A Stormy Night at the Courier Inn - Audio Stories

So many people died in the Great Galveston Storm of 1900, there was not enough time nor manpower to bury them all.  Within days, the victims were piled like cordwood onto barges for a quick burial at sea.  However, the currents in the Gulf of Mexico are so strong that many of the bodies wash back onto Galveston Island and other Texas beaches.  Some books, about the Great Galveston Storm, claim that for several weeks pyres of bodies could be seen burning on Texas beaches day and night.  When found, many of the dead, were still tightly clinging to each other for support (the support that had failed them in Life).

This is Audio Stories with J.B. Simien and this is the story of "A Stormy Night at the Courier Inn.  Please visit www.jbsimien.com to download this and other Audio Stories for later consumption.  Also, please show you support for this show by purchasing a copy of my latest book Paranormal Mystery from Amazon. There are links in the story notes. Now our story.

Galveston Island was originally inhabited by members of the Karankawa (Car-Ran-Cow-Waa) and Akokisa (Ahh-Coke-kesh-Shaw) tribes who used the name "Auia" (A-OO-I-A) for the island."  The first Spanish settlements begin on the island in 1816.  The Port of Galveston was established in 1825 by the Congress of Mexico (not long after Mexico won its freedom from Spain).  When Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836, the city became the capital of the Republic of Texas.  From 1836 through 1900, Galveston was a city built upon international trade.  When the Republic of Texas joined the United States in 1845, Galveston, became one of the busiest seaports in the United States.  It was a prime commercial center, Texas' largest city and the home of the wealthiest citizens in Texas.

At the start of September 8, 1900, Galveston, Texas had a population of 36,000 people.  At its highest point, the city measured nine feet (three meters) above sea level.  That elevation trivia is important because, on September 8, 1900, Galveston was completely destroyed by a category four hurricane.  The hurricane caused a 20 foot (seven meter) surge of sea water (driven by 145 miles per hour winds) to washed over the island and destroy everything along its path.  It's estimated by historians that up to 12,000 people were killed by the storm.  By mid-month September 1900, the city existed only in name.  In the United States, that Storm still holds an infamous record for the largest loss of human life by a weather event on a single day. 

The City of Galveston eventually rebuilt and erected a protective seawall.  However, it never recovered as a major population center.  In the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, it became known as "Sin City on the Gulf." It was a major tourist destination for illegal gambling and prostitution.  In the 1950s, those illegal businesses were closed by a wave of social conservativism that grabbed Texas and the United States.  When those illegal businesses closed, tourism and the economy died in Galveston.  In the 1960s, the economy recovered when the city re-emerged as a tourist destination.  This time the attraction became history, historical buildings, and beaches.

Very few buildings survived the Great Galveston storm.  It is in one of those surviving buildings, in The Strand District, that the Courier Inn (my hotel) is located.  Originally, the hotel was built in the antebellum days of the old south.  Outwardly, it appears to be unchanged and well preserved.  However, that is deceptive.  Inside, it has all the modern conveniences of a first class hotel.  The original name of the hotel was "The Grammar."  That hotel is legendary in Texas for its service and for its infamous owner Dr. Gunderson Tibbets.

Tibbets was said to have departed New Orleans a few hours ahead of a lynch mob (in 1889).  Those who claim to know him in New Orleans and later in Galveston said that when he departed New Orleans he was Thomas Herbert a nearly white creole barber.  When he arrived in Galveston, he was Dr. Gunderson Tibbets (alumni Harvard University).  In that one voyage, he gains a new profession, a prestigious education, a different name and a new racial identity.

Tibbets established a lucrative medical practice.  He also managed to acquire several state contracts that eventually made him and his supporter's very wealthy men.  It is said that Tibbets was not a good doctor but he was a hell of a business man.  For almost a decade he earned a fantastic living off of the state of Texas.  Then in 1898, he backed the wrong political allies and he lost his state contracts.

