Don the Con: The Cheapest, Sleaziest Bastard Alive

How’s this for a grift:

You start a tax exempt “foundation” in your name using other people’s money. Then you go around donating that very same money as if it came from your own pocket! You get the glory and the headlines, but you still have those extra millions in your pocket to buy back your repossessed yacht.

Donald Trump brags about donating money to charity – but it’s never his own money. He gets other people to donate millions to his tax exempt Trump Foundation, which he then loudly donates to other charities in his name, and then accepts all the acclamation, press releases and “thank you” plaques that comes with big ticket philanthropy.

If that isn’t a perfect enough con, throw in Trump using his phony charity to buy himself expensive gifts, like $12,000 in luxury sports memorabilia or blowing $20,000 of his charity’s money on a grandiose 6 foot tall oil painting of himself to decorate his golf course.

image(Trump’s charitable gift to himself -with altered hands!)

The Trump Foundation paid $20k for this vainglorious painting, but it could have gotten it for $5 bucks, as Melania Trump opened the bidding at $10k, and when there was no counter bid, she upped her own winning bid to $20k.

Can you imagine if the Clinton’s bought a 6 foot oil painting of themselves with their foundation money?

Trump also used his tax exempt foundation to buy Tim Tebow’s game worn helmet and jersey for $12k at a public charity auction in 2007. Trump got the applause and the merchandise, but his charity got the shaft.  The last anyone saw Tebow’s jersey, it was decorating Trump’s business offices, which means he used charity money to enrich himself. It has since disappeared from public view like Tim Tebow’s career. No one even knows where it went. Like Tim Tebow’s career.

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Donald Trump  has a long history of enriching himself at other’s expense; from cheating poor contractors to squeezing well meaning social elites to donate to his lousy charity. He also brags about extravagant gifts he never even gave. One journalist has recently estimated Trump has lied to the IRS about giving to over three-hundred different tax deductible charities.

In the case of buying himself gifts with tax exempt charity funds, it is We the Taxpayers who helped Prince Donny acquire his $20k narcissistic oil painting of himself and his $12k in now worthless sports memorabilia.

Then there is his opportunistic and illegal “donation” to Florida AG Pam Bondi’s re-election, who then conveniently dropped her investigation of his Trump University scam just days after cashing her $25,000 Trump Foundation check.

Get this: Bondi actually called Trump directly to ask for the cash the day after she announced her investigation of him!

Yet there was media crickets about all this. The most damning evidence of Trumps sleazy operation is documented! Trump used $25,000 from his charitable foundation to bribe the Attorney General of Florida. Trump is so cheap he steals from charities to bribe public officials!

I wonder how many 9/11 widows Trump could have helped with the money he blew on himself?

Everyone thinks you’re a swell guy when you give money away – except none of the money was EVER  his.

Donald Trump is a fraud. Let’s compare:

The Clinton Foundation provides AIDS drugs to 11 million people.

The Trump Foundation bribes public officials and buys Don the Con expensive tax free gifts.

The Clinton’s have donated $14 million dollars of their own money to their charity.

Don the Con hasn’t contributed a dime to his since 2008.

Vote Hillary Clinton – America’s future depends on stopping this bigoted maniac.

The Mystery at Camp Sister Lick

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Nanci Dwuu’s convertible darted down the country road headed for mystery. Exactly what the mystery entailed, Nanci’s friend George wouldn’t divulge over the telephone. George, a tomboyish girl with short dark hair, was one of Nanci’s closest friends, but the girls hadn’t seen each other since George had moved to Camp Sister Lick, a women’s only retreat where, according to George, “Strange things had been occurring”.

“Please say you’ll come,” George pleaded, “the owner is a real darling and she needs your help.”

Although Nanci was intrigued by George’s mystery, she was hesitant to leave Hannah Gruel, the Dwuu’s longtime housekeeper. Hannah had lived with the Dwuus since Nanci’s mother suddenly passed away when Nanci was three.

Nanci had always been suspicious of her mother’s death, and in her last adventure, The Case of the Murdered Mom, Nanci discovered that her own father had poisoned Mrs. Dwuu in an insurance scam – resulting in Mr. Dwuu’s new residence on Death Row, all thanks to his daughter’s expert sleuthing.

