ON WHAT BAFFLED D SCOTT ROGO: THE FEDORA GUYS AND THEIR UNCANNY MINIONS
Updated: Mar 5
Photo 67222864 / Fedora Hats © Joseph Golby | Dreamstime.com
My latest foray into classic paranormal/UFO literature has been examining a couple of interesting studies by D Scott Rogo, one of the meatiest of which is his attempted answer to both John Keel and Ivan Sanderson, The Haunted Universe (1977). Think of it as a kind of rejoinder to Keel’s book Our Haunted Planet which was published some years earlier (1971) As I go through the summary below, just remember that Haunted Universe expressed a rather unusual view of UFO and hauntings for the time period of its publishing.
As with many of my submissions, this examination ended up going in an entirely different direction than I anticipated and I will blame Rogo directly for this. Although his text travels in an anticipated direction once you get the gist of the argument, Rogo ends Haunted Universe on a completely unexpected note, and that inspired me to share some of my own files as part of this discussion. But I’m getting ahead of myself—you’ll see.
Rogo began his paranormal studies within the field of formal parapsychology and started out principally interested in psi studies (precognition, psychokinesis, etc.), hauntings and OOB (out of body experiences). As he says in Haunted Universe, it was largely due to similarities in reported experience that led him to start examining UFO reports and other kinds of anomalous accounts that normally fell outside of the parapsychological métier.
UFOs were certainly not considered paranormal, in the popular vernacular of the time, especially by Ufologists, at least not in the United States, despite the musings of Keel and Vallee. They were indubitably physical objects that possibly contained physical occupants and any “odd” paranormal effects were as a result of misinterpretation by the witness, various manipulative subterfuges by said occupants, or perhaps even coincidence.
By the 1990s there was very definitely an ETH or “nuts and bolts” school and a “European school,” as it was often called, which emphasized the cultural and social contexts of UFO reports. Vallee was often relegated to the latter category.
However, as we know, there were always other approaches, and it’s those which seem to be in the ascendency presently. Rogo represents one such “other” approach. Based in his parapsychological studies, Rogo focused on the psychological and psi elements of UFO and Cryptid reports, linking them with similar elements found in hauntings, poltergeist accounts and other “psychic” encounters/experiences.
Rogo’s basic conclusion, which was roundly rejected by Ufologists at the time, was that the same psychological mechanism that produces poltergeists and visions of the Virgin Mary, creates the conditions for, and perhaps in some cases the actual manifestations of, UFOs and other related phenomena.
Essentially, if the circumstance is right, and there is a powerful enough “sender” or many “senders,” mind consciousness itself can create a UFO that might have physical effects, a vision of the Holy Mother with attendant healings or a violent, naughty ghost that will hurl furniture. Such is the hidden power of the human mind.
For Rogo, the reason why the redoubtable Ivan Sanderson saw so many UFOs is simply because he was a strong sender and manifested them himself. Keel is also accounted a strong sender who is a bit more aware of the role he might be playing in the manifestations he studied and witnessed, but also believed strongly that there was something outside of his consciousness which interacted with him and others who had paranormal encounters.
Rogo is less interested in the actual mechanics of these processes of manifestation (that’s something that specifically interested Eugenia Macer-Story), or if there might be other “sorts” or levels of consciousness, or non-human entities which participate or utilize these mechanisms on human psyches for their own purposes (the principle concerns of Keel or Vallee), than he is in demonstrating that the psychic elements in disparate accounts of hauntings, religious miracles and UFO sightings/contacts demonstrate a common thread that joins these accounts together in some way.
To this end, Rogo assembles numerous stories from diverse sources and shows a good familiarity with all the major paranormal (as we would tag them) figures of the day as he apparently corresponded with most of them.
I found his chapter on seeming teleportation and religious miracles to be especially interesting as he has collected numerous accounts that I’d never heard of before. I love the idea of teleportation and sudden disappearances and apports—having experienced personally this kind of thing several times.
Rogo’s examination of the Pascagoula UFO abduction account as a psionic/psychic event is quite fascinating because his focus on specific elements of the Hickson-Parker story does demonstrate that not only was there a larger social-psychological context to the report, but that Hickson continued to experience odd psychic and psionic effects afterwards for many years.