When the money was flowing from Tibbets businesses, the first property of importance he purchased was "The Grammar" hotel.  He lived in a suite on the third floor and he operated his medical practice and businesses from an office in the lobby.  Under his guidance, that hotel became the gathering spot for wealthy Texans and international visitors to Galveston.  On the night of the storm, September 8, 1900, the three-story hotel was fill to capacity and the lobby was packed with hundreds of refugees from the storm.  There were more people seeking refuge than could be safely accommodated. 

All the glass windows in the hotel were shattered by the force of the wind and motion of the building.  Since the storm came on unexpectedly, there had not been time to place wooden planks across the windows and doors.  The wind, the rain, and the sea came whipping through the now open windows and doors.  No ones voice could be heard above shouting.  Everything and everyone was soaked and the interior of the hotel was as dark as the night outside.  A few lamps illuminated parts of the interior.  When the crowd looked outside, no land could be seen (only ocean).  Galveston had become part of the Gulf of Mexico. People were crying, praying, begging and offering bribes to be saved.  Meanwhile, fish and sharks were swimming in the rising water among the desperate people.

The storm surge would eventually cause the first and then second floor to fill with sea water.  Survivors say Dr. Tibbets had earlier station trusted gunmen at the stairwells of the hotel to keep people who were not his paying guests, invited friends or hotel staff from accessing the second and third floor.  The men were instructed to kill if necessary. 

As the water level got higher, the hundreds of people still crowded onto the first floor panicked and attempted to force their way onto the higher floors.  The gunmen killed and wounded enough people to temporally calm the crowd.  The people begin drowning.  Everywhere there was screaming, curses and sounds of people dying. These end of life sounds could not be blocked by the noise of the storm.  The people on the higher floors listened to death claiming hundreds of souls on the first floor and prayed their time would not be soon.

On the first floor, any still living children were held above the rising water by their fathers and mothers.  Tibbets was begged to allow the remaining women and children still alive to be saved.  He refused.  He said that the upper floors couldnt hold any more people.  Physically, the building was swaying under the force of the surging sea water and the high wind.  If the motion continued to intensify, the building would collapse.  It seemed moving to the higher floors only delayed death by minutes or hours at best.  The city was now part of the Gulf of Mexico.  Only creatures who could breathe water were assured of survival that night.

The desperate situation caused the remaining people on the first floor to gained new courage.  They attempted to force their way once again to the next level but they were not successful.  The water level was now above the heads of the tallest men.  In under half an hour, hundreds of people were dead and the water was still rising.

It again became necessary for Tibbets to repeat that gruesome selection scene from the first floor as the rising sea level begin to consume the second floor.  The third floor was already packed beyond capacity.  No people from the second floor (guest nor staff) were allowed to move to the third floor.  Tibbets repositioned the armed men and himself to block access.  The hundreds of people on the second floor begged to be allowed onto the next floor. Some just accepted the coming of death and prayed, screamed, or remained silent until the end.  Some were killed by the gunmen.

It is estimated that the dead on the first and second-floor number more that than seven hundred people. After the storm passed, there were so many dead in Galveston that no one cared what had transpired at the Grammar Inn that night.  No one was put on trial for murder and, certainly, no one was praised for the decisions made by Tibbets.  The people of Galveston encouraged   Tibbets to find a new home. The Hotel was eventually rebuilt and reopen with a new owner and a new name "The Courier Inn."

"In September 2000, I was attending a business meeting in Houston, Texas.  I had some free time over the weekend.  So, I decided to visit Galveston to enjoy the beaches." Said Michael Gannon of Tacoma, Washington.  "I was given a haunted guide to Southeast Texas by one of my business associates because he knew that I enjoy staying in unique places.  That my thing."

The guide's writer recommended a stay at the Courier Inn.  She recommended the rooms on the third floor (preferably in stormy weather).  The guide promised that under the correct conditions a ghostly experience would be guaranteed.  She also, said that the hotel employed a holographic machine (purchased from and maintained by Disney Company) to ensure its guest experienced the legendary event for which the hotel is famous (when the conditions are not right). 

