Wendall Lane Diaries: You Shouldn't by Vincent V. Cava
Disclaimer: I am not a paranormal investigator. I am an author. While looking for inspiration for a book, I came across a series of stories surrounding a home in the American Pacific North West. It is an extremely un-extraordinary looking house in an extremely un-extraordinary looking residential neighborhood, but the stories that have emanated from its former residents and the people who lived in the town that it’s located in are quite extraordinary.
Through my research of the house on Wendall Lane, I have come across accounts that range from the super natural to just plain bizarre. In order to protect the privacy of the people in the town and the current inhabitants of the house on Wendall Lane, I have not only changed the name of everyone in these stories, but the name of the street as well. Wendall Lane is just an alias for the true location of these accounts.
Alan Palmer lived in the house on Wendell Ln. from September 2002 to July 2003. After months of trying to contact him about his time there, I finally received an e-mail agreeing to set up a meeting. Quite a few of the house’s prior residents had turned down my requests for face to face interviews so I jumped at the chance to talk to him in person once the opportunity presented itself.
Palmer, who worked as a socioeconomics professor at the University of Washington, arranged to meet me and talk over drinks at a place of his choosing in downtown Seattle. The bar was called Oliver’s Lounge and was located in the historic Mayflower Park Hotel. Upon arriving, I was surprised to see just how crowded it was for 3:00 PM on a Tuesday. There were people seated at nearly every table while food runners and waiters dressed in white servers’ jackets and black bowties hustled and bustled about the room bringing people their orders. Windows stretching from floor to ceiling allowed for an ample amount of sunlight to illuminate the space, giving it a genuinely open and inviting ambience. I spotted Palmer in the corner sitting at a small high table and sipping on a glass of scotch.
He greeted me with a hearty handshake and a bright smile after I introduced myself to him. The man was greying a little around the ears, and I could tell shortly after meeting him that he was incredibly intelligent, but aside from that he seemed to have the demeanor of a fellow 15 years his junior. Palmer was a light-hearted gentleman who loved a good joke and he insisted on telling me a few of his favorites before I turned my tape recorder on.
Once he had his fun we started the interview.
“Believe it or not, you’re not the first person who’s tried to contact me about the time I spent living on Wendell Ln. Apparently there are all kinds of “ghost enthusiasts” out there who’ve heard about the house through the various online forums these types of people tend to frequent. Nerds and losers – you know the type – they spend their time sifting through thread after thread on the Internet, pretending that they’re doing something productive with their lives. Hell, most of them are probably overweight man-children sitting in their parents’ basement and conducting their ‘research’ in between anime cartoons.”
Palmer let out a laugh, seemingly pleased with his depiction of the paranormal research community. I decided to omit the fact that I first heard about him through one of the online forums he was talking about. He took a sip of scotch and continued on.
“So naturally I ignored your e-mails thinking you were another one of those ghost geeks. It’s strange. I probably wouldn’t have agreed to meet, but I came across one of your books by complete accident. My nephew mentioned your work in passing when I was over at my brother’s house for dinner a few weeks ago. I put two and two together and realized you were the same author who had been e-mailing me so I figured why the hell not? I’m game to talk about it if you are, all though I must admit my story probably isn’t as interesting as demons or monsters or whatever the hell it is you write about. Not a whole lot happened while I was living there. In fact, the only reason I lived in the house for such a short period of time was because an old colleague of mine offered me a full professorship here at the University of Washington not long after I purchased it and the commute was just too far.
My workplace at the time had no job security, I was on the chopping block every year so there was no way I could turn down the offer. This was before the housing bust in ’07. It was a sellers’ market; banks were giving away loans like there was no tomorrow so it wasn’t difficult to turn right back around and flip the place. Hell, I even made thirty grand! Plus, I love Seattle. The weather sucks, but this city has culture!”
We made small talk for a bit. He told some stories about work, his travels to Europe, and even asked me about some of the upcoming books that I’ve been working on. I was beginning to wonder if flying all the way out to Seattle to speak to him had been a big waste of time. After all, Palmer appeared almost completely uninterested in discussing any and all aspects of the house. I directed his attention back towards the reason why we had met when I asked him to describe the most bizarre encounter he could remember having in the short time he lived on Wendell Ln.