This is something that the “nuts and bolts” school of Ufology, especially at the time, had great difficulty explaining, so basically, Charlie and Calvin were either believed, or not, even though the experience affected both for the rest of their lives.
Rogo makes his way through most of the paranormal list, Mothman, Bigfoot, other Monsters, and can account for most of them using his psychic/psionic model. Until he gets to the accounts that completely upset his apple cart—those of the MIB, with all their attendant appearances and disappearances, odd behaviors and clothing and bizarre coincidences (strange phone calls and the like) intact.
He examines Al Bender’s Men in Black, Keel’s personal experiences and reports, accounts collected by Berthold Schwartz, and even a couple of his own experiences, and concludes that he literally has no idea what is going on with these. Here, he concludes, there seems to be some evidence of a non-human intelligence interacting with human concerns. But to what end, because some of the tampering, particularly of the phone/electronics kind, along with the common strange temporal factor, seems to make literally no reasonable sense?
There are, of course, many theories about the MIB that have been floated since 1977 and since D Scott Rogo published Haunted Universe (I will be providing a brief bio of the man in a subsequent posting). One of the more popular is that the MIB are but one manifestation of an old adversary, if not demonic, than just as capable of deceiving humans: i.e., the djinn. This is a view that was discussed broadly by the late Rosemary Ellen Guiley.
For those not in the know, djinn is an Arabic term describing a category of sentient life, that according to the traditions who accept their existence, preceded humans as created beings on the planet (think of Elves in Tolkien). In Islamic and Middle Eastern folklore (inclusive of Jewish and Eastern Christian traditions) djinn were created by God and have a separate existence and destiny from that of humans, their own functions on the planet, their own nations, and variations.
They exist parallel to us in what we might refer to as an adjacent but distinct dimension and can interact with us in various ways They have many of the same characteristics as humans: free will, ability to grow and evolve, reproduce, and though they are thought to be longer lived than humans, are not immortal.
BTW-the term djinn is not directly related to the word “genie.” The latter comes from Latin and is derived from the term “genius loci” or the “spirit of a place,” a phrase that Romans used to describe physical areas of beauty or power—such as where one might build a shrine.
The term “djinn” literally means “hidden from sight” and did not refer to locations.
The confusion between the two is a result of a French translation of the Arabian Nights in which the French derivation of the original Latin term, genie, which can refer to a demon, was used to translate djinn due to the accidental similarity in sound between the two.
Many, if not most, djinn go about their business doing the tasks that they have been appointed for, some assist us in our endeavors, and others detest us, or at least want to pester us because they can see us but we can’t see them. Guiley, and others who have adopted her view, argue that traditions of the djinn can explain many features of the paranormal that have hitherto remained mysterious and frankly terrifying, particularly manifestations of the Men in Black.
Although there is obviously no definitive way to determine whether the so-called “Men in Black” are a manifestation of djinn, Guiley cites many broad similarities between the two reported data sets. Both MIB and djinn reportedly appear and disappear in ways that seem designed to be confusing to human observers.
Both MIB and djinn engage in blatant impersonation, deception, and subterfuge. They can be strangely attractive and eerie at the same time. Both are often associated with what would be called “paranormal events” including temporal displacements, unusual light phenomena and “monstrous entities.”
There is also the possibility that the MIB phenomenon might be, at least in some instances, a form of possession, wherein individuals who fit the bill are ‘taken’ for periods of time and bodies/minds used by powers unknown. Some MIB witnesses have observed that these denizens seemed to be ill equipped in their own bodies, wooden, almost as if they were unaccustomed to walking, talking, eating or even, in some cases, breathing.
Part 2 (begins at about 30 minutes in Vlog Link)
Rogo’s accounts inspired me to share my own short collection of encounters with “beings” that bear some resemblance to the classic MIB stories but which have absolutely nothing directly to do with UFOs. It is a strange thing that over the years a number of these tales have come to me from people that knew absolutely nothing about the supposed relationship between these odd meetings with such ‘persons’ and what have come to be called UFOs.
