Santa Maria, California, home of the Santa Maria Inn on South Broadway. Once this hotel, which styles itself as "Elegance of a Bygone Era", served as a respite for traveling celebrities who were going abroad.
Ultra-famous denizens of the silver screen - names like Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe - once lay their heads down on the sainted pillows of the Santa Maria Inn, lending it the kind of credulity and worth that can only come at the benedictine touch of a Hollywood-style saint.
Nowadays though, if the rumors circulating about paranormal activity within the walls of the inn are to be believed, it may be - in the words of Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars - a "wretched hive of scum and villainy."
Something Evil Lurks in the Santa Maria Inn
"The craziest thing about the spirit that lurks in the Santa Maria Inn," says Richard Q. (name changed for privacy), a longtime resident of Santa Maria and someone who has been studying the phenomena occurring there for over thirty years, "is the fact that it can assume a variety of identities."
This is news to me, and I say so.
"Well of course it is," he says. They can't go letting that information just out there; no one would ever stay there again," he shudders, "especially if they saw what I saw.
And what did you see?
"I saw hell, sir; I saw hell."
Could you elaborate?
He throws back a knock of whiskey; we are at a bar at ten in the morning - morning is the only time Richard would agree to talk about his experiences - and this is his third drink so far. I get the feeling that this is something he does on a regular basis. "The night I decided to go up there with all of my equipment, it..." he falters, "...it locked me into my room...then it pushed me invisibly onto the bed, and I lay there looking up and terrified.
"Finally, what appeared over me was this angel; only it wasn't an angel, it was a statue of one, and it was heavy. I started to feel like I couldn't breathe, and I reached up to move the thing off of me.
"It came alive, and the eyes opened, and the teeth came out, razor sharp. It snarled at me, and I must have shrieked, although I don't remember doing it.
The Ghost in The Inn Is Out For Blood
"It clawed at me then, like I was hurting it with my screams; left these dandy marks on me."
He shows me his arms, both of which are covered in scar tissue from scratches.
"But that wasn't the worst part," he says.
What was the worst part?
"When it was done clawing, it just got really still and looked at me, then smiled as if to tell me that I would be joining it soon enough anyway. Then it disappeared into the night and didn't return."