“Oh, and don’t bring that asshole Nick, men aren’t allowed here.” George added before hanging up.

Nanci couldn’t have brought her longtime boyfriend Nick Nederson anyway. Nick was with his buddies the Hardly Boys on a fishing trip, staying at the popular sportsmen’s resort The Rainbow Lodge. According to Nick, the lodge didn’t have phones, although judging from the evening clothes Nanci helped him pack, the lodge had a disco.

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Camp Sister Lick was located in neighboring River Side. The property was formerly an old cattle ranch newly converted into a retreat facility for women. The camp’s unusual name paid homage to the new owner’s mission of promoting sisterhood and to the property’s natural salt deposits used by ranchers as “salt-licks” for livestock.

As Nanci’s convertible approached Camp Sister Lick’s entrance, she was greeted by a bevy of angry protestors waving vulgar signs demanding the camps immediate closure on moral grounds!

“How could a women’s only camp be immoral?” Nanci thought. “Maybe they offer Yoga.”

Nanci hit the accelerator on her Mustang, causing a few protestors to scramble as she glided easily into a spot in a parking lot filled exclusively with trucks. Looking around,  Nanci felt confident that she’d  have no trouble locating her car for her return trip home.

As Nanci followed the signs directing her to the main lodge, her old friend George suddenly emerged from a path leading from the woods “Nanci Dwuu, you made it!”

George hadn’t changed much since the last time the two girls were together. She still sported her short, chopped hair, and was dressed in her trademarked unbuttoned blue flannel shirt layered over a black T-shirt tucked into her denim shorts, with a pair of beaten, black leather boots framing her pale, unshaven legs.

“So, what’s the big mystery?” Nanci asked.

“First I want you to meet the proprietor of Camp Sister Lick, I just know you’ll love her, she’s so keen!” George pulled Nanci into the lodge’s office. Behind a desk sat a woman who appeared in her late fifties, stout like a bulldog, with graying hair whipped up into a beehive.

Nanci offered her slim, well manicured hand to the woman who took hold with a firm grip, shaking Nanci’s hand as much as Nanci. “I’m Virginia Diesel, the owner of this retreat, and you must be the famous Nanci Dwuu.”

“George hasn’t filled me in yet, what’s going on?” Nanci asked.

Virginia’s voice hushed to practically a whisper, “Someone is trying to destroy Camp Sister Lick.”

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“Who would want to do that?” Nanci asked, incredulous.

“Our retreat has had some local opposition,” Virginia explained, “Maybe you saw the protestors.”

“The attacks started two weeks ago when someone stuffed tampons in all eighteen holes of our golf course. When the sprinklers came on, it looked like a field of white mushrooms sprouting out of our cups. We had to cancel the golf tournament.”

“At first we thought it was a prank, but then something else happened.”

“What?” Nanci asked, her pulse beginning to race, “what happened?”

George took over for the distraught Virginia. “Last week was the championship game of our darts competition. Everyone was just terrible. No one could get a dart on the board. The dart would sail flawlessly through the air, perfect arc, expert aim, but the dart would strike the board and fall to the floor. It was eerie.”

“Let’s have a look at those darts, maybe they’ll shed some light on this mystery.” Nanci said.

“I hope so,” Virginia cried, “if this keeps up, Camp Sister Lick will be run out of business.”

George led Nanci on a short walk to a rustic building with a plaque that read “Gertrude Stein Field House”. George opened the screen door with a rusty creak. A ping-pong and pool table indicated to Nanci’s keen intuition that this must be some sort of building where ping-pong and pool tables were kept.

Nanci walked across the room to inspect the dart board hanging from a rusty nail while George produced the darts. “I think I have the answer to your mystery,” Nanci proclaimed, holding the darts up to the light, “These are Velcro darts and you have a cork dart board. Someone must have switched them.”

“But, but, Nanci,” George stammered, “we don’t use Velcro dart boards at Camp Sister Lick!”

Just then, from outside came a piercing scream. Nanci and George ran from the field house. Emerging from the woods was a petite brunette woman with bright red lips, her flower-patterned culottes stained with mud.

image“Ahhhhhh!” she screamed.