The famed alternative historian and conspiracy scholar, Peter Levenda, has told one of his own strange tales of such an encounter as has Julliard professor of folklore Peter Rojcewicz, who encountered a classic MIB like apparition while reading at the University of Pennsylvania.
In neither instance had either man ever seen, nor were they particularly interested at the time, in UFOs, although Rojcewicz’s visitor insisted that he should become interested in UFOs because, according to him, they were the most important things in the 20th century.
My maternal grandmother was the source of two such stories. Of course, she didn’t know the significance of these reports, and honestly, I didn’t bother to tell her because the experiences had unnerved her enough and I didn’t want to add anything to them. At some point in 1998, not long after grandpa had died and she was living alone next to my aunt and uncle in Leavenworth, KS, I decided to take some time and visit her with the object of recording some of her memories about the past.
Grandma lived through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in Kansas and had helped her husband set up three separate farms during their life together. She was no nonsense, practical, very religious in her way, made the best fried chicken dinner, baked a mean peach pie, and told great stories with a dry sense of humor all her own. She was not a person given to subtle imaginings or fantasy.
I spent a couple of days with her talking, helping her with her flowers now that she was a bit too stiff for all that watering and getting her to tell me stories of her past. At some point when we were resting in the precious A/C, all the more so because she’d not ever had it as a “youngin”, I asked her if she or grandpa had ever experienced anything odd, unusual or uncanny at one of their farms--or ever--that she could remember.
She sat thoughtfully for a few minutes and retold the story of the ball lightning that came into the house once during a storm and blew out the tubes in one of their old television sets and of the close flaming meteor that had startled the two (she and grandpa) of them one night in the 30’s as they sat on the stoop of their first struggling farm in Herington, KS. I had heard these stories before, so I pressed a little bit. “Anything else? Maybe something you haven’t thought about for a while?”
She thought some more and all of a sudden, her eyes widened a bit as she remembered. “Yes, there was this one rather strange thing that happened not long after we moved into that last place north of town (she was referring to Valley Falls, KS). It’s funny, I haven’t thought about it in a long time. It frightened me I guess, so I just put it out of my mind.”
She proceeded to tell me that when she and grandpa had moved into that place in the mid-1960s, their third and last farm venture, the house hadn’t been lived in for a while and it needed some work. The previous owners had left a lot of their stuff around and it took some doing to make the place clean and livable, at least by grandma’s standards.
All the bedrooms were upstairs but they decided to make an eastern room downstairs off the kitchen into their bedroom because of the light in the morning and so the upstairs could be closed off when not in use during the summer and winter in order to maximize heating or cooling in the rest of the house. Their kids (my mother and uncle) had left home, so those could act as guest rooms when needed.
They had been in the house maybe four months, having moved in early February so that they could also take advantage of some plowing and planting opportunities. So, the event in question happened she guessed in late May, when the light outside came early and it was warm enough that the windows would be open and no jacket needed even at dawn.
Grandpa’s routine was to get up before light (he did this automatically, which was always a wonder to me at the time, although now I do it myself), have a quick bite to eat, do his morning meditations and prayers and go out for the chores. He’d be done with them by 7:30-8a, whereupon he would return to the house and have a proper second breakfast (hobbit style) that grandma had prepared, and they’d talk about the day ahead.
Grandma recalled that this day grandpa had gotten up and left as usual but that she had some trouble going back to sleep because it was a bit warm and muggy. Although the windows were open there was no breeze and she remembered that she really wished for a bit of rain to cool stuff off. And with that thought she drifted into a restless sleep.
She recalled waking up with a start, as if she could hear something outside one of the windows, which was right next to the head of the bed. The sun was now up and the light was streaming into the room, making the curtains, which were an off white color, almost glow, she said. There was still no breeze and so they hung slack.
That’s when she heard what had awakened her. It was the sound of breathing coming from the other side of the window closest to her head. She said her first thought was that grandpa was playing a joke, knowing that she was probably still sleeping and that he’d come around to the window to scare her, even though he really wasn’t prone to those kinds of things.
