Home Archives Chasing a Ghost

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Witness: Jim Yarbray
Location: Houston, Texas
Date of Encounter: 1995

This the very first encounter I ever had. I was indifferent before at best, though coming from a family of believers. This incident changed my mind. At the time I worked for the Harris County Clerk's Office as supervisor for their old records archive, which contains books and documents (duh), mostly regarding real estate transactions dating from the beginning of the Republic of Texas and before. It also contains documents related to the Battle of the Alamo and the Goliad Massacre. These are stored in a building constructed back in 1913 that was referred to as "The Coffee Pot Building" by the old-timers due to the coffee pot-shaped water tower that used to sit on the roof from its coffee, tea, and grocer's supply warehouse days, but is now more commonly known as the warehouse, or the archives building. It is a three-story building with a basement.

At the time of the story, the District Clerk's Office had the basement, 1st and 3rd floors for their records, we had the 2nd floor. It was also a hippy hang-out back in the late 1960s/early 1970s, evidence of this being in the form of anti-war art on the walls in the basement, signs hanging from pipes in the ceiling for different shops selling arts and crafts, etc. I even met several people who came in as customers looking for records who remember the hippy past of the building personally. I had already heard the "ghost stories" from the employees of the District Clerk's Office, from balls of light in the stairwells, noises, footsteps, shadows, apparitions, etc. As far as I knew, up to that point in my life I had never seen a ghost and wasn't expecting it.

At the end of one particular work day, I was standing at my desk packing my briefcase tote. My desk was situated up against the outer perimeter of a three-foot high counter square in shape, with a concrete support post at each corner that were part of the building's structure. About 15 feet to the left of my desk was a non-working elevator shaft diagonally across an isle from a lobby corner post also to the left of my desk. It was about 4:40 and my two other employees had just left for home minutes before, so I was the only person on the entire floor. Before leaving, all of the employees performed a customer sweep through the entire office. There are waist-high bookshelves throughout the office with additional books on top, so without a sweep it would be easy to miss a customer. The main lights were off, but the security lights were one, still illuminating the office well enough to see. Just as I was pulling the tote over my shoulder, I spotted a guy looking at me from the outer side of the far counter diagonally across and to the left of my desk. When I spotted him, he was kind of stooped over looking at me. I yelled, "What the hell are you doing in here?!" As I dropped my bag to my desk he started to turn. I started to run after him. I kept an eye on him until I got to the corner post of the lobby, the guy still visible to me as I got to the post. The post is about three feet square, so one has to navigate around it as an intrusively solid obstacle. As I rounded the post on the other side, the guy was no longer there. There was no way he could have dashed down the main isle or cut into the nearest side isle out of sight without me seeing or hearing him maneuver or running down the isles as the isles are rather narrow (I had to raise my arms to pass through them as I'm a decent-sized guy myself). As I got to where he was, I darted into the nearest isles looking for him. Not seeing him, I reasoned to myself that there was no way he could have escaped me so quickly.

It was at that moment that I started running the whole situation through my head: he was one color (a pale powdery blue), he made no noise as he turned and ran, and strangest of all, he did not have a face. I would have seen his face clearly as there was enough light in the lobby areas. While recollecting, it amazed me on how much detail I saw, but that there was a void where his face was supposed to be. He did have clothes on, what looked to be a short-sleeved shirt with a large collar, like back in the 60's and 70's, and that he had bushy hair down to just below where his ears would have been. I don't recall whether he had legs. I thought to myself, "You just saw a ghost. Cool!" I still check around, but found no one. I went home and immediately told my wife.

The next day at work I told my co-workers and anyone else who would listen. When I told some of the employees of the District Clerk's Office on the first floor, they gave me a collective statement that was to the effect of, "You see." The building is still in use, though the District Clerk has moved to the old jail and the county would like to tear down the old "coffee pot" building to re-use the land, but so far that hasn't happened as the County Clerk now has the first and second floors for archive purposes.

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