“What happened?” Nanci asked.

“Men – in the woods” the young pretty lady gasped falling to the ground, holding her hand out to Nanci before fainting, “My name is Lizzie Lipshtick, and you must be Nanci Dwuu.”

As the two sleuths propped up the fallen girl, George filled in  Nanci. “Lizzie runs the art classes at Camp Sister Lick. Her classes aren’t well attended because they can’t compete with sports and Lizzie has never felt quite accepted. And now this!”

A crowd started to gather as Nanci took Lizzie’s pulse.

“That’s it! I’m leaving,” one guest proclaimed angrily, “This place is dangerous!”

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“I’m ruined,” Virginia later proclaimed to Nanci and George in the privacy of her office, “What was I thinking, trying to establish a little utopia for my sisters, an Eden without Epiladys. A place to celebrate our womanhood surrounded by the warm embrace of our Earth Mother.”

George was on the verge of tears, hugging Virginia, “Don’t you dare give up! Nanci Dwuu will solve this case!”

“Where do those woods go?” Nanci asked, determined to solve this mystery. George explained that the woods bordered the Tuscashawnee River, which was popular with fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts. On occasion, boaters would pull their canoes over on Camp Sister Lick property, although there were “No Trespassing ” signs posted along the river bank.

“Whoever frightened poor Lizzie is probably still out there,” George surmised, anxious to confront the trespassers, but the approaching darkness made Virginia fearful for the girls’ safety and she insisted they wait until morning to search the woods.

Reluctantly, Nanci agreed. Back at her cabin, Nanci was finally able to rest after a long day of driving and sleuthing.

Drifting into a fitful sleep, Nanci was suddenly awakened by the sound of shattering glass. Bolting from her bed, a brick lay at Nanci’s feet with a white slip of paper secured around it. Untying the paper, Nanci detected a flowery smell before she gasped at the note’s content.

“You’re in grave danger Nanci Dwuu.” The letter was scrawled in what looked like red crayon. The note ended, “P.S. I think you’re cute!”

“Hmmm,” Nanci thought to herself. ” I didn’t think men were allowed anywhere near Camp Sister Lick.”

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The next morning, George and Nanci set out to explore the woods. Lizzie came along to point out where she saw the trespassers the night before.

Seeing Lizzie dressed in shorts and a thin T-shirt, Nanci lectured her on the dangers of deer ticks.

Lizzie laughed, “I’m so tired of flannel. Am I a traitor because I like frills and lipstick?”

“Not at all,” Nanci laughed along, “I like frilly things too!”

“We have so much in common! Lizzie proclaimed, grabbing Nanci’s hand, the two skipped along the dirt path through the woods. Nanci felt protective of Lizzie after seeing the poor girl so frightened the day before.

“I have a hunch were going to be good friends!” Nanci said, giving Lizzie’s hand an affectionate squeeze.

The forest was bristling with birds and busy squirrels looking for nuts. Suddenly, Nanci signaled the girls to be silent. Out of the peaceful chatter of the woods came the sound of male voices!

“Walk quietly, we’ll sneak up on whoever is out there,” Nanci instructed.

The girls hadn’t taken more than a few steps when from the dense bushes someone called out “Nanci Dwuu!” Looking past greenery, a smile of recognition mixed with relief swept over Nanci’s face. It was Nick Nederson, Nanci’s long time boyfriend.

“Nick! What are you doing here? I thought you went fishing with the Hardly boys?”

“We did, we lost our canoe.” Nick then called to his companions and from the trees emerged Nanci’s sometime sleuthing partners The Hardly Boys.

When George came running into view, Nick’s smile turned sallow, “Hey.”

“Screw you, Nick and your fascist paternalistic society.” George said warmly.

The two old friend’s friendly quarrel was soon interrupted by Nanci inquiring how the boys found themselves at Camp Sister Lick. Nick explained that he and the Hardly Boys were out pole fishing the previous evening when their canoe was inadvertently swept down stream, stranding them in the woods, where they stripped naked to keep each other warm.