She sat up in bed intending to throw back the curtains to say something to him, but something made her stop instantly. According to her, she could clearly see the silhouette of a man framed outside the window through the curtain which was brightly lit by the sun. The figure appeared much shorter than grandpa’s 6’ 3” frame, and seemed to be wearing, at least what the silhouette looked like, a heavy coat with a turned up collar and a fedora style hat.
“The shadow looked, well, just The Shadow--you know that radio show character--the way they portrayed him.” She could hear what seemed like heavy breathing. When I asked her about the breathing she said,” You know, it wasn’t like sexual heavy breathing, at least that’s not what it reminded me of (she blushed a little when she said this). It seemed to be the kind of breathing that one has with something on their lungs, like bronchitis or something.”
When she saw that it was not her husband, with the window open and everything, she kind of freaked out. “Oddly, seems strange now, the only thing I could think of to do was run upstairs to one of the bedroom windows up there and look down to see if I could tell who it was. The worst thing was that no one had visited us to know that that room was now a bedroom, so I didn’t know if someone was trying to break in or what. I don’t know why I didn’t think about running outside, except that whoever it was, was outside and I didn’t know where your grandpa was right then.”
Quickly and quietly, she left the room and ran up the stairs to the second floor where she could peer out the upstairs windows and directly down to see who it was and what they were doing.
She said it probably took less than a minute to get up the stairs and into a position where she could look down and see not only the entire east side of the house, but the entire back yard. The man was nowhere to be seen.
She began to run from window to window in all the bedrooms, for from such you could get a full 360 degree view of the acreage that surrounded the house (the whole yard of which in all four directions was almost 2 full acres). It would have been impossible for him to run fast enough to completely vanish from the entire yard (she didn’t yet have all her fruit trees and flowers planted that year--so the yard was pretty bare). “He was simply gone,” she said.
So, she crept downstairs, half fearing that he had gotten into the house somehow, but no one was apparently there. Then she began to worry about grandpa and hoped that, whoever he was, this intruder had not harmed him. She said she just sat in the kitchen after making some coffee and worried and worried until grandpa returned.
I asked her what the time had been if she’d noticed and, being grandma, she had, she was always very precise that way. The sighting had occurred at 6:35a. Finally, she heard the familiar sounds of grandpa coming in the side door where he’d built a dirt room so he could take off his boots and soiled clothing before coming into the house.
He noticed that breakfast wasn’t ready and that she was ‘in a state,’ and so she told him all about it. According to her, he was at first a little amused and told her she was probably dreaming, but that he would check outside the window after they ate.
By the time he went out to look, she had concluded that it was probably her imagination; she’d been dreaming and upon awakening had scared herself somehow. He went around back to the place outside the window to look. She heard him moving around out there and then heard him softly swear. He called her outside.
All along the eastern wall of the house my grandmother had been digging up the soil and creating beds for flowers and a couple of trees. Nothing had been planted yet, in fact she had intended to start with that that morning. The beds extended out from the house a good 5-7 feet and were moist, loamy soil. Anyone standing at the window would not only have left two footprints there, but footprints leading to the window.
Grandpa expected to find no prints at all. What he did find jolted the two of them a bit. Right below the window, at the place where grandma said she saw the silhouetted figure, was a single left footprint, seemingly from a dress shoe, heel clearly defined.
The only way a human would have been able to do that is if he/she could somehow hop or jump about 7 feet horizontally and land squarely on the left foot and then leap off again without making any other marks. The rest of the soil was completely unmarked. In the same manner that Bigfoot is said to often leave one footprint, whoever, or whatever this was had done the same.
She finished the story by saying “Well, it was a long time before I was able to sleep with the windows open again, at least while alone in the house.” The story was stunning, especially for someone who was not known for telling tall tales. I asked,” So, were there any other weird things that were happening right at that time? Anything with the animals or that grandpa mentioned?”
“Yes, there were come to think of it, but I didn’t see any connection at the time. Sally (that was one of grandpa’s nicknames--his given Christian name was Sylvester, but he hated it--so since his youth folks had called him Sally) complained several times that it seemed like someone was coming into his work shed at night--you know that old chicken coop that he had--and rearranging his tools. I know it always looked a mess in there, but he did have a way in which things were organized and set up, and it was right during this time that he noticed stuff would go missing and then show up in a completely different place than where he put it.
