Show Me The Ghosts

Yesterday, I received my first “cease and desist” order. I feel like such a grownup now.

It came in the form of an e-mail from a former co-worker. A few months ago, when I set up my personal website/online portfolio, I uploaded copies of several newsletters I had worked on while employed. I wanted examples of my work to show prospective clients, and figured a few newsletters would give an idea of what I am capable of doing for any organization interested in the same. I certainly didn’t mean any harm in posting these, and the truth is, very few people even know the website exists. It has been a valuable marketing tool and has helped me to secure freelancing gigs, but it’s not like anybody seeks it out and reads it. The e-mail stated, in part,

I was looking online for something just now and came across the entire {newsletter} that was posted by you (see attached). I need you to remove it as soon as possible. This is a confidential document that is shared only with {XYZ Corp.} since it contains confidential sales data. When you asked for copies, I thought you would only use the excerts you wrote, which is fine to reproduce, but the entire document is not for public view. How quickly can you remove it?

I need you to contact Google and ask them to remove it from their cache as well. Let me know that you are on it, thanks.

Now, I’ll admit, my first reaction was, “What nerve!” followed by “How dare they!” and leading quickly to “The hell I will!” But after a few minutes, a cooler head prevailed. Or maybe it was the fear of a lawsuit? I mean, I’d have to have money before anybody was able to actually collect money, but still. It would be a real hassle. Plus, if I’m being honest, having those newsletters on my site was doing nothing to further my career. My uncle, a fellow writer with loads of freelancing experience, took a look at my site in December and suggested I remove them. His exact words? It doesn’t take any special writing talent to do pieces like those. I wouldn’t show those newsletters unless you’re actively seeking entry-level work. As direct as he can be, I respect him, and had planned on taking them down, anyway. So within fifteen minutes they were gone. The real pain in the ass was figuring out how to un-cache them from Google, a complicated process involving webmaster tools and requiring a skill level that, quite frankly, I don’t possess. I’m no programmer, I’m just a writer, dammit. Let me write. Anyway, I figured it out and submitted a request, but it’ll probably take a little while before that information drops off their search engine. It’s still there today, even though the files are gone. Hey, whatever – I did my part. And the truth is, what irritated me most was the tone of the e-mail. I no longer work for this person! I didn’t appreciate how demanding it came across. Plus, there isn’t any actual sales data in the newsletter – I double-checked the whole thing. I think that was just paranoia talking.

After dealing with that hassle, I headed for a local coffee shop, where I was meeting up with a friend named Steven. We’d been conversing through e-mail and Facebook since last September, but hadn’t yet met in person. Steven is a bona fide ghost hunter, and I have a huge interest in all things paranormal, so it was little wonder we’d get along. In fact, before I took this blog very seriously, I wrote a post about my ghost experience, which happened a little over a year ago. I took down several posts because I was dating somebody at the time and our relationship went south, but I could never bring myself to delete this one, so I just hid it. But it’s public again after a few minor edits, so if you want to read about my real-life paranormal encounter, you can find it here.

Anyway. Steven walked in, and damn if he doesn’t look, appropriately enough, a little bit like Jason Hawes with TAPS. Once coffee was ordered, he opened a manila folder he’d brought with him and slid a photograph across the table. It was a picture of a baby sitting in a high chair, face smeared with cake, enjoying her first birthday. And in the background, transparent images of an old man and old woman. Steven explained that it was a photo from the 1980s he’d received from a client, taken before digital cameras existed, and was allegedly the spirits of the baby’s grandparents, who had passed away but had always promised to be around for their grandchild’s birthdays. The woman who took the picture did not see anybody in the background until after it was developed. Now, I have no idea if this photo was bogus or not. It strains credibility to imagine that such a perfect image exists…and yet, who’s to say it isn’t real? I have always believed in ghosts. They may be sneaky little camera-shy buggers, but once in a great while it seems likely that they’d let their ectoplasmic guard down and end up caught on film. I stared at it for a good five minutes, positively intrigued.

One argument in favor of ghosts. (Courtesy of

More photos followed, mostly of various orbs, and Steven regaled me with stories of his investigations. He showed me e-mails from people who had written to him seeking help. I asked a lot of questions, like how can an invisible apparition make footsteps (the answer is Emc2; Einstein’s theory explains that energy always exhibits mass, in whatever form the energy takes – sufficient enough explanation for me). I tried to play the role of skeptic even though I believe in this stuff 100%, because it’s important to take a scientific approach when dealing with a subject that can trigger strong emotional reactions in people, positive and negative. It is clear that Steven has vast reservoirs of knowledge and experience and has carefully considered all angles. He backs up his theories with science, and is very much a trustworthy, sincere and intelligent person. Naturally, I begged him to let me tag along on his next ghost hunt, salivating not only over the idea of experiencing the paranormal firsthand, but of the awesome blog entry that would certainly follow.

Which begs the question: do I write to live, or live to write?

Whatever. Show me the ghosts!


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

21 thoughts on “Show Me The Ghosts

  1. I can’t see the picture!


    I don’t like the tone of that email, either.
    I have a barfing dog I can lend you, if you’d like someone to barf on her.

    the ghost stuff is uber cool creepy.

    take care and blessings


    1. Whew! I freak out if I think anything is wrong with my blog. I was about ready to blame a “ghost!” 🙂

      And thanks all the same, but you can keep your barfing dog…


  2. Well, from one recipient of a “cease and desist” to another … welcome to the club!

    Of course, I have no intention of taking down my blog any time soon, despite the upcoming litigation. But I’m thrilled that I’m no longer alone in my plight.

    I think this just proves that our writing is uber-powerful, and these people fear our mad writing skillz. Or at least that’s my story…



    1. I’ll go along with that, Mikalee! 🙂

      And yes, I thought of you and your plight when I wrote this. Actually, I thought of you and your plight the moment I opened that e-mail yesterday. I think I was channeling some of your righteous indignation for a little while there, too. Don’t YOU dare cease and desist!


  3. OMG a ghost hunt would be so cool! Please please please go on one so I can live vicariously through you. I’m off to read the ghost post (haha I rhymed) now… I’m not quite sure where I stand on the paranormal. So basically, I’m an undecided voter. Easy to sway 🙂


  4. Sorry to hear about your cease and desist experience, Mark.

    OMG…what nerve! HA!

    “The real pain in the ass was figuring out how to un-cache them from Google…”

    Holy cow, I wouldn’t even know where to begin in doing that!?!?

    Now…about the ‘ghost part’ of this post. WOW! I would have loved to seen that photo. Like you, I too believe in ghosts and have a HUGE interest in the paranormal. I’ve actually seen a ghost once.

    Steven sounds like such an interesting guy. How cool that you met up.

    Okay, now I’m going to go back and read about your real-life paranormal experience!

    Great post!


    1. I spent too much time trying to figure out the un-caching process…if this person still has a problem with my file showing up online, tough cookies! It’s been there since November and the sky hasn’t fallen yet.


  5. Does the person insisting you “take down” the letter have a copywright or a non-compete from you? If he sent it to you it is yours to do what you like with it….It became yours. Sounds like an empty threat and a frivolous law suit (if there is one) at best. Good luck.


  6. Ewwww, dude’s bossy orders completely irked me. I still get e-mails from residents and co-workers from a job I had approximately TWO years ago. Strange how people think they can still be your task master after the paychecks stop 😦


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