I have been interested in paranormal events since my first unexplained experience as a child.  In 1983, my two cousins Gene and Sue Gannon disappeared one night inside their home in Seattle when they were just kids.  For days my uncle and aunt could hear their voices calling for help in the hallway that connects the bedrooms.  Still, not they nor the police could find them. After two weeks, my uncle and aunt committed suicide when my cousins couldn't be heard anymore.  In 2013, the bodies of my cousins were found in the hallway of the house in which they had disappeared thirty years earlier.  They were still little kids.  An author named J.B. Simien wrote about the incident it in his book "Paranormal Mystery." It's on sale at Amazon.

Friday, my first night at the inn, I checked into a comfortable room on the third floor as recommended.  However, I was more interested in checking out the bar scene in Galveston that night.  I drank quite a bit of liquor. It was after two a.m. when I return to my room.  As soon as I laid my head on the pillow, I was asleep.  When I awoke the next day around eleven a.m., I didn't recall any paranormal incidents.  That afternoon, I hung out on the beach for a while then I checked out some of the city's historical venues.  Coincidentally, it was Saturday, September 8.  The one-hundredth year anniversary of the Great Galveston Storm.
Later that night, I decided to hang out at the Inn because of a sudden thunderstorm.  In Texas, thunderstorms are how Mother Nature cools off the countryside after a hot day.  They are very frequent on the Gulf Coast.   In the Inn's bar, I made the acquaintance of a local woman named Jennifer.  Texas women are so beautiful.  I'd like to pack her up and take her home.  We talked about the history of the city and the history of the hotel (as the storm got stronger).  At ten-thirty the Inn lost electrical power and switched to emergency lights.  Jennifer supplements her income by entertaining tourist like me.  For a reasonable fee, she accompanied me to my room.  

We had been in bed for almost an hour, vigorously, enjoying each other's company.  Then, for a short while, we were just quiet and resting for the next round.  That's when we both heard just below the noise of the storm the distant sound of distressed people.  They seemed to fill my room and fill the hallway.  They sounded very far away but at the same time all around us.  We could hear them praying, cursing and begging god to be spared. Then the room was suddenly filled with fireflies.  There were so many fireflies that they illuminated the darker room. Jennifer said that the hotel must have turned on the holographic machine to simulate the ghostly experience.  She had seen something like this before with other clients in the hotel but she thought this time it was more detailed and really very entertaining. 

I got out of bed.  Still nude, I put on a house coat.  I stuck my head out of the room door to discover where the sound and fireflies were originating.  I wanted to see how the machine did this cool holographic trick.  The hallway was filled with fireflies too and the distance sounds of desperate people dying in water.  I could see other guests were, also, peeking out of their doorways. The guy across from me asked, "Where is the noise and all these firefly's coming from?" Then we heard gunshots and everybody closed and locked their doors. 

Were we under terrorist attack? I thought. Jennifer said it was part of the show.  I called the front desk to see what was going on.  I told the desk clerk that we had heard gunshots coming from the hallway.  I also told him that there was fireflies and the sound of a crowd in the distance coming from the hallway and my room. The clerk replied calmly, "Sir, please don't worry, it's just our legendary ghosts.  They won't hurt you.  They don't even know you are there.  I asked if they were using the machine.  He replied, "The electrical power is out sir.  We can't use the machine while we are on emergency power."  The ghost's sounds you are hearing are real.  The fireflies are actually orbs (the souls of people who died in the hotel)."  I asked him to send somebody up. 

The bellhop didn't appear to be upset or surprised as he calmly said, "You needed something sir?" "Don't you hear and feel what's going on?" I asked him.  "Is this some kind of Hollywood special effects that the hotel employs to frighten guest?"  The bellhop told us that what we were hearing and experiencing is a type of paranormal recording that is imprinted on the building because of the tragic incident that happen there one-hundred years ago.  He called it a residual haunting.  The incident plays when conditions are just right.  Just what the guide book said.  The hotel is haunted.