“Once he went into the shed and an entire wall of tools had been redone--took him days to fix it back. It got so bad that he talked to the sheriff about it--but since nothing was ever missing--or it turned up later--what can you do? I mean even the sheriff thought we lived too far out for kids to be messing with us, so it never made any sense. And then it just stopped, or he quit complaining about it.”
“Oh, and then there were those calves...”
“Calves?” I said, “What about them?”
“Well, Daddy (that was her other name for grandpa) had gotten these young calves, about 20 head, and he put them in the front corral so they could be vaccinated. Well, they’d only been there about three days when one morning he went out to feed them and a whole bunch of them, like 3-4, were just dead, like they’d just fallen down dead. Didn’t look like a predator had done it. I think one of them seemed to have blood coming out of its nose or something.
Well, Daddy got real upset because he’d just bought them and thought they were sick with something, so he got the vet right out. They did a post-mortem on those calves and never did find out what killed them. The rest of them were vaccinated and turned out fine, but finding those calves just dead like that, like they’d just dropped, that was very upsetting.”
“And this was about the same time as you saw that shadow in the window?”
“Yes, the shadow, the calves, and the tools--all that happened at about the same time-within the same month. I remember thinking, by August, that everything had quieted down and I had to start opening the windows again because it was so hot.”
This story-telling must have gotten grandma to thinking because the next time I saw her, which was several months later, she told me that she’d remembered something else that had happened to her sister. Norma, had lived in Topeka, Kansas for most of her adult life. She’d been married once and had one child, and after her husband died, had lived on her own, working and paying her own way, for the rest of her life.
As long as I’d known her, she had lived in the NW part of Topeka in her own apartment in a pretty nice middle-class complex. She’d watched the famous Topeka tornado pass by only about a block away in 1966 and had helped neighbors recover in the aftermath. So, she was an independent woman.
Grandma told me of a series of ‘peeping’ incidents that Norma had reported to her that had been odd and quite unnerving. She believed they happened in the late sixties but couldn’t be sure of the dates, although she knew it was after the twister. Norma lived on the ground floor and had both a patio and a long window that ran the length of the living room wall. It was not a wall to floor window but ran along the top half of the wall with the bottom edge of it about 5 feet off the ground.
I could barely see over it as a young adult, it was right at eye level. According to Norma, one day, early in the morning, she came into the living room and saw this man looking in the window. It was like he was waiting for her to show up.
She described him as seeming to be smartly dressed in a dark, rather old-fashioned suit (what she could see of it) and was clearly almost 7 foot tall, or standing on something. His skin was olive colored and he was sporting that now dreadfully familiar fedora and a very strange, slightly demented grin.
His eyes seemed a bit large for his face and he seemed to stare at her fixedly. She found him very frightening, but Norma’s response to fear was to confront it boldly and she decided he was some kind of solicitor, so she went to the patio door to go outside and drive him off. Trouble was, when she opened the door and stepped out, he was gone. Poof. Just gone.
At that point she thought she was just imagining things, but the trouble was, he started to show up everywhere. Now keep in mind this is before the time of the internet, Google and all those apps that enable folks to track other folks. Although she did have a work schedule, her time away from home was often irregular as she liked to meet up with friends and co-workers and her daughter from time to time after work as well as just run errands.
But she started to run into this guy in all kinds of places, at the grocery store, the dry cleaners, on the sidewalk outside her daughter’s house. Sometimes she’d look up and this guy would just be there, staring at her with this funny grin. Other times she’d glance up and see him walking across a parking lot toward her, or away from her as if he’d just ‘finished with something.’ She saw him at least two more times at her apartment complex. In fact, once he walked right in front of two of her neighbors, who didn’t seem to notice him at all.
The worst part about it was that no one else seemed to see him. If she tried to point him out, he dissolved into a crowd. When she questioned the two neighbors later on they acted as if they hadn’t seen anyone. She only saw him during daylight hours although she understandably became a bit paranoid and added locks to her doors and windows.
