• Kathleen Irene Paterka

Haunted by a Psychic

With Halloween just around the corner, I've started thinking about spooky things that go bump in the night. Have you ever experienced one of those moments when the hair on your neck suddenly stands on end, your heart starts to race, and you realize you've just had a ghostly encounter? One of the eeriest moments of my life occurred during a visit my husband and I made to Salem, Massachusetts. And yes, it happened in the middle of the night.





It was mid-September when Steve and I travelled to Salem. We'd been touring Massachusetts (what a beautiful state!) and visiting historic sites. Leaving Concord, we realized that Salem wasn't far off, so we decided to splurge and spend a day or two taking in what the city had to offer. We booked a room at a quaint Bed & Breakfast housed in one of Salem's oldest historic buildings, then started off to explore. We visited The House of the Seven Gables, the Salem Witch Museum, plus some other attractions. On tap for later that evening: a Haunted History Walk around Salem, including its cemetery. We left some time for shopping before dinner, and wandered through the downtown streets. There, in the windows of store after store, psychic readings were offered.


I was intrigued. I'd never been to a psychic, and wasn't even sure I believed in psychic phenomena. But since we were on vacation, why not try it? Into the store we went. The fee was reasonable, and I paid cash so there would be no trail as to who I was. The less the psychic knew about me, the better. (Can you tell I am a skeptic?) Steve had no desire to have a reading done, so I went alone into a separate room. The room was small, the walls were bare. A young man, in his mid-thirties, sat at a wooden table with a deck of Tarot cards before him. He invited me to sit down. And so my psychic reading began.


I was very careful not to give him much information. I didn't even give him my last name. I was such a skeptic, I thought perhaps he had someone in a back room who could "google" info about me and somehow surreptitiously relay it to him. Obviously from my voice, my clothing, my overall appearance, he could determine my age, and that I was from the Midwest. He gave a "generic reading". He told me that I was involved in a long-term relationship with a kind, generous man (yes! That's Steve!) who was maybe? an engineer. Nope, I remember thinking. Your mother is still alive, but has been dealing with many health crises. True, I admitted, thinking about her recent fall, how she'd broken her hip. Still, it could have been merely a lucky guess on his part. Given my age, it would be obvious that my mother was elderly, with numerous health issues. He went on to discuss my daughter. "She lives very far from you". How did he know she's more than 2,000 miles from me? But I kept quiet.


And then he straightened and stared at me. "Does the name Mary Kay mean anything to you?" His voice was so serious, and he seemed intent on drawing me out. But his words meant nothing to me. My sister had died 20+ years before, but her name was Mary Lee... not Mary Kay. "No," I answered. He seemed confused. "I'm sensing a very strong presence," he said. "Mary Kay... that name means nothing to you?" "Honestly, no. It just reminds me of women who sell cosmetics and drive big pink Cadillacs," I replied. His eyebrows furrowed and he shook his head. "That's odd," he said. I thought so, too. No one I knew sold Mary Kay Cosmetics.





My reading continued for another ten minutes, with nothing much of interest left to tell you. Shortly before we finished, he again offered up the name Mary Kay, that it was linked to a strong spiritual presence. "Are you sure you don't know who this is?" He pressed, and seemed very disappointed that I was unable to make a connection. Our time ended, and I walked away, still a skeptic. Over dinner, Steve and I chatted about my experience, with neither of us surprised by what the psychic had offered.


Except for that part about Mary Kay Cosmetics. Definitely weird, we both agreed.


Dinner ended, and off we went to tour the Salem Cemetery. Afterwards, we returned to our historic B&B for a good night's sleep. The bed was comfortable and I drifted off into a dreamless sleep... only to abruptly awaken exactly at three a.m. I bolted straight up in bed, eyes wide open, heart racing. I grabbed Steve's arm and shook him hard.


"Wake up! Wake up! I know who it was!" I shrieked.


He rolled over and stared bleary-eyed at me. "What? Who?"


"It wasn't Mary Kay!" my voice dropped in a cold edge. "It wasn't Mary Kay Cosmetics. It wasn't Mary Kay... but it was Mary Gay."



Steve sat straight up in bed and turned on the light. My heart was pounding so hard, I thought it might burst straight out of my chest. We stared at each other as the reality behind the psychic's words came to haunt us: my sister Mary Lee, who had taken back her maiden name of "Gay" after a messy divorce. We had a very small family (just the two of us). She was my baby sister... my only sister... Mary Lee. At home, that's what we always called her. But at school, at work, they never included her middle name. She was known simply as Mary Gay. She died three years after her divorce. Her obituary read "Mary Lee Gay".


Somehow Steve got back to sleep that night, but I was wide awake. We'd planned on leaving Salem after breakfast, but I was determined to go back to that psychic. I wanted another reading. Was my sister trying to contact me from beyond the grave? I needed to know!


"I'm very sorry, but it's his day off," the store manager told us. "If you come back tomorrow, he could do another reading. Or you could phone him. Telephone readings work, too." We left the store, left Salem, left Massachusetts, headed for home. I never contacted the psychic, never had another reading. But I've never forgotten the experience, either... or the absolute terror of recognition I had that night at the Salem B&B, realizing exactly who "Mary Kay" must have been. And I am convinced it was my sister. There is NO WAY the psychic could have known my background, or that I'd had a sister who had died, and what her name had been. There is NO WAY. That thought haunts me to this day.


What about you? Have you ever had a psychic reading? Do you believe?

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