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The winter of 98, I was on a project in Colorado Springs with a very diverse group of colleagues, some I was meeting for the first time. It was my first time in this city and I found it refreshing with beautiful mountains and, of course, it was snowing when I arrived.
The Corporate Apartments were mind-blowing; a brand new complex atop a bluff where at night you could look down on the City. On this project, we had roommates because all the apartments were huge two bedrooms. My roommate Eileen I knew from a previous project and we were compatible, no drama there. As I was unpacking in my bedroom, I felt a strange sensation like that of someone whispering in my ear… I shook it off.
We were located in a large conference room at the Client Site and I found the atmosphere to be disorganized and unruly, but I went with the flow like I always do. One person stood out, Vonnie Q. Jones, who was from Brooklyn, NY; very boisterous and loud, she kinda scared me and I steered clear of her. One afternoon, Eileen and I returned from lunch to see Vonnie had one of the guys in a headlock and would not let go. The big guy could not move his face, turning bright red.
Shocked, all Eileen and I could do was stare.
Vonnie let him loose once he started gasping for air.
“He bet me I couldn’t do it.” Vonnie dusted off her hands and sauntered to her desk. The embarrassed guy bolted from the room, never to return.
One afternoon, Vonnie needed a ride back to the apartments, so she hopped in the car with us… it was my turn to drive and the road was very winding and curvy; so of course, I slowed for the curves. Vonnie was a backseat driver and kept yapping about how slow I was driving. I ignored the first two insults about my driving, but when she piped up a third time, I’d had it.
I pulled over and screeched to a stop, “You in the back, get out!” Eileen’s eyes were big.
Vonnie, at first, did not respond.
“I mean it, get out now!”
“I didn’t mean nutun.” Vonnie exclaimed, taken aback, her Brooklyn accent getting on my last nerve.
“Okay, then be quiet for the rest of the ride.” The next 20 minutes, it was silent except for the radio. To this day, she and I laugh about that. That and the fact she almost burned down a corporate apartment trying to fry some chicken, which was why she was moved to our complex.
Vonnie and Eileen hit if off because they both loved to gamble and there was a casino in the nearby city of Cripple Creek shades of The Band…neither Eileen NOR Vonnie knew the song and failed to see my humor about it, so I had to school them, of course. Every weekend they headed to Cripple Creek while I was content to stay in town and either shop or try the local restaurants. One weekend, I heard on the radio that a big snow storm was expected. I warned the Cripple Creek Twins, but they didn’t listen… one of the biggest storms in Colorado history happened just as predicted, and the two were snowed in up on Cripple Creek, and even missed a day of work.
“Up on Cripple Creek she sends me
If I spring a leak she mends me
I don't have to speak she defends me
A drunkard's dream if I ever did see one”
In the meantime, I was not sleeping well and sleep had always been therapeutic for me. One night, I was sleeping soundly and the whispering in my ear started up… so faint, but the more you paid attention, it got a little louder… creepy. I’ve always been a light sleeper, and it didn’t take much to awaken me… something touched me, felt like fingers caressing my neck. I sat straight up in bed, my heart beating a mile a minute. I leapt to the light switch on the wall and looked around the room as it actually felt like "someone" was in the room with me. I was alone in the apartment, breathing hard, and it took a minute to calm myself. I must have complete darkness in my bedroom, but this night, I slept with the light on all night.
That weekend I flew home for my week rotation and saw my physician about my problem sleeping. She gave me a prescription for sleeping pills and cautioned me if the problem continued to come back; she knew I traveled with my job. I also told Mama about my experience in the corporate apartment. Mama did not play around with spirits; and being of Chickasaw Native American Heritage, suggested that maybe there might be an Indian Burial Ground nearby.
My week at home flew by and Eileen picked me up at the airport. I asked how things had been and she caught me up. I told her I got a prescription for sleeping pills and that I had trouble sleeping in the corporate apartment. I then shared my experience with her.
She turned the wheel sharply and pulled the car over to stop.
“Me too! I was afraid to say anything, didn’t want you to think I was weird.” She confessed. “I was afraid to stay in the apartment by myself so Vonnie slept on the couch while you were gone.”
I waited to hear more.
“Vonnie said she couldn’t sleep either.”
If the bodacious Vonnie was affected, I knew something spooky was definitely happening, and I was going to get to the bottom of it.
After I unpacked, my first stop was the Management Office. I was greeted by a pleasant, middle-aged lady with glasses and a pixie haircut. I sat down across from her desk and identified myself, stating I occupied Apartment 127. Immediately, her eyes narrowed.
“I was wondering if you have received any prior complaints about my apartment.”
Her eyes darted around and she squirmed in her chair.
“I believe you are the first occupant… these are brand new apartments.” Let me check.” She pulled up a screen on her computer. “No, my mistake, there was one occupant before you.”
“They were University Students from Europe and only stayed for one week, although they’d rented the apartment for one year.” She cleared her throat.
“They opted out of their lease because they said there was ‘something’ in the apartment that was scaring them.”
The lady looked uncomfortable and fidgeted nervously.
I sat forward and looked her directly in the eyes.
“Is this complex built near or on an Indian Burial Ground?”
The woman wrung her hands and stared at me.
“You didn’t hear it from me, but yes. The developers knew, but didn’t care or respect this site.”
I stood and said, “Right, I never heard it from you, but I predict your greedy developers will be hearing from the Spirits and Ancestors.” I walked out of the office and went to the car.
I drove to a little incense stand that I’d seen on my outings. The young Native American man behind the register assisted me with the purchase of Sage. He asked me why I needed it and I explained everything to him.
“Yes, everyone knows what they did, but no one talks about it… that whole complex is built over a Sacred Ute Burial Ground and the Ancestors are not happy and will take their revenge soon enough. Be glad you’re not a permanent resident.” He handed me my purchase.
I blessed the apartment with the Sage and made my peace with the Ancestors. There was a feeling of calmness then, but I still felt their presence… after all, we were invaders to their final resting place.
Our project ended and we were all assigned on other projects in other states; and just like the young Native American predicted, that beautiful complex was beset with all kinds of problems from plumbing pipes throughout exploding for no reason to floors and ceilings cracking open AND the complex itself appeared to be sinking into the bluff.
Respect the Ancestors.