She also reported that her phone started acting up, ringing at odd hours, including at night, and when she went to answer no one was there, or there were weird clicks and buzzing noises. She feared that her phones were being tapped, but she had no idea why.
When I heard this, I reminded grandma that Norma had expressed an interest in UFOs and ghosts, something that everyone else in the family thought was a bit eccentric. And then, grandma remembered that Norma had reported that she believed there had been some kind of ghost in her apartment when she’d moved in but that she thought she’d dislodged it with prayer. She didn’t connect the strange guy with the ghost in any way and apparently
didn’t connect him with the phone issues either.
Norma eventually made a report to the police even though, as she put it, what could they do? No one else seemed to see him, at least not clearly enough to corroborate her story. The manager of the complex did tell her that he remembered a tall man asking after her, but couldn’t remember enough details of his appearance for it to make a difference.
Norma ended up simply sewing curtains that she could draw across that whole window in the living room so that, ‘even if someone was out there, she couldn’t see them and they couldn’t see her.’ She always kept the curtains and patio blinds drawn after that, unless she had company and was entertaining.
So, what is one to make of these apparitions and the attendant odd phenomena? My grandmother regarded them as strange tales to be told and didn’t really ascribe that much importance to them. She thought it was interesting when I told her that many others had described similar characters coming and going in their lives, although often they were associated with such people having witnessed UFOs.
Her final statement on the matter was something like, “Well, there are all kinds of things in this universe--good and evil creatures in God’s creation. There’s more we don’t know than what we do.” And with that little homily, she regarded the matter as closed. Unfortunately, by the time she told me all this, both grandpa and Norma had died and I couldn’t ask them their views on the matter.
A friend of mine who has long passed out of my life to parts unknown told me her own story of an odd fedora wearing figure that had frightened her much earlier in her life. While on summer recess from college (this would have been in the early 1980’s) she earned money by working at an ice cream shop that was owned by family friends in Grand Lake, CO.
She would generally work 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, from Memorial Day to Labor Day before returning to classes in the fall, staying with the owners in a cabin they maintained on the other side of the lake so that she could save money. At least once a week it was her responsibility to close up for the night and sometimes, she was there at the shop alone for the last 30 minutes or so before shutting off all the lights.
Grand Lake is a wealthy resort town. The only folks who live there at any given time are full time residents or people taking advantage of the tourist season by selling to them. It’s a little out of the way and a bit expensive, so it isn’t a place that folks just pass through. Oddballs really stick out and people notice them.
This evening had been light in business. It was during the week right after July 4 and there was often a lull right then. My friend had closed a little early and was in the back counting out the drawers. Everything had been locked up tight and she only had to leave through the back door and go home to the cabin.
She mentioned she had felt like the street and surrounding environment was a ‘little too quiet,’ and she felt unsettled, but for no specific reason. She was thinking about her life, wondering what she should do with it, whether she wanted to continue in her college program.
As she passed from one side of the back hall to the other, going from the wash room to the back office, she happened to glance at the rear door, which was locked, and had a strong shatter proof window. She said she was startled and horrified to see the figure of a man standing there seemingly looking in the rear window. His front was in shadow because the streetlights were behind him.
She said she ran into the office and slowly peered out again to see if he was still there, and he was. It was not her imagination. So she ducked back into the office and tried to call her employers, who should have been home. But no one answered the phone as it turned out they were out taking a short walk that evening.
She knew the door was locked tight, so she decided to look again, in case she had to describe him to the police. He was still there, and she could see that it looked like he had a dark trench coat on with the collar turned up (her description and that of my grandmother is so similar it’s beyond bizarre) and that ubiquitous fedora. He seemed to be intently looking into the building, although she couldn’t really see the features of his face, which made it even more unnerving.
The lighting in the hall was dim and he was backlit, so it was like there was a glow around him. He never gestured, knocked, or made any movement to get her attention but stood like a statue. She said the first thing she thought was “Why is he dressed like that? This was a tourist town and here was this guy dressed like he came out of a fifties movie or something.”
