Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Cat Was There!

Saturday at the park in Winston-Salem the group of about 60 people moved their chairs from inside a large tent, where it was hot, to sit under the shade of a huge tree, where it was a bit cooler. Upon being introduced, I warned those in attendance that I am often accompanied by a ghost when I travel somewhere to speak. I think the ghosts have someone check up on what I am saying about them.

As I began talking about Ghost Cats of the South, and specific ghosts I have known, a small black cat walked out of the woods. I could see it coming. The woods, however, were at the backs of the people with whom I was speaking. Soon, the person sitting next to me, who was there to introduce me to the group, saw the cat, too.

I cannot talk sitting down. I was standing up, moving around, getting to know the faces of the people there... seeing if they wanted me to continue with a topic or move in new directions. The cat reached us, it walked through the back row of people sitting in their chairs in the shade. I think it had something to say. Or maybe just wanted to hear better.

It kept coming. It walked through another row of chairs. And then the people who had come to the Ghost Discussion session began to notice it. A general murmur, a chuckle, one gasp, a lot of elbowing and in a minute everyone was looking at the cat. I reached down for my book which has a picture of a black cat on the cover. I held up my book and said to the cat, "Is this you?"

The cat had enough attention and turned about to scamper off, between the chairs, and take up residence just behind the back row of chairs. It lay down in the shade. Someone in the group brought it water in a plastic cup and gave it to the cat. It stayed, ladies and gentlemen, for the entire session.

We named the cat Sally. And she seemed to enjoy the lively discussion of ghosts. At least six people in the group had ghost experiences to share and this is always my favorite part of any "presentation" I give. Wow. There were a lot of goosebumps raised Saturday. It kept us a little cooler.

Sally, btw, wore a little red collar outfitted with a bell. She was a well-cared-for cat just visiting from her forever home, which must have been on the other side of the woods behind the Moravian Park in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Either that or she was a ghost. I like to think she was a local cat who, you know, was curious about Ghost Cats.

Oh, there were numerous tents and booths at the book festival. Nearby was a large tent where children's story storytellers and authors performed (really fun to overhear! - Storytellers are a true delight!). But Sally chose us.

I have literally hundreds of true ghost encounters I've collected to share when I speak. And now I have Sally. I'm going to make her famous in the next few weeks throughout the South as The Cat Who Liked to Hear About Ghosts. Of course, she'll only be famous to small groups of people here and there... but with any luck one of her kindred will show up at the next presentation. I hope so.