Jenifer and I set nude in bed listening to the sound of the historic events unfolding one hundred years earlier.  She is very beautiful especially when reflected in the illumination of those orbs.  We tried to record the sounds and sights we were experiencing on our cell phones.  They didn't record anything.  We talked about those dying (no dead) people and the strangeness of hearing their deaths one hundred years later.  I thought about the choices that the people had made that night. For those that survived, it was just luck.  For those who died?  Well, no person has enough personal will to defeat death.  Also, I thought about Tibbets and the choices he makes to save his guest, friends, and staff.  Plus, the choices he makes to force other to accept their deaths.

The event lasted for about an hour and a half.  It ended with the passing of the storm.  Afterward, I was grateful to be alive.  Jenifer and I, happily, got back to our pleasure

That concludes the story of "A Stormy Night at the Courier Inn."  I hope you all have enjoyed it.  Please remember to visit www.jbsimien.com to download this and other Audio Stories for later consumption.  Don't forget to show you support for this show by purchasing a copy of my latest book Paranormal Mystery at Amazon.  The links are in the story notes. 

Thank you and take care.

Some Help from a Friend

People who know me will tell you that I am a practical person.  I'm not prone to romanticism.  If anything can be said of my personality it is this, I am predisposed to a fact-based life.  For the last ten years, I have been a police officer with the Seattle Police Department. Just two short years ago, I was promoted to Detective Sergeant with the Special Investigations Division.  As a detective, I am reluctant to delve into intangible ideas such as supernatural events connected with crimes.  Still, I can't deny what the facts reveal.  I was helped up the career ladder by a ghost.

Welcome, scholars to 2017.  This is Audio Stories with J.B. Simien and this is the story of "Some Help from a Friend." Please visit www.jbsimien.com if you would like to download this story for later consumption.  The 2016 season of Audio Stories is now complete and the stories have been compiled into an e-book called "Paranormal Mystery" available on Amazon.com.  There is a link in the show notes below.    I think you will enjoy the book.  Please purchase a copy and help me pay the Audio Stories bills.  Now, this is the story "Some Help from a Friend."

In 2014, I was a plain clothes patrol officer working out of the vice division.  Two important issues deeply concerned me at that time.  First, I wanted to earn a promotion to Detective Sergeant.  Second, I wanted to marry my girlfriend Paula Harlan.  However, I desired to be more advanced in my career before I asked Paula to marry me.  Paula is successful criminal attorney with several high profile case wins attributed to her skills.  She is paid sums of money I can only dream about.  Paula is on her way to a level of achievement I will never reach.  Though I knew Paula loved me and would marry me if I would just ask her, I didn't feel that we were equals.

I was not advancing in my career (as I preferred).  As an old fashion male, I wanted to be more successful than her.  I can see now that I was desperate to feel worthy of her.  Therefore, I was continually seeking opportunities to distinguish myself on my job.  Plus, I took online education courses to help pass the Sergeants Exam and volunteered for difficult assignments. I did everything I could do to get face time with my bosses.  It worked.  I begin to be notice and praise for my efforts.  Their remarks indicated that I was on track for promotion to Detective Sergeant.

On the last day of August, I was working the graveyard shift on a slow Saturday night.  I was patrolling alone in uniform in the Central District.  There was not much activity that night. Primarily, I was just wishing for something horrible to happen (so that I could get more face time with the bosses).  I had just pulled over at the Starbucks on Jackson and 23rd Street for a restroom and coffee break.

As I departed the vehicle, I was still dreaming of promotion, when I was startled by an older male voice calling from behind me, "Hello Officer Terry." Because of the location, I always expected trouble.  So, I turned quickly with my hand on my weapon prepared to draw and shoot (if necessary).  As I faced the person, I observed an older, graying, heavy set man with a steaming cup of coffee in his hand.  He was no threat.  Just a citizen.