“Haha! Now you’re starting to sound like the Internet ghost geeks! Fine, fine, let me think. Like I said, nothing really strange ever happened, that’s why I –”
He paused for a moment and looked out the window towards the street.
“There was one thing. I had almost forgotten about it – the TV incident. It was a Friday night in June, about a month before the house sold. There was nothing on. You know how crappy television programming can be on the weekends, especially in the summer time! I was scrolling through channels on my TV’s menu looking for something to turn my brain off to when the title of a show caught my eye. It was called “You Shouldn’t Watch”. I figured with a name like that, how could I not give it a go? Also, the show was on a channel I had never seen before – Channel 732. To be honest, I don’t watch much TV and when I do, I don’t usually venture out of the HD channels so I wasn’t even sure if it was covered under my cable package.
Now, I don’t know what yours looks like, but the way my cable provider’s menu was set up different colors are used to distinguish between different types of shows. You get green for sports, purple for movies, and blue for everything else. However, the menu color for this particular show was black. The text was yellow, which was also unusual since the show’s title is always written in white. Even the font was different. Don’t ask me to describe what it looked like because I really can’t recall. All I know was I had never seen letters written in that way before. I know that sounds odd, but the best description I could give you is that even though the lettering looked completely alien in appearance, my mind could somehow interpret what it said – “YOU SHOULDN’T WATCH”. Now I’m starting to sound like the Internet weirdos. Ha!”
Palmer polished off his glass and called the waitress over to order another drink.
“Anyways, from the very second I turned on the program, I knew I was watching something very strange – very strange indeed. The black and white picture on my television was of a mostly empty room. There were no visible windows or doors; the place seemed cold and uninviting – like how I’d imagine a jail cell in Bangladesh would look. Not dead center, but slightly off to the left of the frame was a man sitting at an old rusty table. He was shirtless and looked to be very malnourished. It reminded me of those old photos you see of the Jews who suffered through German concentration camps during World War 2. I remember wondering if he was a prisoner there. The frail man wore a pair of tattered slacks, but no belt or shoes. His mouth hung a gape as if his jaw was too heavy to close. There was no music or dialogue; the only noises radiating from my speakers were the sounds of his wheezy, raspy breaths. God! It sounded like he was suffering from emphysema or something. I followed his gaze down to an old rotary phone sitting on the tabletop. He just gawked at the thing like a buffoon while I stared at the screen, mesmerized by the odd scene taking place on my television.
I hit the info button, hoping to read a synopsis of what the show was about, but of course there was nothing so I just kept watching. For minutes he didn’t move. I giggled to myself for a bit – you know, the way you do when something makes you uncomfortable and your brain thinks laughing will ease the tension. The whole time I was waiting, hoping for something that resembled dialogue. Anything to prove that I was just watching some weird movie and had simply turned it on at the wrong time, but nothing ever happened. Perplexed and a little bit bored, I stood up from my couch and headed over to the kitchen to rummage through the fridge for a little late night snack. I was about halfway done making myself a sandwich when I heard the most terrible noise.”
Palmer paused briefly. At first I thought he had stopped his story because of the waitress returning from the bar with his drink, but he barely acknowledged her presence. The man was caught up in deep thought as though he had just remembered something important. When he finally began speaking again the tone of his voice had completely changed. Gone was the chipper upbeat persona I had come to know him by. Palmer was clearly distraught.
“It sounded horrible – like a dying animal. I remember an awful sensation of nausea washing over me; it was the strangest thing. There was an ominous feeling in the air too – death, ruin, calamity all hanging over my head. Once I realized that the noise was coming from the television, I put down my sandwich and hurried back towards the living room. The scene on the TV was essentially the same except now the sickly looking man had turned his head up towards the ceiling and was howling and groaning in the most unpleasant of ways. The longer I watched the more it made me feel like I was going to retch.
