Before I write about this incident, I need to include a preamble: When Whitley and I were a struggling young couple living in New York City, we used to cast about for inexpensive things to do on weekends. On one of these weekends we decided to visit Sunnyside, Washington Irving’s house in the Hudson Valley which has been turned into a museum (Irving was a 19th century write whose most famous works are "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Headless Horseman").
After touring the museum, we went out into the lovely garden. I was admiring some flowers when Whitley suddenly said, "Someone tapped me on the shoulder!" We looked around, but there was no one nearby. As we left, he mentioned this to one of the museum guides, who chuckled and said, "Oh, that happens to lots of people. We think it’s Mr. Irving’s ghost having a little fun."
Twenty years later it happened again, and since I remembered the Sunnyside incident, I knew how to interpret it. When we were in Texas, Whitley decided to look up an old friend, whom he hadn’t seen since high school. One mutual acquaintance said he was still alive and attending college in the northeast, but another friend insisted he was dead, because he had contacted the man’s brother, who had told him that he died a tragic death rather young. While Whitley was contemplating which story to believe, he suddenly said (again), "Someone tapped me on the shoulder!" I told him, "Your friend is dead," and Whitley found out this was indeed true when he called the brother and talked to him personally.
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