I was surprised to encounter him.  I had not observed him anywhere near the vehicle as I was preparing to exit.  I always check.  It's necessary to guarantee my safety.  Yet, somehow this man had managed to appear out of a bind spot.  I needed to be more careful.  "Hello Sir," I replied.  "You startled me," I said.  He smiled and said, "Yes, I have been told that I am too damn quiet for my own damn good."

"How may I help you, sir," I asked.  "Truly, officer it's not what you can do for me," he said.  "I've decided to help you." Great, I thought, he's nuts.  "You don't know me," he said. "However, I know you because I am an associate of your girlfriend Paula.  She did something very good for me a while back. Now, I want to repay her by helping you."

"Then you're a client of hers," I asked.  He said, "I was a client of hers and I owe her still. So, I want to repay her by helping you solve a crime.  Hell, you might even get promoted.  At the very least it will look good for you," he said.  I have a no-good friend that needs to be arrested."  I was very doubtful about his story.  "Why do you want to turn in your friend," I asked?  "What did he do?"  "Have you ever heard of Tony Lex.?" He asked.  "Of course who hasn't?" I replied.

Lex was a gang leader with known ties to international organized crime. He was suspected of murders, theft, and drug trafficking.  He had been convicted of some major crimes five years ago. He was sentenced to twenty years of hard labor.  He embarrassed federal prison authorities when he escaped after two months (five years ago). He was known to be still conducting his business underground.  Capturing him would be a major plus for any cop.

"What do you know about him? I asked.  "I know that he is held up in a house in Renton and he has plans to use a stinger anti-aircraft missile to down a big jet as it lands at the Airport in a few hours."  "How do you know this," I asked?  "I don't want to say but I'll give you the address to the house in Renton, Washington. There is still time to arrest him before anything happens."

With that said he called off an address and I recorded it in my patrol book.  "I asked him for his name."  As I looked up, he was gone.  It had taken at most fifteen seconds to record the address in the patrol book. I didn't hear him leave and I didn't see him walking away in the parking lot.  Damn he was quick!  I must admit that I was not sure that any of that conversation had actually taken place.

I went into Starbucks and took my restroom break.  I knew the clerk at the counter.  He said, "I'm glad that you didn't shoot that guy by your car.  It looks like you were about to go Wild West on him for a minute."  "Did you see which way he went?" I asked.  "No." He said, "I saw you pull up and suddenly this guy comes out of nowhere."  "I saw you talk to him then write something down but he just disappeared."  "I saw you scanning the parking lot for him but I didn't see him leave either."  "I tried to video it for YouTube but it happened to quick."

When I returned to the patrol car.  I called the Desk Sergeant and told him I had a possible location for Tony Lex in Renton given to me by an informant.  Ten minutes later I received a call from a Police Commander who directed me to meet with the FBI at the Renton Police Department.

I told the FBI I had been tipped by an anonymous informant.  Within two hours, of having been given the information by my informant, I observed as the Renton Police Department and the FBI breached a house and successfully arrested Tony Lex and several other high profile criminals.  He had indeed been planning to down a passenger jet with a stinger missile and blackmail the government to keep him from doing it again.

This was a big break.  It made international news. I was the hero of the day.  I spoke at the press conference alongside a platoon of high-ranking officials.  In a few days, I was awarded a medal for valor by the Seattle Police Department.  Also, I was advanced to the number one position for promotion to Detective Sergeant.  In less than one month, I was promoted and assigned to special investigations.  I was proud.  I was ready to marry Paula.  She said it was about time.

One month later, I was sitting in my new office when I looked up from a report that I was completing at my desk.  I saw the informer who had given me the tip about Tony Lex seated on the couch in my office looking through magazines. I was pleased to see him but I was also curious as to how he had gotten into a three-door security area without being escorted. I was amazed.  So, I just stared at him for a minute.