“You gave Lizzie the fright of her life when she spotted you in the woods yesterday,” Nanci chuckled.

“Yesterday? It was well after dark when we lost our canoe.” Joe Hardly chimed in,

“We could barely see our poles.” Frank snickered and struck his brother’s arm.

Then someone else must have been in the woods, but who? Nanci thought to herself, not wanting to raise an alarm.

The girls hated to bid Nick and the Hardly Boys farewell, but men weren’t allowed at Camp Sister Lick. As it turned out, women weren’t allowed at the Rainbow Lodge, either.

“That’s too bad,” Nanci teased, “There’s nothing like a soprano voice for those great old campfire songs!”

“Nick sings soprano just fine,” Joe Hardly declared, before his twin brother giggled and punched his arm back.

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Back at camp, the three girls, hot and sweaty from their long hike, hit the showers and changed into fresh clothes before lunch. Afterward, Virginia called Nanci and George into her office. The brick that was thrown through Nanci’s window the night before sat on her desk.

“I’ve made a decision.” Virginia said to the girls, “I never thought our opponents would resort to violence, but I can’t have bricks being thrown through my girl’s windows. I’m closing down Camp Sister Lick.”

“What!” George cried, “You can’t let these terrorists win!”

“I think it’s an inside job,” Nanci said matter of factly.

George gave Nanci a worried look. Ever since Nanci helped convict her father for the murder of her mother, Nanci hadn’t been her usual self. Her sleuthing skills had suffered and she was prone to grandiose pronouncements about minor  inconveniences, like when she solved The Mystery of the Missing Car Keys or The Secret of the Stained Carpet.

“Are you sure someone from the Camp is doing these horrific things, Nanci? Why?”

“I don’t know yet,” answered Nanci, “I need more time. Don’t make any announcement until after the Softball Tournament tomorrow. That will give me enough time.”

Before Nanci could leave, Virginia wrapped the young detective in a hug and whispered, “It’ll lighten an old ladies heart if you solve this mystery my dear.”

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“Do you like our uniforms?” George asked Nanci, showing off her team’s denim baseball pants and flannel jersey with their team name “Bull Dogs” emblazoned on the back. “We’re playing against the Dykes.

“Oh, are they from Holland?” Nanci asked with excitement, “Such a lovely place!”

“Yeah, they’re Dutch,” George said, inserting a protective cup into the crotch of her baseball pants.

“I’ve always wanted to save a town by putting my finger in a dyke.” Nanci mused.

“You might get that chance.”

George then revealed to Nanci her “secret weapon” for winning the softball game, a prized baseball bat George made years ago in high school wood shop. Caressing the bat’s smooth curves, George cooed, “I d be lost without my baby.”

The softball game was a welcomed diversion for everyone, but all through the game Nanci couldn’t shake the feeling that something was about to happen. Standing outside the Bull Dog dugout, Nanci suddenly became aware of a familiar sweet fragrance emanating from somewhere behind her, but when she turned to look, no one was there.

The Bull Dogs were trailing the Dykes by two runs going into the seventh inning when the Dykes sent in a new pitcher, the glare from the sun prevented Nanci from seeing who it was.

“Ball one!” the umpire called as the first pitch stopped short of the plate and bounced into the crowd. The next three pitches either sailed wildly over the batter’s head, or dropped short of the plate. With one runner already on base, the batter was walked and George was up next.

“Come on George, you can do it!” The Bull Dogs cheered. George smiled and made the traditional adjustment to her uniform cup, then reached for her prized bat… but it was gone!

“It was right here!” George insisted. Nanci felt horrible that she hadn’t kept a closer watch on things. Nanci was convinced that the sweet odor she smelled was somehow connected not only to George’s stolen bat but to the other acts of vandalism that had been plaguing Camp Sister Lick.

Reluctantly, George took the plate without her prized bat. The first pitch wobbled well outside the strike zone, but George, feeling defiant, swung anyway and her bat connected. The ball flew high and straight, making a beeline for the home run fence. The crowd went wild as George took her triumphant lap around the bases, stopping only to unleash a stream of tobacco spit at third.

A fanfaronade of buttocks slapping greeted George as her foot touched home. The Bull Dogs had won the tournament!

