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In a couple weeks I might be driving through the spookiest city I’ve ever been to in America called Bakers, California.

A few years ago, Cory and I spent time in Las Vegas–notoriously known as the Breakfast Bandits around the country because we would always crash complimentary breakfasts at hotels we didn’t stay at.

Cory and I lived out of my Chrysler Sebring

Cory and I lived out of my Chrysler Sebring

After a few weeks of playing poker for 12 hours a day, surviving off free casino food from building players points, showering in hotel pool accommodations, and getting kicked out of most major hotel parking decks for sleeping in my Chrysler Sebring, the Breakfast Bandits impulsively left town at 2am on a Friday night.

Our destination was Los Angeles. I had half a tank and I said, “Let’s fill up on the next exit to avoid paying these Las Vegas strip gas prices.”

The problem we soon discovered was that there was no next exit in the middle of the desert. Our closest city was 84 miles away in a town I had never heard of called Bakers.

To explain Bakers in hindsight–you take the Bakers exit, continue down that same road through the whole town of a few restaurants, gas stations, and mobile homes, then the same road turns into the entrance ramp to get back onto the expressway. It’s literally a one-road town.

It’s late and the first gas station is closed, but luckily the pumps still work with a credit card and we fill up. We drive 20 feet down the road and see a Denny’s Restaurant next to a closed BP gas station. It’s about 3:30am.

Adventure Paul: “Do you want to stop and eat something? This might be the last place to eat before Los Angeles for all we know.”

Cory: “Yeah sure.”

We walk inside an empty restaurant–there is one waitress and one cook who are talking by the register. The waitress greets us warmly and shows us to a table. Cory and I both order raspberry iced tea to drink and I forget what to eat. Knowing me it was probably a Moons over My Hammy.

The meal is fine–nothing abnormal–the waitress is friendly and fills our Nalgene bottles with raspberry iced tea for the road. I wait at the table looking over a map while Cory goes to the bathroom.

While he’s gone, I have a horrible vivid day-dream. The image in my head was so real, it might as well have been happening right in front of me.

Understand before I tell you what went through my head–I am not a sadistic person. The worst case scenario is rarely the first thing to pop into my mind. I don’t even watch horror movies because I prefer comedies.

As Cory is in the bathroom, the following goes through my head:

I imagine that I cut both my wrists with the knife on the table. Blood is pouring from my veins as Cory walks out of the bathroom. I look at him, as I’m dying, and say, “Get out now.”

It’s very late–we hadn’t slept much in weeks. Perhaps the Vegas lights corrupted my brain a little. What a weird thought to have, but I let it go and say nothing to Cory.

Now I have to use the bathroom before we leave.

I enter the restroom and stand at the center urinal. While doing my business I have a feeling that there are other men in the bathroom with me. I can’t see them, but I feel four guys around me.

Three of them are in the center of the bathroom–one guy is resting on a knee, the other two are standing around him. The fourth is leaning against the wall right next to me. Something’s up.

I walk back into the dining area and see that a couple had entered the restaurant and the waitress was taking their order. I approach her and say, “Excuse me… can I ask you a question? What’s the deal with this town? Is there something special about it?”

Cory finds us as we stand and talk a few feet away from the couple’s table.

“Well this town is called Bakers. It’s just a small town. Most people who work around here live right around here too.”

Adventure Paul: “Okay, well is there anything strange about this city?”

Waitress: “No, not really.”

Adventure Paul: “Like, was this place once an Indian burial ground? Did any big disasters happen here?”

She looks at me concerned and asks that we step into the other room by the front entrance away from the other table. Cory is looking at me like I’m insane.

“Be honest with me,” she says. “Why are you asking me all this?”

“Well, I was in the bathroom and I felt like there were four other guys in there with me.. but it was empty.” I also told her about the horrible thought that entered my head while Cory was in the restroom and explained how thinking something of that nature is out of character for me.

The waitress takes a deep breath. Her eyes haven’t lost contact with mine since we entered the front room.

“What you’re feeling isn’t wrong. Last night the sheriff got into a confrontation with four men at the gas station next door. They were all in their twenties… He shot and killed all four men.”

My skin is covered in goosebumps as she tells me this.

I look at her with the utmost sincerity and I say, “They aren’t the only ghosts in this building. There is another one in this room and he’s mad we’re talking to you.”

This woman looks at me like she’s been waiting a lifetime for someone to understand. “You’re absolutely right. The person you’re feeling right now is in love with me and doesn’t like when other men speak to me.”

She pauses.. “He’s actually the reason my husband left me six years ago. My husband just couldn’t take it anymore.”

I assume she was referring to images her husband must have been seeing, probably similar to the one I had earlier. I realized that I had been really friendly and jovial with the waitress while we were eating and this ghost did not like that.

Cory is ready to go. I am too at this point. I feel more unusual than scared but I am certainly freaked out.

We get into my car and see a big white van parked across from us–the headlights are facing my car. Although this van might have gone unnoticed on a different night, it was enough to send us peeling out of the parking lot and back on the interstate to L.A.

It takes a full hour for my heart to stop racing and for Cory to pass out in the passenger seat. He wakes up the next morning in a hotel parking lot across from Disney Land in Anaheim CA.

The Breakfast Bandits at Disney Land in Anaheim CA

The Breakfast Bandits at Disney Land in Anaheim CA

Two years later…

Cory and I now live together in an apartment in downtown Asheville NC. I had just returned to Asheville after traveling for over a year.

Cory goes to college during the week and works part-time for a spiritual healer named Marcia.

He comes home from work one day and tells me how Marcia felt a spiritual being attached to him. She had performed a healing on him to remove the foreign presence.

She thinks it was tied to the experience in Bakers CA from several years earlier and would like to see me as well.

A week later I get a call.

“Paul, this is Marcia. I’m calling to tell you what happened last night. It might be a little strange to you but I need to tell you.”

“Okay,” I say, “what happened?”

“I visited you last night while you were sleeping without your permission and I apologize. But when I got there, I found a brown octopus attached to your soul. I tried to remove it, but the presence had taken over and doing so would have killed you.”

“Okay..”

“Do I have your permission to visit you again in the near future and do some work on you?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. I’ll let you know what happens.”

“Thank you Marcia. Have a nice day.”

Two weeks go by and I forget about the strange phone call.

At the time I was building a new internet-based business and my schedule was the same every day. I woke up at 8am (naturally, without an alarm clock), walked into my home-office, sat on my computer, and remained there for the rest of the day and night building content, designing, and programming my new website.

My phone rings–it’s Marcia.

“Hello Paul?”

“Yes, hello Marcia, how are you doing?”

“I’m doing well thank you. I am calling to tell you what happened last night. I tried again to remove that brown octopus from your soul but it was still too powerful so here’s what I did.. I called in all your guardian angels and removed the octopus anyway. Doing so killed you, but your guardian angels and myself were able to bring you back to life, and we removed the presence from you. If you feel under-the-weather for a couple days, I just wanted to explain why.”

“…..”

“Paul?”

I had slept till 3pm that day.

* * * * * * * * *

The above story is completely true and accurate. I allowed myself no poetic licensing in recounting this experience to you because what actually happened is a story enough in itself.

I don’t know if you believe me, and with no-disrespect intended, I don’t care.

If you were Adventure Paul–would you revisit Bakers CA on your way to Los Angeles in a couple weeks? Or would you drive 8 hours out of the way to avoid this area all together? The adventurer in me just can’t decide.

Update 3/2/2011: For Part 2 of this story, read A Ghost Story in Bakers CA: Party 2 – Chicano David

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