He said, "Well I see you got the Tony Lex case wrapped up. That will teach him to screw me over." "Yes," I said, "Are you here about the reward?  That's something the federal government will have to pay."  "No," he said, "I just wanted to let you know that I am satisfied and that I want you to agree that I have paid back Paula value for value."  "Who are you?" I asked. "What did Paula do to help you?"  "Well now," he said. "She made me happy." I turned away to come around my desk and join him on the couch.  When I look again, he was gone!  I never heard the door to my office open. Damn, he's quick!

I pulled the surveillance tapes for the entryways and the hallways leading to my office. No one can move around a police station and not be caught on video but somehow, I knew he wouldn't be on the video. I just had to satisfy my curiosity.  There were no fingerprints either.

Months later, I had a request from Tony Lex to visit him at his new prison.  Accompanied by an FBI profiler, I spoke with Tony in a secured location.  Everything was recorded on video.  He wanted to know one thing. Who told me where to locate him?  He said that everybody who knew about that caper was captured in the house in Renton.  No one else could have known about it.

I told him that I didn't know the informant's name. He identified himself as a former associate of yours who wanted revenge.  "That covers everyone I ever screwed over," Tony said.  I notice that he had a photograph with him.  He asked if the man in the photo was the informant.  I looked at the photo.  Yes, it was the informant.  With my best poker face, I said the informant was unknown.  Tony was taken back to his cell.  The profiler recognized the photo as Clifford Wall.  He asked, "I wonder why Tony thinks it's Clifford?  He's been dead for three years."  I didn't tell the profiler he was the informant.

When I returned to Seattle I asked Paula about her association with Clifford Wall. She smiled and told me the story. In her third case as a self-employed lawyer, she had worked to get Clifford Wall and several others freed of false charges for the importation of illegal drugs.  She managed to free the group but it cost them everything.  Later they discover that Tony Lex had falsely informed on the group to avoid federal charges for the crime he said Clifford's group had committed.  Tony had ruined several families when the accused were charged on his word alone.

 After being released by the court, Clifford Wall used every bit of legal maneuvering possible to make Tony Lex's life hell.  Clifford disappeared three years ago.  It is commonly believed that he was killed by Tony Lex.  I told her that I had seen Clifford Wall and he turned in Tony Lex to me to reward her for making him happy.  I didn't tell her the strange circumstances of our meetings.

A few days after this discussion with Paula, I was driving home from work when I noticed Clifford Wall watching me from the sidewalk as I pulled out of the parking garage.  I unlocked the passenger door and waved for him to get into the car.  As he entered and adjusted his seat belt he said "Hi Officer Terry. I was hoping to see you out here."  I asked him, "How is it that you can disappear so quickly from our encounters?"  I asked, "Clifford are you a ghost?  Did Toney Lex kill you?" He replied, "I just move when you're not looking man.  So, you know my name now?" He asked.

I told him that I know that he is Clifford Wall and that he disappeared three years ago.  He confirmed that to be true.  "Where have you been?" I asked.  "Just hiding," he said.  I told him that Tony Lex didn't know that he was the informant but he suspected that he was.  He told me that he had visited Tony frequently in prison and that he had already told Tony that he was the informant.

Tony knew the day that I visited him in prison that Clifford was the informant (that's why he had the photo).  Clifford gave it to him.  I told Clifford that I could make arrangements for him to meet people from of the federal witness protection program.  I told him that Paula and I are grateful and that we could help him.  He said "I'm glad Paula is happy.  I owed her a lot."

I paused at a traffic light and made a left-hand turn.  When I turned my head back toward Clifford to ask him another question, he had disappeared again (this time from a moving car).  Clifford Wall never said to me that he wasn't a ghost.  He just said that he moves when I'm not looking.  Got damn he's quick!

Well, that concludes Audio Stories "Some Help from a Friend," written and narrated by me, J.B. Simien.  I hope that you have enjoyed it.  Please join me again next Saturday for a new original story.  Also, please use the link below or visit www.jbsimien.com to purchase your copy of "Paranormal Mystery" at amazon.com.  You will find a good book to read and your purchase will help me pay the Audio Stories bills.

Thank you and take care.