As the teams congratulated each other, Nanci was alerted to the same sweet fragrance she smelled earlier. Sniffing around, Nanci found the source of the perfume smell. Grabbing that player’s arm, Nanci turned the girl around, “I’d like a word with you -“

“Lizzie! What are you doing, I thought you didn’t play sports,”Nanci gasped, her eyes wide with surprise.

“I don’t, but I’m pitching in!” Lizzie laughed at her own pun. It was Lizzie who had pitched so horribly the last inning and probably stole George’s prized bat!

“You’re behind the attacks at Camp Sister Lick!” Nanci cried out, holding tight to Lizzie’s arm. Lizzie tried to pull back, but Nanci’s grip was too strong, so instead Lizzie shoved Nanci to the ground and the two girls wrestled in the dirt for about a half hour before George finally separated the mud soaked girls.

“Nanci… have you lost your mind?” Virginia cried.

“I’ve discovered who has been sabotaging Camp Sister Lick.” Nanci declared.

Just as Nanci predicted, George’s purloined baseball bat was found in Lizzie’s locker, along with the missing darts and several bricks similar to the one thrown through Nanci’s window.

“How’d you know it was Lizzie?” George asked her old chum.

“Well, Camp Sister Lick is fragrance free,” Nanci explained, “I noticed the first time I met Lizzie that she was wearing Calvin Klein. At first I wasn’t sure it was Lizzie, because Calvin Klein is a unisex fragrance”

“Lizzie tried to throw suspicion off of herself by making it appear a man was behind the attacks, first by making up a story about seeing men in the woods, and then throwing a brick through my window with a flirty message. When I saw Lizzie wearing that stolen softball uniform, though, I knew she was the culprit.”

“Uh, Nanci, she’s been playing softball all Summer – her name is stitched on her jersey.” George interrupted. “Anyway, why would she do these things?”

“Employment security!” Nanci replied, “Lizzie thought if she ruined all the more popular activities the women would have no other choice but to attend her art classes.”

“Will she go to jail?” George asked.

“That depends on whether Virginia wants to press charges.” Nanci said, turning to Virginia, “I’m hoping you won’t. Lizzie needs a steady job more than prison. I’ve arranged an interview at the Rainbow Lodge where Lizzie’s art classes will be more in demand. You’ll give her a good reference won’t you Virginia?”

“Anything for you Nanci Dwuu!” Virginia laughed.

And so Nanci Dwuu closed the file on The Mystery at Camp Sister Lick. But Nanci and a mystery were never far apart, and soon Nanci would be immersed in The Clue to the Secret of the Misplaced Remote.

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Beware of Bernie

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Are you among the undecided voters having trouble choosing between tax raising Socialist Bernie Sanders and Democratic centrist  Hillary Clinton? Then consider the following…

Remember the thrill of winning an election? Say goodbye to that and any hope of winning a Democratic Congress for the next decade if we try to pass that old Socialist Sanders off as a Democrat.

For those who think I write too harshly about Bernie, I got to tell you the encouragement I’m getting to continue is amazing. I’m proud to step up to the plate to stop this re-writing of history by Bernie Sanders and his secret stash of Republican elves.

I have been involved with Democratic politics my whole life and I’m not going to sit back and watch history repeat itself by nominating a sure loser in the general election. (See George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey, Ralph Nader and Al Gore.) Left of center candidates always fail in general elections, and when they do, they bring defeat to the whole ticket, state and local races too.

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The Bernie Sanders phenomenon has scarily devolved into a faith based religion. He has become a demagogue turning his crowds of college kids against the “establishment” – which in his book is everybody. He can do no wrong, whether it’s dumping toxic waste on poor people, voting to fund every war he could or himself being a taker of Wall Street cash. It doesn’t matter. They now blame Hillary for a 1994 crime bill that their beloved Bernie voted for while Hillary was the First Lady. Try to understand this logic. Bernie voted for the bill. But it’s Hillary’s fault.

