We love it when some of our best stories about The Driskill Hotel come from the "voices of authority": not the non-guest ghost hunters who stalk in the historic hallways at 3AM and find even the slowness of the elevator at that hour to be "paranormal."
No, we're fond of the unsuspecting guests who didn’t ask for a haunted room, but ended up experiencing something unexpected. We listen attentively as staff members recount their personal experiences or are first on the scene to calm nervous guests. But our favorites come from the security staff members who always seem to start their tenure at The Driskill with hard-nosed skepticism. "Ghosts? Haunted? Harummph!"
Recently, I found myself conversing with just such a man. To protect his identity, let’s say his name is "Oscar." After all, I don’t want to get him into hot water with management or be ribbed by co-workers and lose credibility as a "tough guy."
Oscar usually works the night shift, making his rounds all over the hotel with senses working overtime: "Is that cigar smoke I smell from a guest, or Colonel Driskill’s ghost?" "Are those people who wandered in off Sixth Street looking for the restroom, or trouble?" But Oscar reported to me that each time he passed a certain painting on the Fifth Floor, he sensed something different. "A chill," he said. "You know the one? The little girl holding flowers and a letter?" "Sure, I do," I assured him. Rumors ran riot about that painting: that she was the famed Senator’s Daughter who fell down the Grand Staircase and still haunts various parts of the hotel, that her eyes follow you as you passed, that if you stare at her long enough, you’ll feel queasy, lightheaded and dizzy. (It’s always been my opinion that if you unblinkingly stare at anything long enough, you’ll get dizzy. As for it being the Senator’s Daughter, there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim.) Nonetheless, this chill that big, burly Oscar felt? I wanted to know more.
He told his wife of his uneasiness passing that painting. She suggested that he make peace with this child; explain to her that he was there to protect her. Oscar felt a little sheepish, but one night, late into his shift, he did just that. Then he took out his phone and took pictures of the painting – one from the left, one from the right, but before he could take one from the front, a voice squawked in his earpiece. He was needed in another part of the hotel. He left and did not return to the Fifth Floor that night.
Upon arriving home, he left his phone out for his wife. "I did what you said," he reported to her. "Had a little talk with her and took some pictures. Why don’t you get them off my phone and on the computer while I take my nap?" She agreed. When he got up, he asked, "Did you get those two pictures off my phone?" "Two?" his wife said, "You mean three." And she proceeded to show him the photos she transferred: one from the left, one from the right …and one from, if you’ll pardon the expression, "dead on." There was even a nice oval border around her image.
Nice touch, little girl …whoever you are.