So, she just sat tight and continued to try to call her employers and eventually they answered the phone and told her they’d be right over. They also told her to call the police. She also kept looking out from around the door to see if he was there and he remained there, staring into the back until she literally heard her employer’s truck pull into the back alleyway to park.
From that vantage point they should have seen someone leave, even if he had tried to get over the back wall, but they saw no one and by that time he had disappeared to her as well. The three of them examined the back area and there was no sign of anyone, no footprints, nothing, although the husband of the couple did notice that there was this interesting swirl in the dust that he’d never seen before in all the years he’d worked there.
After that, she refused to work alone at night except for one evening right before she was getting ready to leave for the season. She had hurried to get everything done and was only in the store for 15 minutes alone. She left, locked the back door and ran to her vehicle and as she drove away, she felt a great sense of relief, only to see this same figure standing on the sidewalk at the front of the store staring at her as she left.
While she acknowledges that somehow it could have been a vagrant, when she reported it to the police, they had no other reports even vaguely resembling this figure’s description, and Grand Lake is actually a small place in terms of population, so they do tend to become familiar with everyone.
She came to consider him some kind of sign, a signal of the changes she was about to make with her life because she decided to leave school that semester, so that even though he was unsettling, this apparition came in partial response to her questions about the future.
I’ve saved the best of these putative MIB stories for last. This is really one of the best stories of apparition I’ve ever heard and if even only part of it is true, it could put a whole different spin on the MIB mythos. I heard this recounted at an open AA meeting over 35 years ago.
As this was a story told from the podium and in deference to the individual who told the story, I will not reveal his name, the group or the city of the meeting and will even change the name of the small town in which this occurred. In fact, if the speaker ever runs across my telling of this account, I’d like for him to contact me so that I can check in with him on the outcome. I just call him Rich.
Rich told this story at the behest of his sponsor who thought that by sharing the experience he might be able to shake the trauma and ‘dread’ that seemed to cling to it. It was clear that Rich was haunted by the experience, even though it had propelled him into sobriety.
Rich was completely unaware of how features of his account paralleled MIB stories, did not know what the MIB were, had never seen a UFO, or experienced anything paranormal that he knew of, and frankly, when I queried him a little after the meeting, really didn’t care about any of that, was strictly not interested. This was a ‘what brought me to sobriety’ meeting, and that’s really all that mattered to him.
Rich prefaced his story by insisting that while he had developed a bit of a drug habit in addition to his drinking, his only indulgence on the day in question was a small amount of weed earlier several hours prior to the experience and he was not drinking at the time. He was running from the police and his supplier that day, the latter because of a not unusual lack of money. So, he was a bit hyped up on adrenaline, probably experiencing a little withdrawal and more than a little paranoid. This drama occurred in a small town in a Midwestern state.
After driving around for several hours, trying to figure out what he was going to do, Rich decided to stop by a friend’s house on the edge of town. His friend had told him he could come over any time he needed a place to hang out or hunker down and he had a key to the back door. He decided to wait until after dark to make it less likely that any of the neighbors might see him. His friend was at work when he got there, so Rich drove his car slowly around back to the alley and let himself in through the back door.
Without turning on any light, he made his way to the front door, which he tested to make sure it was locked and then went to a small office off the kitchen to wait for his friend. The office was an inner room, virtually a large closet really, without windows, so if he shut the door, he could turn on a small lamp and no one would be able to see any lights coming from within the house.
Rich said he sat there for quite a while, shaking, petrified, not knowing whether he’d prefer the police or the supplier to find him. He thought about his family, his debts. He felt completely overwhelmed not knowing where to start. All he wanted to do was talk to his friend and see if he had any suggestions. While in the middle of all these cogitations, Rich said he thought he heard something in the house and assumed his friend had come home.
He noticed that it had gotten hot in the room and he was perspiring heavily.
Just as he was getting ready to stand up and walk into the kitchen, the door to the office burst open and as he put it “This huge black man strode into the room.” He hastened to add that the man was not a ‘black man’ in a racial sense, but was completely dressed in what appeared to be an expensive black suit with that crazy fedora hat.
From his perspective the size of the man seemed to dwarf the room, his head/hat near the ceiling, an intense energy and charisma flowing off of his, and his dark eyes, set into an “Italian” like face, seemed to glitter.