President Obama had to raise $1 Billion dollars to defeat Mitt Romney in 2012. Can you imagine what the Republican media machine will do to a tax craving Socialist who honeymooned in Communist Russia; who as Mayor renamed his small village “The People’s Republic of Burlington”, who’s town had its own “foreign policy” which included Bernie flying around playing footsies with South American leftist rebels and Fidel Castro, who he praised as having “transformed” Cuba – while political prisoners languished in jails. The TV ads would be merciless.

And that’s leaving out Bernie Sanders awful folk album and his B movie acting stint and his dirty short story writings. All these different elements, to my calculations, adds up to Bernie Sanders being a grandiose narcissist. His tendency to smear people as enemies of his revolution should frighten everyone paying attention.

His slimey innuendo and “artful smears” against Hillary and anyone endorsing her should get him nicknamed Bernie “Slanders” in my book. False accusations against people’s character can never be taken back. He’s trained his minions to yell “bought” at an honorable woman with a clear record of integrity.

All revolutions have to offer up a scapegoat. Someone to get a mob riled up against and blame everything bad on. Bernie picks his targets for ridicule wildly, but he concentrates on bankers. Do the Bernie kids know their future inheritances are most likely invested on Wall Street? If Bernie hurts the banking industry, he hurts a lot of middle class families who have their retirement savings tied up in IRAs and 401Ks.

Comrade Bernie also doesn’t like Capitalism, so look forward to a future with a lot fewer Apple products. Although, I must admit that the Bernie Sanders Free College program will solve the Elizabethan Poetry shortage.

Personally, I’m going to vote for the candidate who wants to build upon our successes, not tear them down for being insufficiently “perfect”. So I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. I can’t wait until this is all over and Hillary can start repairing the damage Sanders and his helpmate Karl Rove have inflicted on her and begin focusing on defeating the Republican agenda. #ImWithHer

Republicans Suck, Gay Republicans Swallow

This is an old column of mine from Gab Magazine. Despite the intervening years, Republicans still suck and gay Republicans still swallow. The names of the homophobes may have changed, but not their hate. So, when you read the name Pat Buchanan, just switch in Rick Santorum. Bob Dole=Mitt Romney, etc.                      

Don’t forget to take the online poll at the end: Do Republicans Suck?


 

My Last Listing: The True Story of Hellish House

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by John Smith

  “Hellish House – a dark mansion with a checkered history of murder, suicide and polyester.” my associate George read aloud to me as our Mercedes sped down the lonely highway en route to my newest real estate listing: the legendary haunted DeCamp Manor – otherwise  known as Hellish House.

   With a reputation like that, it was no wonder the house had sat unsold all these years.  “I REALLY should change that sales brochure,” I made a note to myself.

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   The ink was barely dry on my real estate license when my Century 21 sales manager handed me the listing for DeCamp Manor, a gray granite, six bedroom mansion sitting on 25 acres of wooded isolation. Any agent worth his salt would have salivated over this plum property, yet somehow all my colleagues were too busy. I accepted the assignment with glee, silently calculating what I thought would be an obscene commission.

   “By the way – it’s haunted.” my manager said, cackling as he walked away.

   The joke was on me. It turned out that DeCamp Manor had been on the market for over 30 years. Rumors of strange happenings always prevented the estate from being sold and so all new agents were given DeCamp Manor as a sort of initiation. I was determined to sell this house and have the final laugh.

   Actual details of the supernatural phenomenon associated with DeCamp Manor were hard to come by, but the locals referred to the property as Hellish House. Even thieves were too frightened to venture inside and thus the former owners possessions remained intact and undisturbed all these years. Hearing these rumors of ghosts terrorizing caretakers, I wondered, “Is this something I’m required to disclose?”

   My determination to sell this house meant that I would have to personally visit DeCamp Manor. So I called upon my old college chum, Dr. George Charleton, who, as luck would have it, was a major force in the field of parapsychology and aromatherapy. We once roomed together at our alma mater, St. Martin de Porres School of Cosmetology and Paranormal Studies. We had remained friends even as our respective careers took us in different professional directions.

   As a noted paranormal expert, George was already familiar with the strange history of DeCamp Manor.  He couldn’t wait to get a look and insisted that we leave immediately. George packed my car with sound and video recording equipment in hopes of documenting any supernatural phenomenon we might encounter. He also brought along his “assistant” Hector, a hunky Latin youth, who, by coincidence he had hired just the night before. At first I mistook Hector for the strong and silent type until I realized he didn’t speak a lick of English.

