Riding With the Ghost of John Dillinger
Have you ever been alone in a darkened room and a strange and anxious sense of foreboding overcame you? Did your spine tingle as you crossed the threshold? Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe the dead can speak to the living? You should.
Tales of the haunted abound. They're everywhere; they surround us; they know us. Restless spirits seem to have infested our presence no matter where we try to run or hide. What are they trying to tell us? What do they want? Are they simply echoes, a kind of resonance from the afterlife, the last sound of a soul as it departs this earth? Or is it something else, something more menacing? Could these be lost souls searching for a warm body...your body?
The Victory Kingpin proved a worthy ghost-busting companion. It feared nothing, handled all circumstances skillfully and transported me stylishly from one macabre destination to the next.
Arizona was conceived in blood and lawlessness and settled by an especially violent and desperate bunch. Cutthroat mining camps grew to raucous ramshackle towns where human life was less valuable than the going rate of silver. Whether the call came from Indian and cattle range wars, claim jumping, crimes of passion, murderous greed, or cruel frontier justice, Death relentlessly rode the purple sage.
And so shall we. We will retrace the ghastly trail of the mortally brokenhearted, the murdered and massacred, and the reluctant souls who eternally await justice or redemption. Many accounts from credible witnesses describe messages and apparitions from the other side, a border we will all someday cross.
It was fitting to do some ghost hunting on a motorcycle. What better way to chase the afterlife? After all, we tempt Death with each ride, using courage and instinct, ability and experience to deny him his bounty. One way to cheat Grim Reaper is to take dead aim at his black heart, to dare him to fight you, to lure him out of his wretched shadows. Yes, this was a dangerous game.
Bikers do not shrink from adventure; they embrace it, they revel in it. They ride hard into the unknown. Life is felt most on the teetering edge; we just don't like to think about falling and the tormented demons awaiting us below.
Virtually every old, creaky house and each historic and worn hotel have reported phenomena that defy science and sense. They document a paranormal series of peculiar events that have no reasonable, natural explanation. Investigators cannot explain the supernatural, but they can record it. Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) or if you will, voices from the grave, have been recorded for years while scores of unstable, cadaverous shapes have been photographed and cataloged as inconclusive evidence of the spirits who somehow dwell intimately with us. They have always been there, say paranormal investigators, and now we have the technology to not only detect the dearly departed, but communicate with them.
As you step through an aging doorway, are you simply entering an old house or darkened room, or have you breached the boundary cut through time by the dead? Have you just been welcomed, unknowingly, into the home of lost souls hungering for a warmth and nourishment of a living body?
Prescott, Arizona, once the territorial capital, was my first exit off the Haunted Highway. The Hotel Vendome was built in 1917. It is a warm and welcoming property off the city's Courthouse Plaza, which has gained notoriety for being home not only to the town's City Hall but a convenient lineup of bodacious 19th century saloons called Whiskey Row.