The whole thing was utterly abhorrent. The man would moan for 30 maybe 40 seconds at a time before stopping suddenly, then he would take another deep wheezy breath and the terrible sounds would begin anew. I cringed as I took it all in. My visual and auditory senses were being assaulted by the most disagreeable of stimuli and I was still fighting off the urge to vomit all over my living room carpet. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, the man still groaning mind you, turned his head in the direction of the screen and stared straight into the camera. The thing is, I was certain he was looking directly at me. That’s what it felt like; it was almost as if we were in the same room. I probably should have turned off the show, but after minutes of nothing something was finally going on and I felt compelled to keep watching even though I was suffering immensely.
I stared into the glazed over eyes of the sickly looking man until he turned his attention down towards the phone sitting on the table –”
Palmer hunched over in his seat and removed his glasses. He seemed visibly shaken. The 42-year-old econ professor clasped the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger and let out a deep sigh. Beads of sweat had begun to form on his forehead.
“I’m sorry, forgive me. I haven’t thought about this night in a long time. I suppose it’s possible that my mind pushed this episode to the back of my consciousness and I forgot all about it – kind of a defense mechanism type of thing. I’ve read about case studies where army veterans who witnessed horrific events develop amnesia about their time in the military. It seems as though I may be going through something similar, except as I sit here and talk to you, everything begins to come back to me.”
I asked him if he wanted to continue. He agreed and then resumed his story.
“His hand quaked violently as he lifted the phone to his ear. His arms were rail thin and it looked as though he was struggling mightily to hold it in place. With his other hand, he clumsily started spinning the rotary dial. That’s when my cell phone started ringing.
A chill ran down my spine, my nausea got even worse, that ominous feeling in the air had transformed into full on horror. I prayed with every fiber in my being that it was a coincidence as I looked at my phone’s caller ID. You have no idea how bad I wanted the number to be one that I recognized. I didn’t recognize it of course. Hell, it wasn’t even a number. It was something else entirely. In that same strange, alien text from the TV’s menu were the words ‘YOU SHOULDN’T LISTEN’ written where the caller’s number should have been.
That was enough for me. I hung up the phone and reached for the remote on the coffee table. I must have pressed the channel button a dozen times, but the picture never changed. I tried the power button and still nothing happened. The man began to dial the phone again. Once more my cell started to ring.”
Palmer had gone pale. He looked completely different from when I first met him – the polar opposite of the smiling man who shook my hand earlier.
“I tried to turn off the TV manually, I even unplugged it from the wall, but by this time I knew it would do nothing. The sickly, pale man continued to stare at me – his horrible, empty gaze felt as though it was tearing me to pieces. Stomach bile slowly started to crawl its way up my esophagus. I don’t know why I answered the phone, I couldn’t help myself; maybe I thought if I did then it would all just end. My finger trembled as I pressed the answer button. I slowly lifted the phone to my face.
I didn’t even need to say, ‘hello’. He just began speaking as if he was watching me answer the phone through the television screen – and perhaps he was.”
Tears began to well up in Palmer’s eyes. I tried to tell him that he didn’t need to go into further detail if he was uncomfortable, but he kept talking as though he never even heard me. By that point, he would have finished his story even if there was no one sitting across the table from him.
“He spoke to me in a terrible voice – it sounded like he was gargling shards of glass. His lips moved on the screen, but I could hear him clearly over the phone… he said…he said, “You shouldn’t tell”. Then in one horrible, inhumanly quick motion, he leapt out of the frame as the screen went to black.
Jesus Christ, he said, ‘You shouldn’t tell.’ Did I just tell? Vincent please, does that mean I just told!?”
Palmer fell silent and stared awkwardly into his glass for a moment. Then he apologized and excused himself from the table. It was the last I saw of him that night. He sent me a text message 15 minutes later explaining that he had to go home and instructing me to charge the bill to his tab. I tried to contact him once I got back to California, but he never answered my calls or e-mails. A few weeks later I found out what happened to him after performing a simple Google search of his name.
Twelve days after Alan Palmer and I met to talk about the house on Wendall Ln, he was found dead in his Seattle home. There was no sign of a struggle or forced entry, however, due to the horrific nature of his death, Seattle PD does believe that he was murdered.
Palmer’s body was discovered in front of the television on his living room couch missing ears, eyes, and tongue.