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   It was late in October and the Fall  had sparked the country foliage into beautiful golden and brown hues. I spent the two-hour drive admiring the scenery and scouting the pristine countryside for possible locations for a strip mall, while George was spread out in the backseat studying the file he had assembled on Hellish House and its previous – now deceased – owner, Trevor DeCamp.

    As our little band drew closer to DeCamp Manor, my apprehension grew stronger. Noticing my fear, George pulled from his travel bag a small bottle containing a thick, greenish liquid, “This Oil of Spearmint will soothe you. Take a whiff.”

    I inhaled the sweet, fresh aroma and was reminded of chewing gum, which reminded me I had just quit smoking, which reminded me I wanted a cigarette; so I bummed a smoke from Hector, which immediately soothed my frail nerves.  I handed George back his bottle. “It worked!”

    At dusk our Mercedes pulled into the twisted driveway of Hellish House, the stately mansion but shadows in the twilight. Seeing in person the graceful granite façade and stone turrets I was overcome by a sense of doom. “What if can’t unload this elephant?”

    Hector made himself useful by unpacking the car while George and I made our way up the stone steps to the intricately carved wood front door. I fumbled through my ring of keys, inserting one after the other into the rusted old lock to no avail. “No, that’s to a lovely condo,” I said aloud, moving to the next key, “No, that’s to a gorgeous townhouse with 3 bdrms,  w wbf,  new apps, close to pub trans…”

    “Why don’t you try the skeleton key with the Satanic head and writhing serpents?” George suggested impatiently.

    I don’t know why I didn’t try that old skeleton key first – it did sort of jump out, but before I could insert the key into the lock, the door creaked open on its own.

    “Madre de Dios!” Hector cried, dropping our luggage on the ground before jumping into my Mercedes and peeling rubber back down the long twisted driveway.  George looked on passively as if this experience were not alien to him.

    “Rough trade.” he mumbled.

    Gingerly, I took a few steps into the pitch black foyer of DeCamp Manor. Electricity hadn’t pulsed through these walls in years, so I made my way with an electric torch. The furniture was covered with dusty sheets, the windows mostly boarded over and the interior was cold and stale with a pervasive moldy odor that caused George to reach for his aromatherapy bag for some incense, which he placed in an ornate silver ball on a chain and began waving around the musty room.

   “Your purse is on fire,” I teased. But George, like most aromatherapists, lacks a sense of humor about his profession and gave me a withering look.

   “We must refresh our environment with positive energy.” he lectured.

    “I brought some Glade Plug-ins.” I helpfully offered.

    “Bah!” George sputtered, walking past me. I followed him from room to room as the bobbing glow of his burning incense lead the way.

    We explored the ground floor first, finding that each of the spacious rooms still contained the full furnishings and artwork of the manor’s late last owner. George preceded me into one of the rooms just off the foyer as I lagged behind admiring an abstract sculpture that on closer inspection turned out to be a giant ivory phallus. Then, out of the silence came a horrible shriek – it was George! I ran to find him in the library, his flashlight beaming on a curio cabinet.

    “Look!” He panted, “The entire pre-1979 collection of Precious Moments figurines!”

    After regaining a normal heartbeat, I warned George that the house was likely filled with all sorts of collectible knick-knacks, and if he screamed like that again there would likely be another spirit joining the residence.

    We decided to make the library our base camp for the night, as it had a fireplace and was close to an exit. Plus it contained a pornography collection to rival Clarence Thomas’. We gathered wood from outside and in no time we had a roaring fire. Only after the fire was lit did we notice that hanging above the mantel was an over-sized oil painting depicting two men decked out in vintage 1970’s formal wear. One was decidedly older, distinguished and aristocratic with salt and pepper sideburns; the other was boyish, with a thick mop of jet black hair and a muscular physique.

    “That must be Trevor DeCamp and his young lover Chadwick Thornside,” George mused as he studied the painting, “Even in oil, leisure suits look tacky.”