At first Rich thought this was a hit man but when the man stopped in the middle of the room and gestured for him to stand up, he somehow “knew” that this figure had nothing to do with his supplier. In a booming, commanding voice, which startled and terrified Rich, because he thought that all the neighborhood would hear, the Man in Black, told Rich that yes, he, Rich, would go to the police that night and if he did so--telling the police everything he knew--that his situation would all work out, even though it would take some time.
On the other hand, if he didn’t go to the police and persisted in running and being otherwise irresponsible, well there was no telling what might happen.
After delivering that message and a long stern look, the Man in Black turned on his heels and strode from the room in the direction of the front door. Rich bounded after him and watched as he reached the door, opened it and stepped outside, closing the door behind him.
Automatically, Rich ran up to the front door himself and attempted to open it and realized that it was still locked, it only locked from the inside, so the figure couldn’t have locked it after leaving.
Rich unlocked the door and threw it open, very confused, but expecting to see the tall figure striding down the sidewalk or lawn. What he saw stopped him cold. Instead of seeing one Man in Black, he saw at least 20 or 30 Men in Black, all identical, standing in the yard, the street, across the street in the neighbor’s driveway, all looking directly at him in the same manner that the first Man in Black had.
As he put it, “It was like all these figures were being reflected in an infinite series of mirrors--and they were all looking right at me.”
The sight absolutely terrified him and he slammed the front door, locked it and ran from the house, to his car and out the alley by the other way. “There was no way I was going to drive past the front of the house to see if they were still out there. I didn’t want to know.”
He drove around a little bit more, but finally convinced himself to drive to the police department where he turned himself in. All that had happened exactly six months prior to him standing in front of a group to tell them this story.
And he attested to the fact that, while he did have to face legal consequences, a decent lawyer had stepped up to help him, he’d been clean since that night, and his financial problems were finally in the process of being addressed.
He attributed the Man in Black to God in some way, although wasn’t sure why this particular moment of revelation had come in this form, rather than in some other. It was clear that the experience had deeply shaken him--he barely spoke above a whisper the entire time and didn’t try to embellish an already astonishing tale in any way.
As I said, I spoke to Rich briefly afterward, thanking him for sharing, while mentioning, very gently, that there were others who had seen a similar being, albeit under different circumstances, which I did not elaborate on. Rich’s response was blunt and to the point: “I don’t want to know anything about that. I really don’t.” So, I left it at that.
While some might say this apparition was a product of a fevered mind, and certainly, he’s not the first junkie/drunk to have ever had a sobering revelation, the real question is why did the figure in this particular drama take that specific form--a form that many of us know so well from another set of stories?
In a strange way, Rich’s visitor reminds me of the three Men in Black who visited Albert Bender, the legend of which, in large part, gave rise to the stories of the MIB in popular culture. Those Men in Black also issued an ultimatum to Bender, telling him that if he persisted in his relentless, obsessive pursuit of the UFO mystery, that no good would come of it.
Not only did they threaten Bender, they physically hurt him, inducing terrible headaches to drive their point home. However, they assured him, if he gave up this obsession, this “addiction” as it were, his life would unfold magically.
Terrified into submission, Bender got rid of all his notes and books, returned subscription money, and disappeared for much of his life into oblivion, until, according to the Three, as Bender told the story, he was released to tell his story. In the meantime, he ended up falling in love with someone he hardly suspected he would and went on to live a quiet, peaceful life in genuine happiness.
It is true that If one places these kinds of stories up against the tales of the Djinn you find a familiar set of patterns: there is some deception and dissembling, but there is also deal-making, truth-telling and rewards for keeping one’s end of the bargain. And this is even before you get to the apparitional appearance of the entities themselves as in Bender’s case, there was even the smell of sulfur and it got unbearably hot in the room, just as Rich had noticed.
But, as Rogo does in Haunted Universe, we’ll leave these stories at that. Like him, I have absolutely no idea what is going on with the Fedora Guys. Everyone has written about them eventually, and no one knows who/what they are, and these four odd tales indicate that they aren’t just interested in UFO witnesses.