Thriller Writer Tj O'Connor

Part I: Terrified, The Early Years 

Jul 19, 2023

Oh, hell yeah!  

I should preface this chapter of The Life and Times of a Crazy Person with full disclosure. I believe in the possibility of all forms of everything—UFOs/aliens, Bigfoot, sea monsters, spirits, and even honest politicians. I know, I know, that last one is really out there. As for the others, I’ve had more than my share of weird encounters with UFO’s and supernatural things. Luckily, I’ve never been abducted, possessed, or chased by Bigfoot. Though I’ve come close to all of that—for real! 

Many folks who have read my four paranormal mysteries—Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, Dying to Tell, and New Sins for Old Scores—have asked me this very question. Have I ever had my own paranormal experiences.

Oh, hell yeah!  

What follows are those experiences I choose to reveal. There are others, sure, but those others might make me a candidate for a psych eval. Instead, I’m presenting the best, most vivid experiences, in three parts in this blog.  

Part I: Terrified, The Early Years 

 Back in my young childhood, I lived at Camp Henry Kaufman in Holmes, New York. Oh, between about 1962 and 1968. Then, I had perhaps the most terrifying experiences of my life. These were confirmed by my older brother and sister, Jim and Laurie. The scouting camp was for New York City Girl scouts who camped there weekends and summers. It was a grand place that I miss dearly to this day—a lake for boating and fishing; meadows with horses to ride; an Olympic pool, trading post for souvenirs and goodies, and other amenities; and above all, acres and acres of Appalachian woods and hills. A young boy’s paradise. 

For a year or two, we lived in the main camp house, Westover I and II—a three story camp house nestled into a hillside. It was stone and brick and wood and already ancient when we lived there. Thereafter, we moved across the little road to the caretaker’s cottage, a tiny little home with three tiny bedrooms.  

ANYWAY, while living at Westover II my brother and I shared a bedroom on the third floor, right at the base of the attic staircase. The stairs landing was closed off by a wood door with a metal flip latch. No locks other than a hook latch on our side. On a nightly occurrence, there were footsteps, banging, voices, and all manner of haunting shit going on in that attic. Often, something descended the stairs and tried to get through the door. I recall more than a few times that something unlatched the hook and sent us into hiding. I also recall my brother and I bending the damn thing, so it wasn’t easily released. After that, whatever was coming down those damn stairs would pound on the door, angry it couldn’t open it. We told my parents, but my mother dismissed us, and my father was too much a chicken shit to go up there himself. Instead, he forced ME to go into the attic to explore and prove there was nothing there. I went. Proved it was scary as shit, and I descended and cried from terror. I got my butt whipped for being a coward. At five years old. Yee haw, the good ol’ days.

Next, after we moved across the street to the caretaker’s cottage, I would ride my bike up and around the roads in front of and passed Westover I and II. So many times I felt someone watching me from the house. Occasionally, I saw a face in the attic window watching me. I learned my lesson and NEVER told my parents for fear they’d send me up there to investigate. I was about six and seven when these things happened.  

Have I said that when I was forced to investigate, the attic was empty?  

In the root cellar of the Westover building were emergency food supplies in case the scouts were snowed in. My father used to like to raid the stash for snacks and such. The root cellar was connected via a tunnel to the ground floor of Westover I. Being the brave man he was, he sent ME to retrieve his snacks. After dark. Alone. And yes, he waited until after dark on purpose— “A real man faces his fears, Tommy.” — Ah, how about you first, daddy-dearest?    

As soon as I opened the outside door and entered that cellar, the noises and voices and weird things began. I ran, grabbed what I could, and escaped with my life. Often, I got the wrong things and dear old daddy sent me back. Worse, sometimes, the attic light would come on. Then, he’d send me up to the attic to turn it off. Alone. At seven. In the dark. Up three floors and then up to the attic. Understand, West Over was empty when these things happened—no one living there or camping there. So, I had to go into the ground floor, up the inside stairs to the second floor, up a different set of creaky stairs across the entire building, to the third floor, into my old bedroom, and up into that damn attic. In the center of the cluttered attic, was a pull chain—in full view of the stair landing. I stared at it, got up the nerve and ran up, pulled it and turned the light off, ran down like a bat out of hell on fire, reversed my entry route and was off.  

Except more often than not, dear daddy sent me back. The light would come back on before I reached our cottage. He whacked me and swore I had lied about turning it off. So . . .  Repeat sequence. Terror built. My hatred of the man began then and there.  

So, what think ye?  

Wait until Part II: Paranormal Crap in the Hudson Valley and Beyond


I first fell in love with writing while in grade school and over the years continued to dabble with characters and stories whenever life allowed. Lately, I've focused my energy on pursuing this dream—interrupted only by life as a security consultant and the demands of two Labrador retrievers.

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