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 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.
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.