, would he please let her into her room so she could get some rest?

She had been traveling for so long, so the story goes.

A few hours later the woman’s luggage did show up and when they took it up to her they found her dead on her bed.

The room was undisturbed, nothing out-of-place. It looked like she had walked in, laid down on the bed and died.

Of course she just didn’t just die- she had committed suicide and she had used cyanide to do it.

Nobody was ever able to trace where the cyanide could have come from, her luggage gave no clues to her identity. There were no personal effects in them. She had, it appeared, taken great care to establish a new identity and she was so good at it that  over 50 years later it’s the only ID she is known by:

Jane Doe.

Jane Doe came back to haunt me, in her subtle way when I was watching a show about ghosts and came across a story from the 1800’s  about a husband and wife who arrived on a mysterious ship. The woman was ill when she arrived and her condition worsened as the days went on.

When she died her husband swore the people around them to secrecy. He asked that they never reveal their identities and they never did.

And the only story I can offer here is from my own travels.

One Summer I left work early and decided to take a side trip.

I wanted to poke around in one of those abandoned buildings I had seen while driving to an out of the way Doctor’s Office to get a Death certificate signed.

It was a little hotel- I think at one time it had been painted white with blue trim which I suppose was supposed to give it a seaside resort feel, but this hotel was inland and the closest body of water was a lake about 40 miles away.

Well.

I pulled in, got out and went to the room I had parked in front of. That way I figured, if I had to leave quicly my car would be right there. Not that I expected any trouble of course.

The door wasn’t locked. In fact, the door almost fell in when I turned the knob and went in. The only furniture in that room was a little nightstand sitting where a bed used to be. To the right of the night stand was a bathroom door.

It was shut.

I went over, put my hand on the knob when I looked down on the table and there was a pink rat tail comb, a tube of lipstick and a handful of bobby pins. They were covered with dirt and mold and looked like they had been here for a very long time.

I looked around the room.

There was nothing in that room but dirt and that little table and what was on top of it.

Without thinking I turned the knob…and it wasn’t locked.

It was stuck.

The knob wouldn’t even turn.

” I’m sorry, ” I called out ” I think I’m in the wrong room.”

I backed away from the door and as I did I thought I smelled perfume.

I think what unsettles me about these stories is not that these women were nameless, its as if they had no faces.

I wonder if they ever did.

Jane Doe

 

RESOURCES:

Tomb Of A Female Stranger

The Stranger

The Story Of The Female Stranger

The Ghost Of The Female Stranger

HAUNTED HOTELS:

Top Ten Haunted Hotels of The United States

Haunted Hotels, Inns and Castles

Washington State Ghost Towns

They Left Them There

hospitalx

Photograph(s) copyright Shaun O’Boyle

 

Mia and Akela were sitting on a park bench just across the street from the Lander House and they saw the camera crews and the ghost hunters and the famous Medium, Mr Newport doing whatever it was one does to get ready to tape a tv show.

” I think Mr Newport is so debonair.” Mia sighed. ” I wish I lived in a haunted house. I would love to have him sit across from me and take my hand in his and help me bring light to the dark places that haunt us all”

” The where? Are you serious here Mia?  He’s a ghost hunter. Tell me. What does one do with a ghost they’ve hunted?”

” How should I know?”

” Well. You’re such a fan. So take a stab at it. Do they cut their heads off and nail them to a wall? Turn them into rugs or belts or umbrella stands? All hunters take trophies Mia. It’s the nature of the beast.”

” You have no Soul Akela. None. You could travel around the world and end up sitting on this park bench across the street from that awful building and still wonder if Becks still makes strawberry milkshakes with fresh strawberries and not frozen.”

” Becks makes the best strawberry milkshakes Mia.”

” Well. I don’t care what you say. Mr Newport is my favorite TV star. I think he really believes in what he’s doing and he helps people Akela. What’s wrong with that? Look. It’s not like he’s actually hurting anyone. I mean. Seriously. He can’t, can he now?”

” He certainly cannot.”

” I’m glad you agree with me.”

” I’m not agreeing with you, I’m stating a fact. ” Akela told Mia.

” I just don’t understand why you hate him so.”

” I hate him, ” Akela said for the hundredth time that month, ” because he’s vain and stupid and that accent of his has got to be fake. That’s the worst. That stupid accent. I mean, he doesn’t even try to be convincing. He has got to be the worst actor on the face of the earth and he must have a million fans. How does something like that happen?”

Mia shrugged and looked away from Akela.

” Mia. This guy is so bad. Look over there. The Lander House. The Infamous Hospital where the story says  the staff disappeared and the patients were all found murdered in their beds and instead of taking all those dead people to a cemetery they buried them on the grounds behind the hospital because there was so little left of the bodies to bury. Why Mia did he chose the Lander House to look for ghosts?”

” Because it was the scene of a terrible tragedy and sometimes tragic events imprint themselves onto things in the physical world and they get replayed over and over again.”

” You got that from the tv show, didn’t you?”

” So?”

” So the Lander House wasn’t the hospital, The Prefontaine Hotel-” Akela pointed to a large brick building behind them ” was the hospital where the staff did disappear and twenty patients died and they were buried on the grounds because the Prefontaine was a charity hospital and in the old days that’s what they did to people who died there. The only weird thing was them turning it into a Hotel. Still.  Do you know who gets that history wrong? Historians and Ghost Hunters- and do you know who duped them into looking at the wrong building? The Developers that turned the Hospital into a hotel.”

”  Well. The Lander House was a hospital and I’m sure there are ghosts there.”

” Mia, there isn’t a single one. It’s just a building with a bunch of junk in the halls and paint peeling off of the walls. That’s it.”

” Well. I think Mr. Newport’s heart is in the right place. I think he really does want to understand the next world. I can see it in his eyes.”

” Oh Geeze.”

” Mia, I don’t care that he’s never actually seen a real ghost or been to a real haunted house or that he’s got a silly accent. He wants to find those things. He’s a true romantic.”

“Well. He’s not going to find them over there. That’s for sure. And if you and me went over there right now and told them that boring brick building across the street was the…”

” Hotbed of paranormal activity.”

Akela took a deep breath and ignored that last comment from her friend. ” real scene a terrible tragedy and mystery they wouldn’t care because that…” she pointed to the Lander House ” looks better on film than that…” she said waving her hand at the Prefontaine.

” He could be sensing something at the Lander.”

” No, he isn’t.”

” Well. He’s not going to sense anything at the Prefontaine either.”

” No kidding.”

” Poor Mr. Newport.” Mia said.

” I wonder what his real name is.” Akela asked.

Before Mia could answer they saw a woman from the Ghost Hunter crew pointing towards them and then she waved at them and crossed the street to where they were.

” Hi, nice afternoon isn’t it?” the young woman held her hand out and said ” my name is Lissy Peterman, I’m with the crew.”

Akela kept her arms folded across her chest and Mia said:

” I love your show.”

“Wow.  Thank you. We appreciate that.  I was wondering if you ladies would like to be in one of our interview segments.”

Akela told Lissy Peterman, ” there aren’t any ghosts over there  you know.”

“I think there are. ” Mia added.

” Well, if you know any background about the Lander- we’d love to hear your stories.”

Akela looked at Mia.

” Okay. Sure. Why not ” Akela said. ” We’ve got the time.”

Mia stood up first and smoothed her white Nurses Uniform with her pale hands and as Akela did the same  she whispered into Akela’s ear ” take it back.”

” Hey. There aren’t any ghosts at the Lander….yet.”