    Just then, like a whisper or the wind seething through the trees, we heard a voice, “Biiitch.”

    “What was that?” I asked, terror creeping into my throat.

    “YOU called me a bitch,” George replied, “Rather rude seeing how I came all this way to help you.”

   I denied calling him any such thing. But he was right, it did sound like someone or something had used that unfortunate word. I began wishing that Hector hadn’t taken off with my car and his pack of cigarettes.

*********************

    DeCamp Manor was built during what was known as America’s gilded era, when the wealthy garishly flaunted their prosperity and millionaires like the Vanderbilts and the Hearsts were busy building their castles on both coasts. Though more modest, DeCamp Manor rose to the sky in three floors, each boasting 15 foot ceilings. The heating bill must have been enormous.

   After unpacking our equipment, we headed for the upper floors. According to George’s files, much of the strange happenings occurred in the master bedroom. We hunted about in the darkened house for a  short time before finding what George felt certain was the right room. “Are you sure this is their bedroom?” I asked.

    “You will notice the handcuff marks on the bed posts.” George replied with confidence.

    “Were they into rough sex?” I queried.

     “Notorious leather queens – you saw their porn collection. Plus,” George continued, “they died in an amyl nitrate explosion – put two and two together.”

    We set up the recording equipment in the bedroom and waited. The engulfing silence suddenly cut by the startling chimes of a grandfather clock echoing from a distant room below. We counted along. Bong…bong…bong…Twelve chimes. George’s brow furrowed as he glanced at his watch.  “Shocking, did you hear that?” He asked.

    “Yes,” I whispered timorously, “and I too find it odd that a clock in a long abandoned mansion should be chiming.”

    “No, no, no!” George bellowed at me for missing his point, “That clock is 4 minutes slow.”

    “You’re so fucking anal.”

    As we waited for evidence of the paranormal to occur, my fatigue overcame me and I nodded off. It seemed only minutes later I was awakened by a frantic shaking. It was George, with his finger pressed to his lips, “Shhh…” Listening intently, his head cocked like a Labrador, George turned on his recording equipment. In the distance we could hear two distinct male voices. And they were coming closer! It was impossible to discern what they were saying, only that they sounded agitated.

    “What does that sound like to you?” George asked in his softest voice. I listened for a moment before venturing a guess.

     “Bickering?”

    George nodded in agreement. The voices grew louder as they came closer and closer until finally they were in the same room! I threw my hands over my ears in terror as George closed his eyes and sank to the floor. “These spirits are angry.” he said.

    “But why?” I asked, “Is it because we’ve invaded their home?

    “They are upset…with each other,” George replied haltingly, as he appeared to go into a trance-like state.

   “Trevor feels…he feels…” George’s sentence trailed off and his face began to contort in an odd manner as if he were trying to resist some power greater than his own. Suddenly his eyes opened and out of his mouth came a deep voice that was definitely not his. “You are a common whore! I should have left you in the gutter where I found you!”

    A disembodied voice answered back, “Fuck you, asshole!”

   “We’re through – get out!” the phantom controlling George yelled back.

    The two spirits continued to argue, back and forth, one voice emanating from George, the other seemingly coming from the air. After about twenty minutes of listening to this, the bickering became tedious and I grew bored. So I went in search of a snack. After polishing off a sandwich (and some chips), I thought it prudent to check back in on George.

   As I made my way back upstairs, I discovered George half-naked atop the staircase in a state of quivering dishevelment, his faint hair matted with sweat and his pants tripping around his ankles. “What happened?” I cried.

    “They made up!” George moaned, collapsing in my arms with a sweetly satisfied smile on his lips. Suddenly my fear vanished.

    “MY TURN!” I exclaimed as I bounded up the remaining stairs to the master bedroom.

Postscript

George and I decided to  pool our money and buy DeCamp Manor ourselves to turn into a bed and breakfast. George says people will pay big bucks to stay in a genuine haunted house. Although the ghosts of Trevor and his lover continue their nightly bickering, with an i-pod and some headphones, you can barely notice. We plan to charge guests extra to stay in the master bedroom – the epicenter of the hauntings – that is, if I can ever coax George out of there.